Britain. Home of the chocolate digestive, David Attenborough, and 355 days of perpetual rain. Britain is also home to many different colloquialisms and slang words that can leave a visiting foreigner perplexed and somewhat dumbfounded at their use.
This article is going to take you on a British journey through our underground-like network of slang words and colloquialisms. By the end of this article you will have at your disposal new words and phrases that will aid you on your journey through the majesty of Great Britain!
I want to jump straight into this article then with its first colloquialism! By colloquialism, I mean a word or phrase that is not formal or literary and is used in ordinary or familiar conversation. I will do my best to introduce colloquialisms that are relevant to this day and age. Not colloquialisms that are dated and/or quite simply conversationally dead.
1.The dog’s bollocks
Ah, the dog’s bollocks. This little phrase is still as punchy as ever. “Bollocks” is a word, which means, amongst other things, testicles. “Bollocks” when said on its own actually denotes something negative.
● Left your cup of tea in the kitchen? “Oh, bollocks!”
● Pulled over by the police? “Bollocks, what now?”
For some reason though, when the “bollocks” belong to that of Canis Lupus Familiaris, or as we know them, domestic dogs, the game changes. Suddenly, we have a saying that denotes something great, tasty, visually stunning and so on.
● “That steak last night was the dog’s bollocks!”
● “You look the dog’s bollocks, Jeff!” (Yes, we drop “like” in this phrase)
A little disclaimer. Whilst “the dog’s bollocks” is a completely fine colloquialism that can be used in informal settings, perhaps you shouldn’t use it to describe your nan’s home cooking. Or maybe you should. Maybe she would appreciate it if her home cooking were equated to that of a beagle’s testicles…
Do you have that one friend who is excited and ready for just about anything? You know the one; the friend who has flip flops and sunscreen ready as soon as the sun shines through the parting clouds. Even if it is snowing. Yeah, these friends are what we would call an eager-beaver. An eager-beaver is namely someone who is over enthusiastic and impatient.
● “Jeff’s fish fingers were undercooked. He was too much of an eager-beaver to wait for them to cook properly.”
● “It was five degrees outside. Jeff, however, was an eager-beaver and had already prepared the grill for a barbeque.”
Rammed is a pretty straight forward phrase that can be used as both an adjective and a verb. As an adjective rammed means overcrowded and busy.
● “The fish and chip shop was rammed last night!”
As a verb rammed means to cram or push-firmly.
● “Stacy finished her tea and rammed the toast into her mouth in order to catch the bus.”
To gut is a verb that means to extract or empty. However, in English, when a person is gutted it means that they are disappointed or let down.
● "He was gutted that she said no to a date"
● "She was gutted that there was no fish left at the fish and chip shop"
● "I'm gutted that Steve passed away. He was a top bloke"
I love porridge. Porridge with cinnamon. Porridge with chocolate. Salted porridge. Sweetened porridge. The list goes on and on. What is porridge you ask? Well, it is a word that stems from the 16th century. It used to denote a stew that was thickened with barley. Nowadays, porridge is quite simply Oatmeal! That's right! Plain and simple oats thickened with milk, water or whatever milk substitute takes your fancy!
● Today I ate porridge with a glass of orange juice.
Note: Porridge also denotes an old TV-series. It was about the lives of cellmates in a prison. It is quite possibly one of the greatest British TV-shows of all time! Maybe I'm being a little biased...
This article has hopefully given you five new words/phrases that will help you on your British endeavours. Let's summarise!
1. The dog’s bollocks
So, there you have it! Practise these phrases at home, on the London Underground, with your teacher and with your friends! I guarantee you that they will be impressed!