8 British Colloquialisms You Need to Know

Like A Local Guide • 8 Sep, 2019

So, I live in England. Wait, I live in England? The reality hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but just as it begins to feel like home someone points out my accent or says “pardon” when I utter a word or phrase they don’t understand. I can’t really do much about my accent, though I have been trying to change my vocabulary to make things a bit easier when conversing with locals. I find myself saying things like “it’s bloody freezing out” to emphasise how cold it is, but also because there’s no conversation topic the Brits love more than the weather. Seriously. And when someone “toots” me when I’m driving (on the wrong side of the road no less), I think to myself “what a wanker!” You get the point – the Brits use lots of words that us “Yanks” don’t. I gathered a selection of some of my favourites for the Pink Pangea community of women travellers, including examples of how they’re used.

1. All right?

This is the British way of asking “how are you?” The only issue I have with this one is that when people continually ask you if you’re all right, you start to wonder if you are indeed not all right. The Brits I know aren’t allowed to ask me if I’m all right more than once each time we meet – if I’m not all right I’ll be sure to let them know!

2. Chat up

The American equivalent of using pick-up lines. You can use a “chat-up line” or simply chat up a guy or girl (lad/bloke or lass/bird).

3. Chuffed

This is one of the cutest British words in my opinion. If something makes you really happy, you can say “I’m well chuffed!” I especially loved it when someone told me that I must have been “chuffed to bits” about learning to drive a manual car so quickly. Chuffed indeed.

4. Fit

“That bird is well fit” means “that girl is hot”. The Brits use this one to describe all round good looks, not just trim and toned bodies.

5. Gutted

This is to be very upset or disappointed, for example “I’m so gutted that I didn’t get the job”.

6. Knackered

This is such a handy word. It means exhausted and, for the Brits, it’s the word of choice to describe how they feel after yet another night of heavy drinking. Can anyone say hangover (I think this one’s a universal word)?

7. Moreish

Synonymous with cookies (biscuits), pizza, cake, chips (crisps), and any other delicious (scrummy) snack. Moreish is that sensation when you can’t stop eating something and one serving simply won’t do!

8. Pissed/smashed/sloshed

All words for being completely wasted. Someone told me that you can pretty much come up with any combination of words to describe being drunk and the Brits will surely understand. Having a pint is a huge part of their culture, and having fun always starts with a drink.

There are tons of other words I’ve learned while living here, but these are just a few of my favourites. If you make it to this side of the pond at least you’ll be sorted with a few phrases. And if all else fails, you could always just talk about the weather…


Originally from Florida, Stephanie Morgan has lived and worked in Australia, China, Thailand and England. She’s currently a Foreign Correspondent for Pink Pangea and resides in Bristol, England.

This post originally appeared on Pink Pangea – an online community for women who love to travel.

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