30 essential words you must learn before visiting Britain

Visiting any new country invariably means you have to get used to their specific customs and cultures. In America, for instance, I have to eat a chicken “biscuit” at breakfast on a daily basis or fear imprisonment. It gets confusing to me as a biscuit in America is similar to a scone in England, but without the currants. So essentially I’m eating a savoury scone every morning. Weird.

If you’re an American traveler, traveling to Britain can be quite an experience. We share a similar language but it’s those little differences that can make or break a trip. So here is a list of the top 30 essential words you must learn before visiting Britain.

I say “must” – you can of course choose to ignore this list. But you may be quizzed as you enter immigration and given a strip search until you at least know the difference between a fanny and a bum.

Here is the list… see any I’ve missed?

Bangers (n.) – Sausages are hugely popular in the UK. Bangers and Mash is a traditional dish.
Biscuit (n.) – Like a Cookie – but flatter.
Brolly (n.) – Umbrella
Bum (n.) – Remember the rule. Never say Fanny for a bottom. It’s bum. Bum. BUM.
Butty (n.) – Sandwich. Not a large bottom.
Cheers (phrase) – Pretty much what people say for “thanks” in Britain. Also when clinking beer glasses.
Chemist (n.) – Pharmacist/Pharmacy
Chippie/Chippy (n.) – Fish and Chip shop. Heaven’s own food.
Chips (n.) – Similar to American steak fries
Chuffed (adj.) – Happy
Cuppa (n.) – A cup of tea.
Football (n.) – Soccer but never say that. Only Americans say “Soccer” and it’s much derided.
Gob (slang) – Slang for ‘mouth’
Gobby (slang) – Big mouth
Holiday (n.) – Vacation even for summer trips.
Knackered (phrase) – Tired. Knackers yards is where they used to butcher horses. Lovely.
Lift (n.) – Elevator
Lorry (n.) – Truck
Nick (v.) – Steal something
Pants (n.) –  Trousers and also when something is rubbish (see below)
Petrol (n.) – Gasoline
Pinch (n.) – Steal
Quid (n.) – Pound (As in money, not weight)
Rubbish (n.) – Something not good.
Snog (v) – Kiss. A proper french kiss. Tongues and everything.
Stone (n.) – Weight. There is 14 pounds in one stone.
‘Ta (slang) – Thank you. Especially used in the north of England.
Tea (n.) – Evening meal. And the drink.
Torch (n.) – Flashlight
Underground (n.) – Subway

Blimey! is your daily dose of British news and features for anglophiles everywhere! This article was carefully written by Tim Holt, a British blogger, photographer and actor based back in the UK after many years of living in America. Forever torn between two magnificent slices of sod.
  • Added “Chuffed” – as that’s used quite often in the UK.

  • Peter

    Pants are actually underwear – trousers are trousers.

    • You know, I’ve never known underwear to be called pants. That could be a North/South thing in England. I’ve always called them undies or underwear. Pants are trousers where I’m from. It could be ‘cos I’m common 🙂

  • Dalma Raymundi

    You might add “loo” as well. At least I didn’t understand the first time I heard it.

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