Across the pond, they’ve got a few words that sound a tad peculiar to American ears. There are a number of reasons for these different words popping up, including local cultural differences, the influence of exotic cultures…or, sometimes, a distinct lack of culture.
Here, we’ve cherry-picked 10 of the best British slang words. Be careful, you might find a few of these sneaking their way into your vocabulary.
Bare is an intensifier, effectively meaning very or many — similar to hella in the U.S. It originally came from Jamaican influences, but the word has permeated its way into many British dialects.
Example: “I stayed up all night and now I’m bare tired.”
This one is fairly self-explanatory for anyone living in England. Two of the most commonly used forms of money are the £5 and £10 notes (£1 only comes in coins), colloquially known as fivers and tenners. Could this one make its way to the U.S.?
Example: “This bloke tried to charge me a tenner, but I gave him a fiver and ran.”
Quite simply, bird means woman. It is not intended to have sexist connotations, and it's useful in a variety of contexts.
Example: “Bill’s bringing his new bird out tonight” and, “I love this bar; it’s always full of birds.”
Pronounced “nak-erd,” knackered means worn out or exhausted. It can be applied to people or items.
Example: “After that gym sesh, I’m completely knackered” or, “those shoes are knackered, mate. You’ve not got a new pair in years.”
You might already be familiar with this term when used to mean “taking the guts out of fish.” The British slang meaning is “sad, or disappointed.” It’s likely to have come from the feeling being associated with having your guts taken out.
Example: “I’m absolutely gutted that bird never texted me back.”
To reckon is to suspect or have a theory about something.
“I reckon it’s going to rain today, and my team’s going to lose.”
A bit of cheekiness is a quintessential part of British life. It can be hard to nail down a definition, but one that comes close is “endearingly rude." Being cheeky is often cute, but it can be taken the wrong way, so be careful.
Example: “Your kid was very cheeky and grabbed a cookie off my plate when I wasn’t looking.”
Mate is a very durable word. It can be used affectionately to mean friend. It is also used more casually when referring to or addressing strangers.
Example: “Johnny is my best mate” or, “I take sugar in my coffee, mate.”
This must be one of the most famous British insults in America. So calling someone a wanker is a rude insult similar to calling someone a jerk, or something similar.
Example: “Nigel is a massive wanker.”
It is often said that language reflects culture. Inuits have many words for snow, and Arabic has many words for sand. In Britain, they have a huge number of words for being drunk. Add “-ed” to a very large number of nouns, and it’s likely to mean drunk (yes, even wankered).
Example: “After fours hours in the pub, I was completely cauliflowered.”
Playing right into the stereotype, Brits really do love tea. So much so, in fact, that “cup of tea” was eventually shortened to cuppa (cup of). That’s right, you no longer need to say what’s in your cup, because everybody already knows it’s tea.
Example: “I had a lovely cuppa with my biscuits.”