Performing, Travel, Writing

“Wait, What’d You Say?”: 35 Terms from the UK

Oh, you’re studying abroad in an English-speaking country? That’ll be so much easier than learning a new language!

Yes, that’s true . . . however, as we all know in the States, English can sound vastly different spoken by a southerner than a northerner. Or, West Coast vs. East Coast. So, you can imagine how some of the phrases, customs, and slang words change once you cross the ocean.

I mean, I chose English as my undergraduate major for a reason . . . I love words! Therefore, I find the differences in how certain words (even the exact same word) are used in varying locations highly fascinating. While some may seem self-explanatory, it’s still worth acknowledging some of the main differences I’ve found in one month abroad. For example, just last week I was grocery shopping and bought a large bottle of what I thought was apple juice . . . after getting it home and pouring a nice glass and taking a swig, I was hit with an extremely strong flavor that seemed almost fermented. My Welsh flat-mate looked at the bottle and informed me that I had bought double strength “squash,” not juice. “Squash” here is basically really strong Kool-Aid that is slightly fizzy and needs to be mixed with water—the real juice that I had bought previously was in a different section . . . I learned my lesson about reading labels more carefully, and my flat-mate got a good laugh for the day!

Without further ado, here is a short, fun post for anyone who wants a taste of culture from the United Kingdom or is planning a trip and wanting to avoid certain mistakes, for my acting friends wanting to make sure they’re getting their slang correct for their British accent, or maybe just for my fellow word nerds!

(Bare in mind that while some of these may be the same for all of the UK, it’s the same as in the USA—different regions will still have variations in phrases. I am specifically learning these from a South Wales perspective, while still visiting other areas as well.)

35 Terms to Know in the United Kingdom and the American Equivalent:

  1. Cheers – Thanks
  2. Biscuit – Cookie
  3. Cookie – Only chocolate chip cookies
  4. Scone – Closest thing to American Biscuit (sweet or savory)
  5. Uni – College/University
  6. Bacon – More like Ham (Thicker cut than our typical bacon)
  7. The Bin – The trash can
  8. Rubbish – Garbage/trash
  9. Pants – Underwear
  10. Trousers – Pants/jeans
  11. Tights – Pantyhose
  12. Knickers – Panties/Undies
  13. The Boot – The trunk of a vehicle
  14. Hoover – Vacuum
  15. “You okay/alright?” – Not concerned, more of a “Hey, how are you?”
  16. Cuddle/Cwtch – Hug
  17. Fancy Dress – Costume Party
  18. Costume – Fancy/Nice attire
  19. Chips – Fries
  20. Crisps – Chips
  21. Lemonade – More like Sprite
  22. Still lemonade – Closer to American Lemonade
  23. Queue – Waiting in line
  24. Fanny – Unlike meaning the rear-end (as in a fanny pack), this means a woman’s front-end
  25. Slag – Skank
  26. “Now in a minute” – “Not right now, but soon”
  27. On the raz – Out drinking
  28. Gaff – House
  29. “Have a day off!” – Similar to “I’m annoyed, get lost/take a hike!”
  30. “I’m gutted” – “I’m so upset”
  31. “I don’t know what you’re on about.” – “I don’t understand what you mean.”
  32. “Couldn’t be bothered” – “I didn’t feel like doing it.”
  33. “I’m creased” – “That’s hilarious—I’m dying.”
  34. “He’s such a melt.” – “He’s a big softy.”
  35.  “Bless your cotton socks.” – “Bless your heart.”


Cheers for reading! What are some of your favorite words/phrases that you’ve discovered while traveling? Drop a comment!

2 thoughts on ““Wait, What’d You Say?”: 35 Terms from the UK”

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