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British Slang in English – Video

by Gina Mares on 28 September, 2019 , Comments Off on British Slang in English – Video

In this lesson, you can learn about British slang.

If I told you I was feeling knackered today, would you know I meant? If I asked you to buy some bog roll on your way home, would you know what I wanted? Confused?

These are example of British slang, and they can be difficult for non-native speakers to understand and use correctly. But don’t worry, we’re going to help.

QUIZ: British Slang

Now, test your knowledge of what you learned in the lesson by trying this quiz.

You will get your score at the end, when you can click on ‘View Questions’ to see all the correct answers.

In this lesson, you’ll see dialogues with slang words and phrases connected to four different topics. Our first topic? Food. At the start of the next section. You’ll see a dialogue with four slang words and phrases. Try to hear them and write them down as you listen!

1. Food Slang Phrases

image of a salad

Olivier: Hey, wanna get lunch?

Marie: Yeah, I was starting to feel a little peckish. Did you have anywhere in mind? I still don’t know what there is around here.

O: Well, there’s a cafe around the corner, or we could splash out and go to that new gastro pub. It’s a bit pricier, but they do have really nice food.

M: Shall we do the pub?

O: Yeah, why not? I skipped breakfast, and I’m absolutely starving. I could murder a burger. They do this burger with mint and feta cheese. It’s amazing! It’s so good, I almost have to slow myself down and enjoy it, otherwise I just wolf it down!

M: Sounds like you need to get there fast. Ready to go now?

Did you hear the British slang words and phrases? The first two you heard were ‘peckish’ and ‘splash out’. What do you think they mean? If you are ‘peckish’ you’re a little hungry, but not very hungry. Maybe you’re not hungry enough to eat a full meal, but you want a snack.

‘Splash out’ means to spend more on something than you usually would. In the dialogue, we were choosing between a cheap cafe or a more expensive pub. In the end, we decided to splash out on a pub lunch. But, remember that this is not normal spending. You can’t splash out if you always spend that amount of money.

The second two slang phrases were, ‘I could murder a …’ and ‘wolf it down’. The full phrase in the dialogue was ‘I could murder a burger.’ What do these mean? If you say ‘I could murder a burger’, it means you really, really want a burger right now. You can use it with other food and drink. For example, you can say:

  • I could murder a pint.
  • I could murder some chips right now.

What about ‘wolf it down’? If you wolf something down, you eat it very fast. Imagine how a wolf might eat a hamburger; it’s not going to eat slowly and politely!

Keep practicing with our other lesson on talking about food in English!

Next, let’s look at some slang phrases you can use to describe people and how they act.

2. Slang Words to Talk About People

British slang words to describe people image

Marie: Hey, how was the party last week? Did you have fun?

Olivier: It was OK for a while, but then things went downhill.

M: Oh, what happened?

O: You know John? He brought this really smarmy guy with him. He was trying to hit on all the women, starting arguments, and generally being annoying. Anyway, I got stuck talking to him for ages.

M: I think I heard about this from Paula.

O: Yes, what a horrible guy! Then finally Paula told him to leave and he threw a huge wobbly! He was shouting at everyone and being totally obnoxious. It ruined the atmosphere.

M: I think I’d gone home by that point.

O: He completely lost the plot. Paula was pretty pissed off at John for bringing him.

M: Did you manage to talk to Paula at all? She’s such a nice person. I wanted you two to meet ‘cos I’m sure you’ll get along.

O: I did a little, but only after everything had happened. She was upset, so I guess she didn’t feel like talking much.

M: That’s a shame. She’s normally so chatty!

O: I can imagine. She seemed full of beans earlier in the evening.

M: I like her; she’s one of those people who, if you’re in a bad mood, you talk to her and you feel better.

O: Yeah… Hopefully next time I meet her it’ll be in better circumstances.

Again, there were four British slang words and phrases in the dialogue. Did you hear them? Can you remember them now? These were the words and phrases you heard. What do they mean? Remember that you can always go back and repeat parts of the lesson. If you want, go back and listen to the dialogue again, and try to understand the words in context.

‘Smarmy’ refers to somebody who is unpleasantly polite. You can use it for someone who is polite and friendly, but in a fake, insincere way. You can also use the word ‘slimy’ which has a similar meaning. ‘Lose the plot’ means to go crazy. You might use it if somebody who is really stressed starts behaving strangely, or starts making some strange decisions. For example, you could say:

  • Steve has absolutely lost the plot. He’s been driving around the same three streets for twenty minutes!

‘Throw a wobbly’ means to become very angry or agitated very quickly. A more neutral phrase with the same meaning is ‘throw a tantrum’, which we often use to describe children who lose control of themselves and get very angry. ‘Full of beans’ describes a person who is full of life and energetic. For example:

  • Mark is full of beans today; he got great results in his exams and can’t start smiling!

In our next section, you’ll see some slang phrases to talk about situations which went especially well, or especially badly. Let’s look!

3. Slang Words to Talk About Good & Bad Situations

Image of happy people in a good situation

Marie: You look a bit stressed. Everything OK?

Olivier: Yeah, it’ll be fine. There was a bit of a cock-up with our invoicing.

M: Nothing too serious, I hope?

O: Not too bad. We just sent things to the wrong people. It’s a bit embarrassing, but I’ll write a couple of apologetic emails and everything will be hunky-dory. What about you? How was the big sales presentation?

M: A disaster! Jerry was completely unprepared, as usual. It was almost funny, but mostly embarrassing.

O: Yeah… That’s not a surprise, I guess. When I heard he was in charge, I was sure it would go completely Pete Tong, like everything he’s involved with.

M: What’s weird is that he seems to have no idea how bad he is at his job.

O: Yeah. What’s that called? Dunning-Kruger or something? He’s probably in the break room right now telling everyone how he had an absolute blinder, and how amazing he is.

M: Good point. I’ll avoid the break room. Anyway, I’ll let you get back to your work.

This time, we want you to do some work! You’ll see sentences from the dialogue, but with the British slang phrases removed. Can you remember them? Let’s see the first one.

  • There was a bit of a ________ with our invoicing.

Do you remember the answer?

  • There was a bit of a cock-up with our invoicing.

What does this mean? This means a mistake. You can use it as a noun or a verb. For example:

  • He made a massive cock-up with the hotel bookings.
  • He really cocked-up the hotel bookings.

‘Cock-up’ is not very rude, but it’s not polite, either, so be careful where you use it. Let’s look at the second sentence.

  • I’ll write a couple of apologetic emails and everything will be ________.

What do you have here?

  • I’ll write a couple of apologetic emails and everything will be hunky-dory.

‘Hunky-dory’ means ‘fine’ or ‘OK’. For example, you might say: ‘I was feeling pretty ill yesterday, but today everything’s hunky-dory.’ ‘Hunky-dory’ is often used with the word ‘everything’, as in ‘Everything was hunky-dory’ or ‘Is everything hunky-dory now?’ Here’s the third sentence.

  • When I heard he was in charge, I was sure it would go completely ________, like everything he’s involved with.

Can you remember this one?

  • When I heard he was in charge, I was sure it would go completely Pete Tong, like everything he’s involved with.

‘Pete Tong?’ What on earth does that mean!? Pete Tong is a famous radio DJ, but that’s not the point here. This is an example of rhyming slang. ‘Tong’ rhymes with ‘wrong’; if you say that something ‘went completely Pete Tong’, you mean it went very badly. OK, last one. What goes in this sentence?

  • He’s probably in the break room right now telling everyone how he had an absolute ________, and how amazing he is.

What did you get?

  • He’s probably in the break room right now telling everyone how he had an absolute blinder, and how amazing he is.

‘Blinder’ means an excellent performance, usually in a sport event, but we can use it in other situations. You usually use the verb ‘have’, but you can also say ‘play a blinder’ if you’re talking about sports. For example, you could say:

  • We had a blinder at the trivia night. We won by nearly 50 points!
  • Holly played a blinder in the five-a-side match yesterday. She scored four goals!

Let’s look at one more topic.

4. Slang to Talk About Emotions

Sad, love, happy emotion emojis

In this section, you will hear the same dialogue twice. In the second dialogue, we’ll replace four words and phrases with slang with the same meaning. Watch the first dialogue now.

Marie: So, how’s everything?

Olivier: Honestly? Not great.

M: Oh no, why not?

O: It’s my new housemate. He seemed perfectly normal when I met him, but he’s been acting weirdly recently, and getting on my nerves. Last Sunday, I cooked a bunch of food to take to work for lunch all week. He ate *all* of it on Sunday night after I went to bed. I was really surprised!

M: *All* your food?

O: Everything. It’s such a shame because I was so happy when I finally found this place. It seemed perfect: it’s a lovely area, and it’s very cheap for what it is. I’d be disappointed if I had to move out and find somewhere else.

M: So, are you seriously thinking about moving out again? You just got there!

O: I don’t know. I guess I have to, but I’m putting off making a decision. Partly, I just can’t face house hunting again, you know? It’s so much work, and when I get home these days, I’m really tired and I don’t want to think about it.

M: Well if you need some help, just let me know

Did you understand that? If not, it could be a good idea to go back and listen again. Next, watch the second dialogue. Try to find the four slang words and phrases, and write them down!

Marie: So, how’s everything?

Olivier: Honestly? Not great.

M: Oh no, why not?

O: It’s my new housemate. He seemed perfectly normal when I met him, but he’s been acting weirdly recently, and getting on my nerves. Last Sunday, I cooked a bunch of food to take to work for lunch all week. He ate *all* of it on Sunday night after I went to bed. I was gobsmacked!

M: *All* your food?

O: Everything. It’s such a shame because I was over the moon when I finally found this place. It seemed perfect: it’s a lovely area, and it’s very cheap for what it is. I’d be gutted if I had to move out and find somewhere else.

M: So, are you seriously thinking about moving out again? You just got there!

O: I don’t know. I guess I have to, but I’m putting off making a decision. Partly, I just can’t face house hunting again, you know? It’s so much work, and when I get home these days, I’m zonked and I don’t want to think about it.

M: Well if you need some help, just let me know.

Did you find the four slang words and phrases? Can you work out what they mean? The first slang word was ‘gobsmacked’. Do you remember what the original word was? This means ‘really surprised’. It has a strong meaning, so it’s used to describe strong emotions. For example:

  • I was gobsmacked that Liverpool beat Barcelona in the last minute!
  • He was gobsmacked when he opened his tax bill!

Next was ‘gutted.’ Do you remember what this replaced? It replaced ‘disappointed’, and also describes strong feelings. For example, if you miss your best friend’s wedding, or your holiday gets cancelled at the last minute, you might feel gutted. Next was ‘over the moon’, which means ‘very happy’. For example:

  • I’m over the moon because I just got a new job.

Finally, ‘zonked’. What a strange word! What could ‘zonked’ mean? It means the same as ‘very tired’ or ‘exhausted’. For example:

  • I was zonked when I got home from work today.

Oh, one more thing. At the beginning, you used the words ‘knackered’ and ‘bog roll’. What do those mean? Well ‘knackered’ is another way of saying ‘very tired’, and ‘bog roll’ is toilet paper! Well, now we know. Thanks for watching!

Gina MaresBritish Slang in English – Video