10 British Slang Words You Should Be Using

Across the pond, they have a few words that may sound a tad peculiar to American ears. It’s not just tea and crumpets. The Brits have creative slang to describe everything from your mood to your friends to your drinking habits.

“Bare” is an intensifier, effectively meaning “very” or “many” — similar to “hella” in the U.S. It originally came from Jamaican influences, but the word has worked its way into many British dialects.


I stayed up all night, and now I’m bare tired.

These are fairly self-explanatory for anyone living in England. Two of the most commonly used denominations of currency are the £5 and £10 notes (£1 only comes in coins), colloquially known as fivers and tenners. We’ll still give the award for Most Creative Currency to the Canadians, with the loonie and the toonie.


This bloke tried to charge me a tenner, but I gave him a fiver and ran.

Quite simply, “bird” means woman. It can be used to describe a girlfriend, a new acquaintance, or any woman you’re on casual terms with. Like the American slang “chick,” it doesn’t necessarily have sexist connotations, but context is key.


Bill’s bringing his new bird out tonight.

Come over tonight — all the birds will be here.

Pronounced “NAK-erd,” “knackered” means worn out or exhausted. You can be physically exhausted, or an item can be so worn out, it just needs to hit the bin (British slang for trash can).


After that gym sesh, I’m completely knackered.

Those shoes are knackered, mate. You’ve not got a new pair in years.

To “reckon” is to suspect or have a theory about something. It’s made the journey from Great Britain to the American South, where it maintains the thoughtful usage.


I reckon it’s going to rain today, and my team’s going to lose.

A bit of “cheekiness” is a quintessential part of British life. It can be hard to nail down a definition, but one that comes close is “endearingly rude.” Being cheeky is often cute, but it can be taken the wrong way, so pay attention to context.


Your son was very cheeky and grabbed a cookie off my plate when I wasn’t looking.

In the U.S., “mate” is thought of in the sense of a romantic partner, but it’s more casual for Brits. It can be used affectionately to mean “friend,” and it’s also used more informally when referring to or addressing strangers.


Johnny has been my best mate since university.

I take sugar in my coffee, mate.

Plastered, Trolleyed, Pissed, Battered, Gazeboed
It’s often said that language reflects culture. Inuits have many words for snow, and Arabic has myriad words for sand. In Britain, they have a huge volume of words for being drunk. Add “-ed” to any number of nouns or verbs, and your mates will understand you mean drunk.


After fours hours in the pub, I was completely cauliflowered.

Playing right into the stereotype, Brits really do love tea. So much so, in fact, that “cup of tea” was eventually shortened to “cuppa.” That’s right, you no longer need to clarify what’s in your cup, because everybody already knows it’s tea.


I had a lovely cuppa with my biscuits.

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