Escape to the Country
23 Definitions Of British Slang Words That May Surprise You!
We translated popular slang words from Britain to enhance your “Escape to the Country” viewing experience!
Updated on October 6, 2022 by Benjamin H.
Picture this: You’re watching “Escape to the Country,” and you hear a word like “gobsmacked,” “chuffed,” or “skint.” Suddenly, instead of taking in the beauty of the English countryside and the host's latest adventure, and you have no idea what that British slang word means. Is he happy? Upset? Intrigued? Or is he as confused as we are feeling right now? And to think you were a connoisseur or British culture!
While both the United States and the United Kingdom speak English, the slang each country uses is so vastly different at points that we might as well be speaking different languages entirely. Therefore, we thought the proper thing to do would be to prepare a guide to translate the most common British slang words and phrases. Instead of saying "what?", the only word we want you to be thinking when you watch "Escape to the Country" is "wow!".
Read on below to verse yourself in common British slang (or English slang words) that are thrown around in conversation throughout the United Kingdom, and what they roughly translate to in American English. In no time, you'll be switching back-and-forth between British English and American English like a pro!
We all know the British love their tea! Naturally, they’ve shortened the phrase “a cup of tea” to “A Cuppa” for efficiency and convenience.
While the word “bloke” sounds like it could be offensive, it’s simply an informal term for a common man throughout the U.K. In America it’s the equivalent of calling someone a dude in a casual setting. Similarly, the term “lad” is an informal way of addressing a younger man or boy.
In the United Kingdom, the word bloody doesn’t necessarily mean blood, horror, and gore like it does in the U.S.A. Instead, the word bloody is used to place emphasis on a comment or another word. For example, something wonderful might be referred to as “bloody brilliant!” As a note, the word “bloody” is considered to be a mild expletive when used in this manner, but it’s usage is so common that it’s still generally accepted in most situations.
The word “bonkers” usually means something is wild, crazy, or mad, but not necessarily in a bad way. For example, an excited or rambunctious crowd in a sports stadium or at a concert could be called bonkers.
Cheeky is used to describe someone who is being slightly rude or disrespectful in a way that is still charming or amusing. For example, this term could potentially be used to describe a misbehaving child who needs to be corrected but is still cute.
If someone is chuffed, they are very happy, delighted, or pleased. For example, someone who just achieved a big accomplishment would probably feel chuffed.
In the U.S, the word cracking can describe someone who is becoming hysterical (cracking up) or someone who suffered a mental breakdown. But cracking has the opposite meaning in the U.K. In fact, it’s a term of endearment or praise that is meant to say someone or something is particularly excellent.
If you call something daft, you are probably saying it’s silly, foolish, or dumb. However, the term daft is sometimes used to describe an infatuation. For example, a girl with a massive crush might say she was daft about the boy.
The word dodgy is used to describe anything or anyone that seems suspicious, questionable, or sketchy. To illustrate, food that tastes like it’s expired or a person exhibiting strange behavior could all be described as dodgy.
Everyone needs a “do nothing” day once in a while to rest and recharge. In Britain, the term for spending time doing nothing productive is faffing around. It can also refer to doing things in a way that isn’t organized, and therefore doesn’t achieve much.
It’s hard to find a word more British-sounding than Gobsmacked! This expression means to be extremely shocked, surprised or stunned. Since the word “Gob” is British slang for mouth, you could argue that this word is fairly similar to American phrases like “jaw dropping” or “their jaws hit the floor.” Another way a British person might express shock or surprise is by using the word “Blimey.”
The term grafting is slang that tends to be used most in Scotland. It describes a young man, or lad if you will, who is trying to get a girl he has a crush on to like him back.
The word “kerfuffle” is pretty similar to the word “fuss.” It generally is used to say you got yourself into a mess or things didn’t go quite according to plan and became chaotic. Plus, it’s just a really fun word to say!
If you’ve ever been exhausted for any reason, then you know how it feels to be knackered! This word is used when someone is extremely tired or worn out.
Lost The Plot:
The phrase “Lost The Plot” is used to describe someone who has become angry or irrational and is now acting ridiculously because of it. It’s someone interchangeable with the phrase “Throwing A Wobbly,” which is used to describe an adult throwing a tantrum when they should know how to behave better.
In America, if you hear the word “muppet” the first thing you probably think of is the famous puppets created by Jim Hensen, like Kermit the Frog. But in Britain, this word is used to describe someone who is ignorant, a bit clueless, or otherwise a bit of an idiot.
Nosh is a British expression for food. If you enjoyed dinner, you might say you just ate some tasty nosh!
In England, pants are typically called trousers. So, when a British person uses the word pants, they are either referring to underwear or saying that something is bad depending on how the word is used and the context.
In Britain, proper is often used to emphasize words or phrases. Think of it as a substitute for words like “extremely” or “very.” For example, at the end of a fun day exploring the English countryside a traveler might say “I had a proper good time!”
Quid or Squid:
These are both slang terms for British pounds, which is the currency in England. Similarly, a fiver is slang for a five-pound note, while a tenner is slang for a ten-pound note.
This is the British version of saying you are poor, broke, or have no money. You might tell someone you are skint at the moment if you can’t afford to go out on a night on the town.
To Crack On:
A British person might say they better crack on or it’s time to crack on if they want to get started with something or continue with something. Think of this phrase as the British equivalent of saying “let’s get going.”
To Leg It:
If someone says they legged it, they are saying they ran away from something. Usually, they were running from trouble or someone else at a high speed.
Which definition from our guide to British slang surprised you most? What's your favorite British slang word? Do you prefer British slang words over American slang? Did we miss a term? Let us know on our Instagram and Facebook!