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A British slang dictionary: British Slang Glossary

 
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: 06, 2010 10:58 am     : A British slang dictionary: British Slang Glossary



abseil: v dangle oneself from a cliff at the end of a rope. In the U.S. military, abseil is used to distinguish face-out dangling from the more conventional face-in rappelling, but civilian Americans know the whole dangling business as rappeling. The word is apparently derived from the German abseilen, meaning simply to rope down. Those crazy Germans and their crazy language.

aerial: n bent bit of wire intended to collect radio waves for your computer, television or some such device. The manufacturers dont call them bent bits of wire. Their marketing chaps have many fancy words like impedance and gain, but back at the factory all the guys are just bending wire. Americans call these devices antennas, though aerial is in limited use in the U.S., too.

afters: n dessert. One would imagine that theyre so named because they come after the main meal, but actually they take their name from their inventor, Sir George After, the Fat Bastard of Brighton.

AGA: n range. A large cooking stove with heavy metal doors, almost large enough to fit a small person (Aga is a brand name). This type of stove is a little dated now, but they were very popular with middle-class families in the mid-20th century.

aggro: n aggression; trouble: Hey, you! Stop making faces at that guy outside with the knife we dont want any aggro around here!

agony aunt: n advice columnist a newspaper or magazine employee who responds publicly to readers impassioned pleas for help on a wide range of issues, but most commonly sex. Read by a large sector of the population, each of whom hopes to find a vicarious solution to their own dark sexual inadequacies.

alight: v disembark. Many American tourists are confronted with this word quite rapidly after reaching the U.K., because on the London Underground the pre-recorded message says such things as: This is Baker Street. Alight here for Madame Tussauds. Madame Tussauds is a cheesy attraction and best avoided. The voice on the tube only says the part about the alighting.

all mouth and no trousers: n all talk and no action: Judiths husband keeps telling us hes going to build that racing car but, between you and me, Id say hes all mouth and no trousers.

aluminium: (al-yoo-min-i-um) n aluminum. Who is correct about this one is a matter for some debate. We can at least say that Hans rsted, the Danish gentleman who discovered it in 1824, had based its name on the Latin word alumus, denoting the mineral alum. The difference in spelling seems to have originated when very early printed material advertising his talks on the subject contained the two different spellings in error. The general consensus seems to be that he had originally intended using the British spelling (borne out by International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistrys use of it, and the ium suffix that already graced many metallic elements at the time), but as he clearly didnt make any efforts to correct anyone, we could conclude that he didnt care too much either way. The American scientific community use the British spelling.

anorak: 1 n someone whos a little bit too knowledgeable about one subject. Generally a subject like seventeenth-century flower pots or steam trains, rather than athletic sexual positions or gun-fighting. Americans (and also Brits, as our languages merge ever closer) would call such a person a geek. It may originate with the fans of Radio Caroline, a U.K. offshore pirate radio station, whose fans had to don anoraks in order to visit the station. Alternatively, it may come from the most popular item of clothing worn by train-spotters. 2 n waterproof jacket (universal).

answerphone: n device plugged into the telephone which answers it for you when youre out, playing an oh-so-hilarious message that you got from the internet, recorded from Seinfeld or made up yourself whilst plastered and forgot about. Americans call them answering machines, which has become more common than answerphone in the U.K. nowadays.

anti-clockwise: adv rotation in a direction which isnt clockwise (as, well, the phrase suggests). Americans will know this better as counter-clockwise. Of course, anyone with half a brain could have worked this out themselves but never let it be said that were only paying lip-service to completeness.

anyroad: adv very much an equivalent of anyway. If you think about it, any road pretty much means any way, erm, anyway.

arse: n 1 what you sit on. Very close in meaning to the American ass, although actually derived from a different root, as arse is an old English word meaning tail. I cant be arsed I cant be bothered. bunch of arse load of nonsense: I never bothered reading the bible, the whole thing is a bunch of arse. 2 interj rats. Used alone in a similar fashion to bollocks: Im sorry to tell you, sir, but youve missed the last train. / Arse!

arsehole: n asshole.

artic: n abbr articulated vehicle, usually a large hauling truck or semi.

articulated lorry: adj semi truck which is able to bend in the middle. Of course, I just wrote pretty much the same thing two seconds ago. Im beginning to understand why the guy who wrote the first Oxford English Dictionary ended up going mad and cutting his penis off.

ASBO: n Anti-Social Behaviour Order a restraining order awarded to miscreants specifically barring them from doing certain naughty things again (spray-painting bridges, beating up pensioners, that sort of thing). Whilst the ASBO itself does not go on the offenders criminal record, any breach of it does - its intended to be a warning shot across the bows for errant youths.

aubergine: n large purple pear-shaped vegetable North Americans will recognise as eggplant.

autumn: n season between summer and winter. Americans call it fall. Americans, of course, also call it autumn which might have you wondering why its in here at all. Well, my furry friend, it is in here because Brits never call it fall. Think of this entry not so much as autumn, but more as not fall.

bagsie: v stake a claim for something in the same way that Americans would claim dibbs on or call some item or privilege: I bagsie the front seat or Bagsie first shot on the dodgems! Its a rather childlike sentiment; you would be less likely to hear I bagsie being Financial Director! It doesnt seem ridiculously far-fetched that itd be derived from bags I, with bag meaning to catch something. But hey, who can tell. [Etymologists. ed.]

bairn: n Scottish baby. Possibly derived from the old Norse word barn, which means both child and children.

baked potato: n potato. Baked. You can buy a baked potato on either side of the pond, of course, but in the U.K. you will specify the filling as you buy the baked potato, while in the U.S. youll be brought a small selection of fillings to plonk in yourself. British fillings tend to constitute more of a whole meal than American ones.

bally: adj darned. A very old-fashioned minor swear word, muck akin to a lighter version of bloody: I say, Edward! I think that ruffian is making off youre your bally wallet!

Baltic: n very cold: Im not going outside without a coat, its bloody Baltic! Presumably named for the Baltic states, which arent all that cold.

bangers: n sausages. Probably most often heard in the name of the dish bangers and mash (the mash being mashed potato, but I hope to God you worked that out yourself). So called because they make popping noises when you cook them.

bank holiday: n any public holiday for which the public have forgotten the original purpose. You know, that holiday on the fourth Monday in June. It was something to do with Saint Swithen, I think. He was born maybe. Or was he beheaded?

bap: n 1 small bread roll. 2 womans breast (modern slang): Get your baps out, love!

barmpot: n clumsy idiot. As with a lot of the Brits less-than-complimentary words, it isnt really offensive its used more in goading fun than anything else. Has a derivation similar to that of barmy.

barmy: adj idiotic. You might describe your fathers plan to pioneer the first civilian moon landing using nothing but stuff hed collected from a junkyard as barmy. Well, unless the junkyard he had in mind was out the back of Cape Kennedy and he had funding from China. It may or may not derive from the fact that there was once a psychiatric hospital in a place called Barming, near Maidstone in Kent, England. It may equally easily come from an Old English word for yeast, barm, intended to imply that the brain is fermenting. As these competing etymologies seem equally plausible, it seems only sensible to settle the matter in an old-fashioned fistfight.

barnet: n hair; hairstyle. Another example of Cockney rhyming slang which has slipped into the common vernacular: Barnet Fair / hair. Barnet is an area of London. Presumably they had a fair there at some point.

barney: n argument; fight. This is certainly rhyming slang, but no ones sure of whence it came. It could either be Barney Rubble / trouble (Barney Rubble is a character in the cartoon The Flintstones), or Barn Owl / row (when it means fight, row rhymes with now). The latter is marginally more likely, as trouble could be many things other than a fight, but the former is a more popular explanation. Pick one.

barrister: n sort of lawyer. Barristers are different from solicitors in such a convoluted way it took a barrister a whole page of ball-bouncingly dull prose to explain it to me.

bash on: interj press on regardless, to keep struggling in the face of adversity. Has nothing to do with hitting people.

beavering: v working enthusiastically. These days youd have difficulty saying it without a chorus of sniggers from the assembled crowd, as everyone in the U.K. is well aware of the American use of the word beaver. Its the sort of thing your grandmother might say at Christmas dinner that would make the younger generations choke on their soup.

bedsit: n single rented room in a shared house, usually with a shared bathroom. An antiquated term, it was popularised after World War II, when housing was made scarce by the Germans. Nowadays, a bedsit would be referred to as spacious Penthouse suite in desirable residence or gorgeous, bijou living space in up-and-coming neighbourhood.

Belisha Beacons: n yellow flashing lights on sticks that are positioned next to zebra crossings and flash constantly to alert drivers. They were named after Hore Belisha, who was Minister of Transport when they were introduced. Perhaps a more interesting derivation was put forward by an episode of the BBC radio programme Radio Active, which featured an unwinnable quiz, one of the questions being From where did the Belisha Beacon get its name? Answer: From the word beacon. I was younger then, and in the cold light of day it seems less funny now than it once did. You cant take away my childhood.

bell end: n end of ones nob, which devoid of a foreskin looks not completely unlike a church bell. If you dont have one to examine, ask a friend or neighbour: I dont know what happened last night but when I woke up this morning my bell end was covered in spots!

bender: n 1 big drinking session (universal). 2 homosexual (rather derogatory). Be careful with this one. It possibly derives from the, erm, position classically adopted by male homosexuals. Its a very old term, and predates female homosexuals.

berk: n idiot. Yes, yes, another friendly U.K. word for moron; this one implies a degree of clumsiness: Look, you berk, I said to bend it, not bust it. The word originally derives from the rhyming slang Berkeley Hunt (or Berkshire Hunt), which rhymes with well, punt, among other words.

bespoke: adj made especially for a particular clients requirements. These days its most likely to be used to describe computer software, but it could cover anything from limousines to suits. Americans would probably say tailor made or customized.

bevvy: n alcoholic drink. A contraction of beverage.

big end: n the end of the conrod, which is attached to the crankshaft in a conventional combustion engine. The other end, attached to the piston, is called the small end.

big girls blouse: n chicken (as in person who is afraid, not as in bird). Exclusively applied to men: After wed had a couple of beers we all jumped off the bridge into the lake, except Andy, who turned out to be a big girls blouse.

Bill: n the police, in the same sort of a way as Plod. There are two possible etymologies: The first, that its after William Wilberforce, a Member of Parliament who first proposed a U.K. police service. The second, that all police cars originally had the letters BYL in their number plates. The Bill is also a popular U.K. television drama about a police station.

billion: n thousand million. As you may have noticed, this is precisely the same as the U.S. definition. Its here because some time ago in the U.K. it meant a million million, which no doubt caused a lot of confusion.

Billy no-mates: n person with no friends: Everyone else turned up half an hour late so I was sitting there like Billy no-mates for ages.

bin: n trashcan. This is simply a contraction of dustbin (which means the same thing, to save you going and looking it up). wheelie bin a bin on wheels. Normally refers to bins provided and emptied by the local council. bin bags garbage bags. The plastic bags one puts in the bin.

bing: n slag heap. The large pile of detritus created in the process of coal mining: Whats that brown mountain, dad? / Its a bing, son, its not a mountain. Your grandad used to work in that coal mine before Margaret bloody Thatcher closed it down and he had to spend the rest of his life in the pub whining.

bingo bango bongo: n thats that done. Popularised by T.V. chef Jamie Oliver, and now used by people who are young enough to think it sounds nice.

bint: n woman, in the loosest sense of the word. One step short of a prostitute, a bint is a bird with less class, less selectivity, more makeup and even more skin. Blokes dont talk to bints unless theyve had at least eight pints of beer, which is why bints turn up in free-for-students nightclubs at 2:45 a.m. with their faked student ID and dance around their Moschino rucksacks. The word derives from the Arabic for woman. Well, I say derives from it is the Arabic for woman.

bird: pron. beud (London); burd (Scotland) n woman. Well, not really. Bird is used by blokes looking upon the fairer sex with a slightly more carnal eye. Its not quite at the stage of treating women as objects but the implication is certainly there: I shagged some random bird last night (a popular usage), or: Hey, Andy, I think those birds over there are looking at us. Youd never describe your grandmother as a bird. Its popular in Scotland to refer to ones girlfriend as ma burd but do it in front of her and youll be choking teeth. About the only thing worse would be to call her ma bint, which will warrant a foot in the testicles and a loose tongue concerning your sexual prowess. The word itself is derived from the Old Norse word for woman, and the closest American English equivalent would probably be chick.

Biro: n ball-point pen. Named after Hungarian journalist Ladislo Biro, who invented it. Its slipped into the common vernacular in the U.K. and the rest of Europe as a generic word for a ball-point pen.

biscuit: n cookie. Has nothing to do with what Americans call a biscuit.

bitter: n proper beer, made with hops and served at room temperature (not actually warmed, contrary to popular opinion). The European/American fizzy lager shite is not real beer.

blag: v wheedle; bluff; wangle: I managed to blag a ride to work. Or: I had no idea what I was talking about but I think I managed to blag it. Perhaps if I sat for a bit longer Id think up better examples. Likely derived from the French blague, meaning a tall story. Americans use mooch and moocher in the same context.

bleeding: adj similar to bloody. Used extensively by Cockneys (i.e., in London). Consequently, there are no recorded incidents of the trailing g being enunciated.

blighter: adj guy (or, rather, a more refined, more upper-class version thereof). Usually used in a slightly critical tone: Just wait until I get my hands on the blighter who steals my newspaper every morning.

Blighty: n Britain. A very antiquated term itself and seen most often these days in war films: Well chaps, I dont mind saying Ill be dashed pleased when were out of this pickle and back in Blighty. It is derived from the Urdu word Bilati meaning provincial, removed at some distance and was one of the many words that slipped into English during Indian colonisation.

blimey: interj nice mild expletive, in terms of rudeness on a par with my goodness. It was originally part of the phrase cor blimey, which was likely a contraction of God blind me, which was in turn an abbreviated version of may God blind me if it is not so. There has been little evidence of God blinding users of the word, whether what they were saying was true or not. The original phrase cor blimey is still used, but rarely.

blinding: adj unusually wonderful. A currently popular slang term, largely interchangeable with brilliant or great. Youd use it to describe the goal that your football team just scored, or your favourite Elton John song. Though if you even had a favourite Elton John song, theres a good chance youre unfamiliar with current slang.

blinking: adj damned. A lesser equivalent to bloody. Slightly old-fashioned, but still in widespread use.

bloke: n guy. A bloke is a Joe Public, a random punter any old fellow off the street. Unlike guy, however, it cant apply to your friends. You cant walk up to a group of your mates and say Hi blokes, whats up? as theyd all peer at you as if youd been reading some ill-informed, cheap dictionary. Without question, the most common usage of the word is in the phrase some bloke in the pub.

bloody: adj 1 damned. An exclamation of surprise, shock or anger, its one of the great multi-purpose British swear words. Best known as part of the phrase Bloody hell! but can also be used in the middle of sentences for emphasis in a similar way to fucking: And then he had the cheek to call me a bloody liar! or even with particular audacity in the middle of words: Who does she think she is, Cinde-bloody-rella? Etymology-wise, its possible that bloody has in fact nothing to do with blood and actually a contraction of the Christian phrase by Our Lady. 2. bloody-minded obstinate; determined: If he wasnt going to be so bloody-minded about it wed have come to a deal ages ago.

blooming: adj darned. An extremely innocuous expletive could be seen as a reduced-strength version of bloody. Rather antiquated nowadays.

blow off: v break wind (rather old-fashioned): My goodness, is that Deardrie cooking breakfast again? / Hmm, no, I think the dogs blown off. Brits do not use the American meaning (to brush off).

blower: n telephone: just a second, Im on the blower. Yes, it sounds a bit rude. May stem from the days of party telephone lines, where people would blow into the mouthpiece in order to gently remind whoever was using the line that you wanted to too. Alternately, it may originate with the navy, where intra-ship communications operated using a similar system.

bob: n five-pence piece. Before the U.K.s currency system was decimalised in 1971 and became simply pounds and pence, the Brits had pounds, shillings and pence. Like all crappy Imperial measures there wasnt ten or a hundred of anything in anything and good riddance to the lot of it. In order to work out how to pay for anything you had to be able to divide by sixteen and nine tenths, subtracting room temperature. A bob was a shilling, and these days its still vaguely recognised as meaning five pence. Only vaguely, though.

bobbie: n police officer. After Robert Peel, who was instrumental in creating the British police force. Its a little antiquated these days.

bobbins: adj useless junk. While quite recent slang, its rather charming: Did your grandmother leave you anything good? / Nope, just a complete load of ancient bobbins. One possible etymology: that its from the north of England (particularly the Lancashire and Manchester areas), which used to be supported largely by cotton mills. As the industrial revolution drew to a close, the mills closed down and the population found itself with a surfeit of largely worthless milling machinery. During that time the phrase twas worth nout but bobbins sprung up; years later were left only with the last word.

Bobs your uncle: interj there you have it; ta-da! Its a little antiquated these days but by no means out of use. It carries a cheerful connotation, so you would be more likely to hear: And then fold it back again, once over itself like that and Bobs your uncle an origami swan! rather than: Just get a hold of the paedophile register and Bobs your uncle!

bodge: 1 v make a bit of a haphazard job of something 2 n something cobbled together. A bodger was originally a craftsman who worked on a green-wood lathe, but this information is of almost no help at all because the word bodger still rather implies that such a person was bodging something.

boff: v shag (somewhat posh equivalent).

boffin: n wonk. Someone who is particularly knowledgeable about his/her subject. It doesnt quite carry the respect implied in expert calling someone a boffin suggests that he has body odour and is a virgin. Boffins are invariably male.

bog: n toilet. More likely to be used as in: Dya hear Fat Bob took a kicking in the bogs in Scruffy Murphys? rather than: I say, Mrs. Bryce-Waldergard, Im awfully sorry to trouble you but I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of your bog?

bog standard: n no frills. The basic version. So your bog standard Volkswagen Golf would be one that doesnt have electric windows, power steering or opposable thumbs. Well, nowadays a bog-standard Golf probably does have two thirds of those things. Theres no particular reason to believe that the term has anything to do with a toilet (see bog).

bogie: n pron. bo-ghee booger. The charming little things everyone excavates from their nose now and again but likes to pretend they dont.

bogroll: n toilet paper. See bog.

boiler: n unattractive woman. The word was mentioned in Deborah Curtis book Touching from a Distance, her memoir of life with Ian Curtis of Joy Division. While their marriage was breaking down, Ian was having an affair with a European woman whom the rest of the band supposedly referred to as the Belgian boiler.

bollard: n small concrete or metal post generally used to stop cars from driving into certain places. While used only in a nautical context in the U.S., it is accepted universally in the U.K. When not on boats, Americans call them pylons, which to Brits are the giant metal structures used to hold up national grid electricity wires.

bollocks: 1 n testicles. The word is in pretty common use in the U.K. and works well as a general surprise expletive in a similar way to bugger. the dogs bollocks something particularly good (yes, good): See that car its the dogs bollocks, so it is. This in turn gives way to copy-cat phrases such as the poochs privates or the mutts nuts, which all generally mean the same thing. bollocking a big telling-off 2 rubbish; nonsense: Well, thats a load of bollocks. Some additional U.S./U.K. confusion is added by the fact that the words bollix and bollixed are sometimes used in the U.S. to describe something thrown into confusion or destroyed.

bolshie: adj rebellious; a bit of an upstart; a force to be reckoned with. From Bolshevik, the early twentieth century Russian socialist party, who ran around encouraging trade unions and upsetting the establishment.

bolt-hole: n sanctuary; place one runs to when in trouble or wanting to hide. One might hear it used to describe Winston Churchills country retreat, or some such.

bomb: n splendid success: Our party went off like a bomb. Unlike Americans, Brits do not use this word as an adjective or verb to indicate that something went badly.

bonk: v 1 have sex: Did you hear that Howards been bonking his secretary for the last three years? 2 a clunk or bash (universal).

bonnet: n hood of a car; the part of a car which covers the engine. Confusion arises in the U.K. when dealing with rear-engined cars; its difficult to determine whether to call it a bonnet or, as seems perhaps more logical, a boot, on account of it being at the back. The trials of modern life. To encourage confusion, hood is used in the U.K. to describe the convertible top of a convertible car.

bonny: adj Scottish beautiful. A little antiquated youd be much more likely to hear: Deirdres new granddaughter is awfully bonny! than you would: Bobbys stolen a bonny new shooter were going to go out this evening and do the chip shop over.

boot: n trunk of a car. The boot of a car is the part you keep your belongings in. So called because it was originally known as a boot locker whether it used to be commonplace to drive in ones socks is anyones guess.

boozer: 1 n pub. 2 one whos in the middle of partaking in booze (universal).

bottle: n nerve. To lose ones bottle is to chicken out of something often just described as bottling it. It may be derived from Cockney rhyming slang, where bottle = bottle and glass = arse. Losing ones bottle appears therefore to refer to losing the contents of ones bowel.

bought it: v died. Generally refers to someone who died doing something somewhat dangerous: Dyou know Jochen Rindt was the first posthumous Formula One champion? Bought it four races from the end of the 1970 season and still won the bloody thing.

bounder: n person who is generally no good, a bad egg. Its very old-fashioned even Rudyard Kipling would probably have used it in jest. One rather dubious etymology is that it was applied preGreat War to golfers who used new American golf balls (similar to modern golf balls) instead of the more traditional leather-covered ones. They had a more enthusiastic bounce and the use of such balls was not banned by the rules but was considered bad sportsmanship, perhaps even a little underhanded. The term was originally applied to the ball itself, and only later to the user of such a ball.

box: 1 n item that fits down the front of a blokes underwear and protects the crown jewels. Americans know it as a cup, although I suppose in the U.S. such an item is less likely to be protecting the crown jewels and perhaps instead protects the Bill of Rights or some such. 2 female genitalia (universal).

Boxing Day: n holiday that follows Christmas Day (December 26). A public holiday in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and various other countries that the U.K. once owned. More properly known as St. Stephens Day. Takes its name, rather disappointingly, from the fact that employers used to celebrate it by giving their employees gifts. In boxes. I was going to make something up here but my mind went blank.

braces: 1 n suspenders. Beware of the cross-definition in the U.K., suspenders are something else entirely (youll just have to look it up like a man). 2 metal devices used to straighten ones teeth (universal).

brackets: n parentheses. The things that Americans call brackets [these ones], Brits know better as square brackets.

brew: n cup of tea: Would you like a brew? Northern English but widely understood elsewhere in the U.K. At a stretch it could refer to coffee, too.

brick: n dependable person; rock. Someone who will stand tall in the face of adversity. A largely upper-class term, it is hardly in use nowadays.

bricking it: n shit scared: He didnt do very well in the interview we felt a bit sorry for him as he was clearly bricking it.

brill: adj popular abbreviation for brilliant. Well, popular amongst 1980s adolescents.

brilliant: adj particularly good: I had a brilliant holiday; What a brilliant night out. Its a little bit childish youd be less likely to refer to a brilliant board meeting or a brilliant shag. Also carries the usual other meanings (as gifted or luminescent) in the U.K.

brolly: n umbrella.

brown sauce: n relish of a sort. Popularly added to burgers, chips and other pub-type food, brown sauce is more than ketchup and less chunky than the American relish. I believe it contains vinegar. And probably some other stuff. Also it is brown.

brush: n broom. Brits use the word broom too (they dont talk about witches flying on brushsticks), but not as often.

bubble and squeak: 1 n dish made from boiled cabbage, potatoes, onions and sometimes some leftover meat. 2 n Greek person, usually shortened to bubble. From Cockney rhyming slang bubble and squeak / Greek: Did you hear Harrys brothers gone and started dating a bubble?

bubtion: pron. bub-shun n Scottish baby. From the German bubchen, meaning a young boy. Has a cosy, affable connotation. Youd never refer to your baby as a bubtion if it had lately been sick on your three-piece suit and drooled in your cornflakes.

bugger: 1 n jerk. Or substitute any other inoffensive insult (git works just as well) 2 v sodomise 3 -off a friendlier alternative to fuck off. 4 interj rats. Stand-alone expletive usable in a similar way as bollocks: Oh, bugger!

bum: 1 n posterior; pretty much the British equivalent of butt. 2 v mooch: Mind if I bum a ride home? or perhaps more amusingly: Can I bum a fag? What the Americans call bums Brits call tramps.

bumf: n copious amounts of paperwork or literature: You would not believe the bloody stack of bumf that came with my new video recorder. Possibly derived from the army and a contraction of the phrase bum fodder, i.e., toilet paper.

bung: 1 v stick; wedge. Push something into something, often something that was not intended for that purpose: Eventually we discovered that it wasnt working because our son had bunged a Polish sausage into the video recorder. 2 n stopper, often rubber. The type of thing you use to block fluid from coming out of things. 3 n bribe intended to buy silence. A monetary reward given to someone in order to buy their tacit agreement, often associated with the fixing of sports games: Everyone knows that their managers taking bungs to throw the matches anyway. 4 up full of cold; congested: I cant come into work today, one of the kids is bunged up.

burgle: v break into somewhere and nick stuff. Americans have the hilarious word burglarize, which means the same thing; for all I know, Yanks might refer to the event as burglarization. Or perhaps not.

busk: v sit in the street playing an instrument and hoping people will give you money. See also waster.

butchers: n look: Hey, give me a butchers at that. From Cockney rhyming slang: butchers hook / look.

butty: n colloquial name for something sold in a chippy thats served inside a roll or a folded-over piece of bread. Its a bit of a northern English/Scottish thing, and has more recently started being used to cover pretty much any sort of sandwich. The most popular is a chip butty, but you can also buy bacon or fish butties without seeming strange. May be derived from the German butterbrot meaning butter bread and referring to a similar sort of dish.

cack: n shit: Ive cacked myself; the club was okay but the music was cack. Well known in the U.K. but perhaps not all that widely used.

cack-handed: clumsy; ineptly executed. Likely derived from a time when the left hand was used for cleaning ones posterior after movements, and the right hand reserved for anything else. Therefore anything executed with the left hand is perhaps sub-standard. Almost all scatological etymologies are historically false, but theyre more amusing than the polite ones. The sad truth of life is that more of our language derived from the Viking term for baking tray than some sort of acronym which spelled FUCK.

camp: adj effeminate and homosexual. If you have heard of an Englishman (and latterly New Yorker) named Quentin Crisp, he was the very epitome of camp. And even if you havent heard of him, he still was. Americans will say flaming or swishy to mean much the same thing, though interestingly some Americans do use campy to describe old-fashioned or preposterous humour.

camper van: n motorised caravan in which you can take your entire family for a horrible holiday. Americans call them R.V.s, but the average European camper is significantly smaller than the average American one. Also, the average European is, of course, smaller than the average American, as proven by statistics.

candy floss: n cotton candy. The revolting foodstuff one can buy at fairgrounds which resembles a giant blob of fibreglass wrapped around a stick.

canteen: n cafeteria.

car boot sale: n merry event where people get together in a field and sell the rubbish from their attic, under the secret suspicion that some part of it might turn out to be splendidly valuable. Not entirely dissimilar to a jumble sale. The term stems no doubt from the fact that this is normally carried out using the boot of your car as a headquarters. This sort of nonsense is now largely replaced by eBay, where you can sell the 1950s engraved brass Hitler moustache replica your father was awarded for twenty years service in the post office without actually having to meet the freak who bought it.

car park: n parking lot. The large buildings composed of many floors of just parking spaces are called multi-storey car parks in the U.K. but parking garages in the U.S.

caravan: 1 n terrible device which attaches to the back of your car and allows you to take your whole family on holiday at minimal expense and with maximum irritability. Theyre more popular in Europe than they are in the U.S., where theyre called trailers. Be careful not to confuse a touring caravan (which a family will generally keep outside their house and drag behind their normal car somewhere for a few holidays a year) with a static caravan, which is generally deposited once by a truck and left there. Americans call both of these things trailers, and where a distinction is needed theyll call the touring variants travel trailers. The devices that Americans call a fifth wheel caravans which attach to a conventional diesel truck are pretty much non-existent in the U.K. Another caravan variant common to both sides of the Atlantic is the trailer tent, which is like a caravan except the walls and roof fold out like some sort of ghastly mobile puppet theatre. No doubt youre much less confused now. I could go on about caravans for days. 2 v the act of staying in a caravan: Doris has taken it into her head to go caravanning this weekend.

cardie: n abbr cardigan. A common abbreviation, at least for anyone who still wears cardigans.

carrier bag: n shopping bag. Cant think of anything witty.

cashpoint: n ATM: Be there in a minute, I have to nip to the cashpoint.

casual: n Scottish bad egg, nogoodnik. Pretty close Scottish equivalent to yob, with the notable exception that casuals will actually refer to themselves as such while yobs certainly would not. Dotted around Edinburgh is graffiti advertising the services of the Craiglockart Casual Squad. Craiglockart isnt one of the worst areas of Edinburgh, so perhaps their modus operandi is to turn up and insult your intelligence, or throw truffles through your windows.

cats eyes: n little reflectors mounted in the centre of the road, amid the white lines. When youre driving along at night your headlights reflect in them to show where the road goes. When youre driving like a screaming banshee they gently bounce the car up and down in order to unsettle it, causing you subsequently to lose traction and crash the rented 1.3-litre VW Polo through a fence and into a yard. Everything goes black your senses are dead but for the faint smell of petrol, and the dim glow of a light coming on in the farmhouse. Somewhere in the distance a big dog barks. As you slowly regain consciousness, you find that youre in a soft bed, surrounded by candles and with a faint whiff of incense drifting on the breeze from the open window. You see a familiar face peering down at you could it be Stinky Potter, from down by the cottages? Wasnt that corner just about where they found poor old Dannys motorbike? And how does this guy know your name? If you try to run, roll the dice and turn to page seventeen. If you choose to kiss the old man, turn to page twelve.

central reservation: n median. Far from being a sought-after restaurant booking, this is in fact what Brits call the grassy area in the centre of a motorway which is there to stop you colliding with oncoming traffic quite as easily as you might.

champion: adj Northern England great; wonderful: Ooh, those sausages were champion!

chancer: n risk-taker, someone who tends to take the kind of chances that involve things on the greyer side of society the sort of person who buys random domain names in the hope someone will offer them a pile of money for them, or puts all their money on the rank outsider in the 12:45 at Chepstow.

chap: n upper-crust equivalent of bloke. Nowadays only really seen in a tongue-in-cheek way or in 1950s Enid Blyton childrens books. It would read something along the lines of: I say chaps, lets go and visit that strange old man with the raincoat at Bog End Cottage and see if he has any more special surprises for us! Jolly hockeysticks.

charva: n newish word in the U.K. to describe a range of people much similar to pikeys. From Romany (spoken by the Roma people, i.e. gypsies) for child. Used in 1960s London to mean fuck, as evinced by the Derek Raymond Factory series of novels.

chat up: v make conversation with someone of the opposite sex with the intention of endearing yourself to them: Arthur spent the whole bloody night chatting up some bird in a wig. chat up line an opening gambit intended to attract the opposite sex. Given that opening lines have a near-zero chance of attracting anyone of the opposite sex, its a popular pastime amongst British women regurgitating the very worst chat up lines theyve encountered.

chav: n variant of charva.

cheeky: adj risqu; just short of rude. Youre being cheeky if you make a joke that you can only just barely get away with without getting into trouble.

cheerio: interj goodbye. Fairly old-fashioned and light-hearted. Originates from the 1970s, when one of the favourite killing methods of the Welsh mafia was to intravenously inject the victim with breakfast cereal.

cheers: interj informal substitute for thank you. Somehow derived from its use as an all-purpose toast.

chemist: n 1 drugstore; pharmacist. The American term drugstore implies to Brits that you could just buy Class A narcotics over the counter. These days its also acceptable in Britain to call the place a pharmacy. 2 a person who works with chemicals (universal).

chest of drawers: n dresser. Just so that one single device can have not one, but two slightly illogical names.

Chesterfield: n hard, deep-buttoned leather sofa. The sort of thing you could imagine Sherlock Holmes sitting in.

chipolata: n small sausage. The term originated in Mexico, but somehow never made it big in the U.S.

chippy: 1 n fish-and-chip shop. 2 n colloq carpenter. Americans use this word (at least those on the East Coast) to describe a woman of somewhat suboptimal morals; this derives from its original meaning of an Old West saloon prostitute, commonly paid in poker chips. All this is of minimal relevance here, as that meaning isnt used in the U.K.

chips: n French fries. However, its lately been popular to call thin chips fries in the U.K, so Brits at least know what fries are these days. Classic chips can be obtained from a chip shop (chippy) and are a great deal unhealthier. They also vary quite creatively if you buy them at 9 p.m. they are hard, black and crunchy (because theyve been cooking since 6:30 p.m., when the dinner rush came through) but if you buy them at 3 a.m. you will find them very akin to raw potatoes, right down to the green bits in the middle (because the chippy employees want all of these drunk punters out of the door so they can go home).

chivvy on: v hurry someone along with something. If you want an example, you can have this: I was pretty sure Id be up until 1 a.m. daydreaming instead of doing my homework, but my mum chivvied me on with it and I was done fairly early.

chock-a-block: adj closely packed together. You might use this to describe your dating schedule or your attic, unless you are unforgivably ugly and you live in a flat, in which case youd have to think up something else to use it on. The examples here are provided as-is, you know; they dont necessarily work for everyone. Its possible that the word has a quite unfortunate origin it may have originally referred to the area where black slaves were once lined up on blocks to be sold. Its also possible that it stems from maritime usage, referring to when a block and tackle were jammed against each other to stop the load moving.

chocolate drops: n chocolate chips. The idea of chocolate chips is enough to turn most British stomachs. The American candy called a chocolate drop, but it doesnt have a lot to do with British chocolate drops.

Christmas cracker: n (ah, how to describe these) bit of fancily-coloured paper wrapped much like a lozenge, with twisted ends. A small sort of explosive device is put inside a cracker so that when two people pull at alternate ends, the whole thing comes apart with a snapping noise and ah, the joy a small piece of trinket crap falls out. This will be something like an ineffectual miniature sewing kit, a set of blunt nail clippers or one of these mysterious get the bits of metal apart puzzles, which will cause some degree of interest from the surrounding family until someone realises its very easy to get them apart because it was made in China and came out of the factory bent. As the name suggests, these are mainly used at Christmas but sometimes pop up at birthday parties and the like.

chucking it down: v pouring; raining heavily: Walk? Are you mad? Its chucking it down out there!

chuff: 1 v fart. 2 n ones posterior. 3 n Northern England vagina. 4 interj general swear word usable much the same as fuck: It was all going fine until the chuffing pigs turned up. Entirely separate from the word chuffed, so use with care.

chuffed: adj generally happy with life. Make sure you only use this word in the correct tense and familiarise yourself with the meaning of the word chuff, too (see previous entry). For antonym see dischuffed.

cider: n alcoholic apple juice. To Brits all cider is alcoholic theres no such thing as hard cider in Britain, and any non-alcoholic apple juice is called simply apple juice. Cider is often mixed with a small amount of blackcurrant syrup to form a drink imaginatively titled Cider and black.

clap: n applaud. In the U.K., to give someone a clap means to applaud them. Analogous to U.S. Englishs give someone a hand. Not to be confused with giving someone the clap, which means the same thing on both sides of the Atlantic.

clobber: n clothing; vestments. You might hear: OK, OK, Ill be out in two minutes once Ive got my nightclubbing clobber on. Its possible this definition is of Scottish origin. Brits do also use clobber to mean hitting something.

close: n pron. as in close to me, rather than close the door residential street with no through road; cul de sac. Brits also share all of the usual meanings of the word.

coach: n bus. Generally used in the U.K. for longer-haul buses (50 miles or more). The difference between a coach and a bus is that a coach tends to have a loo, not so much chewing gum attached to the seats and fewer old ladies hacking up phlegm in the back. Brits do not use coach to refer to economy-class seats on an aircraft; thats a peculiar American thing.

cobblers: n rubbish; nonsense. An informal term; youd be more likely to use it in response to your mates claim that he can down fifteen pints in a sitting than while giving evidence in a murder trial. Possibly Cockney rhyming slang, from cobblers awls / balls. This may be true. Who knows?

cock a snook: v thumb ones nose. A display of contempt, normally expressed at some sort of authority: Between you and me, I think the eight-foot bronze penis Harry made was less about art and more about cocking a snook at Norwich City Council.

cock about: v fool around; mess about: Where the hecks Bob? / I think hes in the garage cocking about with that ridiculous jet-powered go-kart that he bought on eBay.

cock-up: v make a complete mess of something: I went to a job interview today and cocked it up completely. Brits also use the phrase balls-up to mean the same thing. Ironically enough, however, balls-up is seen as a lot less rude.

cockerel: n rooster. Male chicken. Also abbreviated to cock, mostly in order to make jokes centered around the next-door neighbours cock wakes me up every morning and such like.

Cockney: n person from the East End of London. Strictly speaking, someone born within the sound of the bells of Bow Church. A more modern definition might be born within the sound of a racist beating, born in the back of a stolen Mercedes or perhaps born within the range of a Glock semi-automatic. Cockneys have a distinctive accent, which other Brits are all convinced that they can mimic after a few pints.

codger: n grouch. Belligerent old bugger. The old codger next door decided my hedge was too tall and set fire to it last Wednesday!

codswallop: n nonsense. The etymology of this antiquated but superb word leads us to an English gentleman named Hiram Codd, who in 1872 came up with the idea of putting a marble and a small rubber ring just inside the necks of beer bottles in order to keep fizzy beer fizzy (wallop being Old English for beer). The idea was that the pressure of the fizz would push the marble against the ring, thereby sealing the bottle. Unfortunately, the thing wasnt nearly as natty as hed hoped and Codds wallop slid into the language first as a disparaging comment about flat beer and eventually as a general term of abuse.

colleague: n co-worker. In here because Brits do not use the term co-worker. Of no relevance at all is the fact that Brits also do not refer to the hosts of television news programmes as anchors, which caused my British boss some confusion when he became convinced that the CNN presenter had handed over to her co-wanker.

college: n an educational establishment which specialises in single-year studies between school and university.

collywobbles: n spine-tingling fear; heebie jeebies. Originally meant the act or fear of having an unexpected and uncontrolled bowel movement. Which does make one wonder whether colly is an accepted abbreviation for colon. Probably isnt. Im done with the wondering now.

concessions: n discounts you might get on things if youve been there before, are a student, are over sixty or such like. Brits do not use the U.S. definition (snacks you buy during a film or sporting event). Often abbreviated concs, to confuse American tourists attending crappy mainstream musicals in the West End.

cooker: n machine that does the actual cooking of your food. While this is a peculiarly British term, oven is used both in the U.K. and the U.S. to mean exactly the same thing.

cool box: n cooler. The device one carries to picnics and uses to keep cold things cold: Was there a particular reason why you put the biscuits in the cool box and left the beer in the sun?

cop off: v snog; French kiss: I could swear I saw Ians dad copping off with some woman at the cinema the other day. The phrase may be derived from a contraction of copulate. Of course, it doesnt mean copulate, so perhaps not.

copper: n policeman. May come from the copper buttons policemen originally wore on their uniforms; may also be derived from the Latin capere, which means to capture. In turn, the American word cop may be derived from copper, although may equally easily be an abbreviation for Constable on Patrol or Constable of the Police. There. I dont think I committed to anything.

cor: interj ooh! Once a part of the phrase cor blimey, this is now used on its own to mean something like ooh! And here was you thinking that was some sort of typo.

cor blimey: interj rather older-fashioned term of surprise: Cor blimey, I thought he was going to drive straight into us! Has mostly migrated these days into just blimey or, more rarely, cor.

coriander: n cilantro. The herb that tastes like soap, and redefines the term edible. Americans still call the fruit of the plant coriander but not the leaves.

cot: n crib. Americans call a sort of frame camp bed a cot. Brits dont. Id say they just called it a camp bed, as God intended. Im guessing that he intended that. The Bible is fairly ambiguous about which day God chose to create camp beds.

cottaging: v picking up gay partners in public restrooms. George Michael is possibly the most famous cottager in recent times. A peculiarly male trait, the term likely derives from the fact that public toilets used to look like nice little cottages.

cotton buds: n cotton swabs, or Q-Tips. When I came back from Tenerife with an ear infection I deduced had come from swimming in the sea, I got a telling-off from the doctor for attempting to cure myself with the aid of some cotton buds. According to the doctor, you should never put anything at all into your ear smaller than your elbow. Medical advice dispensed here at no extra cost.

cotton wool: n cotton ball the little furry blob that women use to remove makeup and men use to clean inlet manifolds.

council house: n public housing, projects. Housing built by the government and meted out to the needy, so they can reproduce and smoke pot in it. In the U.K. such projects were largely the brainchild of a Labour government, but when the Conservatives took power in 1979 they had the fantastic idea of allowing the tenants (generally working-class Labour voters) the option of buying their council houses at a discount to market value, which proved wonderfully popular. It also made it rather tricky for Labour to reverse the plan when they attained power in 1997, as it had made a great many of their upstanding supporters substantially richer.

courgette: n zucchini. I wonder if theres anything behind the fact that these words both look like they ought to be sports cars. Im sure someones written a thesis on it somewhere.

court shoes: n pumps. Lightweight heeled womens dress shoes with enclosed toes.

cowboy: n dishonest and incompetent tradesman: Im not surprised it exploded, it was installed by a bunch of cowboys!

craic: n pron. crack fun and frolics to be had with other people; what makes a particular pub fun, or a particular wedding bearable: The pub ended up being a bit shit but the craic was great! From Irish Gaelic, hence the comedy spelling. The popular recreational drug crack exists in the U.K., as does the euphemism for vagina. This means endless confusion for many Irish crack whores.

creche: n day-care. The place you take your children to be looked after, usually while you bumble off and make the money youll need to pay for it. The Brits do not use the word to describe a the revolting Christian Christmas scene that your child brought home from school and youre not sure where to jettison (see nativity).

crikey: interj general expression of surprise. Rather elderly and a little esoteric these days you can most imagine it being used in a context something like: Crikey, Eustace looks like Cambridge are going to win after all! It may be derived from Christ kill me. It also may not.

crisps: n potato chips, or any of the corn-based equivalents. Its worth bearing in mind that crisps in the U.K. cover a wide variety of flavours from Worcester Sauce to steak, and are not restricted to tasting anything like a potato. In fact, producing something that tastes anything like a potato is probably a sacking offence in the crisp factory. This particular confusion has caused me no end of troubles in the U.S. Ive never been so disappointed with a bag of chips in my life.

cropper: n sudden failure. Only really used in the phrase come a cropper, e.g., Your uncle Arthur came a cropper on his motorcycle one evening after a few beers! It means something particularly bad has happened to the person in question. Most likely they died.

crumbs: interj general expression of surprise. Much akin to God, or bloody hell in that context (but without the ghastly use of our saviours name in vain or any swearing). Its quite all right to use in polite company, though perhaps a little antiquated. More likely to be heard in a context like: Crumbs, thats more expensive than Harrods rather than: Crumbs, I just dropped the smack out the window.

crumpet: n 1 small teacake made of pancake batter, but with raising agents added to make holes. 2 loose woman. Coming from rhyming slang for strumpet (a woman adulterer), crumpet refers to women in a similar (although a little more old-fashioned) way to totty. Suffice to say that if you were out looking for some crumpet of an evening, you wouldnt be intending sleeping alone. In fact, you may not be intending to sleep at all. Despite it meaning, primarily, a small teacake, it would be difficult to mention such a teacake in the U.K. without someone at the table collapsing in fits of giggles.

cuppa: n cup of tea: Surely you have time for a cuppa?

curly braces: n braces. {these things}. This is just one small part of a whole category of cross-continental disasters see square brackets.

current account: n checking account. The bank account into which you deposit your salary, only to have it seep away gently through the porous floor of the bank.

curtains: n any cloth covering a window. Brits dont call the longer ones drapes.

custard: n sort of yellowy-looking dessert sauce made from egg yolks and milk. It does sound a little disgusting, but youll have to believe me that its not. Brits pour it on top of things like apple crumble and sponge cakes.

cutlery: n silverware. Knives and forks and stuff. Brits therefore do not have the curious American concept of plastic silverware.

CV: n rsum. C.V. stands for the Latin curriculum vitae, lifes work. Brits dont use rsum at all. In North America the term C.V. is sometimes used to refer to a fairly regimented timeline of academic achievement.

daddy long-legs: n crane fly. Not to be confused with the American daddy long-legs, which refers to a whole order, Opiliones, also called harvestmen on both sides of the Atlantic.

dado: n decorative wooden track that some people think is nice to have around walls at the height of a chair back. Those people are blithering morons. Brits also know such a thing as a dado rail; Americans call it wainscoating or chair rail. It is, perhaps fittingly, more popular in mobile homes than in normal homes. To confuse things slightly, a dado to an American carpenter is a slot in a piece of wood (usually for fitting shelves or cabinets) which Brits call a rebate or housing.

daft: adj not in possession of, well, the full shilling. Daft can range from the absent-minded: Youve forgotten to put petrol in it, daft woman! to the criminally insane: Well, once we let him out of the car boot he went completely daft!

dago: n Spanish person (rather uncharitable and slightly antiquated). I mean the term is uncharitable and antiquated, not the Spanish person in question. There are two possible etymologies: One is that it is a slightly abbreviated Diego, that being of course a popular Spanish name. It may also be a contraction of the town name San Diego (named after Santiago, a.k.a. St. James, the patron saint of Spain). The term is in use in the U.S. but, rather perversely, refers to Italians.

damp: n (yes, noun) wet rot. You might hear it in a phrase such as: Bobs moved out of his house as its been practically destroyed by damp.

damper: n shock absorber. The part of a vehicles suspension system that stops the suspension from bouncing (rather than actually absorbing any shock).

dapper: adj as befitting someone who is very much the country squire well-spoken, well-dressed and rather upper-class. Despite once having been a compliment, the recent unpopularity of the upper classes in the U.K. has made this a mild insult.

daylight robbery: n highway robbery. A swindle so blatant that its very audacity takes you by surprise: Twenty percent a year? Thats bloody daylight robbery!

dead arm: n an arm which has been disabled via a punch to the tricep. A popular form of entertainment amongst school bullies or inebriated university students.

dear: adj expensive. While a little bit antiquated, its still in more widespread use in the United Kingdom than it is in the U.S.

demister: n defroster. The little network of electrical wires that weave around your cars rear window and are intended to remove frost. They are perhaps referred to as such in the U.K. because any devices attached to British-built cars have precious little chance of getting rid of frost, and, indeed, dont stand much of a chance against mist, either.

deplane: v disembark from an aeroplane. A very antiquated term, itd be met with a vacant stare by most Brits under forty, as would its antonym, enplane.

dicky: v dodgy; iffy. Not quite right. Usually used in reference to digestive health: I cant come into work today, Ive got a bit of a dicky stomach.

diddle: v swindle mildly. A colleague might diddle you out of getting the best seats at the game; youd be less likely to tell of when your grandparents were diddled out of their fortune, leaving them penniless beggars working the streets for cash. Brits do not use the term to refer to onanism.

digestive: n round biscuit that one generally dunks in ones tea. Whether it aids the digestion or not, who can tell?

dinner: n Northern English mid-day meal. This is a bit of a generalisation the words dinner, tea, lunch and supper seem to be assigned to meals spattered randomly around the day in both American and English regional dialects.

dischuffed: adj unhappy: When I got the car back from the garage I was dischuffed to say the least.

disused: adj unused: In the end we took him to a disused warehouse and beat the living daylights out of him. Not sure if itll stop him, but it certainly made your mother and I feel a lot better.

divvy: 1 n idiot. Likely derived from divot, meaning clod. Calling someone a divvy is pretty tame, much on a par with telling them they are a dimwit. 2 divide up (universal).

do: n party you might have a drinks do to celebrate a new job: Pat and Jim are having a do to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary. stag do Bachelor Party.

doddle: n something very easy.

dodgem: n bumper-car. Once used in U.S. English too, but now chiefly British. Odd that it should imply an aim to the game that is quite the opposite of what it is.

dodgy: adj something either shady: I bought it off some dodgy punter in the pub, sexually suggestive: The old bloke in the office keeps saying dodgy things to me at the coffee machine, or simply not quite as things should be: I got rid of that car; the suspension felt dodgy. What appalling sentence structure. Fuck it.

dog-end: n stubbed-out end of a cigarette. More commonly Brits use the international term butt.

dogsbody: n lowly servant; gopher. Your dogsbody would be the person who polished your shoes, emptied your bins and cleaned your loo. That is, if you were lucky enough to have someone like that. The term may originate from a dried pea-based foodstuff used in the Royal Navy, which sailors called dogs body. Perhaps the first person to be called a dogsbody closely resembled a dried pea.

dogs bollocks: n See bollocks. Im not writing it twice.

dogs breakfast: n something which has been made a complete mess of: When we finally got his tax return through it turned out it was a dogs breakfast. Why the dog should have any worse breakfast than the rest of us, I have no idea.

dogs dinner: n same as dogs breakfast (marginally more common).

dole: n welfare. An allocation of money that the government gives to unemployed people, ostensibly to help them eat and clothe themselves during their fervent search for gainful employment but really for buying fags and lager. on the dole receiving welfare: Bobs been on the dole since his accident.

donkeys years: n ages; a very long time: That shops been there for donkeys years. The term originates from the fact that donkeys are larger than human beings, and so if we were all planets then years would be longer on the donkey-planet than they would on the human-planet. This is certainly the most likely explanation.

dosh: n money. A fairly London-based term until being popularised by the Harry Enfield pop song Loadsamoney.

doss: v sit about not doing much. You might describe one of your less-productive colleagues as a dosser, because he (or she, I suppose laziness is not quite confined to males) sits around dossing all the time instead of working.

double fisting: v holding two drinks at once. The double-entendre is not entirely lost on the Brits and so its best not used in overly polite company.

double-barrelled: adj surname which consists of two hyphenated names, such as Rhys-Jones or Fox-Kelton.

dozy: adj perhaps most kindly characterised as slow. Someone described as dozy might be a little sluggish in understanding things.

draught: n pron. draft the flap inside the chimney of an open fire which you can open or close to allow more or less air into the hearth. Americans know it better as a damper, which is a part of car suspension in the U.K.

draughts: n pron. drafts two-player board game where each player gets sixteen pieces and takes the opponents by jumping over them diagonally. I mean the pieces jump diagonally, not the players. Though its an interesting point as to whether two people could really jump over one another diagonally, given that the vector is relative to the positions of them both. In the U.S. the game is known as checkers.

drawing-pin: n thumb-tack. A pin with a fairly large flat head. So called because they were once used to draw blood during satanic rituals. I just guessed that one, it might be wrong.

dressing gown: n bathrobe; the outfit that you wear if youre an attractive young lady coming out of the bath to answer the door in a coffee advertisement. Or if youre Hugh Heffner. Ah, the great contradictions of modern life.

drink driving: n drunk driving. The art of driving a car whilst intoxicated: Sarahs stuck at home right now, she got done for drink driving last week. Why the Brits chose a phrase that doesnt make linguistic sense, I am not entirely sure.

dual carriageway: n divided highway. There is generally very little difference between a dual carriageway and a motorway except that learner drivers are not allowed onto motorways.

dummy: 1 n pacifier. One of those teat-things you put in babies mouths to stop them crying. 2 idiot (universal); mannequin (universal).

Durex: n condom. In the U.K., Durex is a large (possibly the largest, Im not sure) manufacturer of condoms, and the brand name once slipped into the language (no pun intended). The term is actually becoming less common these days. A very similar thing happened in the U.S. with Trojan. As an aside, Durex, to an Australian, is sticky-tape (a.k.a. Scotch tape). I dont know if they use it as a contraceptive, and I dont wish to think about it any further.

dustbin: n trashcan. Cant think of anything particularly witty to add.

dustman: n garbage man, trash collector. I presume dustwoman is also appropriate in these heady days of sexual equality.

duvet: n comforter. In the U.K. one sleeps on top of a sheet and directly under the duvet Brits do not layer sheets underneath it.

Dux: n best student of a class year. Fairly old-fashioned, this is now only used in private schools. Im told that Americans have valedictorians instead, which somehow sounds much grander.

dynamo: n generator. Usually on a car or bicycle, this is a device intended to take power from the engine to recharge your battery as you drive along (or power the lights, in the cas
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