10 British slang terms to adopt the next time you travel

2 min read

You may think you know English, but do you know British English? English in the United Kingdom can sound like a completely different language from the English spoken in the United States. Accent aside, the colorful idioms and unique slang can be hard to decipher at first. But, once you do, you’ll be absolutely charmed and ready to give it a go yourself.

Scroll through these 10 slang terms that will have you sounding like a Brit the next time you travel across the pond.

Budge up

Public transportation is a big deal in the U.K., especially in the cities. From The Tube to double-decker buses, black cabs to Ubers, you can find a ride anywhere you need to go. But it can also get a bit crowded at peak times. Don’t take up more space than you need. Otherwise a fellow passenger may growl at you to budge up.

Bagsy

If a friend picks you up and you want the front seat, call bagsy. It’s the British equivalent for dibs. Also excellent to use when you want the last crumpet with jam. Calling bagsy on something is taken seriously — use it with total confidence.

Twee

A quaint, little word to accurately describe something quaint and little. In the U.K., you’re likely to see many things that are twee. Houses, shops, lanes, cakes — all so twee. Even the word twee is, well, twee.

Chuffed

The first time you hear someone is chuffed you may need some context to determine if this is a good thing or bad. Chuffed is actually slang for pleased. As in, “She was chuffed to see a choice between strawberry or blackberry jam.” In other words, that person is actually quite pleased to see you.

Tory

A Tory is a member of the conservative political party. If you’re discussing English politics or Brexit with young, liberal people, they may roll their eyes as they describe someone, typically posh, as a Tory.

Gutted

The opposite of chuffed, gutted means feeling quite upset. Brits could be gutted over their favorite football team losing, or someone calling bagsy on the last delicious crumpet. Or Brexit. Or someone not budging up on the bus. Whatever it is, it’s devastating.

Knackered

After all your touring, you’ll likely to feel exhausted. When you have to turn down a night at the pub with your new British friends, tell them you’re too knackered from exploring. That will fully explain how tired you really are.

Cheesed off

A stronger emotion than gutted, cheesed off means red-hot anger. Hopefully when you’re on vacation in Britain there will be little to be cheesed off about. Even if the weather is not cooperating with your tour plans, embrace it. The British do.

Kip

Still knackered from visiting Stonehenge in the rain? You’ll want to get some sleep, or kip, so you can hit Buckingham Palace and the British Museum tomorrow. Kip is also a verb, as in, “Don’t bother Bert while he’s kipping.”

Legless

The British have many, many words for getting drunk, and legless is one. The term refers to the feeling of walking home after having a few too many pints. Those legs just don’t work as well when you’ve been having a good time getting overserved.

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