EF GO Blog | EF Global Site (English)
The latest on travel, languages and culture by EF Education First
MenuFree Brochure

Talk like a true Brit: 8 (more) British expressions to master

Talk like a true Brit: 8 (more) British expressions to master

Did you enjoy my last post on British expressions that will make you sound like a true Brit? If so, read on. There are hundreds of other great sayings that define the way many Brits use the English language, and if you want to fool people into thinking you’re fresh from the streets of Hackney in East London, you’ll need to master at least a handful of them. To help out, I’ve put together a second set of eight British expressions that – together with that set you’ve already mastered – will have you talking like a true Brit in no time.

1. “Bits ‘n bobs”

How do you say it? “bitts an bohbs”

What does it mean? Used to describe small things, junk, and stuff lying around the house.

Where did it come from? Another form of ‘odds and ends’, which is pretty self-explanatory. Bits and bobs may have also been old words for pennies, which you’d probably find lying around the house.

2. “Cheeky”

How do you say it? “CHEE-kee”

What does it mean? Used to describe a person or act that is disrespectful or not to be taken (so) seriously.

Where did it come from? Apparently related to all other interpretations of ‘insolence’ as having something to do with the jaw, mouth and cheek. Google ‘to turn the other cheek’ for a better idea.

3. “Gobby”

How do you say it? “gkobbee”

What does it mean? To shout your opinions or express them in an offensive way.

Where did it come from? Unsurprisingly, the word comes from the notion of someone using their mouth too much – ‘gob’ is slang for mouth (look at that… a two-in-one slang lesson!).

4. “Knackered”

How do you say it? “NAKK-erd”

What does it mean? Really tired, exhausted.

Where did it come from? There are many explanations: among them are ‘knacker’s yard’, as in somewhere horses went to be slaughtered (sob) or the Scandinavian ‘hnakkur’, which means ‘saddle’. No, I don’t get it either.

5. “Minted”

How do you say it? “MINN-tidd”

What does it mean? When you’re really rich.

Where did it come from? Related to the process of minting (creating coins for currency) and not the herb. Although wouldn’t that be both hilarious and absurd!

6. “Mental”

How do you say it? “MEN-toll”

What does it mean? Depending on where you’re from in the UK, it can either mean awesome, crazy (as in emotionally unstable) or exciting and unusual.

Where did it come from? The latin word ‘mentis’, for mind. Not sure how it came to mean what it does today, though.

7. “Fit”

How do you say it? “fyt”

What does it mean? A way of describing someone who you consider very attractive, usually on a superficial basis.

Where did it come from? Most likely, it comes from describing someone as physically active and therefore attractive in an athletic, six-pack kind of way (i.e. the actual meaning of the word ‘fit’. Not to be confused with ‘fit’ when used to mean when something ‘fits’ and is the right purpose, shape or size. Is this confusing enough yet?!).

8. “Miffed”

How do you say it? “MYFF-d”

What does it mean? When you’re a combination of angry, upset and offended about something.

Where did it come from? Stories vary on this one, but it could be both an imitation of the sound someone makes when they’re annoyed (“mfffh!”) or a relation to the German word “muffen”, which means ‘to sulk’. Either way, it’s quite a nice word to use to describe a potentially volatile emotion. Miff on!

So, that’s lesson two done and dusted (there’s another idiom for you). Book your tickets to the UK now and get chatting with the locals to try out some of the slang. And if you meet someone who’s fit, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself. You know: just in case things get a little awkward.

How about learning English in the UK with us?Learn More
Get the latest on travel, languages and culture in the GO newsletterSign me up

Discover the world and study a language abroad

Learn more