41 Funny British Phrases

Visit:1810   Updated: 2023/03/17

1.Bog roll – toilet roll. It’s not nice to use this phrase and me and my brother used to get told off for it.

2.Sounds a bit dodge – one of the English slang words I use a lot. It means it sounds a bit shifty, a bit weird, untrustworthy.

3.Bob’s your uncle / Fanny’s your aunt – ta da! Success! I guess it’s like the English ‘et voila’.

4.Crack on – Irish people would say ‘work away’. It just means to get going, get moving on something.

5.Knob – ‘such a knob’, ‘what a knob’, ‘don’t be a knob’ – basically, an idiot.

6.Crush – this is someone you are attracted to, or ‘fancy’ (another English slang word for affection). You can have a ‘crush on someone’, or they’re you’re ‘crush’.

7.Float my boat – usually used in the phrase, ‘yeah, whatever floats your boat’ meaning whatever you like. Used as a signifier for preference.

8.Let’s have a brew – you’ll hear this a lot. It means, let’s have a hot drink together.

9.Rubbish – aka the trash. We use it to describe all our waste in the trash can, as well as describing things like songs, places, food, TV or even days out. This is the epitome of British slang.

10.Give us a bell – phone me. An ode to the great Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone.

11.Have a gander – have a look. May also hear, ‘have a goosey gander’ which is what I like to say.

12.Skive – to skive off means to not attend. You might skive off school, or skive off work. Someone who skives a lot is called a skiver.

13.How’s your father? – if any English person says this to you, they’re being weird. ‘How’s your father’ refers to sex. I don’t know why. The more I think about it, the weirder it is.

14.Her Majesty’s Pleasure – HMP, which is Her Majesty’s Prison. For some reason we don’t like saying the word ‘prison’, and so have added in ‘pleasure’ instead.

15.Posh – used to describe someone of a higher class, or with loads of money. Can be used positively or negatively. Also, a spice girl.

16.Don’t be a chicken – this English slang means don’t be scared. It’s usually used by children to children to get them to do things. As if ‘being a chicken’ was the worst thing in the world.

17.You look like death warmed up / like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards – means you look rough. Maybe after a night out, or you’re all dishevelled, or you’ve been camping.

18.Dickhead – one of my favourite insults, dickhead. Can also be used affectionately though and to me seems quite mild, but you wouldn’t want to hear a child saying it.

19.Tosser / wanker – basically both mean idiot, depends how mean you want to be. I’d say wanker was the meanest, tosser can be kind of affectionate in the right circles.

20.Mate – a mate is a friend or a pal, if we take it literally. When I think of ‘mate’ though, it’s often used to diffuse situations between male chavs (white trash to Americans).

21.Off to see a man about a dog – I would use this when I was going to the toilet (number 2), if I felt the need to tell the people I was with. It can be used for any kind of clandestine event though.

22.Fanny around / faff – god British people are great at faffing. I recently heard the art of leaving the house referred to as the ‘faffletics’ which I thought was great. We’ve just got to do this, and just got to do that, and just need to check on this – that’s faffing.

23.Bollocks – used in place of damn, darn it. Like this ‘oh bollocks’. Often used in cars when the driver goes the wrong way. Don’t get confused with the ‘dogs bollocks’ which means something good.

24.How’s tricks? – this is one of those English slang words steeped in years of meaning. ‘How’s tricks’ actually refers to the tricks prostitutes used to turn, so you’re basically asking how’s business. That’s according to some, others say it relates back to card tricks. If you hear this English phrase used in lexicon today it’ll merely be to ask how you are, nothing to do with ladies of the night or card games.

25.Taking the piss / a piss / pissed off / pissed – Ah ha, the English slang words I introduced earlier. ‘Taking the piss’ means taking the mick, or mocking you. Taking a piss is having a wee. Pissed off is annoyed. Pissed is drunk.

26.Bevvy – can mean alcohol beverage, or hot beverage. You need to use or hear it in context to work out which one. Sometimes, the fun is in misunderstanding. The average Brit can easily be persuaded to change up the hot bev for a alcoholic bevvy, watch, experiment, and you’ll generally get the same result.

27.Can’t be arsed – also known as CBA in text. If you can’t be arsed then you can’t be bothered. I don’t like this British phrase but it is very useful to describe the British frame of mind most of the time.

28.Bagsy – ‘bagsy’ is gospel. This is like calling dibs or calling shotgun, if you know those phrases. If you managed to bagsy something it’s yours, within reason. When I was a kid we used to say, ‘turn around, touch the ground, bagsy not me’, when we were called to do something. Everyone knows if you’re first to say it then you don’t have to do it.

29.Babe – this is a derogatory term but also an affectionate one at the same time. Kinda hard to break down as it depends on the situation. A babe can be someone who’s hot, who maybe you don’t know. But ‘babe’ can also be like ‘darling’, but for males and females.

30.Cheers – such a useful phrase. I tend to say this when I mean thanks. But also, whenever you have your first alcoholic drink of the day you have to cheers your friends and look them in the eye. If you don’t, everyone knows this means you get 7 years bad sex. This is not fact, but some weird theory that everyone over the age of 18 knows. For this reason you’ll often see people staring at eachother intently while they cheers, OTT for the lols.

31.Fit – if someone is ‘fit’ it means you’re attracted to them. If you need further reference listen to The Streets song, You’re Fit but Don’t You Know It. ‘Fit’ can also be used to describe other things. I’ll often use it when I’m talking about food. This English slag word is very adaptable.

32.Dick – this is normally used when the target is being funny. This is definitely a word I probably say too much to my friends, but I definitely mean it positively. If there’s force behind the tone and pronunciation of the word ‘dick’ then it’s most likely NOT being used affectionately. This is confusing I know.

33.How’s it going? – a simple question but doesn’t require a long answer. The average Brit would just reply ‘good, you?’ even if they were in the middle of a pandemic and ready to take a long walk off a short cliff. As the conversation goes on you might be able to reveal how you really are, but not right away. That’s just not British.

34.Don’t get your knickers in a twist – these are some of my fave English slang words. A woman shouted at me for accidentally jumping the queue in Waitrose once and I turned round to her and said, ‘Alright, I didn’t see you. don’t get your knickers in a twist’ and I felt like it was one of the most middle class things I’d ever done. It basically means ‘just chill’.

35.Throwing a wobbly – usually refers to little kids when they’re having a tantrum, but can also refer to anyone of any age being a nightmare about a specific event or incident. Can be used to describe a small disagreement like someone saying no to you, or a full on meltdown.

36.Offy – the off licence, this is where we buy all our booze from. Well, and the supermarket, and the wine merchants. The ‘Offy’ refers to those little shops on street corners that are like an Aladdin’s cave of treasures. Always amazing how much they manage to fit in there.

37.Muppet – a kinder way of describing someone who’s a bit of an idiot. They could be an all round muppet, and maybe a bit gormless too, or they might just have done something that was a bit of a muppet thing to do.

38.What’s up? – like you’ll find with most English expressions you don’t need to take this literally. If someone comes over to you and says ‘What’s up?’ they’re not implying something is wrong with you, it’s more of a hello. Just reply, ‘nothing, you?’ and then you will have greeted each other for the day.

39.You alright? – This is my English greeting phrase of choice. Again, like above, I’m not looking for a real answer. I’m looking for a ‘yeah, you’, and we can go on about our day. I remember my Aussie friend Jules was always very perplexed by this greeting as she never knew whether you reply with a proper summary of her current mental health. Took some training but she warmed up to the usual British response.

40.Budge up – move up. If you haven’t left someone enough space at the bus stop or on the bench at the pub, they’ll say ‘budge up’, or they might say ‘shift your arse’ depending on who they’re speaking to and where they’re from.

41.Face like the dog’s dinner / a slapped arse – here are some fun English slang words for you. If you’ve got a face like a dog’s dinner or a slapped arse then it would usually mean you’re grumpy. Of you’ve got a ‘strop on’, or you’re ‘mardy’ to use a Midlands term.