A Glossary of Britishisms - English words that aren't slang.

Words beginning with:  A . B . C . D . E . F . G . H . I . J . K . L . M . N . O . P . Q . R . S . T . U . V . W . X . Y . Z .  Abbreviations used

English expressions, idioms, names for everyday objects, places and people perculiar to Britain

A glossary of British words that English speakers from outside of the UK may find confusing, and may think are slang or informal, but are standard English and a common part of the British vernacular. These words won't be found in the general slang listings in this dictionary but are included here to assist in understanding the idiosyncrasies of the English language. It is by no means exhaustive and, as I am British, it's difficult for me to know which words in the British vernacular may be confusing to other English speakers, so please feel free to submit expressions you think should be listed.

999 Noun. The telephone number used to call the emergency services, such as police, ambulance or fire; 911 (U.S./Canada)
action replay Noun. A playback of part of a television broadcast, usually of a sports event, and which can often be in slow motion.
aluminium Noun. A light, silver-coloured metal; aluminum (U.S.).
arcade Noun. A covered passage containing shops, frequently with an arched roof.
articulated lorry Noun. A trailer truck, a truck with an unpowered, towed trailer.
ASBO Acronym. An Anti-Social Behaviour Order. A legal injunction restricting the movements and activities of someone who has deemed to have engaged in anti-social behaviour. Although no longer used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, having been replaced by alternative orders, they are still common in Scotland.
answer machine Noun. A device for taking messages when phonecalls are missed. Also as answering machine. Cf. 'answerphone'
answerphone Noun. A device for taking messages when phonecalls are missed. Cf. 'answer machine'.
anticlockwise Adv./Adj. In the opposite direction to which the hands of a clock go, counterclockwise.
at Her Majesty's pleasure Phrs. A person detained in prison is there at Her Majesty's pleasure. Occasionally abbreviated to the Queen's pleasure or, when the reigning monarch is male, at His Majesty's pleasure or King's pleasure. Comes from the fact that the Crown (The Queen or King) is the authority by which the country's laws are made and actioned. This phrase can also apply to people appointed to serve the Crown.
at the end of one's tether Noun. At the limit of one's patience or endurance.
aubergine Noun. A vegetable also called eggplant, or brinjal.
autumn Noun. The season after summer, the fall.
back passage Noun. A euphemism for the rectum.
B&B Noun. An abb. of bed and breakfast, a guest house or type of accommodation that offers such, typically mainly found in tourist locatons.
bank holiday Noun. A public holiday; a national holiday (U.S.).
bap Noun. A small bread roll or bun.
barnstorming Adj. Of performances and entertainment, exciting and full of energy. E.g."Their latest theatre production was barnstorming and well worth watching."
bathing costume Noun. A rather old fashioned term for the clothing worn to go swimming or when on the beach, mainly by women or girls, a bathing suit.
Battenburg Noun. A type of cake, square in cross-section, composed of multicoloured sponge squares and covered in marzipan.
BBC Noun. Abb. of the British Broadcasting Corporation, a public service organisation that broadcasts a wide range of programmes on television, radio and the internet.
beaker Noun. A plastic cup used for drinking, usually without a handle.
bedsit Noun. A single room apartment that serves as a bedroom, living room and kitchen.
beer mat Noun. A small cardboard mat placed beneath a drinks glass to protect the surface below, and tyically printed with brewery or product details. Also as beermat.
beetroot Noun. The edible root of the beet and found in two varieties, red and white; beet (U.S.).
Belisha beacon Noun. An orange, flashing, globe-shaped light atop a black and white pole that denotes a type of pedestrian crossing. See 'Zebra crossing'.
bespoke Adj. Specifically made for a customer. E.g."I had a bespoke suit made for the wedding."
bill Noun. A check, when in a restaurant. E.g."Can I have the bill please, I'd like to pay."
bin Noun. A receptacle in which to deposit waste, garbage or rubbish.
bin bag Noun. A bag used inside a waste bin or garbage can, usually made of black plastic. Cf. 'bin liner'.
bin liner Noun. A plastic bag used inside a waste bin or garbage can. Cf. 'bin bag'.
bin man Noun. A refuse/garbage collector.
biro Noun. A ballpoint pen. Although specifically a trademarked brand of pen, it used more generically for a ballpoint pen.
biscuit Noun. A cookie.
black pudding Noun. A large sausage whose primary ingredients are blood and suet.
block of flats Noun. An apartment building.
blow one's own trumpet Vrb phrs. To boast of one's own talents and skills. E.g."He's always blowing his own trumpet and thinks the business doing so well is solely down to him."
boiler suit Noun. Protective overalls that cover the body, arms and legs and worn during manual work.
bonfire night Noun. An annual nationwide event on the 5th November that commemorates the foiling of an attempt in 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London. The outdoor event typically involves the lighting of fires, burning of effigies that represent one of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, and the letting off of fireworks. Also called Guy Fawkes Night and Fireworks Night.
bonnet Noun. On a car, the hinged metal covering over the engine compartment; hood (U.S.).
braces Noun. A pair of straps worn over the shoulders to assist with holding up ones trousers; suspenders (U.S.).
breakdown van Noun. A heavy vehicle with special equipment used for towing vehicles, a tow truck, a recovery vehicle. Also breakdown truck.
breeze-block Noun. A large lightweight brick made from cinders and mixed with sand and cement.
(The) British Isles Noun. The group of islands in western Europe comprising Great Britain, Ireland, and adjacent islands, including the Orkneys, Isle of Man, Shetlands, and Channel Islands, amongst others.
brown sauce Noun. A bottled sauce used to add flavouring to food, like ketchup, a condiment.
bubble and squeak Noun. A dish comprising leftover potatoes, greens and sometimes meat, mixed together and either grilled or fried.
bucks fizz Noun. An alcoholic drink made by mixing champagne or sparkling white wine with orange juice.
builder's tea Noun. Strong tea brewed in a mug and often sweetened with plenty of sugar, typically enjoyed by builders and labourers.
bully for you! Exclam. Well done! Good for you!
bump start Verb. To start a motor vehicle, typically when the battery is flat, in which the vehicle is pushed or allowed to roll down a hill in a low gear and clutch depressed, and when adequate momentum reached the clutch is released allowing the engine to start.
Noun. The act of bump-starting a motor vehicle.
bun Noun. A small bread roll, or a small sweet cake, often iced.
busker Noun. A person who sings or plays music in the street for money.
candyfloss Noun. Spun, pink sugar wrapped on a thin stick often sold at fairs, cotton candy. Also as candy-floss.
caravan Noun. A live-in vehicle that is typically towed behind a car, a trailer or mobile home.
car boot (sale) Noun. A temporary market where used and unwanted items are sold from the back of seller's cars or from small stalls. Typically these events take place on parking lots or in fields.
caretaker Noun. A person employed to look after a building, a janitor, a building attendant.
car park Noun. A place where vehicles are temporarily parked, a parking lot.
carrier bags Noun. Disposable thin, plastic bags used for carrying purchased goods.
cash card Noun. A credit or debit card which can be used to get cash, usually from a cash dispenser or ATM.
cash point Noun. A cash machine, dispenser or ATM.
casualty Noun. The department in a hospital that treats accidents and emergency medicine, also called A&E (Accident and Emergency); ER, emergency room (U.S.)
catseye Noun. A highly reflective marker used to delineate lanes on a road. Also as cats-eye.
cattle grid Noun. A metal grate that covers a ditch, used to prevent animals accessing, or leaving, particular areas, but not humans or vehicles. Also known around the world as Texas gates, cattle guards, cattle stops, stock grids, stock gaps or vehicle passes.
charabanc Noun. Old fashioned term for a motor coach, those traditionally used for coach holidays or sightseeing.
chemist Noun. A pharmacy, a drugstore.
cheque Noun. A printed slip used for paying bills from the users bank account. A check in the U.S..
chips Noun. Deep fried potatoes, like French fries but fatter.
chip shop Noun. A shop that sells hot food for eating off the premises, such as fried battered fish, meat pies, sausages, fried chicken and, of course, 'chips'.
Christmas cracker Noun. A whimsical addition to a Christmas meal that comprises a decorated cardboard tube that when pulled, by two people, bangs and reveals a paper hat, a riddle or joke and a small gift.
CID Noun. A branch of the British police force, standing for Criminal Investigation Department.
cider Noun. An alcoholic drink made from fermented apples.
cinema Noun. A theatre for viewing films, a movie theatre.
claggy Adj. Sticky, gummy, tending to form sticky clumps. [Dialect]
cling film Noun. A very thin transparent plastic film that is used to wrap or cover food in order to preserve it. Called saran wrap in the U.S.. Also as clingfilm.
clothes peg Noun. A wooden or plastic clip for securing clothes to a washing line in order to dry them; a clothes-pin (U.S.).
clotted cream Noun. A type of thick cream, best known for its use with scones and jam in Cornwall and Devon.
cock-a-hoop Adj. Very pleased, over-joyed. E.g."She was all cock-a-hoop after winning on the lottery."
cockney Noun. A person born in London, but within the sound of Bow bells, at the Church of St Mary Le Bow, in Cheapside. "
(the) Commonwealth Noun. An association of 53 countries, whose full title is the Commonwealth of Nations, that were mostly part of the British Empire until its break up.
conkers Noun. A game involving the use of horse chestnuts threaded on string, typically played by children.
constable Noun. A police officer. A police constable is the bottom ranking officer, and a Chief Constable the officer at the head of a county police force.
cooker Noun. An appliance used for cooking food, a stove.
cordial Noun. A sugary concentrated fruit liquid that is diluted with water to make a drink and sold ready bottled. Cf. 'squash'.
cornet Noun. An edible cone-shaped wafer used to hold ice cream whilst it's being eaten.
cot Noun. A baby's bed.
cottage pie Noun. A dish made with minced beef with a layer of mashed potato on top, and baked in the oven.
council estate Noun. A housing development built and managed by the council, the administrative local authority of a district, county, town or city etc.
council house Noun. A low-rent house provided and managed by the council, the administrative body of a district, county, town or city etc.
courgette Noun. Zucchini.
cream cracker Noun. A crisp, savoury biscuit, frequently eaten with cheese.
crisps Noun. Very thinly sliced, deep fried potato and eaten cold; potato chips (U.S.).
cross Adj. Angry, annoyed.
crumpet Noun. A round soft unsweetened griddle cake resembling a pitted muffin, toasted and spread with butter.
cul-de-sac Noun. A road or passage closed at one end.
curry Noun. All encompassing term for any spicy food prepared in the manner of Asian cuisine, or more typically Indian, but generally a meat or vegetable dish involving the use of curry powders and served with rice or various flatbreads. Curry houses and restaurants selling such cuisine can be found in many villages, most towns and every city in the UK. The popularity of such food is due to the previous British colonial connection with India and Asia.
cutlery Noun. The knives, forks and spoons one eats with at a meal; silverware or flatware (U.S.).
CV Noun. A written account of a persons education and career they may use to support a job application. Abb. of curriculum vitae. A résumé (U.S.).
cwtch * Noun. 1. A hiding place, such as a cubby-hole. [Welsh-English]
2. A cuddle or hug. Very popular usage in the late 2010s. [Welsh-English]
* also cootch.
daddy-long-legs Noun. A crane fly. A harvestman spider (U.S.)
damp squib Noun. An event or performance that is a disappointment and doesn't live up to expectations, an anti-climax.
dear Adj. Expensive.
derby Noun. 1. An annual horse race held on the flat at Epsom Downs.
2. A competitive sports event between two teams from the same town/city or area, commonly used expression within football. E.g."The derby between Manchester United and City was the best for years."
des res Noun. A desirable residence, a phrase typically used by estate agents, or realtors (U.S.).
dialling code Noun. The telephone area code.
digestive biscuit Noun. A semi-sweet biscuit made from wholemeal flour, that originated in Scotland.
dinner jacket Noun. A smart, usually black, jacket worn at formal social occasions. Occasionally abb. to DJ.
direct debit Noun. A way of paying bills by allowing a business to periodically take payment for goods or services directly from a person's bank account.
diversion Noun. A reroute of traffic, a detour.
dodgem Noun. A fairgound ride whereby drivers of electric cars try to avoid other cars hitting them, bumper cars.
double decker Noun. A bus with two levels, one above the other.
double yellow lines Noun. Two parallel yellow lines at the side of a road that signify that no vehicle is permitted to stop or wait there, doing so may result in a penalty. Single yellow lines denote that at certain times of the day no waiting or stopping is permitted.
draught Noun. British spelling of draft.
draught excluder Noun. A long soft sausage-shaped object placed at the foot of doors for keeping cold air out of a room.
draughts Noun. The game checkers.
drawing pin Noun. A flat-headed pin, typically used for fastening paper to a board or wall, a thumb tack.
dressing gown Noun. A long robe typically worn after bathing, before bed or after getting out of bed, a bath robe.
dribble Noun. Saliva running from the mouth, drool.
dual carriageway Noun. A road with a dividing central reservation, a divided highway.
dummy Noun. A baby's pacifier.
dungarees Noun. A garment consisting of trousers with a bib held up by shoulder straps, and originally worn for manual work; overalls.
dustbin Noun. A bin for refuse. Also a dustbin lorry being the truck that takes away the refuse.
dustbin man Noun. A person that empties household bins, a dustman.
duvet Noun. A soft, down-filled bedspread, used to replace sheets and blankets, sometimes called a continental quilt; a comforter (U.S.). Cf. 'quilt'.
dynamo Noun. A electric generator.
East End Noun. An area of London to the east of the centre and north of the River Thames, and an Eastender being a person from that district.
Eccles cake Noun. A small round pastry filled with currants, and originally produced in Eccles, a town in Greater Manchester.
en suite Noun. A private bathroom directly connected to one's bedroom.
estate car Noun. A large car with plenty of rear storage space and a rear access door; a station wagon (U.S.).
estate agent Noun. A person who sells and rents out property; a realtor.
fairy cake Noun. A small individual sponge cake often covered in icing or other edible decoration, a cupcake.
Father Christmas Noun. Santa Claus.
fete Noun. A public event, frequently outdoors, involving stalls and entertainment, often with the aim of raising money for a charity.
fettle Verb. To put things in order, to tidy up, to arrange. [Orig. dialect]
Noun. Condition, state. E.g."She's in fine fettle and has never been happier."
film Noun. A movie.
fire brigade Noun. Official organized fire fighters, a fire department.
fish slice Noun. A flat bladed kitchen utensil used for lifting food, a spatula.
fizzy drink Noun. A non-alcoholic, carbonated flavoured drink, such as cola; soda pop (U.S.)
flannel Noun. A small cloth used for washing oneself, a facecloth, a washcloth.
flapjack Noun. A sweet thick biscuit/cake made of oats, syrup and butter, and typically quite chewy.
flat Noun. An apartment.
flick knife Noun. A knife with a blade that springs out from the handle when triggered, a switch blade.
flyover Noun. A bridge that takes a road, or a railway line, over another; an overpass.
football Noun. Soccer.
fortnight Noun. A period of two weeks.
frock Noun. A woman's or girl's dress. A posh frock being one's favourite expensive dress worn at a party or event. See 'posh' (slang).
fruit machine Noun. A slot machine, a one-armed bandit.
full stop Noun. A punctuation mark used at the end of sentences or abbreviations; a period (U.S.).
fun fair Noun. A fair that has rides, amusements and stalls; a carnival (U.S.). Also as funfair.
gaffer tape Noun. A strong cloth-backed adhesive tape, very similar to duct tape.
gangway Noun. A narrow path between seats, especially in a theatre or on an aircraft, an aisle.
gaol Noun. British spelling of jail.
garden Noun. A piece of land adjacent to a house, typically enclosed with a lawn, and used for growing flowers, vegetables and recreation; yard (U.S.).
GB Noun. Abb. name for Great Britain.
gear lever Noun. The stick in a car or truck used to change gear; a gearshift (U.S.).
gear stick Noun. The lever in a car or truck used to change gear, a gear-stick, a gearshift.
gents Noun. 1, For or belonging to males, such as a gents hairdressers. Abbreviated from gentleman.
2. A men's public toilet.
gilet Noun. A type of light sleeveless jacket worn by either sex, frequently padded.
golden syrup Noun. A thick sweet syrup, deep yellow in colour and manufactured from refined sugar. Typically use as a spread or as an ingredient in baking.
glandular fever Noun. An infectious disease, also called infectious mononucleosis; mono (U.S.).
glove box Noun. A small storage compartment located in the dashboard of a car.
GP Abb. A doctor who treats general milder illnesses and health conditions whilst working from a community medical practice. Abbreviation of General Practitioner.
greaseproof paper Noun. Paper that is impervious to grease and oils and used in baking. Also grease-proof paper.
greengrocer Noun. 1. A seller of fruit and vegetables.
2. The shop that sells fruit and vegetables when as greengrocers.
grill Verb. To cook food using a strong heat directly above or below it; broil (U.S.).
Noun. The part of a stove under which food can be cooked using a strong heat; broiler (U.S.)
guide dog Noun. A dog trained to assist a blind person; a seeing-eye dog (U.S.).
half mast Noun. Of a flag, raised to mid point on the pole.
handbag Noun. A small bag, usually carried by women, in which to hold their personal belongings.
hand brake Noun. The brake that's applied with the use of the driver's hand when a vehicle is stationary or parked; the emergency brake (U.S.).
head boy Noun. Typically, a senior boy at a school who is chosen to represent that school and has special duties.
head girl Noun. Typically, a senior girl at a school who is chosen to represent that school and has special duties.
hen night Noun. A celebration for the bride and her female friends prior to her wedding day. Also as hen do. Cf. 'stag night'.
high street Noun. The main street in a town, on which shops, banks and other businesses are located.
highway code Noun. The official rules by which motorists are obliged to follow in order to make the U.K. roads safe, traffic laws.
hire purchase Noun. A means of paying for goods in regular installments whilst having the use of it. Also abbreviated to H.P..
hire Noun. To rent, to purchase the temporary use of something for an agreed payment.
hob Noun. The flat top part of a stove that contains the burners and hotplates, a cooking appliance.
Hogmanay Noun. The Scottish name for the new year celebrations held throughout Scotland, sometimes for 2 or 3 days.
holiday Noun. A vacation.
home counties Noun. The counties that surround London, generally including Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, and Sussex.
homely Noun. Of the surroundings, cosy and comfortable, like in a home.
hoover Noun. A vacuum cleaner, albeit strictly one made by Hoover.
Verb. To vacuum. E.g."I hate hoovering the stairs, it's so awkward and dangerous."
horses for courses Phrs. Different people are suited to different things or situations.
hot pot Noun. A stew comprising of meat, or fish, and vegetables cooked in the oven in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. A Lancashire hot-pot specifically being one of meat, onion and potato. Also as hotpot.
HP sauce Noun. A popular condiment in the UK, this brown sauce is actually named HP after the Houses of Parliament.
ice lolly Noun. Flavoured ice attached to and eaten off a stick; a popsicle.
icing sugar Noun. Finely powdered sugar, usually mixed with water to make icing or used as a dusting on cakes.
identity parade Noun. A group of people including a suspect gathered in order to see if a witness can spot the suspect, typically used by the police. Also identification parade.
indicator Noun. On a car, the flashing lights that show that one is intending to turn left or right, a blinker.
inverted comma Noun. Speech or quotation marks.
ironmonger Noun. A hardware store.
jab Noun. An injection of something medical. E.g."Have you had the flu jab yet?"
jaffa cakes Noun. A popular small circular cake, comprising sponge covered in orange flavoured jelly and dark chocolate but eaten as a biscuit.
jam Noun. A fruit conserve, or preserve; jelly (U.S.).
jelly Noun. A firm jelly like dessert made from fruit and, typically, gelatin.
jiffy bag Noun. A padded envelope, used to protect items sent by mail.
joiner Noun. A skilled trades person who works with wood, and typically makes cupboards, window frames and doors etc.
joint Noun. A large piece of meat for roasting.
jug Noun. A recepticle with a lip and handle, used for holding and pouring liquids, a small pitcher.
juggernaut Noun. A large truck.
jumble sale Noun. An organised sale of miscellenous second hand items, often predominantly clothes, and typically in aid of charity or for fundraising; a rummage sale (U.S.)
jumper Noun. A knitted woollen garment worn on the upper body, a sweater, a jersey.
kerb Noun. Less common spelling of curb.
kitchen towel Noun. Thick, soft absorbent paper used for cleaning and wiping up liquid in the kitchen. Comes on a roll, so frequently also called kitchen roll.
knickers Noun. An item of female underwear, otherwise called pants.
knock up Verb. To make up or arrange hastily. E.g."I knocked up a bookcase for all of Suze's recipe books."
Noun. A warm-up or period of practice, typically in a racket (racquet) sport such as tennis.
ladder Noun. Of stockings or tights, a run or pull in the fabric.
ladies Noun. A room with ladies' lavatories.
ladybird Noun. A ladybug, a type of brightly coloured beetle.
landlady Noun. The woman who owns or runs a public house. Cf. 'landlord'.
landlord Noun. The man who owns or runs a public house. Cf. 'landlady'.
lashings Adj. A large amount, a plentiful supply. E.g."We had lots of cake with lashings of cream."
last orders Noun. In a pub or bar, the time which denotes that it is near to closing time and anyone wanting a final drink should order one immediately, typically announced by a shout or a ringing bell.
lavatory Noun. A flushing toilet.
lay-by (s.e.) Noun. An area adjacent to a road in which vehicles may temporarily park; a turnout (U.S.).
learner driver Noun. Someone who is learning to drive.
lemonade Noun. A sweet carbonated lemon flavoured drink
let Noun. A rental or lease, usually a property.
letter box Noun. 1. A narrow opening in the door of private dwelling or business through which mail is delivered, usually covered by a hinged metal flap; a mailbox (U.S.).
level crossing Noun. A place where a road or pedestrian walk crosses a railway line on the same level; a grade crossing (U.S.)
lido Noun. An outdoor swimming pool.
lift Noun. An elevator.
like chalk and cheese Phrs. Of people, very different from each other. Also as different as chalk and cheese.
lilo Noun. An inflatable rubber mattress used as a bed. Also li-lo.
lip salve Noun. Lip balm, chapstick.
liquor Noun. A sauce made with parsley and eel gravy that is served with pie and mash (mashed potato), and mainly sold in London.
Liverpudlian Noun. Of or from Liverpool, a city and port in the North-west of the England.
lollipop man/woman Noun. A person who stops traffic so that people, often children, may cross a road safely; a crossing guard (U.S.).
lollipop sign Noun. A circular stop sign on a pole that's carried by a 'lollipop man/woman' in their road safety role.
lolly Noun. A piece of hard candy on a stick. Abb. of lollipop.
lorry Noun. A truck.
lost property Noun. 1. Lost items.
2. A place where lost items are stored in order to await being claimed by their owner, lost and found.
L-plates Noun. A sign, consisting of a white square on which an uppercase red L, referring to learner, is printed, and attached to the front and rear of a car, are legally required to indicate the car is being driven by a learner.
mac Noun. A raincoat, an abb. of mackintosh.
Mancunian Noun. A person born, or who lives, in the city of Manchester, in the North-west of England.
manual Noun. Of a car, having a manually operated gear change, as opposed to an automatic.
marigolds Noun. Latex gloves used to protect the hands when doing housework, typically yellow in colour.
marmite Noun. A proprietary yeast and vegetable extract used as a spread and for flavouring. A product that people either love or hate and consquently this polarizing product has led to the use of the word Marmite to describe other products and situations. E.g."Sebastian Vettel is the marmite of Formula 1 racing drivers."
marquee Noun. A large tent, typically coloured white and used for weddings, shows, exhibitions, music events etc.
mash Noun. Mashed potato.
mean Adj. Stingy, miserly. E.g."Don't be so mean, buy everyone a drink - you can afford it."
mobile (phone) Noun. A portable wireless telephone that uses a cellular network, a smartphone; a cellphone (U.S.)
morris dancing Noun. A traditional English country dance performed by a group of dancers wearing costumes which typically include ribbons and bells.
motorway Noun. A major highway, a fast dual carriageway usually with 2 or more lanes in each direction.
mouth organ Noun. A harmonica.
muffin Noun. A bread roll; English muffin (U.S.)
multistorey (car park) Noun. A car park with multiple floors.
mushy peas Noun. Marrowfat peas that have been soaked and boiled until soft and mushy. Frequently eaten with 'chip shop' meals such as fish and chips. [Orig. Northern]
nail varnish Noun. Nail polish.
nail varnish Noun. Nail polish.
nappy Noun. A piece of towel or other absorbent material worn by babies to absorb urine and faeces.
natter Noun. A chat, an informal talk.
navvy Noun. A labourer employed in the construction of roads, railways and canals. Dated.
net curtains Noun. A fine, white, semi-transparent fabric, hung at a window for the purposes of privacy.
newsagent Noun. A seller of newspapers including magazine, confectionary, soft drinks and cigarettes - premises or person.
note Noun. A bill, when talking about money, e.g. a £20 note.
notice board Noun. A board attached to a wall on which to post messages, news and leaflets a bulletin board.
nought Noun. A zero.
noughts and crosses Noun. A game for two players, composed of 9 squares in which are inserted either noughts or crosses, tic tac toe.
number plate Noun. A vehicle licence plate.
OAP Noun. An elderly person old enough to collect a government pension. An abb. of old age pensioner
off-licence Noun. A shop selling alcoholic drinks for consumption off the premises.
overtake Verb. Of a vehicle, to catch-up with and pass whilst heading in the same direction. E.g."We overtook them on the motorway and got to the hotel two hours before them."
oyster card Noun. A travel payment card used on London public transport.
Oxbridge Noun. The combined name for the Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
packed lunch Noun. A pre-prepared meal, typically cold, packed in a box or bag and to be eaten away from home, often on an excursion, at ones job or at school.
Pancake Day Noun. Common name for Shrove Tuesday, and on which pancakes are typically eaten.
pants Noun. Underpants.
paracetamol Noun. A mild pain killer that can be brought over the counter without a prescription.
parsley sauce Noun. A white sauce made with the addition of parsley and traditionally used with fish dishes.
patience Noun. A card game played by one person, solitaire.
pasty Noun. A small filled pastry case made by folding half of the crust over on itself, usually with a savoury filling, and similar to a turnover. The most famous being a Cornish pasty. Also as pastie.
pavement Noun. A paved area adjacent to a road for pedestrians to walk, a sidewalk
petrol Noun. Fuel for vehicles, gasoline.
petrol station Noun. A place where fuel is sold for road vehicles, also typically selling other services such as car consumables and items needed while travelling etc.
(the) pictures Noun. The cinema, the movies.
pillar box Noun. A secure freestanding postbox into which the public can post mail for it to be periodically collected by the post office and delivered to the recipients, typically painted red; a mailbox (U.S.).
pinny Noun. An apron, usually one with a bib. Abb. of pinafore.
plant Noun. Heavy tools and machinery, often heard in plant hire.
plaster Noun. A thin sticky-backed, antiseptic strip of cloth or plastic used to protect cuts and bruises; a band-aid (U.S.).
plimsolls Noun. Canvas, rubber soled shoes worn for leisure or sports; sneakers (U.S.).
ploughman's lunch Noun. A cold meal usually comprising bread, cheese, salad and pickle, and commonly served in public houses at lunchtime.
pneumatic drill Noun. A large mechanical tool powered by compressed air and used for breaking up hard surfaces, such as roads; a jackhammer (U.S.).
polo neck Noun. A sweater with a high neck that can be rolled over, a turtleneck.
polyfilla Noun. A proprietary name for a plaster type filler used for minor remedial building work.
pork pie Noun. A stout pie made from cooked pork and spices, typically eaten cold.
pork scratchings Noun. Small crisp pieces of dried pork crackling, eaten cold as a snack.
post Noun. Mail.
post box Noun. A secure container in which the public can place mail for it to be then collected at set times and delivered to the recipients; a mailbox (U.S.).
post code Noun. Zip code. Also as postcode and postal code.
postman Noun. A person who delivers mail; a mailman (U.S.).
power point Noun. An electrical wall socket. Also power socket.
pram Noun. A child's buggy or carriage with wheels for a baby; a stroller or baby carriage (U.S.). An abbreviation of perambulator.
prefab Noun. Of a building, one that is constructed with parts made in a factory that can be put together quickly onsite. Abb. of prefabricated.
prefect Noun. In schools, an older pupil given special responsibilities to monitor and manage the behaviour of other younger pupils.
primary school Noun. The first school for children, aged between 5 and 11; elementary school (U.S.).
pub Noun. A building where alcoholic drinks are sold and drunk. An abb. of public house.
public convenience Noun. A toilet open for public use.
publican Noun. The person who own/manages a public house.
public school Noun. A private, fee-paying secondary school in which scholars usually board.
pudding Noun. The sweet course served after the savoury main course during a meal, the dessert.
pumps Noun. Canvas, rubber soled shoes worn for leisure or sports, trainers; sneaker (U.S.).
puncture repair kit Noun. The equipment for fixing a punctured tyre.
punnet Noun. A small basket for fruit or vegetables.
push bike Noun. A bicycle. Also push bicycle.
pushchair Noun. A child's buggy; a stroller (U.S.).
queue Noun. A line of waiting people or vehicles.
Verb. To wait in line. E.g."We were queuing in the rain for 5 hours but we finally got in and it was a great concert."
quilt Noun. A soft, thick, down-filled bedspread, used to replace sheets and blankets, a 'duvet', sometimes called a continental quilt; a comforter (U.S.).
RAF Abb. The Royal Air Force, the air force of the UK. Also as the raf(f).
rag-and-bone man Noun. A person who travels around collecting people's unwanted clothes and items for resale later.
railway carriage Noun.A carriage for holding people on a train.
railway Noun. A line, made of steel rails, on which train travels, and the network on which trains travel; railroad (U.S.).
reception Noun. The front help desk.
removal man Noun. A person employed to move furntiure and equipment from one building to another.
return ticket Noun. A travel ticket that covers both the outward and return journeys, often abbreviated to return. Cf. 'single ticket'.
reversing light Noun. The lights on the rear of a motor vehicle that indicate when it's reversing.
roundabout Noun. 1. A road junction that moves traffic clockwise around a central island and at which vehicles give way to vehicles coming round from the right; a rotary or traffic circle (U.S.).
2. A merry-go-round in a child's playground
rubber Noun. A tool for erasing pencil marks, an eraser.
rubbish bag Noun. A bag for refuse, trash, waste material, or litter.
rub (someone) up the wrong way Vrb phrs. To annoy someone. E.g."He's always rubbing up his sister the wrong way."
runner bean Noun. A long green bean with edible pods and eaten as a vegetabletable.
salad cream Noun. A cream based condiment used as a dressing for salads, quite similar to mayonnaise.
sanitary towel Noun. A disposable absorbent pad worn by women to absorb menstrual blood; a sanitary napkin (U.S.).
sassenach Noun. An English person or relating to the English. Derog. [Scottish/Irish use]
saveloy Noun. A dried, smoked and seasoned pork sausage, sold ready to eat.
scampi Noun. Large prawns or Norway lobsters, often deep fat fried in breadcrumbs.
school leaver Noun. A young person, between the ages of 16 and 18, who has completed their secondary education and who will now go on to college or university or look for a job.
scone Noun. A small, soft griddle-cooked or baked cake made from flour and fat, and often served buttered.
scotch egg Noun. A hard-boiled egg covered in sausage meat and breadcrumbs and the fried, but usually eaten cold.
secateurs Noun. Pruning shears, or clippers, for use with a single hand.
sellotape Noun. A plastic, transparent adhesive tape, usually dispensed from a reel, scotch tape. Also cellotape. From the Trademarked brand.
Verb. To fasten or stick using sellotape.
semi-detached Noun. Of a house, one that is joined to another on one side only. Often abb. to semi.
semi-skimmed Adj. Of milk, having had a perscentage of the butterfat cream removed, so making it less fatty and unhealthy. Skimmed milk having had a higher percentage removed.
send to coventry Verb. Of a person, to exclude from all engagement with, to ostracise, typically by not speaking to them. E.g."He's been sent to Coventry for his malicious gossiping."
serviette Noun. A table napkin.
settee Noun. A long comfortable upholstered seat with arms and back, capable of seating more than one person, a sofa.
shandy Noun. A drink made by mixing beer and lemonade, usually in equal proportions.
shepherd's pie Noun. A dish made with minced meat, usually lamb, with a layer of mashed potato on top, and baked in the oven.
sherbet Noun. A flavoured confectionary powder, either eaten as it is, often by dipping in a hard candy on a stick, or used to make an effervescent drink.
shilling Noun. A former monetary unit of the United Kingdom used until 1971, originally valued at 12 pence but equivalent to 5 pence in post decimilization money. There were 20 shillings in a pound. Also the coin which represented that amount.
shop assistant Noun. A sales clerk in a retail store.
shopping trolley Noun. A large metal basket on wheels that is used to gather together shopping items, usually in supermarkets; a shopping cart (U.S.).
sideboards Noun. Sideburns.
silencer Noun. A device fitted to the exhaust of a vehicle that makes it quieter; a muffler (U.S.).
single ticket Noun. A travel ticket that permits a journey in one direction. Also abbreviated to single. Cf. 'return ticket'.
skip Noun. A large open, metal container for transporting building materials, frequently waste; a dumpster (U.S.).
skirting (board) Noun. The wooden edging board at floor level that can be found on the perimeter walls of a room; baseboard (U.S.).
sleeping policeman Noun. A speed bump.
Sloane Ranger Noun. Of, or having the character of, an upper-class, conventional but fashionable young woman from London. Sometimes abbreviated to sloane. [1975]
(the) smoke Noun. London, the city, and capital of the U.K..
solicitor Noun. A lawyer who advices clients on matters of legality, draws up legal documents and prepares cases for barristers to try in higher courts.
spanner Noun. A hand tool for tightening /loosening bolts and nuts, a wrench.
Special Branch Noun. A department of the British police force whose primary work is for the security services, such as MI5.
spirits Noun. Alcoholic drinks with a high alcohol content, typically whisky, brandy, rum, vodka and gin etc.
splice the mainbrace Vrb phrs. Referring to alcohol, to start drinking.
spot of bother Noun. A problem, but not seen as too troublesome.
squash Noun. A sugary concentrated fruit liquid that is diluted with water to make a drink and sold ready bottled. Cf. 'cordial'.
squirty cream Noun. Whipped cream dispensed from an aerosol can.
stag night Noun. A celebration for the groom and his male friends prior to his wedding day. Also as stag do. Cf. 'hen night'.
stalls Noun. In a theatre, the rows of seats at the front on the ground floor.
starter Noun. A small amount of food eaten before the main course, an appetizer. E.g."Would you rather have starters and a main, or a dessert after you main course?"
steak and kidney pie Noun. A pastry pie made with beefsteak and kidney and baked on the oven. Cf. 'steak and kidney pudding'.
steak and kidney pudding Noun. Beefsteak and kidney encased in suet pastry and steamed in a basin. Cf. 'steak and kidney pie'.
sticking plaster Noun. A narrow material, or plastic, backed adhesive strip used to cover minor cuts and wounds; adhesive tape (U.S.).
sterling Noun. The monetary system in the U.K..
stock cube Noun. A small solid cube of concentrated meat or vegetables used to add flavour to dishes such as stews, casseroles or soups.
stone Noun. 1. A unit of weight measurement, namely 14 pounds (lbs). In the U.K. it is common to express someone's weight in stones and pounds. E.g."He weighed 11 stone 2 pounds after his diet."
2. The hard seed found in the middle of a fruit, such as a plum or cherry.
subway Noun. An underground passage for pedestrians to avoid walking across railways or busy roads.
supermarket trolley Noun. A large metal basket on wheels that is used to hold items whilst shopping in a supermarket; a shopping cart (U.S.). Cf. 'shopping trolley'.
surgery Noun. The room, or building, in which a doctor or dentist consults patients.
surgical spirit Noun. A alcohol based liquid used to clean wounds or surgical instruments; rubbing alcohol (U.S.).
swede Noun. A large round root vegetable with yellow flesh; rutabaga (U.S.).
sweet Noun. 1. A small confectionary product made from sugar and flavoured, such as chocolates, toffees, mints; candy (U.S.).
2. The part of a meal eaten after the main course that is typically sweet, dessert, pudding.
sweet shop Noun. A shop that sells sweets; a candy store (U.S.).
swimming baths Noun. An indoor swimming pool, occ. abbreviated to the baths.
swimming costume Noun. The clothing worn to go swimming or when on the beach, a swimsuit, a 'bathing costume'.
swiss roll Noun. A cylindrical cake made from jam or cream sandwiched between a thin rolled sponge; a jelly roll (U.S.).
tail-back Noun. A line of stationary of slow moving vehicles, typically held up by road works or an accident.
takeaway Noun. 1. A shop that sells ready-prepared hot food to be eaten off the premises.
2. The food sold at a 'takeaway', see above, a takeout or carryout.
tap Noun. A valve device that controls the flow of a liquid or gas, such as at a sink with hot and cold water; a faucet (U.S.).
tarmac Noun.1. The material used to cover roads, consisting of iron slag, or broken stone, mixed with tar and creosote. Abb. of tarmacadam.
2. As the tarmac, the runway or area of an airfield used for planes.
tea Noun. A late afternoon light meal, or an evening meal, which may also be called dinner.
tea towel Noun. A cloth used for drying recently washed dishes, cutlery, and pots; a dish towel (U.S.).
Teddy boy Noun. A youth, occ. man, who adopts a style of dress based on Edwardian fashion, typically with a long jacket with velvet collar, drainpipe trousers, bootlace tie, sideburns, and hair in a quiff, and a liking for rock and roll music. A female associate being a Teddy girl. [1950s]
telephone box Noun. A small enclosed shelter containing a payphone for use by the public, frequently coloured red, however not commonly seen due to the increased ownership of cell phones.
telephone kiosk Noun. A booth containing a public telephone.
television licence Noun. The licence required by anyone wishing to own and watch a television. The annual fee is used to fund public broadcasting channels such as the BBC. Also as TV licence.
terminus Noun. The travel depot or station at the end of a line or route.
tip Noun. A place for gathering refuse and waste, for further disposal, often a council tip; a garbage dump (U.S.).
tights Noun. An item of clothing that covers the lower part of the body from the hips down, including the legs and feet. Most often worn by women and made from nylon or thin wool; pantyhose (U.S.)
tippex Noun. A proprietory liquid paper, or correction fluid, used to hide mistakes in typing or writing.
toilet Noun. The room in which one finds the toilet bowl; bathroom or restroom (U.S.).
tomato sauce Noun. Tomato ketchup.
torch Noun. A small handheld light powered by batteries, a flashlight.
Tory Noun. A member or supporter of the Conservative political party, typically who lean to the right of centre politics.
tracksuit Noun. A two piece item of clothing used for leisure or sports; a sweatsuit (U.S.).
traffic warden Noun. A person whose job it is to make sure cars are not parked illegally on public streets.
trainers Noun. A sport shoes, sneakers.
treacle pudding Noun. A steamed sponge cake with a syrup topping and served hot, typically with custard.
trollop Noun. A sexually promiscuous woman.
trousers Noun. Clothing worn from the waist down and the covers each leg separately; pants (U.S.).
truncheon Noun. A handheld stick used by a police officer as a weapon; a billy club (U.S.).
(the) tube Noun. The London underground train system. Also tube station, tube ticket and tube train etc.; the subway (U.S.). CF. 'underground'.
tuppence Noun. Two pence, a monetary amount. See 'tuppenny'.
tuppenny Noun. Two pence, also tuppenny bit, a two pence coin.
turf accountant Noun. A betting shop and its proprietor.
turn-ups Noun. The bottom outer part of a pair of trousers that is folded up.
twee Adj. Pretty, cute or dainty, but frequently used negatively to suggest that those traits are overly so.
(the) UK Noun. The United Kingdom, which is the country that includes Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland.
(the) underground Noun. The London underground train system. Cf. '(the) tube'.
Union Jack Noun. The national flag of the United Kingdom. Also 'union flag'.
verge Noun. The narrow strip of land at the edge of a road, usually covered with plants or grass.
vest Noun. The underwear worn over the top of half of the body, usually without sleeves; undershirt (U.S.).
vet Noun. A person professionally qualified to treat sick or injured animals, a veterinary surgeon or veterinarian.
Verb. To carefully check that someone or something is suitable and acceptable. E.g."We vetted all the candidates and narrowed it down to just two."
Vimto Noun. A brand of soft drink, flavoured with fruits, herbs and spices and originally manufactured in Manchester.
wag Acronym. Collectively, when in the plural, the wives and girlfriends of high-profile sportspersons, typically football players.
waistcoat Noun. A sleeveless garment worn on the upper body, usually over a shirt, but beneath a jacket; vest (U.S.).
wardrobe Noun. A room or closet where clothes are kept.
washing up Noun. 1. The act of cleaning the dishes, cups, cutlery and pans after a meal.
2. The dishes, cups, cutlery and pans etc, dirtied during the preparation and consumption of a meal.
wash up Verb. To clean the dishes after a meal.
waste paper bin Noun. A receptacle for refuse or waste paper, a wastebasket.
WC Noun. A toilet, the room, an abbreviation of water closet.
wellie Noun. A wellington boot. Also as welly.
wholemeal bread Noun. Bread loaf made from wholewheat.
windcheater Noun. A wind-resistent outer jacket; windbreaker (U.S.).
windscreen Noun. The glass window at the front of a vehicle; windshield (U.S.).
wind the baby Vrb phrs. To help a baby release trapped wind after eating or drinking.
wine gums Noun. Sweet fruit flavoured chewy confectionary, similar to gumdrops but without the sugar coating, that come in various colours and flavourings, and despite the name contain no alcohol.
wireless Noun. A radio.
Womble Noun. A fictional furry animal with a long nose that lives on Wimbledon Common in London, and whose lives revolve around picking up litter. Originally created by Elisabeth Beresford in 1968.
write-off Noun. Typically after a accident, a vehicle thay is not worth repairing.
Verb. To damage a vehicle in an accident to such an extent that it isn't worth repairing. E.g."That's the third car that Bill's written off this year."
yank /yankee Noun. A person from the United States of America.
yorkshire pudding Noun. A baked batter pudding that's usually eaten alongside roast beef with accompanying vegetables and gravy.
zebra crossing Noun. A road crossing for pedestrians marked with broad black and white stripes, and on which pedestrians have right of way.
Slang Articles

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