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British slang has undergone transformations over centuries, adapting from one social group to another. Similar to other languages, slang expressions aid the British populace in streamlining and expediting their conversations. Concurrently, it enables individuals to integrate into particular social circles where communication is encoded with specific slang terms. Consequently, slang introduces a fresh cadence to a language, empowering people to distinguish themselves from the masses.

For someone learning English as a second language (ESL), British English slang might appear more intricate because of the variety of dialects found in different regions of the country. Nevertheless, there’s no necessity to become proficient in all the unfamiliar words encountered. Initially, you can focus on learning those British expressions that have gained popularity and are commonly used by the majority of people throughout the UK.

 

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Common slang words in Great Britain

  • Gobsmacked –Experiencing surprise and amazement. The term also characterizes the shape of your mouth (referred to as “gob” in British English) when caught off guard.
  • Gutted –Utterly let down and profoundly sorrowful, experiencing a sense of emptiness.
  • Dishy – Referring to someone as exceptionally attractive and appealing.
  • Chuffed – Taking pride in one’s achievements and experiencing satisfaction from something.
  • Jimjams –It’s an alternative expression for “pajamas.”
  • Ace –”Something brilliant,” commonly used in Liverpool.

In the sentence, it can function as both a noun and a verb, for example, “He excels at writing posts” and “He has excelled in dancing the cha-cha.”

  • Bloke – “A male,” equivalent to “guy” or “dude.”

This is the prevalent UK slang denoting the stereotype of a man who frequents pubs and leads a rather conventional lifestyle.

  • Chinwag – describes a good chat and is mostly used as a verb.

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As an ESL learner embarking on a degree in England, it’s beneficial to familiarize yourself with these unique British terms to comfortably interact with classmates.

 

  • Buzzing –When an individual feels euphoric and delighted about something.
  • Well jel– Experiencing intense envy over something. The term has entered slang from Essex and gained popularity in people’s vocabulary, thanks to a well-known TV show.
  • NoshA brief lunch consisting of snacks or a light meal during the day
  • Dodgy – Unlawful, frequently associated with poor quality and something untrustworthy.
  • Faffing –To spend your time idly without engaging in anything significant.

Contemporary slang is significantly shaped by the pervasive internet culture, rapid texting, and the desire to convey messages quickly on the move. For example, understanding the meaning of “WYM” in text messages is crucial for asking someone, “What do you mean? What’s BM&Y?” The widespread use and global nature of memes, acronyms, and brief expressions in various messaging platforms contribute to the constant expansion of the internet slang lexicon nearly every day.

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Below is a brief compilation of texting abbreviations that you’ll probably use when conversing on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram:

  • WYD – What you doing?
  • WYM – What you mean?
  • TMI – Too much information
  • HTH – Hope this helps
  • DIY – Do it yourself
  • PAW – Parents are watching
  • LMK – Let me know
  • ELI5 – Explain like I’m five
  • WFM – Works for me
  • ICYMI – In case you missed it
  • TGIF – Thanks, God, it’s Friday
  • HIFW – How I felt when
  • JSYK – Just so you know 
  • BTT – Back to the topic
  • JK – Just kidding
  • ORLY – Oh really?

 

For individuals learning English as a second language who are visiting England or Wales for the first time, the local slang may initially seem like an incomprehensible jumble of sounds. It’s a well-established fact that the majority of native speakers may struggle to comprehend the local dialects or slang of groups to which they do not belong. For instance, it’s doubtful that your grandmother would understand phrases like “TL;DR” (Too Long; Didn’t Read) or “WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Get). Therefore, it’s advisable to focus on specific British expressions and incorporate them into your conversations. Soon enough, you’ll observe how these words become prominent in your everyday communication, adding new layers of meaning to your language skills.

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Find out your A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 C2 level of English with our quick, free online test.