Words are quite brilliant things

I’m back in the States now, but I’ll be going back to the UK for much longer in about two or three months depending on when the visa comes through. So to tide me over I thought I’d do a post on one of my favorite cultural subjects: language.

The Brits have some of the best words. They did kind of originate the English language, after all. Here are some of my favorite British words and phrases that I’ve encountered, and their translations into US/American English:

  • tea point (kitchen / office break room)
  • bug bear (pet peeve)
  • wonga (money)
  • dosh (money)
  • brass (money)
  • torch (flashlight)
  • knackered (exhausted)
  • fit (attractive, although they also say physically fit)
  • bird (woman/chick, in the sense of fit bird meaning “hot chick”)
  • wee (either “pee” or “small” depending on context)
  • jumper (sweater)
  • fancy (like, as in I fancy that fit bird.)

The funniest ones are some of the more dirty ones, and can easily cause misunderstandings between Americans and Brits:

  • Pants actually refer to underwear in the UK, so don’t compliment someone on their pants if you mean their trousers!
  • Said the actress to the bishop = That’s what she said
  • Suspenders are often what they call garters, whereas braces are what we’d call suspenders
  • Fanny is their term for vagina, whereas they would say bottom or bum and never name someone Fanny or buy a “fanny pack”
  • Fag is not a derogatory slang term in the UK, but rather a cigarette
  • When a Brit says they got pissed last night, they don’t mean angry; they got drunk.

And I love food in London, although sometimes it can be confusing to order. Here are a few terms I noticed while perusing menus that I had to look up or ask about:

  • courgette = zucchini
  • aubergine = eggplant
  • Wellington is traditionally a rich beef dish with a pastry crust, but I’ve had a delicious spinach-mushroom wellington.
  • My favorite food term is probably rocket, which looked fun when I saw it as an ingredient on a sandwich, but it’s just arugula, no space travel involved.

There is so much fun slang, don’t be surprised if I do a part two once I go back!