9 slang terms from across the UK

Charlotte Guest
A couple smiling at eachother on a bridge in London with the river behind them

The English language is a fascinating mix of regional dialects and unique slang, shaped by centuries of history and cultural influences. Throughout its long history, the UK has had many invasions and visitors. From the Romans in ancient Londinium to the rolling hills of the Saxon heartland, and from the Viking raiders of the north to the Norman conquerors of the south, each wave of historical influence has shaped the dialects of the UK. Each region of the United Kingdom has its own distinct flavor of language and accent. Today, we embark on a slang tour to explore some of the expressions from different regions.

Slang terms from across the UK
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1. West Midlands: "Bostin'"

Let's begin in the heart of England, the West Midlands. Here, you might hear the word "bostin'" thrown around quite a bit. This charming expression simply means "excellent" or "fantastic." So, if someone says your meal was "bostin'," you can rest assured your cooking skills have earned top marks.

2. East Midlands: "Duck"

If you head east to the East Midlands region, you might come across a term of endearment that could raise an eyebrow or two if you're not used to it. Local people often call each other "duck," regardless of gender or age. It's a friendly and informal way of addressing someone, similar to how people in other regions use "mate" or "love.”

3. London: "Chuffed"

London is a massive city where slang changes as fast as the city itself. One of the words you might hear is "chuffed." When Londoners say they're "chuffed," it means they're happy or pleased. So, if someone from London compliments you and says, "I'm well chuffed with you," you've definitely made a good impression.

4. South West England: "Ansum" (Cornwall) and "Gert Lush" (Bristol)

In the sunny landscapes of Cornwall, the locals frequently use the delightful Cornish slang term "ansum" to describe something that's handsome or lovely. On the other hand, in Bristol, you'll often hear the expression "gert lush" used to signify something that's really great or fantastic.

5. North East England: "Canny"

As we travel to the Northeast, you may come across the word "canny." In this region, "canny" doesn't imply being careful, but rather, it is used to describe something that is good, enjoyable, or appealing. For instance, if you visit Newcastle and someone says, "She's a canny lass," it means that the person considers her to be a likable and charming woman.

6. Cheshire: "Mardy"

Cheshire offers the intriguing term "mardy." This word is used to describe someone who's in a bad mood or being grumpy. If you hear someone say, "She's a bit mardy today," you'll know to approach with caution.

7. Shropshire: “Around the Wrekin”

The Wrekin is a prominent hill in the area well-known by the residents of Shropshire. They often use the phrase to describe someone who takes a long-winded or complicated approach to a task. It can also be used to describe a situation where someone has taken an unnecessarily long route to get to a destination.

8. Scotland: "Braw"

Let's continue our slang tour and head to the stunning landscapes of Scotland, where the word "braw" is commonly used. The Scots use this term to describe something that is splendid, beautiful, or excellent. For example, if you happen to be in Edinburgh and hear someone say, "The view from Arthur's Seat is pure braw," you'll know that it's a view that should not be missed.

9. Wales: "Cwtch"

Crossing over to Wales, we discover the heart-warming term "cwtch" (pronounced "kutch"). It refers to a cuddle or an affectionate hug, embodying the Welsh spirit of warmth and closeness.

From the south of England to Scotland, and everywhere in between, these unique expressions reflect the distinctive character of the people who call these places home. As the world becomes more connected, people are taking their unique dialects with them wherever they go.  

You might also find some of these terms traveling further afield, being used in other regions or even countries. Unsurprisingly, as English does borrow words from a range of other languages. Exploring the origins of English slang can be a great gateway to learning about the history of a place, so make sure to read up about it next time you hear an interesting one. You can check out slang dictionaries to keep up to date with the latest ones.

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