Thursday, May 30, 2013

Amusing British Words Of The Day

(Thanks for your patience with spotty posts this week as I'm on holiday in the UK. In recognition of my travels I give you this oldie but goodie. - CM)

Not mine, Merriam-Webster's. Mine are guv'na, gor blimey and bollocks. Jiggery-pokery... nothing at all what I thought it was. Ditto boffin (the apostrophe makes a difference: boffin'). I thought pukka was a type of bead.

From M-W: "Although Merriam-Webster is a dictionary of American English, it contains a range of words rarely heard outside Britain. Here are some of our favourites."

PRAT: a stupid or foolish person

"Everyone's feeling a bit summery this morning, with a few rays breaking out over Britain and some of you lot daring to break the 'anyone who wears sunglasses in April is a prat' rule that we just made up." –, April 6, 2011

TWEE: affectedly or excessively dainty, delicate, cute, or quaint

"Micmacs [is a] ramshackle and unbearably twee French comedy." – Daily Mail Online, February 26, 2010

(Twee + Prat = Twat, a quaint idiot? - C.)

KNACKERED: tired, exhausted

"Went for a 4-miler and then when I got back from work we took the kids swimming. Nice and knackered now." – blog post at, January 18, 2011

JIGGERY-POKERY: dishonest or suspicious activity; nonsense

"[Greece] flouted European Union rules on the limits to budget deficits; its national accounts were a moussaka of minced statistics, topped with a cheesy sauce of jiggery-pokery." – Jeff Randall, The Telegraph, May 20, 2010

PLONK: cheap or inferior wine

"Fine diners are drinking premier cru wines at plonk prices as a bring-your-own booze revolution gathers pace in Britain's best restaurants." – Robert Booth, The Guardian, June 20, 2010

CHUNTER: to talk in a low inarticulate way: mutter

"Tell me about it. I was chuntering on last night about *padded* training bras." – michlan on Twitter, April 13, 2011

WHINGE: to complain fretfully: whine

"I shall have one pint of beer less every time I'm in the pub, and I might occasionally whinge about the rises in the cost of living outstripping my wages." – blog post on A Dull Day at Work, April 2, 2011

GORMLESS: lacking intelligence: stupid

"Gormless, unhelpful and poorly trained shop staff create merry hell for customers who are simply exercising their legal rights to a repair, refund or replacement." – Sam Dunn, Two Pennies Worth blog, March 22, 2011

BOFFIN: a scientific expert and especially one involved in technological research

"Brain boffins at University College London have made a major breakthrough in the ongoing effort to bridge the gap between man and machine." – Rik Myslewski, The Register, April 11, 2011

PUKKA: genuine, authentic; first-class

"... the record-breaking Sri Lankan [cricket player] has always shown himself a pukka gent...." – William Langley, The Telegraph, July 24, 2010

More at Merriam Webster.


  1. Fun list! :-)

    Pip, pip, and tally-ho!

  2. Oh, Daisy, did you have to?? >.<

    I am ashamed to admit, but I have used all those terms in their proper context. Well, you adapt to your surroundings, don't you??

    I always liked "natter" and "chin wag" (British for have a chat). It gets worse the further North you go--the Yorkshiremen has a completely separate dialect from the rest of civilization, and the the Glasgow patter is pretty much unintelligible.

    BTW, we used to get bottles of Old Tart wine (red wine with a cartoon picture of an overly made-up old woman on it) and Old Git wine (white wine with a picture of a grumpy-looking, red-nosed old man on the front). Good plonk, that.

  3. chuffed (happy), gutted (NOT happy), cuddywifter (refers to one who is left-handed) and self-winder (one who masturbates) were a few o' my faves while living among the brits... :-)



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