British English / English Slang - A to F

Italicised words are also heard in Australian English. For tropes encompassing all branches of English, see Separated by a Common Language.

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    A 
  • Abseil: Descend a wall on a rope. Equivalent to US "rappel". The word is originally German, but is pronounced "ab-sail", not in the German manner which would be closer to "up-sile".
  • Across the pond: "In America". "The Pond" is an informality for the Atlantic Ocean; "leftpond" and "rightpond" are sometimes used as slang for America and Europe respectively.
    • Ironically, this term is actually now used more commonly in America than England. Often when referring endearingly or condescendingly to Britain.
  • Advert: An advertisement, a commercial. The UK version of America's "ad", though "ad" is sometimes used as well. In addition, down south "advertisement" is pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable, so it sounds like "ad-vert-iss-mnt". It's very rare for someone in the north of the country to pronounce it like that — up north it's pronounced 'ad-ver-tize-mnt'.
  • ae spelling: Pronounced "ee" in words of Greek or Latin etymology. Some words in US English eliminated this, for example the prefix "paedo-" often becomes "pedo-" and "haemo-" becomes "hemo-". The pronunciation may or may not change. Posh typesetters will use the ligature 'æ', as in "Encyclopædia Britannica" (which was never done in the original Greek - the æ character is from Old English, and represents a different sound entirely). There's also the oe spelling, as in "oestrogen" or (etymologically incorrect) "foetus" (or strogen and ftus). Also pronounced "ee".
    • The ash (æ) and ethel () are pronounced very similarly to an 'e', but are not the same sound. Æ and are not e, they make a different sound that generally only those who can make it can recognise. The nearest American sound to it would be an 'ee', though, so Ted was wrong.
  • Aerial: A TV or radio antenna.
  • Aeroplane: US airplane.
  • Afro-Caribbean: A polite way to say "black" (as a race), similar to the phrase "African American". The difference in terminology is due to the fact that most of Britain's black population can trace their lineage to slaves brought to work the sugar plantations on British holdings in the West Indies, rather than tobacco and cotton plantations in the US. Relatedly, "black" itself is officially not considered offensive, and is the term used on documents where relevant. "Afro-Caribbean" has largely fallen out of use as a result, often being viewed as Political Correctness Gone Mad.
    • In part, this is due to the more recent influx of Black British whose ancestors came directly from Britain's former African possessions (e.g. Nigeria, Ghana, and Zimbabwe).
  • Aitch: Eighth letter of the alphabet, and the aspirate sound it represents, which is often dropped at the beginnings of words in lower-class dialects.
  • Alright?: A non-formal greeting, equivalent to "what's up?". Only semi-intended as a question and only expected to be answered in a non-committal vaguely positive but not too positive way and a return of the question itself. Prominent in Harry Potter, for example.
    Person 1: Alright?
    Person 2: Not bad. You?
    Person 1: Not bad.
    • Alternatively, as with the older "How do you do?", it can just be batted straight back to you; "Alright?" "Alright?".
    • As with the above or the equally common "How are you?", actually answering with anything other than "not bad" or "fine" will result in confusion. This typically creates fairly bizarre conversations when speaking to someone particularly miserable, injured or otherwise clearly not fine.
  • Argie/s: A person(s) from Argentina. Generally not considered a complimentary term.
  • Argy-bargy: A bit of trouble, usually physical.
  • Arse: the British version of "ass", as in your backside. "Ass" is sometimes used to refer to a donkey, either literally or figuratively (a foolish or 'asinine' person), often as a joke playing on the double meaning. Shakespeare did it in A Midsummer Night's Dream, for instance. Arse is seen as a rather rude word, and "bum", as a conjugation of "bottom", will be used often instead.
    • Can't be arsed: Can't be bothered.
    • Arse-bandit (or Turd-burglar) - extremely derogatory term for a male homosexual.
  • Articulated lorry or just artic: A semi-trailer truck.
  • ASBO: Short for Anti-Social Behaviour Order. It was a type of civil order (i.e. injunction) given to people who engage in anti-social behaviour (usually banning them from doing something or being somewhere specific) introduced by the Blair government in 1998 and abandoned in 2015 because they were seen as an unfair note  and ineffective note . See the other wiki for details. The word made its mark (often as a noun to describe someone with one, or who is likely to have one), but has become much less common since then.
  • Asian usually refers to someone from South Asia (typically India, Pakistan or Bangladesh), as opposed to the American usage which tends to refer to East Asians (from Japan, China, Korea, etc.). "Oriental" has lesser negative connotations when used to refer to East Asians, but is becoming much less fashionable; you're better off using specific nationalities, or just saying "East Asian".
    • It is still common to hear the third member of the wartime Axis alliance being off-handedly referred to as "Japs". Asian-Americans visiting Britain need to be aware this is not now meant to be pejorative. (Although older people who fought their war in the East will often be vitriolic in their opinion of all things Japanese.) "Jap" is just handy shorthand. (Similarly, Brits visiting North America need to understand that to Japanese-Americans, this is an N-Word).
  • Autumn: Fall, as in the season; although this is used interchangeably in America, the opposite is not true, in that Brits will never say "fall" to mean the season (though it used to be commonplace, and older literature sometimes includes it).

    B 
  • Bacon: In Britain, "bacon" in most contexts refers to back bacon, which is sliced from both the belly and the loin cut of the animal. American visitors wanting good, red-blooded American-style bacon should ask for streaky bacon.
  • Barking mad: Not just crazy, completely crazy.
  • Bath: The name of a city in Somersetnote , and of what an American would call a bathtub. It's also a shibboleth of sorts; it possesses a long a (as in harm) in the South of England, and a short a (as in ham) in the North. If someone says "Baath" they're likely a Southerner. If it's more like "Beth" with the e swapped out, they're likely from Oop North. If they look like they never Bathe... why are you talking to them? Additionally, "bath" is much more likely to be used as a verb in British English, for example, to "bath the baby" rather than "bathe."
  • Banter: A rather upper class word meaning fun or excitement, generally riotous. Sometimes shortened to "bants". Avoid it.
    #1 Toff: And then we got drunk and pissed in someone's letterbox.
    #2 Toff: Huhu, banter!
    • In Scotland, it is sometimes used to refer to Glasgow patter (see below). Made famous by a series of sketches in Chewin' the Fat.
    • Can also be used to refer to back and chat, often of a witty and/or friendly insult nature.
  • Be called to the witness box: To "take the stand" in court.
  • Be sick: The throw up, to vomit.
  • Bed-sit: A small one-room apartment, similar to what Americans would call a studio apartment.
  • The Beeb: The BBC. Primarily Northern slang.
  • Beer garden: Outdoor area of a pub.
  • Bell-end: The English equivalent to American "dickhead," in pretty much every context. Also means the rounded end of a small tent, to the great amusement of small boys when confronted with camping equipment.
  • Bender: Homophobic slur. While gay people may use it to refer to themselves, it isn't appropriate for straight people to use. Probably the reason Avatar: The Last Airbender had its name changed.note 
    • It's also rather old (for obvious reasons) slang for a sixpence.
    • Another usage is found in the phrase "going on a bender", meaning that a lot of alcohol and/or other mind-altering substances are to be consumed.
  • Bent: Similarly, this sometimes means homosexual (in opposition to "straight"), but more often means 'corrupt', as in a 'bent policeman' or 'bent copper', very similar to the American term "crooked".
  • Bespoke: Custom-made. As in "a bespoke suit".
  • Biff: Very offensive term for someone suffering from spina bifida, a rather unpleasant medical condition. More generally, it just means any stupid, clumsy, or irresponsible person, but the connotations and history of this term means it should never be used.
  • Bill: US 'check' (the slip of paper demanding payment in a restaurant, hotel etc.). "Bill" does not refer to paper money UK says "a five-pound note" where US says "five dollar bill".
    • This is actually a common usage in the US as well, though more often applied to regular expenses received in the mail (utilities, telephone, etc). Even in areas where "check" is more commonly used, almost nobody will be confused if you ask for your bill in a restaurant.
    • In the past, you might have said that an Englishman settles his bill by cheque, while an American pays the check with a bill. But cheque use has been declining in the UK for at least a decade now, so...
    • Not to be confused with the Old Bill. (See police, below).
  • Billion, trillion, and larger increments: The co-existence of the short scale and long scale large-number terminology systems cause no shortage of confusion.
    • In the short scale that Americans are familiar with, each successive term equals the preceding term times a thousand. Thus, a million is a thousand thousands (106), a billion is a thousand millions (109), a trillion is a thousand billions (1012), and so on.
    • Historically, Great Britain employed the long scale, in which each term is the preceding term times a million. A million is still a thousand thousands (106), but a billion is a million millions (1012), a trillion is a million billions (1018), etc. Complementing these terms are the "-iard" terms, which take the corresponding "-ion" term and multiply by a thousand; thus, a milliard is a thousand millions (109); a billiard is a thousand billions (1015), and a trilliard is a thousand trillions (1021).
    • In the 1970s, the British government changed their official usage to the short scale. Today, the terms billion, trillion, and so forth almost always refer to the American short scale, and the people who still use the long scale are very much a minority.note  The antiquated terms "British style" (for long scale) and "American style" (for short scale) only add more confusion, as many people remember the scales being different, but not how they were different.
      If you want to learn more, Wikipedia has an article about it.
  • Billy No Mates: Someone with few friends, regardless of their given name (although Billy will sometimes be replaced with the person's name), and often used by everyone: the usage is generally more as a friendly rib, otherwise it'd be quite offensive.
    • Wheatley uses a variant on Chell while attempting to mock her, calling her "Fatty Fatty No Parents".
  • Bin, Dustbin: Trashcan. References to the overhead lockers on planes as "bins" can be amusing to Brits, although "bin" is also used as a generic reference to any receptacle for miscellaneous items, as in the phrase "Bargain Bin".
    • Similarly, binman, dustbinman or dustman means your friendly neighbourhood waste collector, i.e. garbageman.
  • Bint: Girl, young woman, potential sexual partner. Another word brought back from Empire (Arabic: young girl, daughter). Offensive/sexist term.
  • Bird: A colloquialism for a woman. Use (and the politeness thereof) may vary, although one generally wouldn't use the term to refer to a prepubescent girl, an older woman or a family member compare US 'chick'. Understood by most Americans thanks to the British Invasion (of music).
    • Also used to mean "prison time": eg "He's doing bird in Dartmoor."
    • In older works, "bird" may instead be a term for an older man, usually resulting in a modern audience becoming quite confused; "He's a queernote  old bird", for instance. 'Old bird' nowadays would more likely refer to an old woman, though without the slightly sexualised connotations of 'bird' on its own.
  • Biscuit: A "cookie" in American English, cookie is still used to describe sweet biscuits, especially the large chewy kind with chocolate chips.note 
    • Frasier's Daphne Moon fluctuates between using "biscuit" in the British sense and then in the American sense (to describe what her countrymen would call a "scone").
  • Bitter: Short for "bitter ale", a medium-dark (orange or light brown in colour) beer. Most beers in England are referred to as "bitters", "lagers" or "pale ales"; the latter (also called "India Pale Ale" or "IPA") is similar in style to lager and was invented for a similar reason (so that it would survive the long unrefrigerated sea voyage to India; "lager" is German for "storage"). There is also "porter" (or "stout" in its stronger versions), a very dark ale, and there used to be "brown ale", darker than bitter but lighter than porter, although the latter seems to have disappeared.
  • BME: Official term for everyone who isn't white. It's an acronym for Black and Minority Ethnic.
  • Bloke: Man, guy. You can refer to "that bloke over there", "some bloke I met earlier" and to your husband or partner as "my bloke"; but unlike 'guy' it is not normally used in the second-person plural, as in "hey you blokes".
  • Bloody: A very mild swearword, most commonly used in the phrase "bloody hell", and often seen as a way to Bowdlerise things. However, it can still come off oddly when American authors use it in the wrong context. Also used with the "covered in blood" meaning; can depend on context in ambiguous phrases like "A Bloody Mess".
  • Bob: In pre-1971 works, a shilling. Survives in the phrases "he's worth a bob or two" ("he is rich") and "he's as queer/bent as a nine bob note" for someone pretty crazy ("he is as gay as the day is long", an American version is "queer as a three-dollar bill").
    • Also used like the word "toss", e.g. "Bob it in there, will you?"
    • In some areas it's used to mean 'bad' as in "a load of old bob"
  • Boffin: A nerd or geek. Believed to originate as an acronym for "Back Office Intelligence", i.e. where a lot of such people found themselves working during World War II. Sometimes shortened to "boff", especially Oop North. A favoured word of lazy tabloid newspaper headlines to describe scientists, as in "CERN boffins find Higgs boson". Boffin tends to have fewer negative connotations than nerd does though, and tends to be used more as a term of endearment. "Those Bletchley Park boffins were bloody amazing"
  • Bog: Slang for the toilet. Derived phrases include "bog roll", "gone straight down the bog", etc. Or an actual bog, like a more concentrated marsh, where the toilet definition is presumed to originate.
  • Bog standard: Common-or-garden, unenhanced, nothing special. Not nearly as negative as it might sound. note 
  • Bog-trotter: A racial slur meaning an Irish person. This spread to the United States during the 19th and early 20th century eras of mass-immigration, but has since fell out of use. It retains traction in Britain.
  • Bollocks: Slang for testicles. May also be used in place of the phrase "bullshit" One exception: The phrase "the dog's bollocks" means something good. Compare "Shit" and "The shit", respectively.
    • To receive a "bollocking" is to get a right telling-off; can be Bowdlerised to "rollicking".
    • A similar term "Bollix" (meaning foul up) is used in some parts of the US. John Wayne used it in the movie Chisum ("Don't make a bollix of it").
    • "Bollocks" is also used to denote discontent, as in "Oh bollocks"; similar to "Damn it".
    • And finally, as per the The Sex Pistols obscenity trial around the album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, "Bollocks" was used in old English to refer to a priest. Almost nobody actually uses this sense of the word any more, but you can draw all sorts of conclusions from the mere fact of its existence: it's possibly related to "bollocking", above.
  • Bolshy: Adjective derived from "Bolshevik" to mean rebellious or uncooperative in a rather general sense.
  • Bone-idle: Extremely lazy. The implication is that the person or creature being described is so lazy it's even in their bones.
  • Bonnet, boot: In addition to their traditional sartorial meanings that non-Brits would also be familiar with, these also refer to the hood (lid of the front, usually engine, compartment) and trunk (rear compartment) of a car, respectively. Presumably due to their modernity, car parts are one of those categories which are vastly Separated by a Common Language.
  • Bottle: Nerve, courage; e.g. "He wanted to chat up the fit bird but he hadn't the bottle." To chicken out, i.e. lose one's bottle (esp. at the last minute) can be described as "to bottle it" - the approximate US equivalent to "choking" at the last minute.
  • Boxhead Originally military slang for a German, military or civilian. Originated in the 1980's when the General Officer Commanding British forces in West Germany noted that nearly forty years after the end of WW2, British service personnel were still using the derogatory word "Squarehead" for Germans. Orders went out that This Will Cease Forthwith and disciplinary Measures Will Follow. Overnight, Germans became Boxheads - a reference to the same hairstyle that led to the original insult...
  • Brilliant: A more general term roughly meaning excellent, wonderful, amazing, etc. Something described as "brilliant" may not be particularly clever or ingenious; "Here's your tea," "Ah, brilliant".
  • Brew, a: A cup of tea. Note that it is only used when it is given an ordinal indicator (so someone would speak of "a brew" or "some brews": they would never call their drink "my brew", unless you're Peter Kay and your biscuit (see above) has fallen in it, or you're from North England. Can also be used to refer to a cup of coffee, or a hot drink of whatever specification; however, it never means a beer (as it does in the US and Canada). "A brew" can also mean the act of making a round of tea/coffee/other hot drinks; "I'm doing a brew, who's having what?"
    Stock phrase: "Ay love, make us a brew."
    • More a Northern expression than a UK-wide one. Also very common in Wales.
      • Though very widely used in the Army and RAF; the "brew bitch" is someone - often the most junior - who is expected to make the tea. In the Navy and Marines the equivalent is a "hot wet." The "brew whore", or "wench", conversely is usually the best at making the rounds, and it's quite an honour.
  • Brolly: Umbrella.
  • Brummie: Someone from Birmingham, England's second city.
  • Bugger: Semi-offensive swearword, literally meaning sodomise but pretty much divorced from that meaning in everyday conversation as it's usually only used as an interjection. It's one of the ones that Americans might think sounds "quaint" but is actually reasonably offensive, although nothing like the word "fuck". Offensiveness also varies by region, as in many Northern areas (e.g. Yorkshire), bugger is barely swearing at all (although you still wouldn't want to take tea with the vicar and say it then), and its offensiveness tends to vary by context and intonation.
    • Most commonly used in the phrases "Oh bugger", "bugger off" and "buggered up", by the way. Be careful; using it as a verb without a preposition on the end, it does mean "sodomise", although it can also mean the same thing as "bugger up" pretty much the same situation as "to fuck" vs "to fuck up".
    • It's not entirely unused in the U.S., but on the rare occasion you hear someone here say "bugger" it's not even a mild curse but more of a euphemism for "fucker" along the lines of "dang" or "darn" for "damn". It's also part of a long-standing southernism, often used to refer to children in an entirely inoffensive way, e.g. "The little buggers were playing in the backyard."
    • A bugger, likewise, is just anyone who you can claim to be annoying at the moment, "the old bugger", "the little buggers". Also used to describe body parts sometimes, like a pronoun when the part has been established. If you're talking about your hips, say, you may go "ah, the bugger's been hurting all day": you can't say you've buggered it in these circumstances, but any other time "I've just buggered my knee" is perfectly normal.
  • Builder: A fairly specific term for certain types of construction workers.
    • "Builder's bum" is called when someone is showing their bumcrack, like a "plumber's crack" to Yanks.
    • "Builder's tea" is strong, cheap, tea with plenty of milk and sugar. Said to be favoured by builders taking (frequent) breaks.
  • Bum: bottom. Backside. Rump. Sit-upon. Inoffensive (similar in strength to "butt"), but works produced and set in America often have the word "bum" (used in the American sense) altered to "tramp" if they're intended to reach British audiences, if only because the original word would sound unintentionally humorous and not immediately understood.
    • May also be used in a colloquial sense as slang for the act of anal sex (typically with homosexual connotations; one who does so is a "bummer", so that word as used by Eaglelanders tends to raise a laugh). By extension; as a way of indicating a preoccupation with something, or sycophancy, in the case of a person (neither use is very polite). For example "Stop bumming that album".
    • Can also be used to mean "borrow/scrounge", as in "Can I bum a fag [q.v.] off you?" Common in American English as well, especially in conjunction with cigarettes. This usage probably derives from the archaic usage of "bum" to mean "bailiff", as seen in one Agatha Christie novel.
  • Burgle: What a burglar does. Known in the states as "burglarize", referring to common housebreaking.note  Americans always think the word is terribly funny, and in turn, Brits find the word "burglarize" utterly ridiculous.
  • Butty: A sandwich, traditionally a buttered one (hence the name). Most commonly used in the form of "bacon butty". Not to be confused with the Welsh expression

    C 
  • Cack: Faeces, sometimes used as a milder version of "crap" ("What a load of cack"). As a verb it can also mean the act of soiling oneself ("He just went and cacked himself!").
  • Cack-handed: Clumsy or done in a manner that does more harm than good (compare "ham fisted"). Also an old fashioned and mildly offensive word for a left handed person and (very rarely) by extension a derisive term for left wing political views the speaker deems harmful.
  • Canteen: A cafeteria.
  • Caravan: A US trailer or RV.
  • Car park: A parking lot. You know, because it's where you park cars.
  • Candyfloss: Cotton candy.
  • Cashpoint: ATM. Also known as a "cash dispenser", "cash machine" or "hole in the wall". It should be noted that "Cashpoint" and "Hole-in-the-wall" are actually registered trademarks, of Lloyds and Barclays banks respectively.
  • Chap: Old-fashioned term for a man. Tends to be confined to the upper classes or TV adaptations of c.1920s-'50s literature. "Old chap" is a common form of address in these contexts. In 'Allo 'Allo!, it is signified that characters are speaking "English" when they start talking this way. Expect to see "old bean" or "old boy" in the same context. Also gives it's name to "Chap Hop", a British version of Hip-Hop.
    • Can also be a lower-class form of address/greeting, as in "Orright chap?", usually when addressing someone younger.
  • Chav: Classist insult to refer to stereotypes surrounding poor people. Depending on who you ask this can range from a thuggish individual to a member of a particular working class subculture to a general insult directed towards anyone who lives on a council estate [q.v.]. The closest American equivalent would be "trailer trash". See the other wiki for details - the only thing anyone can agree on is that calling someone a chav isn't intended as a compliment. A common backronym is "Council House And Violent" Other types of Lower-Class Lout by region include;
    • In East Anglia they were called "barries" (like the man's name; females were "sharons") in the late '90s and early '00s, but this has been replaced by "chav", to the extent that people have forgotten "barries" ever existed, with one tiny exception: The phrase "Barry Boy" is used as an adjunct to "Boy Racer" in certain areas. A "Boy Racer" buys a cheap car and attempts to make it perform better by ludicrous means; A "Barry Boy" is someone who buys a cheap car and then tries to make it look like a high performance vehicle (usually degrading its performance by screwing up the aerodynamics) by incredibly ludicrous means. The installation of a stereo system costing twice as much as the vehicle itself is usually a reliable indicator of Barryhood, in this particular sense.
    • The North-West likewise had "scally" - possibly derived from "scallywag" - which quickly fell out of use shortly after the turn of the millennium, except by teens. Also the term "scrote", short for "scrotum", a more offensive term with a similar meaning.
      • Scallywag is now almost a compliment, a sweet thing you might refer to someone else's kid as while talking to them, e.g. "How're your little scallywags doing?"
    • In Belfast, they're "spides" or "chip-eaters", the latter referring to their copious consumption of chips.
      • As well as this, there are "millies" a term that's fallen out of use recently, but refers to females and comes from the days when working class women worked at the mills.
    • In Scotland they're Neds. Opinions differ on origin but mostly either Non Educated Delinquent or Ne'er-do-well.
    • May also be called "asbos". See the definition above.
  • Cheerio: An old-fashioned, middle to upper class word for "goodbye". Using it properly, without any sense of irony, will get you funny looks (or mark you out as a tourist). Using it as anything but a parting phrase will make everyone cringe.
  • Cheers: As well as a salute to other drinkers of alcohol, means "thank you" in informal usage. It's worth noting that we Brits don't tend to use it as a toast the way Hollywood does (e.g. a character proposing a toast by saying 'Cheers to you guys' from The Proposal)
  • Chemist (sometimes "Chemist's"): Pharmacy/Drugstore. Shortened from "Chemist's shop", from when they actually mixed the medications, instead of simply counting pills. Americans were largely introduced to this in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the introduction to the in-universe guide, talking about about how big space is "...you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space, listen..." Gradually falling into disuse and being replaced by the more accurate Pharmacy.
  • Cheque: British spelling of "check" (in the sense of a written form of payment). A Briton would say "bring me the cheque", if it weren't for the fact they'd actually say "bring me the bill" (see above).
  • Chips: Used to describe what would be called "French Fries" in the U.S.; as in "Fish and chips". "Fries" in the UK refers specifically to the thin-cut variety they sell at McDonald's, although these are also referred to as chips to add to the confusion. Do not call chips as bought from a fish and chip shop fries, this is a matter of deep importance to some and will not hesitate to correct you. "Chips" refers specifically to the thick-cut variety known as "steak fries" in the U.S. Here's where it starts to get weird: fish and chips has the same name in the US as it does in the UK, but the "chips" are usually the smaller style of fries stateside. See "crisps" for what Americans call "chips" (confusingly, "corn chips" or "tortilla chips" refer to the same thing as they do in the States).
  • Chuddies: A word imported from India and used by the new generation of Indian/British people. Popularised by Asian sketch comedy show Goodness Gracious Me, it refers to underpants and by extension the bodily parts they cover. Kiss my chuddies! is an expression of disbelief, contempt and derision akin to Kiss my arse!
  • Clunge: A vagina. More generally used refer to attractive women, as in "Yeah, that's a good club. Plenty of clunge on a Friday night." Used by teenagers, tosspots and teenage tosspots. While not as directly offensive as the "c" word, using this term is considered distinctly low-class.
  • Clot: Slightly old fashioned slang for an idiot. The equivalent of the US "dolt". Related to and may be derived from Yiddish "klutz".
  • Coach: Privately hired and/or long-haul bus; thus the signs all over England reading "No football coaches allowed". No, it's not a prohibition against Rex Ryan, nice as that may sound. Football coach = bus full of soccer fans.
    • The difference is mainly that a bus is generally for public use and within towns/over short distances, whereas a coach is typically either hired privately and/or used for longer journeys (London to Manchester, or London to Edinburgh for example). If you have to book it in advance, it's a coach; if you buy a ticket when you get on, it's a bus.
    • Although that isn't necessarily the case - you can privately hire a bus/double-decker and you can publicly find coach services which you pay for as you step on. It mainly denotes the style of the vehicle. Coaches are often faster, more comfortable, less noisy for the passengers and sit higher off the ground than buses (due to having a luggage hold) and may have onboard toilets and Wi-Fi (though some bus companies are also introducing Wi-Fi as well).
    • Coach used in this fashion has sort of made its way to the US as well. "Coach class" for airlines is used pretty frequently. It's not super common when you're referring to busses but most Americans will know what you're talking about if you say it.
  • The Continent: shorthand for the rest of Europe, although "Europe" is also used to mean the rest of Europe as distinct from Britain, or to the EU.
  • Council estate: Equivalent to a US public housing project. The more decrepit, crime-ridden examples are often called "sink" estates.
  • Cowie: A North England word meaning, depending on geographical context, ectasy, cocaine, a thing, a policeman, or an ugly woman. Generally, it refers to drugs or being on drugs, as in:
    Stoner: Pull yer maddest cowie face!
    • Then you get people whose name it is... Ouch.
  • Chuffed: Means "happy" or "pleased". "I'm just chuffed about it." The legally-mandated response to success in a reality TV show.
    • Be advised though that "to chuff" is to break wind.
  • Chunder: To vomit. Originally a rather upper-class, Etonian piece of slang, it is now generally used ironically amongst young people thanks to a memetic YouTube video satirizing Yahs (see below).
  • Colour: This is spelt with a U in UK English, as are several other similar words such as "Armour", "Honour" and "Neighbour" plus derivatives like "Colourful" and "Neighbourhood". But beware - words like "humour" still decline to "humorous", and honour to "honorary". As "Technicolor" is a trademark, credits of British movies don't alter its spelling. The same goes for English spelling in most other other Commonwealth nations.
  • Craic: Word coming both English and Irish, pronounced "crack" but with an accent, always. Often heard in the phrase "a good craic" or "what's the craic", and generally means (something that is) a good time or a good laugh.
  • Crapaud: French for "toad." Archaic English for Frenchman.
  • Crimbo/Chrimbo: Slang term for Christmas, usually in reference to the more commercial aspects of the holiday. May be familiar to Kingdom of Loathing players. Not to be confused with Chrimbus.
  • Crisps: "Potato Chips" in US English.
  • Cross with: Mad at. "Cross" may occasionally be used in US English, but "mad" is far more common in US English.
  • Crown: "The Crown" refers to the reigning monarch and/or the property held by the monarch, e.g. "These ships belong to the Crown." However, before 1971, a "Half crown" was also a 2.5-shilling coin. The latter is because there was also a coin called a "crown" (face value 5 shillings or 25p), but although this coin was (and is to this day) legal tender, it hasn't been struck for circulation in decades. It has been replaced with a new crown coin (face value £5), but this likewise has only been struck as a commemorative coin.
    • It also denotes the prosecution in English and Welsh criminal trials, where it is rendered as Regina ("The Queen"; Rex meaning "The King" when the monarch is male), written simply as R. For instance, if O.J. Simpson was accused of murder in London rather than Los Angeles, the case would have been written Regina v Orenthal James Simpson, abbreviated to R. v. Simpson (Orenthal), rather than The People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson, abbreviated to People v. Simpson.
  • Crumpet: A griddle cake made with flour and yeast; see The Other Wiki's article. Similar to an English Muffin, although that name is deceptive as those are fairly rare in English cuisine (and "muffin" generally refers to the same thing as it does in America).
    • Also used, somewhat quaintly now, to refer to an attractive woman (see also Totty, below). An attractive and highly intelligent woman, particularly one with a prominent role in the media, is sometimes referred to as being "Thinking Man's Crumpet" - originally coined in reference to Joan Bakewellnote , who didn't think much of the appellation.
  • Cunt: See Country Matters for more details; it's still a swearword, but is used to refer to either gender (although it's typical for men to be thought of as behaving more "like a cunt") and thus doesn't come off as unspeakably misogynistic as it does in America. It's also frequently used as a term of camaraderie in certain groups as a way of expressing strong friendship. Is one of very few words that cannot be spoken on British TV.
    "Bloody hell, how the fuck are you, you miserable old cunt?! I've not seen you in donkeys!" *men will now hug and imbibe at least three pints each*
    • Its use is so ubiquitous in the Armed Forces as to be more-or-less relegated to the role of punctuation or a placeholder noun for pretty much anything and everything. The same has happened in parts of Scotland, particularly Glasgow.
    • Also used to refer to a body part, and many people choose to reclaim this term rather than using euphemistic terms for the vagina, which reinforce stigma and the idea that it cannot be spoken about.
    • There are even some historic streets in English towns and cities called "Gropecunt Lane" because this was where one solicited sex workers in the olden days.
    • And a dialectic way of saying "could not", so if you're around a Northerner don't be surprised to hear it.
  • Cuppa: i.e. cup of. Short for 'cuppa tea'.

    D 
  • Daft: A very mild, and clean term meaning silly, stupid or of poor judgement. Often combined with "bugger" (see above).
  • Dago: In America and Australia, this is generally used as a derogatory term for an Italian. In Britain it's a somewhat outdated slur for Latinate people, generally those of Spanish or Latin-American descent. It was revived after a certain Argentinean footballer earned the hatred of England fans by illegally guiding the ball into the net with his hand while playing England in a World Cup decider, hence the borderline-racist headline You Cheating Diego!
    • Related is the archaic Don, referring to a Spaniard. Comes from the Spanish honorific.
  • Divvy: This can describe either (i) an abbreviation of "dividend" now most commonly used by and referring to the biannual payout to members of the Cooperative Society, also to their divvy or divi card, or as a verb for dividing something up e.g. "we divvied up the loot" means the same as "we split the loot between us" or (ii) an idiot (e.g. "What a bunch of divvies", "He's a bit of a divvy"). The latter is sometimes shortened to "div".
    • Sometimes shortened to div, used as a noun or adjective.
    • "Divvy" as a verb is used in some parts of the US.
  • Do: As a noun, refers to a party or social function.
  • Double decker - a bus with two floors - these are common in the UK but rare in the USA (though they once regularly operated on some lines in New York City and other American cities). Also a chocolate covered candy bar with two layers, one nougat and one crispies, based on the same idea.
  • Down tools (verb): Stop working. Traditionally understood as a synonym for "go on strike", but it may now also mean "clock out for the day". In sports contexts, the American equivalent is holdout.
  • Dodgy: Synonymous with "shifty" or "shady". Generally used to describe something untrustworthy or unreliable, generally "not right". Usually used in the sense that what it's describing is disreputable. (e.g. "That run-down shop looks pretty dodgy" or "I can't eat now, I have a dodgy stomach."

    E 
  • Envisage: US "envision".
  • Exclamation mark: Exclamation point.
  • Eyetie: (Iti). Slang word for an Italian. Derived from World War II. Now frowned upon and considered a little bit politically incorrect; unknown in North America but can carry the same pejorative force as wop or spic.

    F 
  • Faff: As a noun, a hassle; an inconvenient or dull task. As a verb, "to faff about" means to mess about, often in a procrastinatory fashion.
  • Fag: Slang for a cigarette. Don't be alarmed if someone says they're going outside to "suck on a fag" or to "smoke a fag". The term stems from the word "faggot", one of its meanings being a bundle of sticks for firewood. These resembled the tied bundles of cigarettes commonly seen in tobacconists before cartons came into being. The Latin root of the word, fascis, means "bundle".
    • As a verb, it refers to having a younger boy act as a servant to an older boy in a public school ("fagging"); one of the common jobs was lugging firewood, or faggots, as noted above. Considering the US meaning, this has even more potential for humorous confusion, especially since there's been some recent controversy regarding the practice for those exact reasons.
    • Then there's the surprisingly common and inoffensive meaning of "a difficult and laborious task", as in "listing all the myriad meanings of this word is a real fag."
    • One should keep in mind that calling a person a fag is still considered a wildly offensive slur (and 'faggot' possibly even more so, notwithstanding the below).
  • Faggots: A much-derided traditional foodstuff, semi-meatballs made with minced (US: ground) meat and offal with breadcrumbs and herbs, often served in gravy and with mashed potato. Also refers, as noted above, to chunks of firewood.
  • Fairy cake: A cupcake, generally one a bit smaller than you would typically see in the U.S.
  • Fancy: Multiple meanings:
    • "I fancy [thing]": saying "I fancy chips/a new car/a holiday/going out/etc." is the same as saying "I'd really like..."
    • "I fancy [person]": saying this is the equivalent to the US term "I have a crush on [person]" (i.e. means the speaker has a strong romantic/sexual attraction to said person).
    • "That's fancy": use as an adjective means the thing is very nice, classy, and/or expensive-looking.
  • Fanny: the vulva. This can lead to reasonably inoffensive American humour becoming far more amusing to a British audience.
    • Particularly in 'The Nanny' in which every episode announced that Fran was cast out "on her fanny." That's why your Empire chums always snigger during the opening credits.
    • The US "fanny pack" becomes "bum bag" in the UK, except among young people using it ironically.
    • "Fanny means your arse over there... not your minge."
    • Also a girls' name, more common in Ireland than GB, but still has hilarious results. Who knows if Enid Blyton had evil intentions when Aunt Fanny kept meeting young Dick in her 'Famous Five' series of books? Some later editions bowlderised the names as "Aunt Aggie" and "Rick" to avoid this.
  • Father Christmas is the progenitor of the figure known worldwide as Santa Claus, although in modern times there's not much of a difference.
  • Fire brigade: Fire department.
  • First Floor: The floor above the ground floor, known in America as the second floor. Ground floor is also interchangeable with first floor in the American usage.
  • Fit: Attractive, in describing a person. Equivalent, in that sense, of the US 'hot', though the latter would also be easily understood in Britain. Can lead to puns really easily. A Fitty is an attractive person. Sometimes substituted with Bonny in Scotland, though this is generally restricted to females describing males or as an affection description of a young girl - "she's a bonny wee lass!"
  • Fiver/Tenner: A five-pound or ten-pound note (Brits call paper money notes, not bills. A bill is an invoice for payment). In Australian English, refers to five-dollar notes and ten-dollar notes, respectively. A twenty-pound note is simply called a "Twenty" rather than "Twentier" and a fifty-pound note is likely to simply be called that, given how rarely they're seen.
  • Flat: A one-story apartment. As in, "Hey, babe, want to come up to my flat and snog?" For the purposes of Estate Agents (or, for Americans, Realtors), a flat has a front door that opens onto a shared area; if your front door opens onto the world at large, then it might be a maisonette, bedsit, or studio, but it is not technically described as a flat. Given that Estate Agents are nigh-universally considered the spawn of Satan, even by those who don't believe in Satan, this technical distinction is often overlooked in normal conversation, where it means any small residence that can't be described as a 'house'.
  • Flannel: A washcloth, not the fabric favored by Grunge musicians.
  • Football: Always used to describe the sport also known as Soccer. If you want to talk about gridiron use the phrase "American Football" while you're here or everyone will assume you're talking about our version.
    • Just as football = soccer: table = standings; fixture list = schedule; match = game; draw = tie; pitch = field; etc.
    • As Chris Stark and Mila Kunis discuss, saying 'soccer' is sacrilege. It is not done. Football = Association Football = The Beautiful Game. Never mind that the term "soccer" originated at Oxford...
      • Well there is Soccer city, in Trafford, a brand name of an indoor training facility. Probably American, too.
      • "Soccer" also seems to be permitted in video game titles, even British-developed ones such as Sensible Soccer and Actua Soccer.
  • Fortnight: Two weeks. Unsurprisingly derived from 'fourteen nights'. Surprisingly useful.
    • People still use it in America, but it's considered formal and relegated to the world of literature.
  • Fringe: The part of the hair that hangs over the forehead, called "bangs" in American English.
  • Fruit machine: Slot machine.
  • One really cannot discuss British English without referring to the never-printed but universally-used Fuck. This can mean almost anything, depending on context. It is an expletive, an insult; a modifier - as in when someone is said to have "fucked off" - which can convey anything from mild disapproval to stirring condemnation. It can be an imperative, as when telling someone they can fuck off (note that "go forth and multiply", a Bible quote, is a euphemism for this). It can mean damaged or worn out, beyond use; hence "Fuck, the fucking fucker is fucked!" which is incapable of translation but makes sense to a Brit note . Non-native speakers always get this word wrong or completely out if context, and are well advised not to try.
    "You know, Minister, I believe that in the long view of history, the British Empire will be remembered only for two things... The game of soccer. And the expression 'fuck off.'" - The last Governor of South Yemen, in conversation with then Defence Minister Denis Healey on the eve of South Yemen's independence.
  • Full Stop: Period, as in the punctuation mark; thus the final words of 1066 and All That: "History came to a ." Britain is aware of the word 'period', however, particularly the usage "Period!" to put an end to an argument, going at least as far as having really bad puns on certain adverts for feminine hygiene products.
    • Similarly to how the Yanks use "period" to mean 'end of conversation, that's it', the Brits say "full stop" to say the same thing, e.g. "X are the best, full stop."
  • Fuzzy-wuzzies: A generally out-of-use term for Africans (DO NOT SAY THIS: it is an incredibly offensive and racist slur). It is derived from the term used by British soldiers to describe Hadendoa tribesmen fought during the wars with the Sudanese Mahdi in the says of British involvement in the Sudan, as they wore their hair rather fuzzy. Since popularized by the Rudyard Kipling poem Fuzzy Wuzzy and Corporal Jones in Dad's Army, who fondly reminisces of his days fighting them, and their distaste for bayonets.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/BritishEnglish/EnglishSlangAToF