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11 British Words and Phrases That Every Canadian Should Know

Oscar Wilde once said “We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.” Here’s your decoder.

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Blokes is among the most popular British phrasesPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock


While it is often attributed to the half-yank that was Winston Churchill (his mom hailed from Brooklyn), it was actually Irish writer George Bernard Shaw who scribbled “England and America are two countries divided by a common language.” But what both blokes do have in common is that, well, they’re both blokes. Britain doesn’t have “bachelor parties,” but rather, “stag nights.” Other terms they use for the men who populate those parties include, but aren’t limited to: chap, Barney, GQ (stylish), geezer (not so much), lad, pet, fella and, believe it or not…lovey. It’s also worth brushing up on these Spanish phrases everyone should know before heading over to Europe.

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Utterly knackered means tiredPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Utterly knackered

Next time you can’t stop yawning, try this phrase on for size. Doesn’t it sound so much more sophisticated than whining about how tired you are? And when you do take that midday snooze, don’t feel guilty about it. Here are five songs that are scientifically proven to help you sleep better.

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Feeling miffed means being slight perturbedPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Feeling miffed?

Then you’re slightly perturbed. Gutted? Well then it’s full-on despair, you know, like how Bridget Jones felt when she caught her boyfriend cheating on her. Here are 10 tearjerker movies for when you need a good cry.

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Bollocks in British slang can either be a compliment or insultPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock


Bollocks is generally an insult, but it can sometimes be a compliment, depending on how it’s used. It’s slang for something, rubbish, or a falsehood, reports Though it can also mean something fantastic, as in, “That curry was the bollocks!”

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Chuffed to the muff means being pleased with yourselfPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Chuffed to the muff

Next time you nail that presentation at work or knock a minute off your mile run, tell a friend that you’re “chuffed to the muff,” aka very pleased with yourself. Here are seven magic phrases to help you nail public speaking.

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Keep calm and carry onPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Keep calm and carry on

The WWII slogan for London to remain stoic throughout the Blitzkrieg that was “Keep Calm and Carry On” has become the obnoxious American excuse to parody said posters. But here’s the thing, mates: The royal reminder wasn’t really used at all. Indeed, the catchy cautionary card was commissioned in 1939 but never publicly displayed, (copies were made and then just placed in cold storage, until the eventual air raids happened, but ended up just being shelved and recycled as part of a Paper Salvage program). KCACO was a forgotten piece of wartime history until a copy of the command was rediscovered in 2000 at Alnwick’s Barter Books.

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Mind the gap of the TubePhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Mind the gap

Next time you’re getting on the Tube—we mean subway—be sure to “mind the gap,” a much more charming way to say, “Look where you’re going!”

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I'm pissed means being very drunkPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

I’m pissed

Here in North America, if you’re pissed, you’re angry. Back in Blighty, it means you’re drunk. Grog (ale), plonk (cheap wine), and mother’s ruin (gin) are all fun terms for the tipple that gets you bladdered (and/or legless) at the local pub (aka the BattleCruiser or Bozzer). Smoking a fag outside said tavern? It just means you’re smoking a cigarette. Here are seven ways to drink without getting a hangover.

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Let's snog means sexual intercoursePhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Let’s snog, baby!

While having a wank is a decidedly solitary act, the wiggling that makes the world go round is nothing if not covered within the United Kingdom’s always creative commentary: Rump pumpy (straight up intercourse), snog (kiss) and, the Austin Powers-ruined perennial that is shag. Note: Many of these acts may lead the lady to be up the duff, (pregnant). Here are seven reasons you should be having more sex, according to science!

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Posh is speaking toshPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Posh is speaking tosh

Brits are known for their insults, among them: Sexy Beast’s “spazmongoloid” (idiot); “wazzock” is a similar descriptive as is “damn squib” and which all mean roughly the same thing, while being “gobby” basically means you’re a loudmouth. As for “posh is speaking tosh,” well it’s just a fancy rich person bragging. They’re big on the whole tall poppy syndrome thing.

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Sod off is a British insultPhoto: Robert Liwanag/Shutterstock

Sod off

It’s about that time to sod, or bugger off, already. (Both words basically mean, “We’re done here.”) Now find out the must-know French phrases.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest