12 British Expressions Everyone Should Know

Just because Brits, Americans and Australians speak the same language, it doesn’t always mean that we can understand each other! Each country has its own unique brand of slang and colloquial expression that becomes part of the common vernacular, so if you want to talk like a true Brit, then pay attention to our list of the ten best British expressions that you need to know!

1. Gobsmacked

Although this sounds like it was taken straight from a Harry Potter book, don’t worry, this isn’t an expression relating to physical violence. Being gobsmacked means being totally surprised or completely lost for words.

2. Collywobbles

The term collywobbles in Britain refers to the feeling of nervousness or fear that you might experience in the midst of a scary or tense situation. Another common way to express the same feeling is “I have butterflies”.

3. Donkey’s Years

If you have known somebody for ‘donkey’s years’, it means that you have known them for a very, very long time. The term refers to an unspecified period of time, but it always refers to a long period.

4. The Full Monty

This term has been confusing for overseas minds ever since the famous stripping film of the 1990s, but what the ‘full monty’ actually means is doing anything ‘the whole way’. Of course, this makes sense in terms of the film’s premise, but it can be applied to almost everything, for example, eating a typical English fry-up breakfast can be described as the full monty.

5. Her Majesty’s Pleasure

If somebody is living at ‘Her Majesty’s pleasure’, then it means that they are currently being incarcerated in a government run prison. It stemmed as a polite way to talk about it, but is now used as more of a sarcastic, satirical way to mention somebody in jail.

6. Legless

If somebody is described as being ‘legless’, it means that they have become so heavily drunk that they are no longer able to stand up on their own two feet.

7. Knees Up

One of the most classic of British expressions, to have a proper ‘knees up’ means to throw a major party complete with lots of drink and lots of dancing. It stems from a traditional Cockney song called Knees Up Mother Brown.

8. Minted

To be minted means to be very rich and not have to worry about your financial situation whatsoever.

9. On The Pull

If somebody is described as being ‘on the pull’, it means that they are out actively trying to bag themselves a romantic partner for the evening.

10. See A Man About A Dog

One of the funniest British expressions, telling somebody you need to go and see a man about a dog is the universal symbol of saying something because you are no longer interested in the conversation!

11. Lost the plot

Describing that someone has “lost the plot” means they are/have been acting ridiculously or irrationally.

12. The Bee’s Knees

This is a very cute way of describing something that is really good. It can refer to a person, an occasion or an inanimate object – well anything really. 

So, now that you have armed yourself with these fun and quintessentially British phrases, there is nothing to stop you from walking into the nearest pub and chatting it up a storm with a group of natives!

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