11. November 2022

15 fabulous British slang words

British flag rubber duck in the sea at the beach

British English is a colourful, vibrant language full of words curious and unique. And of course that goes for British slang words too! I love passing them on to my Luxembourgish partner and it warms the cockles of my heart when he uses one of them in conversation. I feel like my work is done.

Here are 15 of my personal favourite British slang words for you!


Verb. To grumble or mutter to oneself.

“I had had an argument with my boyfriend and was still chuntering away to myself when my mum rang”.

Adjective. Dishonest, unreliable (as applied to a person), low quality (as applied to things) or potentially dangerous (as applied to things or activities). I overuse this word shamelessly.

“Darren’s mate’s really dodgy. I don’t trust him one bit”.

“That path up the mountain looks a bit dodgy. I think we should go the other way”.

Adjective. To be pleased or proud. Add “dead” to the beginning or “to bits” at the end to add emphasis.

“I got a first for my degree! I’m chuffed to bits!”

Adjective. Crooked, askew.

“That is some seriously wonky logic going on there”.

“Pete got his nose broken in a fight last year and now it’s all wonky”.

Verb. To kiss someone on the lips energetically. To my mind, “snog” has a slight air of naughtiness to it, of doing something you possibly shouldn’t. Therefore, the kiss has to be with someone you don’t know very well (or at all). You do not “snog” your husband/wife/long-term partner.

“I got drunk and ended up having a cheeky snog with my colleague Martin at the Christmas party. Won’t be able to keep a straight face in meetings now!”

Noun. British slang for “umbrella”.

“Oh no, it’s pouring down and I’ve left my brolly at home!”

Adjective. Cheap, bad quality, vulgar, bad taste. “Naff off” is also a less rude way of saying “f*ck off”.

“I went shopping the other day and all the clothes from the early 90s are back. Those high-waist stonewash jeans look just as naff as they did in 1992”.

Adjective. Annoyed, put out, peeved.

“He beat me by one point. If I hadn’t made that silly mistake I would have won. I’m a bit miffed about it”.

Adjective. Crazy. (Not to be confused with the verb “to bonk”!)

“My brother is going to cycle from Britain to China on a unicycle — bonkers!”

Phrasal verb. To go crazy (or bonkers!), lose one’s ability to understand or cope with what is going on.

“If this lockdown goes on for much longer, I’m going to completely lose the plot”.

Phrasal verb. To have a temper tantrum.

“Things all got too much for me and I ended up throwing a wobbly”.

Noun. Silly or foolish person.

“I accidentally threw my car keys in the bin with my sandwich wrapper. What a muppet!”

Adjective. Disgusting, unpleasant, not attractive. An unattractive woman can also be a “minger”.

“I forgot to throw away the cheese before I went on holiday and when I got back it was really minging, all covered in green mould”.

Verb. To waste time, mess about, spend time on ineffectual activities — especially in a situation where you lack the time to do it.

“My sister is always late. She faffs around so much, she never gets out of the house on time. If faffing was an Olympic sport, she’d win gold”.

Verb. Low level activity. A firm favourite of The Other Half, who has found a way to Germanise it (“wann pottern wir los?”). For me, pottering entails moving from one place to another (probably at home, late at night) completing one small task after another. It can be distinct recreational activity that you put by time especially for.

“I don’t feel like coming to bed yet — I think I’ll just potter a bit. I love a good potter”.


Related articles:

Americanisms: from the sublime to the ridiculous

10 charming Northern English words from Old Norse

Yorkshire words and phrases I still use after 19 years living abroad

Gen Z slang? I’m here for it!


Photo by Brian A Jackson on Envato Elements