Check out our 88 best very British phrases for you to start using and incorporating into your vocabulary right away if you’re an aspiring Anglophile looking for some new lingo to help fuel your love for all things British or you just fancy seeing what kind of words the British find themselves using on a daily basis.
There may be regional variations in slang usage even within the same nation or location. The fact that slang may vary so greatly throughout English-speaking nations in general and even within a single city like London is not surprising.
88 Very British Phrases
Each phrase is accompanied by a definition and an illustration. A few articles additionally include startling information regarding the origins of the expression, such as the fact that several idioms that are commonly associated with Britain really have roots elsewhere.
Scroll down to learn 88 extremely British words that will baffle anyone who didn’t grow up in the UK, whether you think this list is the “bee’s knees” or it makes you want to “pop your clogs.”
1. “A few sandwiches short of a picnic”
“A few sandwiches short of a picnic” could be used to characterize someone who lacks common sense.
The BBC’s “Lenny Henry Christmas Special” from 1987 is where the term first appeared in print.
She’s a lot of fun, but she doesn’t have enough sandwiches for a picnic.
An anorak is a significantly different term in playground slang, despite the fact that it’s more frequently used as a synonym for raincoat.
An “anorak” is a person who is a little bit nerdy and has keen interests or knowledge in a certain field. This is mainly due to how “uncool” anorak coats and the wearers of them seem.
Thomas is such a train trivia nerd, I tell you.
When anything, such as the front seat of a car, is handed up to a group, calling “bagsy” is the same as calling “shotgun” or “dibs.”
Schoolchildren may refer to foods from their friends’ packed lunches that the friend isn’t going to eat as “bagsy,” such as an apple or a cereal bar.
Does anyone desire this?
4. “Bee’s knees”
Despite having British roots, this expression gained popularity in the USA in the 1920s, but since the turn of the century, its use there has declined.
When the term “bee’s knees” was originally used in the 18th century, it referred to little or unimportant characteristics. The expression has changed since then and now denotes anything that is “at the height of cool.”
The Beatles are outstanding.
On a “bender,” a person engages in binge drinking and other acts of mischief.
Since booze binges frequently continue longer than 24 hours, you can refer to someone as being on “a weekend bender” or a “three-day bender.”
“Toward the conclusion of his four-day binge, I ran into him. He was a total mess.”
To “pull a blinder” means to accomplish something challenging flawlessly and expertly.
The expression is most frequently used when someone has been fortunate and the speaker is shocked at how the first person was able to pull it off.
“And did you watch the goal that tied the game in the waning seconds of extra time? He made a fool of himself there.”
7. “Bloody” or “Bleeding”
Practically every statement may be made more intense by adding this word to express surprise or rage.
We don’t know why, but some individuals find the word “bloody” repulsive; up until the middle of the 20th century, it was regarded as a swear word.
The word’s etymology is hotly debated. Some people think it came from the Dutch term “blute,” which means “bare.” Others think the expression is profane and is a shortening of the phrase “by our lady,” which dates back to the 17th century. However, the slang’s record predating the ubiquity of the phrase “by our woman” has refuted this second idea.
The term “bloody,” which is now widely used and even appears in children’s movies like “Harry Potter,” is undoubtedly the most distinctly British on the list.
That was bloody excellent.
8. “Bob’s your uncle”
The very British counterpart of “Et voila!” or “Hey presto!”
This expression is used to describe a procedure that looks more challenging than it is.
“Once in gear, depress the clutch, then gradually release it once again. You are the driver; Bob is your uncle!”
“Bog-standard” refers to something that is plain and simple with no extras of any kind.
A “bog” is another word for a toilet in British slang; its meaning is uncertain, but it adds to the idea that something is “bog-standard” if it is unexceptional and unglamorous.
What was the hostel like? “Oh, I have nothing noteworthy to report. Really just your average dorm.”
The area at the back of the automobile known as the “trunk” in American English is referred to as the “boot.”
“Put the groceries in the boot.”