British English slang words and phrases can confuse English speakers from other native English-speaking countries and are even more problematic for people who have English as a second language.
Sometimes, foreign languages have a matching expression that is almost a direct translation. Other social expressions are impossible to work out from the individual words and are not the same in other English-speaking countries or in other languages.
Perhaps this make British English even more fun or an absolute nightmare!
British English slang words and phrases
Our first blog for British English slang expressions (1-25) was so popular that we've added another 25 expressions that you need to speak like someone from the United Kingdom!
26. mint condition
describes something that is in new or excellent condition
"He bought his motorbike five years ago and it is still in mint condition."
27. (pay/cost) peanuts
a very small amount of money
"I was paid peanuts to work in a bar when I was at university."
28. the bee's knees
describes someone or something as great, outstanding or excellent quality
"She thinks that she's the bee's knees on the dancefloor, but her friends don't agree!"
29. tell porky pies
to tell a lie (not say the truth)
"He's telling porky pies. He hasn't cleaned the house because he was watching football on TV."
30. take the biscuit
describes someone's action as annoying, outrageous, stupid or disappointing
"I said he could borrow my car for the afternoon, but he brought is back the next day. That really takes the biscuit."
describes something as high standard or excellent quality
"That new Italian restaurant downtown is top-notch. The food was amazing and the service was great."
32. wing it
to do something with little planning or preparation
"I didn’t have time to plan my speech at the wedding, so I had to wing it!"
describes something as very simple/easy to do.
"Learning to drive was easy-peasy, but it was more difficult to pass the driving test!"
34. hang out (with)
to socialise and spend time with another person or group of people
"She’s going to hang out with some of her university friends on Friday evening."
35. bog standard
describes something as ordinary and without special qualities or features
"I bought a bog standard computer yesterday. It's fine for what I need, but doesn't have any special features."
36. cheap as chips
describes when something is inexpensive or costs a small amount of money
"We found a cosy little guesthouse by the beach last weekend and it was cheap as chips."
37. chop chop
used to tell someone to do something quickly and without delay
"Chop chop. We need to leave now or we’ll be late."
38. break a leg
used to wish someone good luck before an important event (e.g. give a performance)
"Our director told us to break a leg as we prepared to go on stage."
39. at a loose end
describes when you do not have anything to do or any plans
"If you’re at a loose end, why don’t you come and help me to paint the house."
40. a knees up
a lively party or a celebration
"We had a massive knees-up on Saturday night for my birthday."
describes a place that is full of people or things
"The shops are always chock-a-block with people just before Christmas."
42. a shambles
describes something that is badly organised or in a state of disorder
"I went to a recruitment fair yesterday and it was a complete shambles."
43. skive (off)
to avoid a duty or a task, such as work or school
"He said he was sick, but I think he’s just skiving off work today."
44. waffle (on)
to talk a lot without giving any interesting or useful information.
"Whenever we meet up, she waffles on about her own problems and it gets annoying!"
45. donkey's years
a very long time
"They’ve been living in that house for donkey’s years. I remember it from when I was a child."
describes someone who is extremely rich and has a lot of money
"My boss is absolutely minted and has an amazing house in London and New York."
47. not too shabby
used to describe something or how someone feels as good or better than expected
"We watched the sequel to that movie at the weekend. It had some bad reviews but it was actually not too shabby."
used to say "thank you"
"Cheers for driving me to the train station this morning."
49. have a butcher's
to have a look at something
"I had a butcher's at some job adverts last night and found something that might interest you."
50. catch up (with someone)
to talk to someone and update each other about what you've been doing
"It was great to catch up with my old school friends. We haven't spoken for ages."
Tips to improve your British English fluency
It’s always interesting to learn unusual words and phrases in any language, but the best way to remember them is to use new vocabulary through speaking. If you have the opportunity, you can practise speaking English slang words and phrases with friends, especially if they’re British or have English as their mother tongue. Just make sure you know the correct meaning of British English slang words and phrases before you use them in formal situations!
A faster way to develop your English skills is with our English language courses in Munich. We have internationally-qualified English language trainers and free online English lessons. Speaking practice with qualified language trainers is a great way to improve your communication skills and they can check you understanding of British English slang words and phrases too!