8 British Phrases You’ll Want to Know

April 28, 2014
8 British Phrases You Need to Know, Why Settling into a Local Job Doesn't Have to Mean the End of Traveling

foreign-correspondent badge final Living in England hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but just as I feel like England is becoming home, someone points out my accent or says “pardon” when I say a word or a phrase she just doesn’t understand. I can’t really help what my accent is like, but I have tried really hard to change some of my vocabulary to make things a little easier while trying to converse with the locals.

I find myself saying things like, “It’s bloody freezing out” in order to emphasize how cold it is but also because there is no conversation topic the British love as much as the weather. No, really. When someone “toots” me while I am driving (on the wrong side no less), I think to myself, “What a wanker!” You get the point–there are a lot of words the Brits use that us “Yanks” just don’t. Here is a compilation of some of my favorite new words and some examples of how they are used:

8 British Phrases You’ll Want to Know

All Right?

This is the British way of asking how you are. The only issue I have with this is that I find that someone is simply always asking me if I’m all right. When people ask you so many times if you’re all right you start to wonder if you are indeed not all right.

Needless to say, the Brits I know are not allowed to ask me more than once in one visit if I’m all right because if I’m not all right, I will be sure to let them know.

Chat Up

The American equivalent to using pick-up lines. You can use a “chat-up line” or you can simply chat up a guy or girl (lad/bloke or lass/bird).


One of the cutest words in my opinion. If something makes you really happy,  you would say, “I’m well chuffed!” I especially loved when someone told me that I must be “chuffed to bits” about learning to drive a manual so quickly. Chuffed, indeed.


“That bird is well fit” means “That girl is hot.” The Brits use the word fit for all around good looks and not just a fit body.


This is to be very upset or disappointed, as in, “I am so gutted that I didn’t get the job.”


This is such a handy word. It means exhausted and for the Brits, it is the word of choice to describe how they feel after yet another night of heavy drinking. Can anyone say hangover (I think that’s a universal word)?

8 British Phrases You’ll Want to Know


Synonymous with cookies (biscuits), pizza, cake, chips (crisps), and any other delicious (scrummy) snack. Moreish is that sensation of just not wanting to stop eating something, when one serving just won’t do!


All words for being completely wasted. Someone told me that you can pretty much come up with any combination of words to describe being drunk and Brits will understand. Having a pint is a huge part of the culture and having fun always starts with a drink.

There are tons of words I have learned while living here but these are just a few of my favorites. If you make it to this side of the pond at least you’ll be sorted with a few phrases. And if all else fails you could always just talk about the weather…

8 British Phrases You'll Want to Know

Have you traveled to England? How was your trip? Email us at [email protected] for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

8 British Phrases You Need to Know photo credits by Stephanie Morgan and Unsplash.

About Stephanie Morgan

Stephanie Morgan, originally from Florida, has lived and worked in Australia, China, Thailand, and England. She is currently living in Bristol, England.

5 thoughts on “8 British Phrases You’ll Want to Know

  1. Lance
    July 31, 2017

    I spent 12 years teaching ESL –– oops, EFL – in China, and noticed that about a third of the populace under age 30 who could speak English had a British accent, but oddly they often mixed British and American spellings (color and learnt in the same article) and used American slang. Before about 2000, Beijing was purchasing Oxford Press textbooks for schools, but after that, the educational ministry switched mostly to U.S. textbooks. I can only guess that although their 30-something teacher taught them British pronunciation in the 1990s, they plugged into American music and movies after that. They don’t know much about the Rolling Stones, but know a lot about Lady Gaga.

  2. Lance
    July 31, 2017

    You use a phrase below your photo that is *NEVER* used in the U.S.: “rare sunshine”, which is often stated as “That item I bought is a rare sunshine”. I supposed it simply means rare, but why “a sunshine” is attached?

  3. April 29, 2014

    Loved this..and I also have just given into their lingo and use that rather than the ones I am used to saying.. Now i get confused. I have been here 7 years. My ex husband always say Flippin Heck (he pronounces it eck) ….it has really stuck. Sigh.

  4. Karen
    April 29, 2014

    Really fun article. Stephanie really lightened what can sometimes be really daunting! I’m going back home this week and am reporting this so my American friends have lexicon to use while I’m there. 🙂

  5. Jaime
    April 28, 2014

    I’m also an American living in the UK – love this post! One of my favorites is when Brits say “bits and bobs” instead of “odds and ends”!

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