5 British Phrases You Simply MUST Be Using

5 Incredibly British Phrases You Simply MUST Be Using

Slang. I love it; you love it. We use it to artfully punctuate dialogue in our writing, we use the more colorful versions of it when we’ve hit a rough writing patch, and have been known to hurl it at one another during writers’ conferences.

That being said, I have a message for those among us whose parentage is from the British Isles rather than somewhere between sea-to-shining-sea: Your slang is infinitely better than ours, and we American writers would do well to start using more of it immediately.

Such as:

5. Cack-handed

The Internet tells me that cack-handed (left-handed or southpaw) is a bit of particularly Yorkshire slang, and I have almost no more to say about it, except that saying it’s much more fun than saying “lefty.”

It can also mean clumsy, awkward and fumbling.

Credit: jinterwas, flickr.com
Credit: jinterwas, flickr.com

4. Sod off/Bugger off

Roughly an equivalent to “go away” or “get lost,” saying sod off or bugger off is simply more satisfying. As far as I can tell, these phrases are mainline British, although “bugger off” seems to have an Irish twist to it.

3. Manky

The BBC tells me that manky means unpleasant, not-nice, and slightly yucky, and that this word also has identifiable Yorkshire origins.

Credit: Alex Bartok, flickr
Credit: Alex Bartok, flickr

2. Gormless

The British equivalent to the word “clueless,” the word can also be shortened, so you can be more efficient when insulting others (gorm, gormy).

1. The many wonderful uses of ‘arse’

Although this one has made it most of the way around the world at this point, arse is still terribly underused in America. If you ask me, Americans are missing out.

Our equivalent, ass, is tonally flat, nasal-sounding, and in general, an ugly word. That’s why arse, which sounds (somehow) slightly less offensive, has a much wider variety of uses. And, critically, arse can be used as a verb.

According to slang site effingpot:

It is used in phrases like “pain in the arse” (a nuisance) or I “can’t be arsed” (I can’t be bothered) or you might hear something was “a half arsed attempt” meaning that it was not done properly.

What’s your favorite slang term from another country? What about another language altogether? Share it in the comments!