The Queen’s English

If you’ve ever traveled across the Pond to the United Kingdom, you probably found yourself wondering, “Wait a second: I thought they spoke English here?” They do—but there’s a catch. Just as American English is rife with slang and colloquialisms that can baffle an outsider, so too is British English. So this week in the Bluestocking Salon we’re offering all you Anglophiles, travelers, and word-lovers a crash course in the more colorful side of “the Queen’s English.”

Ab-dabs, n.  The heebie-jeebies, the willies (“He’s got the ab-dabs.”)

Bollocks!, n., v., adj., expletive essentially…bullsh*t! (“You are talking complete bollocks!”)

Bounder, n.  a jerk or fool (“What an absolute bounder!”)

Chuffing ‘eck!, interjection  Gosh darn! (“I just lost ten quid. Chuffing ‘eck!”)

Codswallop, n. bunk, hooey, baloney (“What a load of codswallop.”)

Damp squib, n. a flop or a dud (“It’s a bit of a damp squib.”)

Elevenses, n. coffee break or brunch (“Isn’t it time for elevenses?”)

Jam butty, n. a sandwich, typically sweetened with jam, molasses, or sugar (“Let’s have a jam butty.”)

Joe Soap, n. Ordinary Joe (“Who do you think I am? Joe Soup?”)

Knackered, adj. tired, bushed, wiped out (“I’m totally knackered.”)

Mardy-Arse, n. a sulky, whiny, or difficult person; a candy-ass (“He’s a right mardy-arse.”)

Natter, n., v. a chat, gossip (“Fancy a natter?”)

Of the first water, adj. originally complimentary, now equivalent to calling someone an s.o.b. (“He’s a scoundrel of the first water.”)

On your bike!, phrase scram, get lost (“On your bike, Nigel!”)

Palaver, n., v. fuss, song and dance (“We’ll have none of your palaver.”)

Peckish, adj. hungry (“I say, I’m feeling a trifle peckish, how about you?”)

Rozzer, n. cops, police (“Look out! Here come the rozzers.”)

Up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire, phrase time for bed, time to hit the hay (“Off with you, now. Up the wooden hill to Befordshire.”)

Wonky, adj. catawampus, out of whack (“It’s all gone wonky.”)

For more examples, as well as the origin stories of these pithy words and phrases, check out The Queen’s English Knowledge Cards in our Fall 2013 catalog. Now go forth and test out your newfound vocabulary. We promise a wink and a smile to whoever can (correctly) use the most of these words in a single day!

2 thoughts on “The Queen’s English

  1. And then there’s the priceless “Knock me up at 8 o’clock”, meaning knock on my door to wake me up, and not what you were thinking.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s