Becoming British: Top Ten British Words I Love to Use

As you may have heard, there aren’t many English-speaking expats prodding along here in Bella Calabria, but the ones we have are simply brill. Case in point, my Irish pal, Jen. In honour of Jenny’s 28th birthday today (ahem!) I’m going to share some of my favourite British expressions … and-oh!-how I love to use them.

English-Speaking Expats at Thanksgiving Dinner, Il Cedro Bed and Breakfast, Catanzaro, Italy
Laura, Me and Jen at Thanksgiving Dinner, 2008

Rubbish – Sounds so much nicer than “crap,” or “trash.” In regards to those ruthless remarks from Monday’s post “It is all rubbish!”

Cheers – Nope, it’s not the bar or a toasting salutation just a good ‘ole British way of expressing gratitude. Go ahead. Try it. I promise you’ll feel happier, your face will shine more brightly and you’ll sound like you really mean it. I mean … “thanks” …?- It sounds down right dismal.

Pissed – For the first three months I knew my British friend, Tony I wondered why he was so angry. I couldn’t understand why he’d get sloppy drunk, hug on us all, then proclaim madness. I kid you not-I’m a slow learner. But it is fun to say. “We didn’t get home til 3 AM. We were so pissed.”

Loo – Have you ever heard of a cuter way to tell someone you are gonna take a piss-not to be confused with British Word #3? “Hold my bag, daaarling, I’m going to the loo.” (To which I always want to add … skip to the loo … skip to the loo, my darling … But I don’t.)

Knickers, Snogging and Shagging – Just ’cause they sound so naughty!

Wanker and Sod Off – Because it is fun to tell someone off in another “language,” as in “I told that wanker to sod off.”

And my all time favourite, absolutely dedicated to my Irish mate …

Janey Mackers – I actually had to look this one up for clarification, but ain’t it a fun way of sayin’ “Holy Shit!” Jen got a good laugh out of me when I repeated the expression to her as “Jenny Mackerel.”

“That’s a fish, Cherr,” she said. “Not an expression.”

So here’s wishing all of my British friends a great day and that young Irish lass … a Happy Birthday!

I’ve learned more British words and expressions living in Europe than I ever knew back home. Have you picked up any British words-or vice versa, if you are British? If so, which ones are your favorites?

8 Responses
  1. Stellina

    Well, I have a lot to learn about british lingo. Guess I’ll learn more when I go to London for the first time in August. Yehhh! We’ll be staying at a b&b in London. I wonder if they say weird things like we do, (it’s raining cats and dogs,or the apple doesnt fall far from the tree,etc)
    I don’t know … interesting. I hope you have a great trip!

  2. As with any language somethings are said in one part and not others…but sometimes it can be said in one area of a county and not others, and the difference between the North and South, and East and West can be huge..!!

    All the ones you have used are from all of the UK!
    Are they? See, I’m not sure where they are from. I have just heard them and loved them.
    Anne’s last blog post..More about Paris……..

  3. Irish Jen

    Well from this Irish Cailin……all i will say is

    “Thank you Cherr”

    and its Good to be 28 today….

    This ‘oul Irish humour is rubbing off on you….

    You are so welcome! Happy Birthday. (I can’t wait for the party!)

  4. If only I had read this post earlier, I could have said Janey Mackers this morning when I woke up late and my alarm had apparently been going off for 15 minutes. I did scurry around the house and make it to boot camp on time!
    Ha! Good for you!
    andrea’s last blog post..Shoes, Check!

  5. Shane

    [An Irish pedant writes…]

    Stumbling across this entry while researching old Anglo-Hibernic words still in use today, I should just point out that “Janey Mackers!” has no relevance whatsoever to anything to do with British terms or modern syntax.

    Not that I have anything against Britain or the English (unlike too many deeply strange people even today, in modern-day Ireland), but it’s just a distinctly Irish term, and not British.

    Nor yet has it anything to do with Norwegian, Slovakian, Nigerian or Klingon terms. Chalk/cheese; oil/water; Irish/English.

    And now I’ll bog off (which you’ve probably heard already, being a British term).


    He he … thanks for the info! I appreciate it.

  6. Hi! I’m an American and I’d really like to add some british words to my vocab. Problem is I don’t want to say something offensive and most of the sites I’ve seen seem to be oriented around what we Americans would classify as ‘swear words’, ‘cuss words’ and just generally ‘highly suggestive’ sexual phrases.

    I’m not a prude, I’d just like to enrich my vocab with some British phrases one could use in ‘mixed’ company. ‘Mixed’ meaning male/female & American/British.


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