British slang basics for international students
You may take a look in your slang dictionary for what different words and phrases mean, but they change so often that it is often not worth your while learning them. Many of them sound like they are offensive or nasty, when they are not. Here are a few commonly heard ones.
Starting from scratch
This sounds like a bad thing, but it actually means to start from nothing. If a person loses everything, he or she may have to start from scratch. It doesn't mean to start from a bad place; it just means starting again without the previous baggage or problems.
Can't be bothered
If a person says they cannot be bothered, it means they are generally unmotivated and unenergetic. It doesn't mean they don't want you bothering them. It has nothing to do with them being bothered (aggravated/annoyed); it simply indicates their lack of energy for a task.
This is a way of saying thank you very quickly. It is commonly viewed as a friendly expression. Somebody may also say, â€œTa very much.â€ You often hear it on movies and on TV more than you may in real life. It is more commonly spoken than it is written.
This is a commonly used expression for saying thank you in a friendly way. People also say cheers when they are about to have a drink of alcohol or something special.
This is commonly used as an expression of happiness, which is usually directed to an idea or an event. For example, you may say that you kicked a ball over a house, and a person may say, â€œNice one.â€
Hiya or Hey up
Instead of saying hello, one may say â€œHiyaâ€ because it is quicker and easier to say. It also sounds a little less formal, but you should still use â€œHelloâ€ when on the phone. Hey up is pronounced â€œEy Upâ€ and is a northern English way of saying Hiya.
This is another way of saying hello. A person may say you and say, â€œAlrightâ€ as a way of saying hello. Even though it is a question, it is a rhetorical question that needs no answer unless the person being asked is very upset.
How's it goin'?
This is a longer way of saying â€œAlright?â€ and yet is still shorter than the typical US version, which is â€œHello, how are you?â€ which is a phrase you may hear coming from a shop clerk in a US store.
Are you having a giraffe?
It may also be â€œAre you having a laugh?â€ and it generally indicates a level of disbelief. For example, you may hear it as London slang where one person says, â€œI need that report by 5pm,â€ and the other says, â€œAre you having a giraffe?â€ because it is a tough deadline.
There are many ways that British people may say goodbye, and See Ya is one of them. There is also â€œByeâ€, â€œTarrahâ€, â€œtoodle ooâ€, â€œCheerioâ€ and â€œta ta,â€ though there are many more.
Common pet names you may be called
People in Britain will happily call you by a pet name. In most cases, it is a form of affection and/or a way of appearing familiar with you. Do not be offended if somebody calls you one of these slang UK words: pet, cock, duck, duckie, sweetie, sweet heart, love, chick, chuck, chucky-egg, sweet, sweets, sunshine or even darling.
Having a go
In London, it may indicate a man trying to seduce a woman, such as, â€œI went out to have a go with a bird.â€ However, if you move further up north and into Wales, then to â€œHave a goâ€ at somebody means attack them verbally and criticize them in some way.