A Guide to British Slang

Posted: April 14, 2012 by jerkmagblog in VAULT -- archives

Just because you completed a semester abroad in London and are a big fan of Harry Potter and Skins does not mean you know British slang well enough to use it correctly. There’s nothing that irks me more than seeing someone try to use slang terms nonchalantly to try and seem worldly, but end up looking like a pretentious twat. As a certified British citizen, I can at least be pretentious about this subject with an official document backing me up.

What Not to Say:

BLOODY: Yes, people do still say bloody in Britain, but it’s considered a swear word reserved for times when you’re really angry and Americans affecting it often over-use it to ill effect.

BOLLOCKS: While this word if often used in England as an expletive and the Sex Pistol’s famous album is even called “Never Mind the Bollocks”. The only reason that Americans shouldn’t use this term is because it does not roll nicely off the tongue with the accent. It’s almost impossible to incorporate this phrase seamlessly into American jargon so it’s best not to try and expose yourself as the poser you are.

BUGGER: Buggery is a legal term meaning sodomy and saying “Bugger Me” is akin to saying “Fuck Me”.  It is used commonly in England when lamenting something bad that has happened. Use it only if you really think you can pull it off.

SNOGGING: This is a pretty well known British term made popular by the teen novel and subsequent movie, Angus, Thongs & Perfect Snogging. It’s mainly a word used by teenagers and younger girls the same way you don’t really hear anyone in college bragging about a “make out session” they had. Past a certain point, it’s just not cool anymore.

What to Say:

FUCKING HELL: This is one of the most popular exclamations I’ve heard around the country and it’s something Americans can say without sounding stupid. British people are also much more liberal about using the words “Fuck” and “Cunt”, even on television, than most Americans so say it loud and proud. Just be careful who you might offend in the process.

SLAG: To call someone a slag is like calling that person a slut or a whore. I’ll leave the Feminist implications using the word to Medusa.

WANKER: Wanking is a slang term for masturbation, and is arguably the most fun term out there to throw around casually. Douche Bag is probably closest American equivalent of calling someone a Wanker.

I FANCY YOU: British kids don’t usually say that they “like someone” although it is becoming more popular as American media pervades the country. Nor do they describe themselves as having a “crush on” someone which is distinctly American. The best thing to describe the phenomenon of developing warm and fuzzy feelings for someone is to say that you “fancy” them.

-Kat Smith

  1. Richard Eric says:

    What would a British teenage girl call an older man who made a pass at her that offended her – American teens would call him a creep, but I need to know the equivalent in the UK. thx

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