The Ultimate Guide to British Slang

Jordyn Jacobson

Student Ambassador

When I first made the decision to study abroad in Edinburgh, I was comforted by the belief that a common language would soften the blow of culture shock that so often accompanies moving to a new country.

However, I quickly learned that the British have a wide range of vocabulary nonexistent in the English language that I grew up speaking. So, with the help of my British friends and the experience I’ve accumulated during my time in Edinburgh, I have put together a list of common British slang words and phrases you are sure to come across during your travels.

The Ultimate Guide to British Slang

Here are all the words and phrases you should know before heading to the UK.

“Can’t be arsed”: Another way of saying “can’t be bothered”. Also known as “cba”.

Quid”: Slang word for pound, the UK currency.  

“Proper”: Put in front of words for emphasis. “I’m proper hungry”, for example.

“Uni”: An abbreviation for university.

Lets grab a pint”: Let’s get a beer.

Cheers”: Thanks!

Queue”:  A line.

“Fairs”: Fair enough.

“Fit”: Used to describe someone who you find attractive, not someone physically in shape.

“Class”: To regard something positively. “That movie was class”, for example.

Tosser”, Wanker”, “Baw bag”: Insulting/derogatory terms.

Snog”: To make out.

“Mate”: Friend. Often thrown at the end of sentences.

“Piss off”: Leave me alone.

“Trousers”: Pants.

“Chips”: Essentially just thick french fries.

“Dodgy”: Sketchy.

Tenner”, Fiver”: 10 pounds, 5 pounds.

Rubbish”: Garbage can.

“Spoons”: Abbreviation of “Wetherspoons”, a notoriously cheap chain of pubs around the UK.

And that about wraps it up! Now you’re all ready to go to the UK, grab a pint with your mates, and speak like a local!


Jordyn Jacobson is an International Relations student at the University of Edinburgh. She is an avid traveler and spent a year traveling throughout Latin American. She loves sharing her experiences through her writing and hopes to continue doing this. Enter Jordyn’s code “jordynj” when booking a trip with us to receive special perks on your trip!


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