Where can I find 1920s British slang

It might surprise many of you to know that the most popular articles on this website are about British Slang – the words that the British use differently than Americans (and to some extent Canadians). They’re so popular, we wrote a British slang dictionary that has sold very well (available from all major booksellers!).

So, we thought it would be fine to write an article of the top British Slang words and Phrases that Americans should start using more because they’re simply awesome.

  1. Cheers – It has several meanings – it can be used as a toast for a a thank you. I happen to use it as the signature to all my emails. It’s just so civilized and sounds better than ‘sincerely
  2. Absobloodylootely – n – To agree with someone highly in a rather enthusiastic fashion. Somewhat vulgar.
  3. Ace – n – Excellent or wonderful.
  4. All to pot – adj – Something that’s gone completely wrong.
  5. Anti-clockwise – adv – It means the same thing as ‘counter clockwise.’
  6. The Bee’s Knees – adj – Something that is awesome and wonderful.
  7. Bespoke – adj – Something that is custom made for you. i.e. bespoke cabinetry.
  8. Bob’s your uncle – in- terj -There you have it!
  9. Bog standard – n – Normal or average.
  10. Bollocking – n – To be punished severely or told off. “He had a good bollocking!’
  11. Bugger – n – An exclamation of dissatisfaction (“Oh bugger!”), in a dire situation (“Well, we’re buggered now”), acute surprise (“Well bugger me!”), dismissal (“bugger that”).
  12. Brilliant! – adj – When something is amazing or awesome.
  13. Car boot sale – n – Swap meet or flea market where people sell items from the back of their car. Sounds so much more sophisticated that a flea market.
  14. Car park – n – Parking lot or parking garage.
  15. Chavtastic – n – Something that is in poor taste that a Chav would appreciate (a chav is derogatory term used towards the lower classes with a similar meaning to ‘white trash’ but applies to all races).
  16. Chock-a-block – adj – Closely packed together i.e. a busy schedule or a large quantity of something
  17. Chuffed – adj – To be quite pleased or proud about something.
  18. Chunder – v – To vomit.
  19. CV – n – Short for Curriculum Vitae but Americans would simply call it a Résumé.
  20. Damp Squib – adj – An event which you think will be exciting but which actually turns out to be a disappointment.
  21. Fortnight – n – Two weeks. Often used in the UK when talking about time.
  22. Jammy dodger – n – A lucky person but also the delicious biscuit.
  23. Kerfuffle – n – To make a big fuss about something. “It was a bit of a kerfuffle.”
  24. Knackered – adj – Exhausted, tired, also ‘broken’
  25. Cream Krackered – adj – To be really tired and exhausted
  26. Know your onions – To be very knowledgeable on a particular subject.
  27. Lost the Plot – n – Someone who’s gone mad.
  28. Quango – Acronym – Quasi-autonomous non- governmental organization. An organization that’s usually started by the government or has governmental powers that’s not run by the government. It is usually a place to send troublesome politicians by giving them cushy jobs. Examples are the BBC and Visit Britain. See, TV show Yes, Minister.
  29. Scrummy – adj – Some- thing that is delicious.
  30. See a man about a dog – v phrs – Attend a secret deal or meeting or to go to the toilet.
  31. Skive – v, n – To be lazy or take an unwarranted day off, pull a sickie.
  32. Taking the piss – n – Mocking, taking advantage of someone.
  33. Tickety-boo – adj – When something is going smoothly or proceeding quickly

Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments! 

Anglotopia’s Dictionary of British English 2nd Edition – Paperback

The words on this list were excerpted from Anglotopia’s Dictionary of British English: Brit Slang from A to Zed. Available now from major retailers in prints and eBook form. The book features over 1,000 British Slang words including extra sections on Australian and Kiwi Slang, Cockney Slang and London slang. There’s also a hilarious section on Britain’s rude place names.  Full details here.

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