Originally posted in April 2011.
Here are some words and expressions you won’t necessarily hear in New York City – unless you’re loading up on Bisto at the fabulous Myers of Keswick, or chewing wine gums at the recently opened London Candy Company on Lexington Ave, or chowing down on bangers and mash at Tea & Sympathy, or scoffing spotted dick at the Chip Shop in Brooklyn …
I’ll add definitions in a fortnight. Meanwhile, let me know if you can think of any more Englishisms that provoke such delight in American listeners and readers.
NB: it has just occurred to me that most of these slang words and expressions have quite negative connotations, referring to undesirable characteristics, moods, or commands. A few exceptions are ‘chuffed’, ‘dishy’, ‘morish’ … and of course we all love a bit of how’s your father.
any road (not meaning vague directions)
belt up (not fastening your seatbelt)
blow me (not what you might like to think)
bob’s your uncle
bovver (spot of)
(big) girls blouse
(a bit of ) how’s your father
(get your) knickers in a twist
nick / nicked
pear-shaped (not describing your figure)
piece of cake (not what you eat)
pissed (not mad, angry)
porkies/pork pies (not what you eat …)
rubber (not a condom)
sod / sod off / sod all
spend a penny (not what you do at Myers of Keswick – unless you ask very politely)
strop / stroppy
suss / sussed out
table (as verb; not removing it from the agenda)
take the mickey / take the piss
ups a daisy
waffle (vb.; not what you eat for breakfast with syrup)
wobbly / wobbler (not what the Weebles do)
And here are some favorite English delicacies:
Bubble ‘n’ squeak
Bangers ‘n’ mash
Toad in the hole
Can’t work out what your teen means? Take Good Housekeeping‘s teen slang test, and get down with the lingo. And no Angus Deaton! (Wrong slang, but I felt like using it.)
(To get the answers, you’ll need to take the test at Good Housekeeping‘s site at the link above.)
Test Your Teen Slang
What’s harder than getting your teen to communicate with you grunt-, shrug- and eye-roll-free? Trying to make sense of their ever-changing vocabulary, of course. If you’re feeling lost in translation, take our teen slang test, and bone up on all of the latest lingo.
By Jennifer Saltiel, LMSW
1. When you ask your daughter if she likes the new chicken dish you baked for dinner, she replies, “It’s sick!” This means:
2. Your daughter calls you on her cell phone and asks, “Can I make a requestion?” This means:
3. Which of the following words does not mean wonderful or awesome?
4. Your daughter sends you an email fuming about her teacher’s unfairness. She begins her litany of complaints with “OMG!” What do the three letters stand for?
5. While driving your son and his friends to baseball practice, you overhear his buddy ask what your son thinks of the new girl at school. When he replies, “She’s fly,” you interpret this as:
6. An individual who has a pessimistic attitude and is constantly talking about his or her friends is a:
7. An angst-filled teenager who dresses in black; wears thick-rimmed glasses; and listens to alternative music about life’s heartbreak and miseries would be described as:
8. You pick your son up from school on a snowy day. He’s waiting for you outside with his friend, Brian. When you ask how he’s doing, Brian says, “I’m chillin’.” What he’s trying to tell you is:
9. Your son and his friend, Mark, are checking out a new CD. When Mark asks what the music is like, your son replies that the lyrics are pretty “H”. What does this mean?
10. Your daughter’s best friend, Jane, does not show up at the mall to meet her, like they had planned. When your daughter calls Jane to ask her where she is, Jane replies, “My B.” This means:
11. Your son and his friend are shooting hoops in your driveway. When you ask if he’d like to stay for dinner, your son’s friend says, “I’ve gotta bounce.” What does he have to do?
12. You see an instant message between your daughter and her friend Jill on the computer (No, you weren’t spying; you were just trying to check your email). It reads:
Dana: Hey Jill, Sup?
Dana: Me too, but I’ve g2g now.
Jill: Lol! That was fast. Ttyl.
How much of this correspondence do you understand?