English might be just one language but it varies greatly from country to country, and even more so within regions in those countries. British English slang is some of the most interesting slang in the English speaking world. This is because for such a small island there are enormous differences in accents and vocabulary.
Learning slang is something that will make your English sound more natural and get you closer to that native level. Of course, if you’re learning American English then these might but be applicable to you but they still are fun to learn and say.
Let’s have a look at some British English slang by region.
Our first selection of British English slang is Scotland. Scotland is the northern most country that makes up the UK. It is famous for tartan, haggis and an incredibly strong accent that is often difficult to understand. Here are some slang words from Scotland and what they mean.
Canny – can’t. ‘I canny do it,’ means ‘I can’t do it.’
Reeking – This is a word to describe someone who is hammered, or in other words really really drunk.
Munter – Not the nicest slang word from Scotland, this word is used to describe someone who is very ugly. So if you hear someone calling you a munter, it’s definitely not a nice thing.
Rank – I think this is definitely used in other regions and probably other English speaking countries but rank means something is disgusting.
Pure barry – A really nice slang word, if you say something is Barry it means it’s fantastic.
Have a listen to the Scottish accent here:
North East English Slang – Geordie
People from the north east are known as Geordies and are sometimes referred to as the friendliest bunch in the UK. Here are some of the slang they use, see if you recognise any.
Canny – Not to be confused with the canny from Scotland, in the North East of English the word canny has a completely different meanings. Canny can mean nice, as in ‘he’s a canny lad.’ And it can also means quite, as in ‘it’s canny chilly = it’s quite cold.’
Gannin yem – This translates to going home. It probably evolved because the way going home in the Newcastle accent is said it sound a lot like gan yem.
Radgie – This is probably my favourite slang word from the north east and it’s a shame it isn’t used in the rest of the country. Someone is being a radgie when they are angry, losing their temper, starting a fight or just generally kicking off.
Pet – Pet is a term of endearment just like love, sweetie, honey or dear.
Shan – This word is used for when something is really unfair. If your brother got a bigger piece of cake than you, you’d say, ‘That’s shan that like.’
Spelk – This is a word very particular to the north east of England and I don’t think there are any other regions that use it. A spelk is when you get a tiny piece of wood stuck in the finger, other regions in the UK call this a splinter.
Have a listen to what the geordie accent sounds like here:
Liverpool English Slang – Scouse
Liverpool is in the north west of the country and people from there are known as scousers. They have a very distinct accent and say some pretty unusual words.
Boss – Boss is my favourite scouse word and it is used to describe something is really good, other ways of describing this word in other regions of English would be mint, class, belter. It means something is really really good.
Bifter – Quite simply a cigarette.
Wool – Wool is not necessarily a negative word but it definitely isn’t a positive word. It’s used to describe people who come from the neighbouring countryside towns and who aren’t actually from Liverpool.
Scran – This is also used in other regions of the UK and it means food or a meal.
Have a listen to what the scouse accent sounds like here, and see the girls using some fun Liverpool English slang words:
Manchester English Slang – Manc
Manchester is also in the north west of the UK but the accent is very different to scousers and they also have quite a different vocabulary, meaning that the English slang you find here will be very different to nearby places.
Mint – This is the Manchester equivalent of boss, and it means something is really really good.
Chud – chewing gum.
Our kid – it doesn’t mean our child, you use kid to refer to your brother or sister.
Have a listen to what the Manchester accent sounds like here and the English slang that you can find there:
Midlands English Slang
The Midlands region in the UK is in the middle of England and consists of cities like Nottingham and Birmingham. The British slang used here shares some similarities with Yorkshire slang but it definitely has characteristics of it’s own.
Podging in – We use this when someone’s pushing in the queue.
Argy bargy – is an argument.
Cat-lick – This is a quick wash but it’s often used in a negative way to mean someone hasn’t bothered washing properly.
Face like a fourpence – This means someone looks miserable.
Have a listen to what the midlands accent sounds like here:
Cockney English Slang
Cockney is of course famous for it’s rhyming slang. Maybe you hadn’t heard of some of the slang from the other regions but you’re bound to have heard of some of these phrases.
With cockney rhyming slang which is probably the most famous slang from the UK, the last word in the phrase rhymes with the thing you’re actually talking about, so it’s not too difficult to work out.
Up the apples and pairs – of course means go upstairs
Bees and honey – money
Alan Whickers – knickers
Have a listen to what the cockney accent sounds like here:
General British slang and UK accents
Alright – hello, how are you?
Chuffed – really pleased about something
Getting off with – making out or kissing
Give me a bell – call me
Gutted – really disappointed about something
Kip – nap
Peanuts – cheap
If you have time have a look at these guys who take you through the major accents in the UK.
We hope you enjoyed our British English slang by region, and we hope you’ve learned some useful phrases to use going forward. English slang is always fun to learn and can make you sound like a local. Although many people choose to learn American English, picking up a few words of British English slang can really come in useful if you want to spend any time in the UK.
If there’s a region you’re interested in that we haven’t mentioned then let us know in the comments below and we’ll do some research and add it is. Similarly if you’re from one of these regions and think we’ve missed off some really cool slang then let us know and we’ll add it in.
What’s your favourite English slang and which region does it come from? Please let us know.