Ace – If something is ace it is awesome. I used to hear it a lot in Liverpool. Kids thought all cool stuff was ace, or brill.
Aggro – Short for aggravation, it’s the sort of thing you might expect at a football match. In other words – trouble! There is sometimes aggro in the cities after the pubs shut!
All right? – This is used a lot around London and the south to mean, “Hello, how are you”? You would say it to a complete stranger or someone you knew. The normal response would be for them to say “All right”? back to you. It is said as a question. Sometimes it might get expanded to “all right mate”? Mostly used by blue collar workers but also common among younger people.
Anti-clockwise – The first time I said that something had gone anti-clockwise to someone in Texas I got this very funny look. It simply means counter-clockwise but must sound really strange to you chaps! I think he thought I had something against clocks!
Any road – Up north (where they talk funny!!) instead of saying anyway, they say “any road”! Weird huh?
Arse – This is a word that doesn’t seem to exist in America. It basically means the same as ass, but is much ruder. It is used in phrases like “pain in the arse” (a nuisance) or I “can’t be arsed” (I can’t be bothered) or you might hear something was “a half arsed attempt” meaning that it was not done properly.
Arse about face – This means you are doing something back to front.
Arse over elbow – This is another way of saying head over heelsbut is a little more descriptive. Usually happens after 11pm on a Saturday night and too many lagers! Some Americans say ass over teakettle apparently!
Arse over tit – Another version of arse over elbow, but a bit more graphic!
Arsehole – Asshole to you. Not a nice word in either language.
Arseholed – Drunk! Usually in the advanced stages of drunken stupor, someone would be considered “completely arseholed”. Never me, of course!
As well – You chaps say also when we would say “too” or “as well”. For instance if my friend ordered a Miller Lite, I would say “I’ll have one as well”. I often heard people saying something like “I’ll have one also”. You’d be more likely to hear someone in England ordering a pint of lager!
Ass – Your backside, but mostly a donkey!
Au fait – Another one of those French expressions that have slipped into the English language. This one means to befamiliar with something. I’d say at the end of reading all this you’d be au fait with the differences between American and English!
Baccy – Tobacco. The sort you use to roll your own.
Bang – Nothing to do with your hair – this is a rather unattractive way of describing having sex. Always gets a smile from Brits in American hair dressers when they are asked about their bangs.
Barmy – If someone tells you that you’re barmy they mean you have gone mad or crazy. For example you’d have to be barmy to visit England without trying black pudding!
Beastly – You would call something or somebody beastly if they were really nasty or unpleasant. Most people would consider you a snob or an upper class git if you used this word. People like Fergie can get away with it though.
Bees Knees – This is the polite version of the dog’s bollocks. So if you are in polite company and want to say that something was fabulous, this phrase might come in handy.
Belt up – For some reason I heard this quite a lot as a kid. It’s the British for shut up.
Bender – I used to go out on a bender quite frequently when I was at university. Luckily bender doesn’t only mean a gay man, it also means a pub crawl or a heavy drinking session.
Bespoke – We say something is bespoke if it has been created especially for someone, in the same way that you say custom. For example a computer program might be bespoken for a client, or you may order a bespoke holiday, where the travel agent creates an itinerary around your exact requirements.
Best of British – If someone says “The best of British to you” when you are visiting the UK, it simply means good luck. It is short for “best of British luck”.
Biggie – This is unusual. A biggie is what a child calls his poo! Hence the reason Wendy’s Hamburgers has never really taken off in England – who would buy “biggie fries”? Yuck – I’m sure you wouldn’t buy poo fries! The other meaning of Biggie iserection. It just gets worse!
Bite your arm off – This is not aggressive behaviour that a football fan might engage in. In fact it just means that someone is over excited to get something. For instance you might say that kids would bite your arm off for an ice cream on a sunny day.
Bladdered – This rather ugly expression is another way of saying you are drunk. The link is fairly apparent I feel!
Blast – An exclamation of surprise. You may also hear someone shout “blast it”, or even “bugger and blast”!
Blatant – We use this word a lot to mean something is reallyobvious.
Bleeding – An alternative to the word bloody. You’ll hear people say “bleeding hell” or “not bleeding likely” for example.
Blimey – Another exclamation of surprise. My Dad used to say “Gawd Blimey” or “Gor Blimey” or even “Cor Blimey”. It is all a corruption of the oath God Blind Me.
Blinding – If something is a blinding success – it does not mean that any eyes were poked out with sharp sticks – it means it was awesome.
Blinkered – Someone who is blinkered is narrow minded or narrow sighted – they only see one view on a subject. It comes from when horses that pulled carriages wore blinkers to stop them seeing to the side or behind them which stopped them from being startled and only let them see where they were going.
Bloody – One of the most useful swear words in English. Mostly used as an exclamation of surprise i.e. “bloody hell” or “bloody nora”. Something may be “bloody marvellous” or “bloody awful”. It is also used to emphasise almost anything, “you’re bloody mad”, “not bloody likely” and can also be used in the middle of other words to emphasise them. E.g. “Abso-bloody-lutely”! Americans should avoid saying “bloody” as they sound silly.
Blooming – Another alternative to the word bloody. You might hear someone say “not blooming likely” so that they don’t have to swear.
Blow me – When an English colleague of mine exclaimed “Blow Me” in front of a large American audience, he brought the house down. It is simply an exclamation of surprise, short for “Blow me down”, meaning something like I am so surprised you could knock me over just by blowing. Similar to “Well knock me down with a feather”. It is not a request for services to be performed.
Blow off – Who blew off? Means who farted? Constant source of amusement to us Brits when you guys talk about blowing people off. Conjours up all sort of bizarre images!
Blunt – If a saw or a knife is not sharp we say it is blunt. It is also the way most of us speak! In America the knife would bedull.
Bob’s your uncle – This is a well used phrase. It is added to the end of sentences a bit like and that’s it! For example if you are telling someone how to make that fabulous banoffee pie you just served them, you would tell them to boil the condensed milk for three hours, spread it onto a basic cheesecake base, slice bananas on top, add some whipped double cream, another layer of banana and Bob’s your uncle!
Bodge – We bodge things all the time here. I’m sure you do too! To do a bodge job means to do a quick and dirty. Make it look good for the next day or two and if it falls down after that – hey well we only bodged it! Applies to building, DIY, programming and most other things.
Bogey – Booger. Any variety, crusty dragons included!
Bollocks – This is a great English word with many excellent uses. Technically speaking it means testicles but is typically used to describe something that is no good (that’s bollocks) or that someone is talking rubbish (he’s talking bollocks). Surprisingly it is also used in a positive manner to describe something that is the best, in which case you would describe it as being “the dog’s bollocks”. Englishmen who live in America take great delight in ordering specialised registration plates for their cars using the letters B.O.L.L.O.X. Good eh?
Bomb – If something costs a bomb it means that it is really expensive. We say it when we see the price of insurance in the US, you could try saying it when you see how much jeans orpetrol cost over here!
Bomb – If something goes like a bomb it means it is going really well or really fast. Or you could say an event went down like a bomb and it would mean that the people really enjoyed it. In the US the meaning would be almost exactly the reverse.
Bonk – Same meaning as shag. Means to have sex. E.g. “Did you bonk him/her?”.
Botch – There are two expressions here – to botch something up or to do a botch job. They both mean that the work done was not of a high standard or was a clumsy patch. My Dad used to always tell me that workmen had botched it up and that he should have done the work properly himself.
Bottle – Something you have after twenty pints of lager and a curry. A lotta bottle! This means courage. If you have a lotta bottle you have no fear.
Box your ears – Many young chaps heard their dads threaten to box their ears when I was a littlun. Generally meant a slaparound the head for misbehaving. Probably illegal these days!!
Brassed off – If you are brassed off with something or someone, you are fed up. Pissed perhaps.
Brill – Short for “brilliant”. Used by kids to mean cool.
Budge up – If you want to sit down and someone is taking up too much space, you’d ask them to budge up – move and make some space.
Bugger – This is another fairly unique word with no real American equivalent. Like bloody it has many uses apart from the obvious dictionary one pertaining to rather unusual sexual habits. My father was always shouting “bugger” when he was working in the garage or garden. Usually when he hit his thumb or dropped a nail or lost something. Today we might use the sh** or the f*** words but bugger is still as common. The fuller version of this would be “bugger it”. It can also be used to tell someone to get lost (bugger off), or to admit defeat (we’re buggered) or if you were tired or exhausted you would be buggered. You can also call someone a bugger. When I won £10 on the lottery my mate called me a “lucky bugger”.
Bugger all – If something costs bugger all, it means that it costsnothing. Meaning it is cheap. If you have bugger all, it means you have nothing.
Bum – This is the part of your body you sit on. Your ass! It might also be someone who is down and out, like a tramp. You might also bum around, if you are doing nothing in particular, just hanging out. Finally to bum something means to scrounge it from someone.
Bung – To bung some