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Not much to report in the world of British TV today. Maybe it’s because folks in the UK have been discussing at length what happened during the first episode of Downton Abbey‘s third season, which premiered Sunday night on ITV.

So, since it’s “hump day,” American slang for “Wednesday,” I thought we’d look at some British slang.

A few phrases and words of Brit Speak have crept into my vocabulary, which makes sense. I do watch an inordinate amount of British programming, so I suppose it’s just a variation on using slang terms in general, which can be gotten from many sources, including American telly, e.g. “grind my gears” from Family Guy and “what the frack” from The Big Bang Theory.

Herewith, then, are some of the fine Brit phrases and words that have made my speaking and writing a bit more Anglicized in a slangy sort of way.

  • “A bit of hush” — What a genteel way of telling folks to shut up. The Doctor himself asked for a bit of hush in a Season 1 episode of Doctor Who. And so does Sarah Kelly (Maria Doyle Kennedy) in the Irish/American film, The Matchmaker.
  • “Bugger off” and “Sod off” — “Go away.” “____ off.” Said by many a British TV character… and actor in real life.
  • “Cheers” — “Thanks” or “I appreciate it.” Used by DS Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) in New Tricks and many other Brit TV characters on many occasions.
  • “Chuffed” — To be pleased or happy about something. (Note: I didn’t pick up this one from British TV, but learned it from my friend Jay, a born-and-bred Londoner who operates the Aquarian Insight tarot website.)
  • “Gobsmacked” — One of my favorite Brit slang expressions for being shocked, astounded. Often used in conjunction with “Crikey!”
  • “Have a lie down” — Take a nap, a la Louisa Glasson after returning to Port Wenn pregnant and moving into the pub in Episode 2 of Doc Martin: Season 4.
  • “Knackered” — Tired, fatigued.
  • “Muck about” — Waste time, do something other than the task at hand. (Stop mucking about and help me get this sorted!”)
  • “Nutter” — Crazy person, someone who’s “mental.”
  • “Tosser” — Akin to “wanker,” which, when used colloquially, refers to someone one dislikes or “couldn’t give a toss” about.

Right then, Brit slang lesson over. Bring on the weekend!


Brit Speak: Spot-On Slang
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