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English Slang and Colloquial Phrases

Learning English is one of the most rewarding dialects to study. As the most spoken language in the world, English is considered an essential language to learn even at a basic level. However, whilst being a key language it can also be challenging due to the vast amount of slang used by native speakers. Below is a list of some of the most common English slang and colloquial phrases you may hear across the UK. 

English Slang and Colloquial Phrases


Used as a greeting or enquiry into the state of those you a conversing with. A literal combination of the words all and right, when broken down literally meaning “Is all right with you?” It can also be used as a response to describe your own state.
Example: “Alright John?” “I’m alright.” 


Traditionally used to describe things which fill you with awe, this exclamation has become a lot more common place in colloquial English to simply describe this which you determine as really good.
Example: “The pub is open until 11:30pm tonight.” “Awesome!” 


Used to describe aggression or disagreement between two people, can be physical or non-physical.
Example: “There is beef between those two.” 


Casual nickname for a man. Traditionally used by men to describe other men. This is not used as frequently by younger generations, but can still be heard in certain parts of the country.
Example: “He’s a really nice bloke.” 


A traditional curse word. This curse word however has lost a lot of its impact and is now considered very mild and used by people in general conversation.
Example: “This bloody weather is horrible.” 

Bugger all

Used when describing amounts. Means next to nothing or nothing at all.
Example: “It was worth bugger all.” 

Chat up

When flirting with another person.
Example: “He went to chat up that woman.” 


Used to express good wishes when having a drink. Usually said before the first sip of a round of drinks is started whilst knocking full glasses together with other attendees. Cheers is also used as an informal show of appreciation or sign off at the end of a conversation. A very common English slang used from across many situations.
Example: “I made you a cup of tea.” “Cheers.”


A mild exclamation to show surprise.  



Used to describe an item or situation which appears questionable or untrustworthy.
Example: “This place seems a bit dodgy.” 


A cigarette
Example: “I’m going for a fag.” 


Verb used to describe desire towards a person, food, drink, or event. Can also be used as an adjective describe something which is considered elaborate and it’s one of the most common English slang words.
Example 1: “I really fancy a drink.”
Example 2: “These decorations are really fancy.” 


Five English pounds (£5)
Example: “Can I borrow a fiver?” 


Food. Used primarily in relaxed scenarios.
Example: “Shall we go and get some grub?” 


Disappointment or being upset with the outcome of a scenario.
Example: “I can’t believe they sold out. I’m gutted.” 


Physically or mentally tired.
Example: “I am knackered after that run.” 


Being incredibly wealthy or rich.
Example: “That man is loaded!” 


Informal term to describe friend or acquaintance, primarily between men. Can also be used in plural in reference to a friendship group.
Example 1: “He is a good mate of mine.” “Alright mate.”
Example 2: “We’re all mates here.” 



Stolen. Originally a term used by British Police to announce someone was arrested, “You’re nicked”. The word ‘nick’ is also slang for prison.
Example: “He nicked the stereo and is now in the nick.” 


Crazy or insane. Can be used to either describe a person acting in a strange manner or something which is really good.
Example 1: “That person over there is nuts.”
Example 2: “This place is nuts, I love it!” 


A stupid or idiotic person. A mild insult and is frequently used within friendship groups to describe someone’s silly actions.
Example: “That man is a bit of a prat.”


One English pound (£1)
Example: “It cost me three quid.” 


Disgusting or repulsive. Can be used to describe smell or visual aesthetics. Example: “This place smells rank.” 


Positive exclamation to show approval of a scenario.  

Taking the Mick

Making a joke at someone else’s expense.
Example: “Are you taking the mick out of me?” 


Ten English pounds (£10)
Example: “That DVD costs a tenner.” 


Shortened version of university. More frequently used than the full word when speaking in person.
Example: “I went to uni in Derby.” “Where did you go to uni?” 


Used to describe something which is considered cool and good. Still used to describe evil in some cases.
Example: “This place is wicked!”


More information About English Slang and Phrases with Cactus:

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Are you looking to find out more about English slang and want to learn English? Cactus Language Holidays Brochure gives you all the information you need for your next unforgettable experience! Learning a language have never been easier and is a great way to start uncover a different culture.

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