Every country has its own unique words and phrases. These expressions are often well-known by native speakers but difficult to learn for people learning the language.
In the English language, this is made all the more difficult because there are different variants of English. We have American, Australian and British English to name just three.
This is a list of common words and phrases that are used in England. Some are still used frequently and others may be going out of fashion and used less so.
But hopefully, this is a great introduction to some words and phrases that you can use in England today.
Let’s dive in!
In most other English-speaking countries, especially America and Canada, cheers is used when people touch their glasses together to toast or celebrate something.
In England, cheers has a variety of meanings.
It can mean the standard salutation at a wedding, in a bar, at a party. Guests tapping their glasses together and saying cheers is very common.
But cheers can also mean to express gratitude. You often hear people say cheers as a way of saying thank you.
So someone might lend his friend a pen and the other person will say cheers.
You got a pen I can borrow?
Yeah, here you go
It can also be used to say goodbye.
See you tomorrow
This means to have no money.
Are you coming down the pub for a drink?
I can’t tonight — I’m skint!
Cost a Bomb
To be very expensive.
How much did your new shoes cost?
They cost a bomb! Over 250 quid!
This word is used to describe something of dubious quality. Or to describe a person who could be untrustworthy.
Anything that a person might regard as being suspicious or not entirely legitimate or legal, we can use the word dodgy.
Have you met Karen’s new boyfriend?
Yeah, I don’t like him — he seems well dodgy.
(well dodgy — very dodgy)
This word is very popular in England.
It is a somewhat mild form of swearing or cursing and is used in many different social environments.
It is usually used in the phrase bloody hell — this is used to express surprise, anger, disappointment or shock.
Did you see the Arsenal game on Saturday?
Yes — bloody hell, what a great goal that was!
Oh bloody hell, it’s raining again.
Hey John, I think we lost the new contract.
Bloody hell, that’s terrible!
But in England, we use the word bloody as an adjective for almost anything.
I was on my way home last night and I missed the last bloody train.
I lost my bloody phone yesterday.
Who used all the bloody milk?
Bloody is a very commonly used word in England!
Quid is a slang term in England that means pound. Pound as in British currency.
How much did the taxi cost?
I like your new shirt. How much was it?
It cost 40 quid.
This is an old term that means very tired.
It comes from the phrase ready for the knackers yard. This was the area of a slaughterhouse where all the parts of the animal carcass where rendered down for glue.
It is used to describe someone or something unfit for any use due to age. Now it just means exhausted or very tired.
You look knackered
Yeah, I’ve been working all day
Are you meeting us later for dinner?
I can’t — I’m totally knackered.
An abbreviation of a cup of tea.
In England, everything stops for tea. It is the nation’s drink of choice.
Fancy a cuppa?
This means would you like a cup of tea?
Mate means friend.
It is used to describe your friends.
I’m going to meet my mates in the pub later.
I know Steve very well. He’s a good mate of mine.
Me and Mark have known each other for years. We are mates.
It can also be used as a term of endearment or a way to refer to someone.
Hello, mate! Long time no see.
Excuse me, mate — can you tell me what time it is?
This means to sell.
What happened to your old car?
I flogged it last week.
A slang term that means toilet.
Where’s the bog?
Sorry, do you mind if I use your bog?
This is very casual English — so be careful in which company you use it!
And of course, after you use the bog, you may need some bog roll.
This is toilet paper!
I better go down the supermarket — we’ve run out of bog roll.
This is used to describe someone attractive. It is also used to describe someone who has a friendly and kind personality.
We can also use it to describe delicious food, a country we visited as a tourist, an item of clothing — pretty much anything can be lovely.
Have you met the new guy in accounts?
Yes, he’s lovely! Does he have a girlfriend?
We went to Italy for a holiday — it was lovely there.
What did you have for lunch?
We had curry in that new Thai place — it was lovely.
Man or guy. This comes from an older English phrase from the 15th century, guiser. This is short for disguiser which was in reference to the mummers — the people that dressed up for plays.
Now it just means a man. But often a man with a bit of swagger in his walk and wearing flashy or fashionable clothing.
Who’s that geezer over there?
Oh, that’s my mate Steve.
This word is used to express surprise.
It is from the late 19th century and is a shortened form of May God blind me.
For example, Blimey, look at all the traffic!
This popular phrase is used to describe admiration of respect for something well done.
I got that promotion I was after.
Nice one! Let’s celebrate later.
It can also be used sarcastically — sarcasm is often used in England.
So you might hear:
We have to work overtime this weekend, to get all the orders up to date.
Oh, nice one.
The person saying nice one here is not happy about doing overtime at all.
An expression that means happy or pleased with something.
I booked my holidays — I’m going to Spain. I’m well chuffed.
In England this means cigarette.
I’ll just finish this washing up then I’ll go outside and have a fag.
This is when someone is being a little rude and maybe disrespectful. But done in a humorous and endearing way.
Young boys are often regarded as being cheeky.
I’ll do my homework later, mum! I’m going out to play with Michael first.
No, do your homework now and don’t be cheeky!
Fit usually means in good physical shape due to exercise. But it is also commonly used to describe a person as being very attractive.
Have you seen the new girl in sales? She is so fit.
Another word used to say man or guy.
Ask that bloke over there.
Mike is a good bloke.
Lost the Plot
This is used to describe someone who has become very angry or has lost their temper.
I told my wife that I was going to the pub with my mates and she lost the plot!
It means upper class. We might say posh people. But it can be used to talk about a place such as a restaurant.
Have you been to that new restaurant on the High Street? It’s a bit posh.
Full of Beans
Used to describe someone who has a lot of energy.
You are very busy today — full of beans!
Not Too Shabby
This means that things are good or something is of good quality. Shabby means of low quality or not very clean.
How’re things in your new job?
Not too shabby.
Did you buy a new car?
Yeah, it’s not too shabby.
This means very good. It is used to cover all manner of things; from a person’s general welfare to their job or home, a recent holiday. It can be used in response to some news you might hear.
I finished that report over the weekend.
Thanks, Mark. Brilliant.
How was your trip to Rome?
Brilliant. We stayed in a great hotel.
This is used as a greeting in England. It means: How are you?
Yes, not too bad. You?
The literal meaning is to remove all the intestines and innards from a fish or animal before cooking it.
But this is a slang term which means deeply disappointed.
See the game over the weekend? What a terrible result.
Yeah, I was gutted.
The literal meaning is to choke on something.
But it is used as a slang term to express a strong desire for a drink of something or to smoke a cigarette.
What time is it?
Nearly eleven. I’m gagging for a cuppa.
Where you going?
Outside. I’m gagging for a fag.
This expression means to go away — and go away very quickly.
If someone says this to you, chances are you have annoyed them greatly and they want you to leave them alone!
I just want to know one more thing…
Mate, do one!
It means to be drunk. If you drink too much, you often become unable to control your legs. It is like you are without legs — legless.
Did you see Cole last night in the pub?
Yes, he was legless. I had to help him into a taxi.
Chucking It Down
This is used to describe torrential rain.
Did you bring an umbrella? Look outside — it’s chucking it down!
This is used to describe a place or area that is full. Often a road filled full of traffic.
Sorry, I’m late — the High Street was chock-a-block this morning.
We can’t go to the pizza place at lunchtime — it will be absolutely chock-a-block.
Piece of Cake
Used to express that something is very easy.
How was the test this morning?
Very easy. Piece of cake in fact.
This means backside. But it is also used as a verb that means to ask for something for free.
Can I bum a fag off you?
The meaning of this is house or home. The place where you live.
Nice gaff, Steve. Expensive?
Yeah, it cost a bomb!
On Your Bike
An expression used to tell someone to go away. It can also be used to express disagreement.
I’ll offer you fifty quid for your car. What do you think?
On your bike! It’s worth much more than that.
Rubbish is trash or garbage. But in this context, it is used to tell someone that you strongly disagree with them about something.
You’ve been late every single day this week.
Can’t Be Arsed
Arse is an impolite term for backside. But the full context of this phrase means that you do not wish to do something. Maybe you have no interest or no energy, but you just do not want to do it.
Coming to the football this Saturday?
No, I can’t be arsed.
This means to spend a lot of money on something.
I’m going shopping this weekend.
What are you going to buy?
A pair of shoes. I’ve seen these really nice ones — I’m going to splash out.
To be wealthy or have a lot of money.
Let’s go to that new restaurant on the High Street.
That place is very expensive. You must be minted!
Don’t Be Daft
Daft means stupid or silly. English people use this phrase if someone suggests something that doesn’t make sense. It could also be used to dismiss someone’s unnecessary apology.
Let’s buy a new car next week.
Don’t be daft! We don’t have the money.
Hey Mike, I’m sorry I’m late.
Don’t be daft! It was only five minutes.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of words and phrases we use in England. But it is a starting point.
Listen out for them as they are used by English people. Then when you feel comfortable, you can start using them yourself.