In the Sweet Midwinter

The Best of British English

bagsy – dibs

batty – crazy or out of control

best of British – good luck with that (mildly sarcastic); undertone of “I hope this goes well, but I don’t expect it will”; a very British sentiment

bin – trash can

Bob’s your uncle – like saying “it’s all good” or “it’s done”; implies that when something is over, it’s over

boffin – someone who’s an expert on a specific subject

bog standard – average; nothing special; barely acceptable

bung in – lend or chip in

butty – a type of bread roll

cadge – borrow

cheek – nerve or chutzpah

chocker – full; overcrowded

chuffed – pleased

cock a snook – thumb your nose

cock-up – an error; a mistake

cuppa – cup of tea

detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure – in jail for an undetermined amount of time

do – a party or event

doddle – something that’s easy to achieve; a cinch

eejit – British variation of “idiot”

full of beans – full of energy; antsy

have kittens – have a cow; freak out

hob – stovetop burner

in for a penny, in for a pound – deciding to finish what you’ve started, even if it’s more complicated or difficult than you expected

jimjams – pajamas

jolly hockey sticks – an expression of delight; used sarcastically or sometimes mockingly in regard to the upper class

jumper – sweater

kip down – to sleep in a place that isn’t your own; to borrow a friend’s couch for the night

knees-up – party

lift – elevator

midges – looks like a gnat; bites like a mosquito; found by lakes in woodsy areas

mint/minted – rich

MOT – annual car inspection required by the Ministry of Transport

nan – grandmother

nutters – crazy

off his trolley – crazy

plait – braid

prat – jerk

pudding – dessert (any kind)

queue – line

quid – a pound in British currency

red-top – tabloid magazine (the gossipy kind)

rising damp – moisture from the ground that travels into the walls; can cause damage to mortar and wood; often appears as a visible stain

rubbish – trash

rubbish tip – garbage dump

rucksack – backpack

scheme – a plan (in the positive sense; not a plot)

scrappage – unwanted items

sixth form – equivalent of junior and senior years in U.S. high school; optional in the U.K.

snogging – making out

Square Mile – the official City of London founded by Roman invaders in the first century

stroppy – in a bad mood

taking the mickey/mick – teasing someone

takeaway – takeout or fast food

tatty – shabby or ragged

term (school) – roughly the same as an American semester

tickety-boo – totally awesome

toasties – sliced bread with fillings heated and sealed between two metal plates; a cross between a panini and a Hot Pocket

to-do/to-doing – a fuss or inconvenience

toff – wealthy person

torch – flashlight

up the pole – crazy; as in “they are driving me up the pole”

wind your neck in – “don’t stick your nose in my business”

yonks – a long time

Zebra crossing – crosswalk for pedestrians where cars are required to stop