33 Briticisms I Don’t Use Anymore

(because I live in America now)

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash


This used to be my favourite exclamation — somewhere between “oh dear” and “damn it!”. Also can be used as an adjective — it is totally pants that you have to work this weekend. I was trying to remember what I used to say instead of “that sucks” — turns out, it’s this.

Clever clogs

= smart ass, but with more alliteration and less unnecessary reference to body parts.


I miss this word so much. (Not just the word, but that’s another story…) see also: random snog

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Swings and roundabouts

Never realised how much I said this until I moved here. I explained it means six of one and half a dozen of the other, and this didn’t seem to help. Nearest I can get is “you win some, you lose some”.

I’m just going to pop to the loo

I’ve been running to the bathroom instead of popping to the loo for years now.

I’m gutted.

I’m sad and upset by something, as if I’d been punched in the gut.

“Well”, used adverbially

As in, that’s well wicked. (Then again, it’s not 1993 anymore, so…)


As in, that bloke is well fit! (=super hot)


Recently discovered that Americans get confused if you say this instead of “bite”.


This is SUCH a great word, and there’s no equivalent, and I often need it so badly. I’m sad about this one.


As in, let’s go and scope out the local talent, i.e. see if there are any fit blokes.

You lot

British alternative to y’all or you guys

Mucking about/faffing around

Doing stuff but not really getting anything done; playing around

Bog standard

Regular, standard issue, basic (though not in that trendy way you young folk are using “basic”, whatever that is)

Chat up/chat up line

Pick up/pick up line


I didn’t even noticed I’d stopped saying this instead of pharmacist or CVS.


= pants, a bit rubbish. Often cheesy.

Put the kettle on

Set the water to boil in these new fangled electric kettles we’ve had for a few decades… (Note: they switch themselves off by themselves when they reach boiling point and it’s important for the tea not to switch them off before this!)


Dessert, as in what you have after your main meal. What are we having for afters?


Someone who works really hard at school and is quite possibly a bit of a teacher’s pet.


Not to be confused with “oy”, and it probably would be, so I just go with “hey” instead.

Half ten

Apparently without the word “past” this is incomprehensible…


It’s a fun word to say, isn’t it? It’s short for Wellington boots, ie rain boots.

On the dole


Good job

I’m reclaiming this one. American good job = British well done. British good job = “it’s just as well that…” — eg it’s a good job we chatted up those fit blokes because we got a well good snog out of them.


Absolutely crazy, bonkers


Clothes. As in, get your kit off! Don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, put your kit on!

Bunk off

Skip class


Accident and Emergency, aka Casualty, aka the ER.

Swimming costume

I got laughed at so much for this one that I think really hard now before I say swimsuit.

I’m skint

I have no dosh. No money.




Chuffed means really delighted and pleased and sometimes a bit proud. As in, I’m well chuffed you lot like this list so much.

Editor of WALK WITH US: How the West Wing Changed Our Lives; author of the novel UNSCRIPTED and of CONQUERING BABEL: a Practical Guide to Learning a Language.

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