10 British English slang all ESL learners need to know

Learning English as a second language? Ever struggled to understand what British people mean? Do you simply want to sound more like Hugh Grant? Here are 10 of the most important British English slang words or phrases you need to learn!

Pope Catholic?

This may seem confusing, but this is a prime example of British sarcasm, and means ‘obviously!’. If you ask something a seemingly stupid question, like “Would you like a cup of tea?”, you might hear “Pope Catholic?!” 

Not half bad!

Understatement is a large part of British culture, so ‘not half bad’ actually means ‘quite good!’. You can exchange ‘bad’ for other adjectives, so you might say “England isn’t half cold!”

Bob’s your uncle!

Another phrase which makes no sense at first, this means ‘there you go’. It might come after some instructions “turn left and then Bob’s your uncle!”, but be careful of confusion with non-British people if they start asking who Bob is..! 

The Houses of Parliament in the Palace of Westminster is one of England’s most famous landmarks

Right up my street/alley!

If something is right up your street, it’s something you’d love to do! If you love the outdoors, then climbing up a mountain would be right up your alley! 

Have a kip

Whilst having a kipper is a popular English breakfast, having a kip means going to sleep. 

Dead chuffed!

To be ‘dead chuffed’ is to be very happy about something. Despite its main meaning, ‘dead’ as an adjective means ‘extremely’ and is most commonly used in this phrase. 

My folks

There are lots of different ways to refer to your parents in Britain, and ‘my folks’ is the main one! You might also call your dad your ‘old man’ (perhaps not in front of him!) or your mum ‘ma’.

Pissed

This is a classic faux ami that catches people off-guard. Whilst ‘pissed’ means angry in America, it means drunk in Britain, whereas ‘pissed off’ means angry, but is a bit ruder. 

Peak

This is a more colloquial word that also has the opposite meaning to what you’d expect. Rather than being good, if something is ‘peak’ then it’s really bad. Just think of peak traffic and you’ll understand how bad! 

White Vehicle Travelling on Road

Mug someone off

If you’ve been watching Love Island you’ll have heard this before! It’s a newer colloquial phrase, meaning to make someone look like a fool, so you certainly never want to be mugged off! 

Now that you’re armed with your new British slang, you’re ready for it all! Schedule a Lex and show off your knowledge, which now isn’t half bad! 

Did you like our list? Comment below with your favorite British slang!

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