Contrary to popular belief, the youth of the UK don't all sound like extras in a Guy Ritchie movie. Nor do they speak like they're at a tea party with Hugh Grant. Here, for the benefit of any Highsnobiety reader who's struggled to make sense of the UK urban dialect, we present a brief overview of British street slang. Tongue firmly in cheek, of course...
In a way, the whole world's a little bit American these days. U.S. popular culture has, to varying degrees, penetrated just about every nation across the globe (aside from North Korea). Millions of people have learned English from watching Hollywood movies, there’s a hip-hop scene in Mongolia, while whole generations have been proverbially waterboarded by Coca-Cola adverts since they first set eyes on a television.
As a result, most of us are familiar with the culture, speech and customs of the U.S., but the sheer size and domination of American culture breeds a certain insularity and isolationism. Even British culture, despite its relative familiarity and common language, is utterly alien to most Americans, and has hamstrung many British artists’ attempts to “break America” in the past.
But with Drake giving grime revival a transatlantic nudge and U.S. citizens everywhere flummoxed by the notion of a “cheeky Nandos” – as if it were somehow spoken in Swahili – we thought it was time to take cues from Big L and give our American readers a rundown in UK street slang, should they ever find themselves lost in a Brixton chicken shop at 2 a.m.
1. verb. To cease doing something. “Allow it”: stop it; forget it. “Allow that”: stop doing that; fuck that.
i.e. “Allow it fam, that tune is well annoying”
1. adj. Used to describe a poor mood; sulky; irritable.
i.e. “He got arsey 'cos I wouldn’t buy him a beer. Dickhead.”
1. adj. Suspicious.
i.e. “Look man, the feds. Don't look so bait.”
1. adv. Used to quantify a large amount; a lot.
i.e. “Don’t touch my jacket, it cost me bare”; “Did you see her face? She’s bare ugly.”
1. adj. A descriptor of positive connotation; fantastic.
i.e. “You shoulda come last night, man. Vibes was banging."
1. noun. Something that possesses positive qualities, esp. a piece of music.
i.e. “Pull that track back, son. It's a fucking banger!"
Bollocks [bol-uh ks]
1. noun. Testicles.
2. noun. Nonsense.
i.e. “Stop talking bollocks you idiot.”
3. adj. Something bad or of poor quality.
i.e. “You didn’t miss much last night. That party was absolute bollocks.”
4. noun. “The dog’s bollocks” Something of good quality.
i.e. “Ever since he got that new motor he thinks he’s the dog’s bollocks.”
1. verb. To steal, acquire or achieve something through dubious means.
i.e. “Did you just blag that beer from the shop?!”; “He didn’t want to let me in, but I blagged it past the bouncer.”
1. noun. Courage; bravery.
i.e. “You 'aven’t got the bottle.”
2. verb. To avoid doing something due to a lack of courage.
i.e. “Did you see him bottle it with that girl?”
1. verb. To smoke a cigarette or joint.
i.e. “Come let's go bun a zoot, bruv.”
1. verb. To flirt, hit on or chat someone up.
i.e. “Did you chirpse that girl last night, fam?”; “She tried chirpsing me but I ain’t interested.”
1. noun. Footwear; sneakers. See also: “trainers”
i.e. “Where'd you get them new creps, bruv?”
1. The area from which you’re from or reside in. Usually prefixed with “the”, “these”, “my” or “your.”
i.e. “Let’s go back to your ends, bruv”; “You ain’t from these ends.”
1. noun. Cigarette.
i.e. “Yo, get us a pack of fags at the shop please.”
1. adj. Physically attractive.
i.e. “Have you seen his girl? She’s well fit”
See also: “peng”
1. noun. Clothing; shortened from "garments."
i.e. “Fix up. You need some new garms, fam.”
1. adjective. Disappointed. Devastated.
i.e. “They scored in the final minute. Whole stand was gutted.”
Having a laugh [ahv-ing a larhf]
1. Term used to denote a situation or action lacking in seriousness; a joke.
i.e. “Don't get offended. I was only having a laugh.”
2. An expression of disbelief.
i.e. "Trek all the way to your ends? You must be having a laugh mate!"
1. Corruption of “isn’t it," most often used rhetorically and as a way to confirm or complete statements.
i.e. "You coming?" "Yeah I'll be there in 10 minutes, innit.”
1. adj. Tired; exhausted.
i.e. “I haven’t slept for days. I’m fucking knackered.”
1. adj. A widely applicable descriptor of negative connotation; a nuisance.
i.e. “That girl is long, man. I can’t be fucked with her.”
2. verb. To “long off” someone or something means to avoid it.
i.e. “Let’s long off that movie and go get something to eat” (potentially a cheeky Nandos - Ed).
1. noun. Collective term for a group of males.
i.e. “You should come chill with the mandem tonight, bruv.”
1. adj. Derogatory term, usually for a male, to describe a lack of masculinity; "soft." U.S. equivalent: "pussy."
i.e. “He won’t come out ‘cos his girl won’t let him. Man’s proper moist”
1. adv. A lot. A surplus. Corruption of "enough."
i.e. "You been round his house? Man got 'nuff trainers, you know."
1. adj. Attractive. Beautiful. Only used for describing the female sex.
i.e. "MATE, you see that girl? She was peng-a-leng!"
1. adj. Intoxication by alcohol; drunk.
i.e. “It’s Friday, let’s go get pissed innit.”
Pull [poo l]
1. adj. The act of successfully seducing someone on a night out.
i.e. “Did you pull that bird last night?”
2. To go “on the pull” is to go out with the intention of taking someone home with you.
i.e. “I’m on the pull tonight, lads.”
1. noun. One Great British Pound Sterling.
i.e. “Lend us 20 quid please!”
1. noun. A promiscuous woman.
i.e. "Nah man, 'llow her. She’s a proper sket.”
1. noun. Rolling paper; cigarette paper.
i.e. “Go buy some skins bruv. I wanna get blazed.”
2. verb. To "skin up" is to roll a joint.
i.e. "Pass me the high grade and I'll skin up."
1. adj. Lacking in money/finances; broke. In particular momentary austerity as opposed to long-term poverty.
i.e. “I’m can’t go out this weekend, I’m proper skint.”
Take the piss [tayk th-uh piss]
1. To play a joke on someone; ridicule; mock; make fun of them.
i.e. “I was only taking the piss”; “are you taking the piss out of me?”
1. Greeting. Afro Caribbean corruption of “what’s going on." U.S. equivalent: “wassup.”
i.e. “Wagwan, fam? You good, yeah?”
1. noun. Derogatory term carrying connotations of failure and uselessness. U.S. equivalent: “loser." See also: Wastegal
i.e. “He’s 35 and still lives with his mum. Total wasteman.”
2. adj. Having the qualities of uselessness.
i.e. “That man is fucking waste.”
1. noun. Joint. Spliff.
i.e. “Yo, gimme a few draws on that zoot bruv.”
Written by Aleks Eror for Highsnobiety.com