I’m Loving British Vocab

Famous warning to passengers riding the Tube, London’s rail system.

We’re 6 months in to this 2 year adventure. Can you believe it? 25% finished. Time has really flown by! I’m fascinated by how different our lives are in Britain vs. the Midwest, and how quickly we’ve adapted to this new lifestyle. Everything from driving on the other side of the road and tackling roundabouts like old pros to cooking with different spices and living simply. No TV, shopping sprees, or fancy kitchen gadgets. Bare walls, boring Ikea furniture, and TONS of tea. I left my bulky acrylic paints and canvases back in the States in favor of more travel-friendly watercolors. Some of our new routines and traditions will surely come home with us (TEA!), and I hope to God we can continue using British vocab Stateside.

Below is a roundup of some of my favorites (American translation in parentheses). And the video above is a funny clip of British vs. American slang on the Ellen Show.

Ta (thanks)
Sorted (figured out/squared away/solved)
Bits n bobs (various things)
Y’alright? (general greeting) No one says, “Hi, how are you?”
Mate (friend) Hey Mate, blah blah blah… or I’m meeting my mates at blah blah blah
Tosh (nonsense)
Bin (garbage can)
Tenner/Fiver (ten or five pound note)
Lorry (truck)
Trolley (shopping cart)
Nappy (diaper)
Brolly (umbrella)
Gherkin (pickle)
Bloody Hell (damn it)
Tosser (idiot)
Nutter (crazy person)
Chav (white trash)
Dodgy (suspicious)
Knackered (tired, exhausted)
Punter (customer)
Ice lolly (popsicle)
Do (party)
Stag Do/Hen Do (bachelor/bachelorette party) Often listed as prohibited in Airbnb listings.
Fancy (like/enjoy) I didn’t fancy that wine.
Kip (nap) I fancy a kip.
Fussed (bothered) “I’m not fussed” is a typical response when asked for your preference
Queue (line) This word is used constantly.
Ts & Cs (terms & conditions)

Posh – I am on a quest to figure out what this word means. I’ve gathered it has multiple uses and generally means wealthy/fancy, but some use it derisively and others boastfully. London neighborhoods are often described to me as “very posh,” but a friend recently assured me that her holiday in the Algarve region of Portugal was not posh. If you are British, or a transplant, or know the answer, enlighten me!!!

I am decidedly not posh, since my daily uniform consists of holey jeans and an over-sized men’s sweater from Scotland. And, in case you need even more of a visual, my skin tone is so pasty from lack of sun that it’s almost the same shade as the sweater, and coincidentally, the walls in our house. So if you have the pleasure of FaceTimeing with me in the near future, you may need to look carefully to pick out my brown eyeballs from the camouflage that is my life.

I’m Loving British Vocab

4 thoughts on “I’m Loving British Vocab

  1. I also moved to England recently (8 months ago). I have heard all of those words you’ve listed and I still learn new ones nearly everyday.

    I always thought that “posh” was a good thing, but when I first began talking to my British man he assured me he is “not posh” lol. I find Britain has two very distinct categories… “posh” (think the royal family, tweed suits and saying things like ‘jolly good’) and very not posh (think The Inbetweeners, pubs and crudeness). I think posh people see it as being a good thing and well-mannered and not-posh people see it as being stuck up and overly conservative.

    I’ve been called “posh” simply for drinking Earl Grey tea lol. It is an odd country, this England!


  2. Nora Kantwill says:

    One of my all time favorites is “bloody hell” and I’ve been known to pull it out from time to time although The Dowager Countess has now instilled our favorite family line for all things that we don’t want to do, won’t do, don’t like, are negative in any way “I won’t stand for it!” You have to love the Brits! So glad you are enjoying it and sorry that it’s already 25% gone as it will continue to fly by 😦


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