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