What did you say? 10 strange terms Brits say and what they mean

If you’ve recently arrived in the UK and haven’t lived here before or encountered many Brits you might wonder what we’re all talking about (I’m British but my wife is Canadian so I understand the baffled look that comes at times).  Well help is at hand!  Read on for 10 strange term that Brits use and what they actually mean.

“Bob’s your uncle”

Not literally…we don’t think you have an uncle called bob.  We typically use this to conclude a set of instructions and to describe when you reach the desired result.  Example: “Ok so if you’re trying to get to the Red Lion, turn left, walk to the end of the road then it’s another left and Bob’s your uncle!”


“Let’s meet up for a good old chinwag”.  Eh?  What’s a chinwag you ask?  Well quite simply it just means a good chat.  Strange I know…


Something that’s the shape of a pear I hear you ask?  No.  It simply means that something has gone awry or not as planned.  Maybe you’ve had an accident as a result of something you did.  “Well, this has gone a bit pear-shaped!”

“Sod’s Law”

If you’re from part of North America you’re probably more likely to use the term Murphy’s Law.  Us Brits are a pessimistic bunch at the best of times.  Whilst Murphy’s Law essentially means “if something can go wrong, it will go wrong” we take it slightly further by adding on the fact that it will probably go wrong at the worst time for it to possibly go wrong.

“Taking the Mickey”

Not only are we pessimistic we’re also known to be sarcastic and a bit witty.  What taking the mickey means is essentially that – making fun of something or someone.  It derives from old cockney rhyming slang for “Taking the Mickey Bliss” – I’ll let you guess what Bliss rhymes with.


To Whinge…another thing we like to do.  Essentially its moaning but it’s really infuriating the way they do it.  “Whinging” is annoying.  Likely to be used in the sentence “will you stop whinging!”


“Well that was a faff” you may hear your newly acquired British friend say.  Essentially if means something that you feel shouldn’t take a long time took a long time and was annoying.  It can also be used in the term “faffing” – for example “stop faffing around” – i.e. you are just messing around doing nothing useful.

“Cream Crackered”

Another bit of cockney rhyming slang.  If you are feeling really tired…you might say you’re feeling knackered.  We’ll we like to take it up a notch.  Plus, we do enjoy a good old cream cracker with cheese.

“Chuffed to bits”

To be chuffed is to be really happy about something, to be proud of something you’ve done or someone else has done.  In which case you’ll be “chuffed to bits”!

“Bodge Jobs” and “Botch Jobs”

If your sink is leaking you may need to call a plumber.  If he can’t fix it straightaway, he may do a bodge job and use something to fix it for the time being until he has time to correct it with the right tools or equipment.  A botch job however is when someone does a job badly.

I hope you enjoyed an insight into some of the strange terms Brits say.  There are loads more out there!  Next month, we’ll give you some insight into things Brits say that you also say but may not mean the same thing.  For more in our series of blogs click here!

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