How Many UK Slang Words Do You Know?

By: Deborah Beckwin
Image: Tara Moore/DigitalVision/GettyImages

About This Quiz

Just like in the U.S. and other larger countries, slang in the UK is not always universal because there are diverse groups of people within one country. A lot of slang comes from London, but the UK includes the rest of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A lot of slang is local, but some words do have some universal use and meaning.

For example, some of UK slang is based on Cockney rhyming slang, from the East End of London back in the 1840s. For example, bread and honey - money. But many times, one would just say "bread." So if you're an American, you'll probably recognize that slang term. There's no real system to determining what words will be used to put together. But you do need to know the rhyming phrase to know what the slang word is pointing to.

Like any language or dialect, UK slang is a living, breathing thing, so some of these words may be a little more old-fashioned, while some are only what "the youth" may say. It definitely goes beyond just having a cuppa (a cup of tea).

So would you fancy taking this quiz? We hope you find that it's the mutt's nuts (the best of the best)! Good luck!

In America, a geezer means an old man. But in the UK, what does "geezer" mean?

"Geezer" in the UK is used the same way Americans use the word "dude." It's a general term for a man (e.g., a bloke).

If someone is "chuffed" about something, how are they usually feeling?

The word "chuff" has had multiple meanings over the centuries, including as a euphemism for a stronger curse word and to fart. But if someone is pleased or very happy, they're usually "chuffed to bits" or "chuffed to ribbons."

Someone asks you to bring that "doofer" over there. What are you going to give them?

American English has words that mean the inscrutable--thingamajig, thingamabob, doohickey ... and then, for the UK, there's doofer. This seems to be derived from the words "do for" as in "that'll do for the job." So it really could be anything, you could be not sure or you need to see what the person is actually pointing at to be sure--it's just some thing.

This may be more of an old fashioned term, but when something is a "corker," it usually means what?

"Corker" typically means a really great thing or person. But sometimes, it can also means a comment that shuts down a conversation (puts a cork in it), i.e., there's an argument about who has the most goals in a football (soccer) match. Someone else finds the exact stats, and the argument is over.

You're invited to a "knees up"--where are you going?

In the UK, a "knees-up" is a party, usually an informal get-together. It's also usually a lively party where there will be singing, dancing and drinking.

Someone who is annoyed or irritable would be called what?

We all can't be happy all the time. Sometimes we're not in the best moods, and "narky" would be one UK way to describe being in a bad mood.

If you hear the word "muppet," you may be thinking of puppets made by Jim Henson. But to a person from the UK, muppet means what?

We have plenty of words for someone who believe is stupid or highly ignorant. "Muppet" is an insulting, derogatory word, similar to calling someone a moron or idiot.

If you have the "collywobbles" what DON'T you have?

Collywobbles could be a portmanteau of the words colic and wobbles. All the same, these are gut feelings of intestinal discomfort or feeling nervous (e.g., having butterflies in your stomach).

This is the name of a popular movie and musical--what does "the full monty" mean?

The movie and the musical have made "the full monty" be related to complete nakedness, especially from a man. But it really means going all the way or the whole thing.

What does it mean if someone is serving at "Her Majesty's Pleasure"?

Her Majesty's Pleasure is a euphemism and a play on the acronym HMP, which means Her Majesty's Prisons. The acronym is in front of all UK prisons.

Something that is "tosh" means what in the UK?

You probably know "rubbish" and "bollocks" from the UK, but tosh is another way that something is not only trash but that it's utter nonsense, too. Primarily now, it means balderdash and baloney.

You get in a fight with someone and your British friend comes up to you and says, "Allow it." What does your friend want you to do?

"Allow it" (pronounced more like 'llow it) is slang for saying that whatever the problem or conflict is, it's just not worth it. Just let it go, walk away and move on.

If you're just "faffing" around, then what are you doing?

"Faffing" as a verb means to waste your time doing some useless activity. It's similar to "goofing off" in American vernacular.

You're sitting in a church pew at a wedding and your British friend walks up to you and says, "Budge up." What are they saying?

Budging in American English is usually about not moving on something (e.g., I'm not going to budge on this rule). But in UK slang, it means you should move and make room, especially if you're sitting.

You're at a pub with your British friend, and looking at a woman talking a man, they remark, "Well, she's on the pull, innit?" What did your friend say?

When you're "on the pull," you're going out--whether to a bar or a club or a party--in the hopes of attracting someone. It may mean that you want to have sex with them. It's similar to being "on the prowl".

What is a rude way in the UK to tell someone to be quiet?

The British are known for their impeccable manners and decorum, but that doesn't mean they can't tell someone to shut up. "Belt up" is their way of doing that.

You're waiting to see your favorite musical artist at a concert, but they never arrive. Your British friend says to you, "Well, this is a bit of a damp squib." What does "damp squib" mean?

If you were really looking forward to something, and then it turns out less excitingly than you had hope, you'd say it was a damp squib. A squib is type of firework, so if it's damp, then it can't be lit -- thus, no excitement. It's another way of saying that something is anticlimactic.

If someone says that they're "legless," what is going on with them?

As we all know, there are different stages of being drunk or inebriated. The "legless" stage means the person feels so drunk they can't even walk.

"I just got paid! I feel minted!" How does this person feel?

"Minted" is a slang term that you can probably understand the meaning of from the word mint, which is a place that creates money. Minted is slang for rich or wealthy.

You tell your British colleague about your new business idea, and they remark, "Wow, that's bloody brill!" What does your colleague think of your idea?

"Brill" is slang for the word brilliant. In the UK, brilliant usually means wonderful, amazing, great, etc. It can also be used sarcastically in response to something such as an unwanted or undesired outcome.

So here's the Cockney rhyming slang section of this quiz. What does "apples" mean?

The full rhyme here is "apples and pears." And the missing word would be stairs. Used in a sentence: "After work, I ran up the apples and went straight to bed."

"It's time to get on my plates and get moving." What does "plates" mean here?

Do you know the rhyming phrase here? It's "plates of meat," which would make the only possible answer be "feet".

You ask your UK friend if they want to go out to dinner, and they reply, "Sorry, can't go out. I'm skint." Do you know what "skint" means?

Now this word from a Cockney rhyming phrase is very much from the 19th century because part of the phrase is "boracic (pronounced brassic) lint." Boracic lint is a special type of medical dressing used to treat leg ulcers. So the phrase is "boracic lint--skint"--and "brassic" would be another way to say "skint" or "broke."

You walk up to a group of your friends and ask what they were talking about. Your British friend says, "Oh, we were just having a bubble." What were your friends up to?

So this rhyming phrase is "bubble bath--laugh." And you may think, bath and laugh don't really rhyme, but there's this linguistic phenomenon in some dialects of British English (including Cockney) called th-fronting, where th's turn into v's or f's. So bubble bath is pronounced "bubble baf."

"I couldn't believe my mincers--there he was! I thought he was still overseas." What does "mincers" mean here?

So here is the rhyming phrase for this slang word: mince pies--eyes. But you wouldn't say mince as the slang word from the phrase--you'd say mincers.

Your British friend tells you, "Hey, pick up the dog." What do you need to pick up?

So here's the complete rhyming slang phrase--dog and bone: telephone. So the slang word here is dog, which won't make much sense outside the rhyming slang phrase.

What's the word that would go with "Hank Marvin"?

So here's the whole rhyming phrase: hank marvin--starvin'. But this has a bit of a spin--it doesn't seem like you'd say just hank or some derivative of that. You'd say "Hank Marvin."

If you've been "trollied," then what happened to you?

In the UK, a trolley is a shopping cart. So if you're "trollied," then you're so intoxicated, you'd need to be moved around in a trolley.

You ask your friend to go out for drinks on a Tuesday night, and they reply, "Oh, that's cheeky, but let's do it anyway!" What do they mean by "cheeky"?

So one slang term that's come up in the is "Cheeky Nandos," which usually happens when you've been out late, probably drinking. Nandos is a chicken restaurant chain, and it'd be "cheeky" to go to get food late---spicy (because of the chicken), great--and maybe a little wrong but funny. It's become a phrase all on its own.

You're out at a bar with your friends and you're about to go to another bar, but you've only had half of your drink. "You need to neck that drink," your British friend says. What do you need to do?

When you need to "neck" a drink, you need to drink it. It most likely has to do with, essentially, pouring a drink down your neck.

You call your partner who is British and they say, "Love, it's been a long week, so I'm going out on the lash. I'll talk to you later." What are they doing?

In the U.S., one phrase we have for intentionally getting drunk is "tying one on." But for folks in the UK -- specifically younger folks -- going out on the lash is the slang phrase used.

This is also an Australian slang word--what's "sherbet"?

"Sherbet" as beer is not an obvious slang word for those outside the UK or Australia. It's actually a fizzy powdered candy that you'd dip a finger or lollipop in. So the fizzy part is a connection to beer also being effervescent or bubbly.

Your younger British colleague talks to you after your presentation at work and says that you "smashed" it. So how did they think you did?

This is more of a younger person's term. It's similar to the American phrases, "nailed it!" or "killed it!" If you smash something, you did it with excellence (and usually with enthusiasm).

This is a slang word from youth culture. What does "bants" mean?

"Bants" is short for "banter" and it's mainly joking around with friends. If you had "mad bants" then you had a lot of fun joking with your friends.

Your British friend smiles and says to you, "You're absolute ledge." What does your friend mean?

"Ledge" is short for legend or legendary. So if someone says that you're a ledge or that you're ledge--it's a high compliment. And we think that you're absolute ledge for taking this quiz!

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes