Thursday 9 May 2013

We all speak English, but what happens when it has a different meaning?

Some English regional phrases that may have a different meaning to you.


I have South African friends travelling to the UK tonight for a holiday. It made me think about the differences in the use of the English language of which I’ve battled with a little here. It’s not just the words used, it’s the context in which they are used.

I’ve lived ‘oop north’ and dawrn souf’ and have been thrown with ‘daps, pumps and pimpsels as well as ‘muffins, bread cakes and baps’ so I thought I’d put a list togheter for them to use should someone say something that they may think has a different meaning.

I’d love it if you’d add your own to the list.

I would also like to add that I will NOT be held responsible if these words/phrases are used and you get into trouble with any of them. You are advised to proceed with extreme caution.


Arse about face                                                  this means you are doing something back to front.

Arse over tit                                                        falling over in style

Barmy                                                                   to describe the weather as in mild

Bum us a fag                                                        not a request for sex, but ‘give me a cigarette’

Blow me                                                                again not a request for sexual favours, used instead of ‘well I never’

Bob's your uncle                                                 used at end of sentence to exclaim ‘it’s easy’

Bung                                                                      as in ‘to throw’ ‘bung us your keys mate’ or a bribe

Butchers                                                               to take a look at something

Can you borrow me a …….                              as in a lend of

Cheerio                                                                  to say goodbye, not just a breakfast cerreal

Cock up                                                                                 again NOT a sexual request but to make a big mistake

Fagged                                                                  ‘I cant’ be bothered’

Gagging                                                                 ‘she’s gagging for it’ as in she wants sex and now

Going out on a Bender                                      heavy drinking session

Gutted                                                                   upset about something ‘I’m gutted’!

Hiya                                                                        to be used in Wales to great everyone

How’s it hanging?                                               ‘How are you?’                   

Hump                                                                     when you have the hump with someone you are in a bad mood

I'm easy                                                                as in ‘I don’t mind’ not just sex

Just a minute                                                      as in South Africa you say ‘I’ll do it now’ means NEVER used in


Knob                                                                      another word for Penis and a door handle, you can also call someone a knob when they do something stupid

Mobile and text                                                   cell and sms

Mug                                                                        if someone is a bit of a mug, it means they are gullible

Narked                                                                  as in ‘pissed off or fed up’

Nesh                                                                      being pathetic, wimpish                                                                     Not my cup of tea                                            something is not to your liking  

Numpty                                                                 polite way of calling someone an idiot

Off your trolley                                                   meaing ‘you’re completely mad’

On the job                                                            either ‘at work’ or ‘having sex’ think context

On your bike                                                        polite way to tell someone to ‘fuck off’

Pants                                                                     polite way to say something is crap/rubbish

Pavement pizza                                                  found outside pubs and kebab shops on a Sunday


Queer                                                                    as in ‘you look a bit queer/ill’

Quid                                                                       a Pound coin

Bladdered, Rat arsed, shitfaced, Trollied    very drunk

Round                                                                    as in ‘your round’ your turn to buy the drinks in the pub

Shag                                                                       a greeting used between male friends as in ‘alright mate’

Shagged                                                                knackered/tired

Shufti                                                                     take a look at something ‘I’ll have a shuftie’

Sick                                                                        as in cool, used to describe something good

Slash and Waz                                                     Take a slash and have a waz mean ‘I’m off for a wee’  quite

                                                                                often an outdoor event

Sorted                                                                   everything is ok or will be made ok

Ta                                                                           to say thank you, to be used in Wales

Tosser and wanker                                            used more as a hand signal for other drivers on the road if they

                                                                                are driving erratically

Totes                                                                     as in ‘I’m up for that’

Waffle                                                                    Brits are good at waffling, talking about nothing, usually the




  1. Mammasaurus blogged a delicious recipe the other day, but asked for a 'punnet' of raspberries. I left her a message, asking for a translation for her Canadian friend. It's about 250grams.

    1. I've an American cookbook and still can't understand these 'cups' i just assume that as long as the ingredients are in proportion then it'll

  2. Great list, and traffic lights are robots in SA :-)

    1. its the GPS v Sat Nav post codes and coordinates that confuse me

  3. On a side note, it wasn't until I moved to Egypt that I realized that 'shufti" is from the Arabic "shuf" (to look). And in a similar vein, calling a young woman a "bint" is also Arabic for daughter.

    1. Its amazing how many foreign words are used in England in a derogatory way.
      Bint for a stupid woman
      Chav is a gypsy word meaning small/young child

  4. Great to hear these! I miss the colour of a British turn of phrase. One that frequently confuses folks here in Canada is when I declare loudly, 'I'm knackered!' as in 'tired'. Someone once thought I meant 'Naked'!
    Also, in reference to your definition of 'Barmy', that spelling denotes craziness, as in, 'If you think I'm getting on that, you're barmy!' If you're talking about pleasant weather the spelling is 'balmy' though the pronunciation is the same.
    I confess, I use cockney slang in Canada, though I never did back home, just to see the reactions :-) 'Got change for an Ayrton Senna?'