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Kayla’s Guide to UK Expressions

Last week I wrote a post about how the way I speak has changed since moving to England. While writing the post I came across so many more words or phrases that I use since Joe’s come into my life. A few people seemed interested in hearing the rest, so I put them all together for you!

This is of course not a comprehensive list of UK differences and slang; it probably only scratches the surface. But these are the words I’ve noticed myself saying, as well as a few that I hear often but haven’t gotten used to saying myself.

My new words and expressions:

Mate: Probably self-explanatory, but a commonly used word to refer to your friend. You might say “my mate” when talking about someone, or as a preface to a sentence, like “mate, you won’t believe what happened to me today.” Honestly I think I call Joe “mate” as much as “babe” or anything else.

Blimey: I don’t think many people I know actually say this, but it’s a stereotypical British expression. Truthfully I started saying “crikey” but crikey is supposed to be a word reserved for a specific kind of situation (Saw family inside joke) so I had to find a replacement word. I settled on “blimey” and now it’s a regular phrase in my vocabulary.

Gutted: “bitterly disappointed or upset.” I say this allll the time and didn’t even realize it was a UK expression until someone asked me what it meant. So Joe might say “I forgot to get you a coke” and I would say “absolutely gutted.” At the nicest.

I’m easy: This one is weird because it sounds like you’re saying you sleep around a lot or something, but is actually referring to being easygoing. So “What kind of pizza do you want?” “I’m easy.” Actually that’s a bad example because I do have strong opinions on what kind of pizza I want.

I’m not fussed: Could mean “don’t care either way” but can also be a more passive way of saying “I’m uninterested.” Joe might ask if I want to go to some event, and if I’m not feeling it but also wouldn’t say no, I might say “I’m not that fussed about it.”

I don’t mind: Wow English people have a lot of passive expressions?? This is like saying “I don’t care” except Joe has informed me that saying “I don’t care” is more negative. So “I don’t care” means, I’m annoyed and being passive aggressive. Whereas “I don’t mind” means you genuinely don’t mind either way.

Tidy: Now I always say that I need to tidy my room instead of clean it.

Having a go: “Attack or criticize” or like starting a fight. So if I’m telling Joe that something bothers me but I’m not angry and don’t want to fight I might say “I’m not having a go but I don’t like when you do that.”

Long ting: Ok again, I don’t think anybody I actually know besides Joe says this, but it’s like London slang (ting = thing). It means something takes a long time or is tedious. So when Tyler told me that the next Fantastic Beast movie doesn’t come out til next year I said “long ting.” Or filling out a lot of paperwork might be a “long ting.” I mostly only say this to Joe and Tyler tbh.

Ages: Obviously this is a word in America, but we don’t use it as often. So now I’m more likely to say “I had to wait ages” or “I haven’t seen her in ages.”

Bin: UK word for trash can, and it always sounds funny when I say it for some reason.

Lift: UK word for the elevator. I tend to go back and forth between the two words.

Mission: If something is really difficult or a lot of effort you might say it was “a mission” or even “a mish.” We often say getting to anything that’s not a single bus or tube journey is a bit of a mission.

Sorry: Okay obviously you know what this means, BUT I hear it a lot as a replacement for “excuse me.” So if you bump into someone or someone is in your way or whatever, you might say “sorry” even if it’s not really your fault. Although a lot of people won’t even say sorry if they bump into you. (My frustration with the manners here is another post entirely.) It’s also an opener for a lot of sentences, like if you’re asking a staff member a question. “Sorry could I get some ketchup please?” Interestingly if I bump into someone I tend change my pronunciation and it’ll come out more “sore-ee” than “saari.” But when Joe apologizes to me he usually says “saaaari.”

Speak: I used to be more likely to say “I’ll talk to them” but now I usually say “speak” or “I haven’t spoken to her yet.”

Quite: Everything is quite something. “That was quite annoying.” “I am quite tired.” “I am quite hungry.”

Called: Before I moved here, I would have said “named” and I used to give Joe a hard time because he’d say something like “We had this friend called Harry” and I’d be like “Called Harry? Is that not his actual name?” The other day I was talking to my mom about Stranger Things and said “there’s this guy called Hopper” and after I was finished she pointed out that I’d said called. I sat there for about 2 minutes just like “No. No. Not this too.”

X’s: This is something people type rather than say. It’s common to sign off text, emails, or whatever kind of message with x’s for kisses. Sometimes it’s one, sometimes three, sometimes a bunch. I feel like there are rules on how you’re supposed to use them, but I don’t know them. I just go with what I’m feeling. My favorite way to use them is more “sarcastically,” saying something like “hi just having the worst day ever xxxxxx.” (I went to search for an example from my texts and found “just peed my pants in the lift to our flat xxxx” so that’s a good example of the x’s and also how much of a mess I am.) Anyway, I find it really difficult to explain but I wish we had this in America!

There are some other expressions that I hear a lot but I haven’t quite gotten down yet:

Purse: Actually refers to the wallet here, whereas they’d say bag or handbag for what I’d call a purse.

Rubbish: Word for trash

You alright?: Is what they usually say instead of “how are you?” So if someone says “you alright?” it doesn’t mean they think you look ill or off. They don’t just say it when they first see you either. Sometimes someone will just walk back into the room after a bit and say “you alright?” I’m mostly used to people asking me, but I haven’t gotten used to saying it myself.

Cheers: They use it to say “thanks” but either Joe doesn’t say it loads or I just haven’t gotten it down. Possibly because it kinda weird in my accent.

Cheeky: defined as “showing a lack of respect or politeness in a way that is amusing or appealing” but I would say it has a slightly broader use. I don’t use it super often unless I’m talking about eating a “cheeky Nandos” but I love the word and want to use it more.

Full stop: the word they use instead of “period” for the punctuation mark. This always trips me up when I’m using the speak text option, cause I say “period” to end the sentence and it just writes the word instead. (My phone is on UK English.)

(PS If there are any alt-J fans, this plus this x’s will explain to you the line in Breezeblocks that says “never kisses, all you ever send are full stops.” Genius.)

Fit: Rather than a comment on someones fitness, saying someone is “fit” usually means they’re hot.

And I just refuse to say “going for a wee.” I think you can tell what that means.


There you have it! Let me know if there are any good ones I’ve forgotten. 😉


Let me know what you thought!