100+ Smashing British Slang Words and Terms to Know

, Staff Writer
Updated August 3, 2021
British Slang Words With Definitions
    British Slang Words With Definitions
    kukurikov / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

If you're heading off on a holiday to the United Kingdom, it'll be handy to have certain British slang definitions down pat. It's nice to know what the locals are saying, and it makes it a lot easier to have a conversation without looking (and feeling) like a dolt! Open yourself up to the delights of the English language, especially the variety that's spoken where English got its start. You'll have a blast and learn more than a few new words that might be ripe for importation when you come back home.

Happy and Positive British Slang

U.K. slang is nothing if not interesting! It includes quite a few fun and unique ways for people to express that they are happy or otherwise share positive sentiments.

  • ace - amazing, awesome, excellent
  • blinding - fantastic, great, superb
  • brill - short for "brilliant," cool, exceptionally good
  • buzzing - excited, happy
  • chuffed - happy, pleased
  • cracking - the best
  • get-in - awesome, terrific, yay
  • hunky-dory - cool, good; everything's okay
  • ledge - a person who's done something awesome; truncation of legend
  • smashing - terrific, wonderful
  • stonking - huge, amazing
  • tickled pink - to be very happy about something
  • over the moon - very excited about something; overjoyed
  • wicked - great, fabulous

British Slang Insults

U.K. slang includes some interesting insults. Master a variety of British insults and you'll be prepared to reply with some snarky put-downs. You'll be chatting like a local in no time at all!

  • barmy - mad or crazy
  • blighter - one who ruins things
  • daft - stupid
  • dim - stupid, also dimwit
  • dolt - fool
  • git - incompetent; annoying
  • gormless - clueless
  • minger - unattractive person, usually refers to a woman (derogatory)
  • minging - gross; disgusting
  • muppet - a stupid or gullible person
  • mug - fool, sucker
  • naff - uncool, tacky
  • nitwit - someone silly
  • numpty - a foolish person
  • nutter - crazy person
  • twit - idiot
  • potty - a little crazy, looney
  • tosser - an obnoxious male, showoff or braggart (derogatory)
  • trollop - a loose woman; a woman with low morals (derogatory)
  • wanker - annoying person (derogatory)

British Slang Phrases

Before going deeper into your exploration of British slang words, take the time to discover some slang phrases commonly used in the U.K. Fortunately, in a British slang dictionary, there are quite a few informal phrases commonly used as slang.

  • All right? - common greeting for welcoming friends
  • all to pot - when something causes plans to fall apart
  • bugger all - nothing at all
  • cheesed off - annoyed, irritated; mad, angry
  • daft cow - silly, stupid; usually said in an affectionate rather than mean way
  • car park - a place where multiple cars can be parked
  • easy peasy - easy
  • give us a bell - call me on the phone
  • gone to the dogs - allowed to deteriorate; in disrepair
  • hair of the dog - alcohol that you drink the day after getting drunk and waking up with a hangover
  • full of beans - full of energy
  • knees up - a party
  • lazy sod - idiot who does nothing; a useless person
  • leg it- run or move quickly
  • lost the plot - behaving irrationally
  • off your trolley - behaving crazy
  • on your bike - go away; leave me alone
  • taking the piss - making fun; being sarcastic
  • telling porkies - spreading lies or falsehoods
  • throwing a wobbly - having a bit of a temper tantrum

British Slang for People or Things

No collection of slang would be complete without casual terminology used for nouns that are common among those who speak the language or dialect.

British slang bangers and mash
    British slang bangers and mash
    LauriPatterson / E+ / Getty Images
    Used under Getty Images license
  • arse - buttocks, used in expressions like "he’s a pain in the arse"
  • bangers and mash - sausages and mashed potato
  • bloke - a person, similar to the American slang word "dude"
  • chav - a stereotype of a lower-class youth, assumed to be a troublemaker
  • cuppa - slang contraction for "cup of;" refers to a cup of tea
  • mate - friend
  • baccy - tobacco
  • bog - toilet
  • bum - your bottom
  • bung - a bribe or kickback
  • chips - deep-fried potatoes (French fries)
  • fag - a cigarette
  • flutter - a bet
  • gaff - home
  • grub - food
  • kip - nap
  • lad - boy or young man
  • lift - a ride
  • loo - toilet
  • mush - face or mouth
  • quid - a British pound
  • queue - a line; “queue up” means to stand in line
  • rugger - short for rugby
  • trainers - tennis shoes, sneakers

British Slang for Actions or Behaviors

Of course, there also have to be slang options to describe actions and behaviors people engage in on a regular basis. Getting a good sense of UK slang terms that describe everyday actions will help prepare you to understand what the locals mean when they're describing actions.

  • bagsy - to call dibs
  • bants - to engage in fast-paced chatter or joke telling, banter
  • bum - to borrow
  • chinwag - chat, gossip
  • diddle - to rip someone off
  • faff - waste time on an unimportant task
  • fancy - to like or want something; to have a romantic interest in someone
  • flog - to sell
  • gallivanting - roaming around looking for pleasure
  • gander - to look around
  • grafting - flirting by a boy who wants a girl to like him
  • honking - being sick, throwing up
  • knock off - to steal
  • porkies - lies; untruths
  • ping - call on the phone
  • pinch - to steal
  • snog - make out, kiss
  • swot - to study hard, when others are not doing so
  • waffle - to talk on and on about nothing
  • wobbler - tantrum

Descriptive British Slang

Nothing makes the language more colorful than descriptive words. Fortunately, there are quite a few descriptive British slang terms that paint quite a vivid picture to anyone who knows what the informal words mean.

  • bog-standard - nothing special
  • bonkers - crazy
  • botched - something going wrong
  • cack-handed - clumsy
  • camp - flamboyant
  • cheeky - sassy
  • chockablock - filled to the brim
  • cobblers - nonsense
  • dishy - attractive, beautiful, pretty
  • doddle - a cinch, easy
  • dodgy - not to be trusted, questionable
  • fit - attractive or sexy
  • knackered - tired
  • peanuts - cheap
  • pissed - drunk
  • posh - high class, upper class
  • poppycock - nonsense
  • rubbish - nonsense, untrue
  • skint - having no money
  • smart- well dressed
  • starkers - naked
  • toff - high-class (used by working-class to describe upper class)
  • wonky - shaky, unstable
  • zonked - exhausted

UK Slang Exclamations and Expressions

Your grasp of the slang portion of British English won't be complete unless you master a few of the most common U.K. slang exclamations and expressions. These will help you know how to react to what others say, how to express appreciation or end a conversation appropriately.

  • blimey - an exclamation of surprise
  • bloody - slightly vulgar intensifier used for emphasis, as in, "Are you bloody insane?"
  • bollocks - nonsense; a vulgar expression of anger/frustration
  • cheerio - friendly way of saying goodbye
  • fiddlesticks - nonsense; a mild exclamation
  • ta - thank you; expression of appreciation

UK Slang for Emotions or Attitudes

Finally, explore a few U.K. slang terms that are helpful when it comes to describing a person's attitude or expressions of emotion.

  • blinkered - narrow-minded
  • brassed off - annoyed
  • cheesed off - annoyed, upset
  • gobsmacked - shocked
  • gutted - devastated
  • shirty - bad-tempered
  • narked - irritated

Travel With Ease Using British Slang

As an English speaker, it's nice to travel to countries where you can understand the language, like England, Scotland or Ireland. Still, in an unfamiliar country, there's bound to be informal lingo that's you don't recognize. When in doubt, refer to this list so you can carry on conversations with ease, even with the locals. Slang can vary a lot throughout England. f you hear a word that's not on this list, give a Cockney translator a try. Cockney is slang from a certain neighborhood in London. After a quick review, you'll be able to confidently go out there and build connections with new friends! For even more fun, take a look at these common U.K. expressions.