How well do you know your British English slang?

As you no doubt already know, the UK is where the English language was invented. And while folks like the Queen have famously posh accents, and perfect elocution, the UK is also home of some of the most colourful, and occasionally confusing slang in the English-speaking world.


‘Barm cake’, ‘cob’, ‘bap’, or ‘batch’ is a bread roll.

‘Cuppa’ or ‘brew’ is a cup of tea.

‘Fry-up’ or ‘full English’ is usually eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, grilled tomatoes and toast.

‘Sunday roast’ is a popular Sunday meal, including roast meat with potatoes, carrots, gravy and perhaps a Yorkshire pudding (puffy, savoury baked batter).

‘Brekkie’ is breakfast.

‘Tea’ usually means a cup of tea, but in some parts of the UK, generally the north, it also means the evening meal. How confusing. ‘Afternoon tea’ is usually ‘taken’ in the afternoon and involves tea, cake and small sandwiches, but some people might just call this ‘tea’.

‘Supper’, for some people, means their evening meal, while for others it could be a light snack afterwards or even before.

‘Chippy’ is a fish-and-chip shop.

‘Spuds’ or ‘tatties’ (up north) are potatoes.


‘Quid’ is a pound sterling. If something costs £1, you may be asked for a quid; there’s no plural of quid, so £50 is fifty quid (not ‘quids’).

‘Skint’ is lacking money, being broke. While ‘minted’ means rich.

‘As cheap as chips’ means something is very cheap.

Small Talk

Here’s some helpful terms to know, to get things rolling:

To ‘fancy’ someone is to find that person attractive.

To ‘snog’ means to kiss passionately.

‘Chin-wag’ means a talk or gossip with friends.

Cockney Rhyming Slang:

Lastly, there’s Cockney rhyming slang. Beginning in London’s East End during the 19th century, Cockney rhyming slang was a way for local people to share secrets and ideas without others understanding. Now, people across the UK often use rhyming slang for comic effect. While it’s used less often today, some terms have endured so well, they’ve lost their original context, and can be a mystery to the untrained ear:

You’re having a giraffe!’ rhymes with ‘You’re having a laugh!‘, meaning ‘You’re joking!’.

A ‘dog and bone’ rhymes with ‘telephone’. ‘He called me on the old dog and bone this morning‘.

‘Mince-pies’ rhymes with eyes. ‘I’ve forgotten my spectacles and my mince pies aren’t what they used to be‘.

In some cases, the rhyming word has been dropped over time, which can make it a bit harder to understand. For example:

‘Use your loaf’ means ‘use your head’; ‘Loaf’ used to be loaf of bread, which rhymes with head.

If someone asks you to ‘stop telling porkies’, they’re asking you to stop lying. ‘Porkies’ was ‘porky pies’, which rhymes with lies.


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