An Illustrated Guide to Weird British Expressions

weird-british-expressions

Britain and British folk are a weird bunch, and possibly their weirdest trait is their expressions. If you didn’t grow up in this sovereign state but you’re fluent in English, you might still find yourself not understanding what you hear when in the UK. While the origin of some of these expressions dates back a long way, these strange, bizarre, and wonderful expressions of speech find their way in modern times.

Here are 9 of the weirdest phrases Britain has to offer.

1. You’re all bum and parsley

Scotland likes to be blunt, and they may have the “least polite” phrases in Britain. This particular phrase would be used with someone who you’d consider is full of themselves.

bum and parsley British expression
What it means: A description of someone who is a know-it-all.
How you would use it in conversation: “You don’t know what you’re talking about; you’re all bum and parsley!”
Part of the UK typically used: Scotland

2. Happy as a pig in muck

While in Mexico you would compare someone who is very happy to a worm (simply because the words “worm” and “happy” rhyme in Spanish). But in Britain, they believe pigs and mud are a match made in heaven. So when in Yorkshire, don’t be offended if someone compares you to a pig playing in wet dirt,  they’re actually being nice!

happy pig in muck British expression
What it means: Very happy
How you would use it in conversation: “If no one bothers him, he’s happy as a pig in muck.”
Part of the UK typically used: Yorkshire

3. Were ya born in a barn

If I knew about this expression in my teenage years, I would’ve used it at least once a day, as people in Yorkshire use it when someone enters or leaves a room and forgets to do that crucial thing, close the door behind them.

born in a barn British expression
What it means: Close the door
How you would use it in conversation: “I just got it warm in here, were ya born in a barn?”
Part of the UK typically used: Yorkshire

4. Not give a monkey’s

While in America people don’t give a rat’s ass when they couldn’t care less about something, in Britain they don’t give a monkey’s (sans the ass).

give a monkeys British expressions
What it means: Be completely indifferent
How you would use it in conversation: “I don’t give a monkey’s about what your dream was last night.”
Part of the UK typically used: UK wide

5. It looks a bit black over Bill’s mother’s

Of course, Britain would have an expression related to weather, one of their favourite subjects to talk about. And it’s said that Bill refers to William Shakespeare with his mother stuck in the rain.

black over bills British expressions
What it means: The sky is dark with rain
How you would use it in conversation: “Ooh heck, it looks a bit black over Bill’s mother’s that way”
Part of the UK typically used: Midlands

6. That’s the badger

While not too common in other places aside from the West Country, this expression will be used as an exclamation when “that’s the one!”.

that's the badger British expression
What it means: That’s exactly the one I was looking for
How you would use it in conversation: “That’s the badger! That’s the name I couldn’t remember!”
Part of the UK typically used: West Country

7. Bob’s your uncle

I have heard this particular one many times here in the US, and I personally don’t like it. I don’t have a specific reason, but every single time I hear it, the first thing I think is: “no, he’s not.” And I don’t know if it bothers more that they’d say a completely false statement (even though it’s just an expression), or that I have the same silly thought over and over, and it bugs me.

bob's your uncle British expression
What it means: There you have it
How you would use it in conversation: “Just pull that handle, press the button, Bob’s your Uncle!”
Part of the UK typically used: UK wide

8. Making a right pig’s ear of something

Pigs make another appearance in this expression, and this time in a not so positive way. You might hear it if you’ve messed something up.

pigs ear of something
What it means: Handle something badly
How you would use it in conversation: “She made a right pig’s ear of that presentation!”
Part of the UK typically used: UK Wide

9. You’re peckin’ me ‘ead

In North West England, being annoyed by someone or losing patience might feel like a bird is tapping at their head. If you hear it, you might want to run away.

peckin me ead
What it means: You are annoying me
How you would use it in conversation: “Would you give it a rest, you’re peckin’ me ‘ead!”
Part of the UK typically used: North West England

And here we have them again, in a colourful infographic:

An Illustrated Guide to Weird British Expressions

An Illustrated Guide to Weird British Expressions [Infographic] by Sykes Cottages

Are you familiar with any of these?

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