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Introduction: Why are they so different? v

Part one: Spelling 2

Part two: Pronunciation 11

Part three: Grammar and Usage 19

Part four: A to Zed: a GB / US lexis 27

Part five: A to Zee: a US / GB lexis 75

Further Reading 121
This book is intended for Americans and This state of affairs is reflected in the
Britons who want to understand each structure and content of the present
other better, and for foreign students of book, which makes no pretence (or
either American or British English who pretense) of being exhaustive, but which
want to familiarise (or familiarize) does try to be comprehensive. Short
themselves with the other main variety initial chapters outline the historical
of the language. According to George background and the differences in
Bernard Shaw, the United States and pronunciation, spelling and grammar.
England are two great nations separated The main part of the book, however,
by a common tongue. In fact, most of consists of a dictionary of British
the time the two peoples understand vocabulary and cultural references which
each other fairly well, or think they do. someone from the United States might
The accent is different, of course, but it have trouble understanding, and of a
presents no more of a barrier than any dictionary of American vocabulary and
regional accent would. Differences in cultural references that might present
grammar, syntax and spelling are problems to someone from the British
relatively minor. The main differences, Isles. As the book is not aimed at
and they are huge, are lexical and academics, but at laymen (or
cultural. laypersons) who are curious about
language, phonetic differences are
shown, when necessary, by a figured
pronunciation. The A to Zed section is
written to be read by Americans, the/4
to Zee section by Britons. Finally, a
number of older terms have been
retained in both sections of the
dictionary for the benefit of the small
number of Americans and Britons who
happen to be complete novices in the
study of English as a foreign language.
Introduction: Why are they so different?
When a Briton and an American meet, of the south-eastern part of England,
even though they are far from mutually which is where, in the early 17th century,
unintelligible, each is soon aware of the first British colonists originated.
differences in the speech of the other. Their peculiar treatment of the final r
First, the accent is different: survives in New England and the South,
pronunciation, tempo, intonation are but it is exceptional in the US as a
distinctive. Next, differences in whole. The distinctive American r, a kind
vocabulary, idiom and syntax occur, as of muffled growl produced near the back
they would in a foreign language: of the mouth, is fully sounded. It is very
individual words are misunderstood or similar to the r still pronounced in parts
not understood at all, metaphorical of the west and north of England, and in
expressions sound bizarre, subtle Scotland and Ireland, and was almost
irregularities become apparent in the certainly brought to America by
way words are arranged, or in the subsequent colonists from those parts.
position of words in a sentence, or in Since most of the British settlement in
the addition or omission of words. It is North America in the 19th century came
estimated that some 4,000 words and from the north and west of England and
expressions in common use in Britain from Ireland, especially from the
today either do not exist or are used northern counties of Ulster, rhotic
differently in the US. These differences speech, as it is called, eventually spread
are reflected in the way British and across the continent. In many other little
American English are written, so that ways, standard American English is
variations in spelling and punctuation reminiscent of an older period of the
also emerge. Finally, there are immense language. For example, Americans
cultural divergences, ranging from pronounce either and neither-with the
different trademarks for everyday vowel of teeth or beneath, while in
products to different institutions and England these words have changed their
forms of government. Little wonder, pronunciation since the American
then, that even in this age of global colonies were founded and are now
communications, we are still able to pronounced with an initial diphthong,
misunderstand each other. Before like the words eye and nigh. (For a
examining each of these major fuller discussion of these and other
dissimilarities in detail, it may be useful pronunciation differences, see Part 2.)
to consider how they have arisen.
It is said that all emigrant languages are
In fact, many of the distinctive phonetic linguistically nostalgic, preserving
features of modern American English archaic pronunciations and meanings.
can be traced back to the British Isles. The word vest provides an interesting
To take a single example, the r at the example of one of the ways in which the
end of words is pronounced in markedly vocabularies of Britain and America
different ways in the 'standard' varieties were to grow apart. The first recorded
of American and British English. In the use of the word occurs in 1666 (in the
'received pronunciation' of GB, it is diary of Samuel Pepys), referring to 'a
barely sounded at all, so that words like sleeveless jacket worn under an outer
there and water are pronounced theah coat'. The direct descendant of this
and watuh. This pattern is characteristic usage is the modern American vest,

meaning waistcoat. In the intervening spelling bee. low-down, to have an ax
centuries, however, the meaning of the to grind, to sit on the fence, to saw
word has shifted in Britain, so that it wood, and so on. At the same time,
now applies to 'a piece of clothing worn other words were being assimilated
on the top half of the body underneath a ready-made into the language from the
shirt'. Americans have retained a different cultures the settlers came into
number of old uses like this or old words contact with. Borrowings from the
which have died out in England. Their Indians include pecan, squash,
use of gotten in place of got as the past chipmunk, raccoon, skunk, and
participle of get was the usual form in moccasin', from the French, gopher,
England two centuries ago; in modern pumpkin, prairie, rapids, shanty, dime,
British English it survives only in the apache, brave and depot; from the
expression ill-gotten gains. American Spanish, alfalfa, marijuana, cockroach,
still use mad as Shakespeare did, in the coyote, lasso, taco, patio, cafeteria and
sense of angry ('Don't get mad, get desperado; from the Dutch, cookie,
even.'), and have retained old words like waffle, boss, yankee, dumb (meaning
turnpike, meaning a toll road, and fall as stupid), and spook. Massive immigration
the natural word for the season. The in the 19th century brought new words
American I guess is as old as Chaucer from German (delicatessen, pretzel,
and was still current in English speech in hamburger, lager, check, bummer,
the 17th century. The importance of such docent, nix], from Italian [pizza,
divergences was compounded by two spaghetti, espresso, parmesan,
parallel processes. Some words which zucchini] and from other languages.
the pilgrims and subsequent settlers Jews from Central Europe introduced
brought to the New World did not many Yiddish expressions with a wide
transplant, but in England they survived: currency in modern America: chutzpah,
e.g. fortnight, porridge, heath, moor, kibitz, klutz, schlep, schmaltz, schlock,
ironmonger. Far more important, schnoz, and tush. Likewise, many
however, was the process by which, Africanisms were introduced by the
under the pressure of a radically enforced immigration of black slaves:
different environment, the colonists gumbo, jazz, okra, chigger. Even
introduced innovations, coining new supposedly modern expressions like
words and borrowing from other cultures. with-it, do your thing, and bad-mouth
are word-for-word translations of
Many living things, for example, were phrases used in West African languages.
peculiar to their new environment, and Eventually many of these enrichments
terms were required to describe them: would cross the Atlantic back to
mud hen, garter snake, bullfrog, potato England, but by no means all of them.
bug, groundhog. Other words illustrate Those that did not cross back form the
things associated with the new mode of basis of the differentiation that has
life: back country, backwoodsman, taken place between the American and
squatter, clapboard, corncrib, bobsled. the British vocabulary (Parts 4 and 5, for
This kind of inventiveness, dictated by an examination of current lexical
necessity, has of course continued to differences and explanations of many of
the present day, but many of the most the terms cited above).
distinctive Americanisms were in fact
formed early: sidewalk, lightning rod, A further important change was to take

place, in the domain of spelling. In the surprisingly few major differences. On
years immediately following the the whole, however, Americans, as
American Revolution, many Americans though impelled by an urgent need to
sought to declare their linguistic as they express themselves, appear less
had their political independence. In constrained by the rules of grammatical
1780, John Adams, a future president of form. For instance, they tend to bulldoze
the United States, proposed the their way across distinctions between
founding of an 'American Academy for the various parts of speech. New nouns
refining, improving, and ascertaining the are compounded from verbs and
English Language'. The plan came to prepositions: fallout, blowout, workout,
nothing but it is significant as an cookout, the runaround, a stop-over, a
indication of the importance Americans try-out. Nouns are used as verbs - to
were beginning to attach to their author, to fund, to host, to alibi (an
language. The more ardent patriots were early example of the practice was to
demanding the creation of a distinctly scalp] - and verbs are used just as
American civilization, free of the casually as nouns: an assist, a morph.
influence of the mother country. Defence Any number of new verbs can be
of this attitude was the life-work of created by adding the suffix -ize to a
Noah Webster (1758 - 1843), author of noun or to the root of an adjective:
The American Spelling Book, first standardize, fetishize, sanitize,
published in 1783 and destined to sell prioritize, diabolize. If the exuberance
an estimated 80,000,000 copies over of American English is reminiscent of
the next hundred years. This work, from anything, it is of the linguistic energy of
which countless immigrants learnt their the Elizabethans. In the early part of the
English, introduced such typical 20 th century, H.L. Mencken was already
spellings as honor, color, traveler, making the point. American English, he
defense, offense, center, theater, ax, said, 'still shows all the characteristics
plow, and jail. The influence of that marked the common tongue in the
Webster's American Spelling Book and days of Elizabeth I, and it continues to
of his later American Dictionary of the resist stoutly the policing that ironed out
English Language (1828) was Standard English in the seventeenth and
enormous. It is true to say that the eighteenth centuries'.
majority of distinctively American
spellings are due to his advocacy of the The present geopolitical, technological,
principles underlying them. (The main financial and commercial supremacy of
differences are outlined in Part 1.) the United States unquestionably
Moreover, some of the characteristics of underlies the expansiveness and spread
American pronunciation must also be of its language, nowhere more so than
attributed to Webster, especially its on the level of colloquial or popular
relative homogeneity across so vast a speech. Occasionally words in British
continent and its tendency to give fuller English become fashionable enough to
value to the unaccented syllables of cross the Atlantic, but the vast majority
words (see Part 2). of words - like the vast majority of
films, television programmes, best
As regards the basic grammar and sellers, news magazines, and pop music
structure of the language, there are lyrics which convey them - no longer

travel westwards, but eastwards. This
situation is not without irony. In the
1780s, some patriots were proposing
that English be scrapped altogether as
the national language and replaced by
another: French, Hebrew and Greek
were candidates. The last of these was
rejected on the grounds that 'it would
be more convenient for us to keep the
language as it was, and make the
English speak Greek'. Two hundred and
some years later, it seems fairly obvious
that the Americans will keep and
develop their variety of English just as
they please, and the British will have to
adapt as best they can. It is a process
that is already well under way, with
thousands of words and expressions
that were exclusively American a few
years ago now part of the written and
spoken language in both its varieties.
But there is no reason to deplore this
fact. It is simply a sign that the language
is doing what it has always done: it is
changing and revitalizing itself.


Spelling 2
1. The color/colour group 3
2. The center / centre group 3
3. The realize / realise group 4
4. The edema / oedema group 5
5. The fulfill / fulfil group 6
6. One letter differences 7
7. Miscellaneous 8

Pronunciation 9
1. Pronunciation of 'r' 9
2. Pronunciation of 'a' 10
3. Pronunciation of 'o' 10
4. Pronunciation of 'u' 11
5. Pronunciation of 't' 11
6. Pronunciation of particular words 12
7. Stress and articulation 14

Grammar and Usage 15
1. Irregular verbs 16
2. Use of Past Simple
and Present Perfect tenses 17
3. Auxiliary and modal verbs 18
4. Expressions with 'have' and 'take' 19
5. Position of adverbs 19
6. Use of 'real' as an intensifier 19
7. Collective nouns 20
8. Prepositions 20
9. Use of 'one' 21
10. Other usages 22


A complete list of spelling differences The difficulties arising from hyphenation

between American and British English, also illustrate the complexity of the
assuming such a list could be compiled, subject in general, for not only do
would be a daunting and not particularly variant spellings exist for many words on
useful thing. For example, among many both sides of the Atlantic, often the
other factors, it would have to take authorities in each country-i.e. the
account of differences of hyphenation dictionary-makers -are in disagreement
and spacing in compound words (US as to which spelling of a word is to be
antiaircraft/GB anti-aircraft, US preferred over other possibilities. Rather
bookkeeper/GB book-keeper, US than attempt a complete inventory of
ultramodern/GB ultra-modern, and so spelling differences, then, we have
on). Since American English tends to chosen to identify a number of broad
drop the hyphen much faster than British categories. The following lists are
English, this factor alone would make illustrative rather than exhaustive. One
the list potentially endless. important point should be noted: if two
versions of a word are given as accepted
US or GB spelling, the first is the
preferred spelling and the second a
variant. (Our authorities are Merriam-
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary for
American words and the Concise Oxford
Dictionary for British.)

1. The color / colour group. 2. The center/centre group.

Most GB words ending in -our end Most GB words ending in -tre, usually
in -or in the US. This difference is deriving from French, end in -ter in the
also apparent in derivatives. US. This difference is also apparent in
arbor arbour US GB
ardor ardour
armor armour accoutre, accouter accoutre
armorer armourer
armory armoury accoutrement accoutrement
behavior behaviour
amphitheater amphitheatre
behavioral behavioural
candor candour caliber, calibre calibre
clamor clamour center centre
color colour
centerfold centrefold
demeanor demeanour
enamor enamour fiber, fibre fibre
endeavor endeavour fiberboard,
favor favour fibreboard fibreboard
favorite favourite fiberglass,
favoritism favouritism fibreglass fibreglass
fervor fervour goiter goitre
flavor flavour
liter litre
glamor, glamour glamour
harbor harbour luster lustre
honor honour maneuver manoeuvre
humor humour
meager, meagre meagre
labor labour
misdemeanor misdemeanour meter metre
neighbor neighbour miter, mitre mitre
neighborhood neighbourhood
niter nitre
odor odour
parlor parlour ocher, ochre ochre
rancor rancour philter, philtre philtre
rigor rigour reconnoiter,
rumor rumour reconnoitre reconnoitre
savior saviour
saber, sabre sabre
savor, savour savour
splendor splendour saltpeter saltpetre
succor succour scepter sceptre
tumor tumour
somber, sombre somber
valor valour
specter, spectre spectre
vapor vapour
vigor vigour theater, theatre theatre

3. The realize / realise group.
In this group, differences between GB US GB
and US spelling are far from systematic.
Some verbs, regardless of the country,
can only have -ize (capsize, seize) aggrandize aggrandize, aggrandise
while in others only -ise is possible Americanize Americanise,
(advertise, advise, surprise). Americanize
Dictionaries in both countries prefer the apologize apologise, apologize
suffix -ize in words such as apologize,
burglarize burglarise, burglarize
legalize and realize. Many Britons,
however, (not to mention the spelling capitalize capitalise, capitalize
checkers of popular word-processing categorize categorise, categorize
programs) do not agree with the
characterize characterise,
dictionary-makers and in GB these words characterize
are still usually written with -ise.
colonize colonise, colonize

criticize criticise, criticize

dramatize dramatise, dramatize

emphasize emphasize, emphasise

equalize equalise, equalize

extemporize extemporise,

finalize finalize, finalise

liberalize liberalize, liberalise

mobilize mobilise, mobilize

naturalize naturalise, naturalize

normalize normalize, normalise

organize organise, organize

popularize popularise, popularize

realize realise, realize

recognize recognise, recognize

satirize satirise, satirize

stabilize stabilize, stabilise

standardize standardise,

symbolize symbolise, symbolize

vaporize vaporise, vaporize

4. The edema / oedema group.
In words of Greek origin, GB English has US GB
oe- where US English has e- or less
commonly oe-. Similarly, words with
anemia anaemia
an ae combination in GB English
(orthopaedics, anaesthesia)'are spelt anemic anaemic
without the a in US English. anesthetic anaesthetic

anesthetist anaesthetist

cesarean caesarean

diarrhea diarrhoea

edema oedema

enology, oenology oenology

esophagus oesophagus

estrogen oestrogen

estrus oestrus

fecal faecal

feces faeces

fetal foetal

fetus foetus

gonorrhea gonorrhoea

gynecology gynaecology

hemoglobin haemoglobin

hemophilia haemophilia

hemorrhage haemorrhage

hemorrhoid haemorrhoid

leukemia leukaemia

maneuver manoeuvre

orthopaedics orthopaedics

Paleolithic Palaeolithic

Paleozoic Palaeozoic

5. The fulfill/fulfil group.
A certain number of disyllabic verbs In American spelling, when you add a
stressed on the second syllable are suffix like -ing, -ed, or -er to a
written in British English with a single word, you double the final consonant
but in American English with -II. This only if the stress falls on the second
affects the spelling of derivatives. syllable of the root word. Thus, as in
British English, the verb 'pat-rol' gives
'patrolling' and 'patrolled'. On the other
GB hand, the verb 'trav-el' becomes
'traveling', 'traveled', 'traveler' (GB
appall, appal
'travelling', 'travelled', 'traveller'). Some
further examples:
distill, distil distil

enroll, enrol enrol

enrollment enrolment

enthrall, enthral enthral canceled, cancelled cancelled

fulfill, fulfil fulfil counseled, counselled counselled

fulfillment fulfilment equaled, equalled equalled

install, instal install, instal fueled, fuelled fuelled

installment, instalment instalment groveling, grovelling grovelling

instill, instil instil leveled, levelled levelled

skillful skilful modeling, modelling modelling

willful, wilful wilful quarreling, quarrelling quarrelling

worshiper, worshipper worshipper

6. One letter differences.
An interesting group is comprised of US GB
words which are spelt with a single
different or additional letter. The
aluminum aluminium
difference affects pronunciation.
(a-loom-in-um) (a-lyoo-min-yum)

behoove behove

carburetor carburettor
(kar-boor-ate-er) (kar-boor-et-ah)

check (in banking) cheque

divorce/divorcee divorcee
(di-vor-say) (di-vor-see)

doodad doodah

mom mum

plunk plonk

putter potter

specialty speciality
(spesh-al-tee) (spesh-ee-al-it-tee)

tidbit titbit

7. Miscellaneous.
Important spelling differences not US GB
already noted are listed below.
ketchup, catsup ketchup
US GB license, licence license (v.)
license, licence licence (n.)
airplane aeroplane licorice liquorice
analyze analyse matinee, matinee matinee
artifact artefact mold, mould mould (rot)
ass arse molt, moult moult
ax, axe axe mustache, moustache moustache
balk baulk naive, naive naive, naive
bisulfate bisulphate naught, nought nought
caliper calliper night, nite night
catalog, catalogue catalogue offense, offence offence
catalyze catalyse pajamas pyjamas
chili, chile, chilli chilli, chili panelist panellist
connection connection, paralyze paralyse
connexion peddler, pedlar pedlar
cozy, cosy cosy persnickety pernickety
crayfish, crawfish crayfish pickaninny, picaninny picaninny
curb plow plough
(at edge of road) kerb practice, practise practice (n.)
czar, tsar, tzar tzar, czar practice, practise practise (v.)
defense defence pretense, pretence pretence
dependent, program, programme programme (v.)
dependant (n.) dependant (n.)
program programme (n.)
dialogue, dialog dialogue (except in com-
dialyze dialyse puting, where
disk disc (except in 'program' is
Computing, also used)
where 'disk' is reflection reflection,
also employed) reflexion
disulfide disulphide scalawag scallywag
doughnut, donut doughnut skeptic sceptic
draft draught (air skeptical sceptical
current, liquids) smolder, smoulder smoulder
draftsman draughtsman, snowplow snowplough
draftsman sulfate sulphate
font fount, font sulfur sulphur
furor furore through, thru through
gray, grey grey tire (on a vehicle) tyre
jeweler, jeweller jeweller tonight, tonite tonight
jewelry jewellery vise vice (tool)
judgment, judgement judgement whiskey, whisky whisky (as a
karat carat generic name)


The first point to settle in any discussion Scotland and Wales) and 26 in the
of pronunciation differences is: which United States. This being so, it is
pronunciations are we talking about? obvious that the distinctions described
Although a dialect is defined in terms of below are by no means absolute. They
grammar and vocabulary while accent is apply mainly to those abstract notions,
a matter of pronunciation, different Standard American English or GA
regional accents generally coincide with (General American) and Standard British
dialect regions. It is therefore worth English or RP (Received Pronunciation).
bearing in mind that phonologists have
identified 16 modern dialect regions in
England alone (with others in Ireland,

1. Pronunciation of 'r'

One of the most noticeable differences American r, on the other hand, is

between English and American pronounced before vowels and
pronunciation is the treatment of the r. consonants and also at the end of
In RP, this sound has disappeared words: air, are, arm, hear, beer, more,
except before vowels. It is not heard care, deer, fear, hair, or, peer, pure,
when it occurs before another wear, work, etc. In phonetics, this
consonant or at the end of a word phenomenon -the pronunciation of
unless the next word begins with a postvocalic rs- is known as rhoticity.
vowel, as in Clear away those papers. Apart from the south-west and some
In the US, eastern New England, New northern areas, England is non-rhotic,
York City and most of the South follow while Scotland and Ireland are rhotic.
the English practice (Americans joke The first pilgrims to arrive in America in
about New Englanders who pahk the 1620 were mainly from the Midlands and
cah in the yahd or New Yorkers who East Anglia. Presumably, the non-rhotic
feed de holds in de pahk), but speech in the New England area today
elsewhere in the States the r is ultimately derives from them. If this is so,
pronounced in all positions. In RP, lord later colonists from the West Country,
has the same sound as laud, while in Scotland and Ireland are responsible for
words like car or there the r is not the rhotic speech heard in most of the US
sounded at all but replaced by today.
indeterminate vowels at the end. The

2. Pronunciation of 'a'. 3. Pronunciation of 'o'.
Another major difference is in the The pronunciation of the o in such
pronunciation of the vowel sound in words as not, lot, hot, top, dog, hod,pot
such words as laugh, fast,path,grass, is also noticeably different. In England,
dance, branch, demand, can't, half. this is still an open o pronounced with
Short in US speech, in British speech it the lips rounded and the tongue at the
is long and firm: Returning from the back of the mouth. In America, however,
daaanse claaase, she ran a baaath. except in parts of New England, it has
Near the end of the 18th century, commonly lost its rounding and in most
southern England began to change from words has become a sound very similar
what is called a flat a to a broad a in in quality to the a in father, only
these words, i.e. from a sound like the shorter. This illustrates a general
a in man to one like the a in father. tendency in American speech towards
The change affected words in which the the neutralisation of vowel sounds. Non-
vowel occurred before f,sk, sp, st, ss, th, essentials are dropped so that words
and n followed by certain consonants. In like don and dawn are pronounced
parts of New England the same change identically. In England vowels tend to
took place, but in most other parts of retain their sharpness.
the country the old sound was
preserved, and fast,path, etc., are
pronounced with the vowel of man.
This, the flat a, must now be regarded
as the typical American pronunciation.
Although highly distinctive, however, the
difference between the broad a and the
flat a probably affects fewer than 250
words in common use.

4. Pronunciation of 'u'. 5. Pronunciation of 't'.
The u in words like mule, mute, mutual, In British English t is usually pronounced
cube, butane, Houston is pronounced quite clearly but in many instances of
identically on both sides of the Atlantic, American speech, when it is not the
i.e. with an imaginary y inserted before initial consonant in a word, it may
it: myool, myoot, myoo-tyoo-al, etc. In either be pronounced like a d or it may
the US, however, such words are disappear entirely. When the t occurs
exceptions; the usual pronunciation is between two vowel sounds, it is often
without the y sound. Thus, new, nude, pronounced as d: bitter, latter, shutter,
water, waiting, writing, etc. In Britain,
tune, student, duke, Tuesday' are
on the other hand, the pronunciation of
pronounced noo, nood, toon, stoodent,
such pairs as bitter/bidder, latter/ladder,
dook, toosday. In England, these words
shutter/shudder, waiter/wader, writing/
are all pronounced with the y sound,
riding I eaves no room for ambiguity,
and this is generally the case.
even when the context is unknown. The
Exceptions exist, of course, such as t in American speech tends to
assume, suit, lute, which are usually disappear after nasal sounds like m, n,
pronounced assoom, soot, loot. It may and ng. Thus, words like dentist,
be noted, however, that English stage twenty, understand, intercontinental
actors are still trained to say assyoom, become dennist, twenny, unnerstann,
syoot, lyoot. innerconninennal. The only comparable
phenomenon in Britain, in well-defined
areas like Cockney London, Glasgow in
Scotland, or Ballymena in Northern
Ireland, is the use of the glottal stop to
replace the t in words like butter,
matter, water, and so on.

6. Pronunciation of particular words.
Other differences in WORD US GB
pronunciation are less
important, since they concern address ah-dress a-dress
only individual words or small
advertisement ad-ver-tize-ment ad-vert-tis-ment
groups of words. For example,
in Britain been has the same agile a-jil a-jile
sound as bean, but in America alternate (adj.) ault-er-n't aul-tern-et
it is like bin. In Britain, the last apricot a-pri-cot ay-pri-cot
syllable of words like fertile, aristocrat a-ris-to-crat ar-is-to-crat
sterile and missile rhymes
asphalt as-fault as-felt
with aisle. In the US, the
vowel is much shorter, or a ate ate et
mere vocalic I - fert-il, ster-il, ballet bal-ay bal-ay
miss-il or miss'l. Americans do bitumen bi-too-men bich-er-men
not suppress the final t of buoy boo-ee boy
trait, as Britons do, or
Byzantine biz-an-teen bi-zan-tine
pronounce an f in lieutenant.
The following table shows Caribbean k'-rib-ean kari-bee-an
examples of such minor charade sha-raid sha-rahd
differences, but it should be chassis oha-see sha-see
borne in mind that relatively chimpanzee chim-pan-zee chimp-'n-zee
few words are pronounced so
cigarette sig-a-ret sig-a-ret
differently as to cause any but
the most fugitive confusion. clerk klerk klark
Nor are these examples composite k'm-pos-it kom-p'-zit
restrictive: in the US leisure is cordial cor-jil oor-dee-al
pronounced both with a long cremate cree-mate cr'-mate
vowel (leezhure] and to rhyme
croquet cro-kay cro-kay
with pleasure (lezhure], but
debris d'-bree deb-ree
the former is more common.
detail dee-tail dee-tail
dislocate dis-lo-cate dis-lo-cate
dynasty die-nas-tee din-as-tee
figure fig-yer fig-ger
frustrate frus-trate frus-trate
garage ga-rahzh gar-ij

inquiry in-kwi-ree in-kwir-ee

interesting in-ter-est-ing in-trest-ing

jaguar jag-wah jag-u-ahr
laboratory lab-ra-tor-ee la-bor'-tree


lever lev-er lee-ver

lieutenant loo-ten-ant lef-ten-ant
literally lit-er-al-ee lit-ral-ee
marquis mar-kee mar-kwis
migraine my-grain mee-grane
omega o-may-g' o-m'-g'
perfume per-fume per-fume
premature pree-m'-toor pre-m'-tyoor
premier pr'-meer prem-e

privacy pry-va-see priv-a-see

process praw-cess pro-cess
produce (n.) pro-doos praw-dyoos

progress (v.) pro-gres* praw-gress

recluse rec-loos re-cloos

renaissance ren-a-sens re-nay-sens
route rout root
schedule sked-ule shed-ule
semi- sem-eye sem-ee

status stat-us state- US

strychnine strik-nine strik-neen

tomato tom-ay-doe tom-ah-toe
trait trayt tray
trauma trah-ma trau-ma
vase vayz vahz
vitamin vy-ta-min vit-a-min
Z zee zed

7. Stress and articulation.
It will be noticed that in several of the As we see from this last example, the
examples given above, the difference in suppression of syllables in British English
pronunciation is chiefly one of stress. In has been accompanied by a difference
words like address, ballet, cigarette, at times in the position of the chief
detail .garage, perfume, Americans and stress. Speech, of course is much more
Britons stress different syllables. These than the quality of the sounds: there is
differences stand out in conversation also pitch, tempo, intonation. Generally,
but they are of minor importance from Americans speak more slowly and with
the point of view of understanding. They less variety of intonation, and this again
are relatively few in number and in may be partly attributed to their
context they are always easily disposition to articulate each syllable of
comprehensible. A more remarkable a word. The Victorian novelist, Captain
difference is the greater clarity with Marryat, observed that: The Americans
which American pronounce unaccented dwell upon their words when they speak
syllables. George Bernard Shaw said he - a custom arising, I presume, from their
once recognized an American because cautious, calculating habits; and they
he accented the third syllable of have always more or less of a nasal
necessary, and the tendency of twang.'
Americans to keep a secondary stress
on one of the unaccented syllables of a
long word is a consequence of their
effort to pronounce all the syllables. This
distinctive pattern of American speech,
the due emphasis given to each syllable
of a word, can, in part, be attributed to
the influence of Noah Webster's spelling
bees (see the introduction). Webster
quoted Sheridan with approval: 'A good
articulation consists in giving every letter
in a syllable its due proportion of sound
... and in making such a distinction
between syllables, of which a word is
composed, that the ear shall without
difficulty acknowledge their number.'
Words ending in -ary, -iry and -ory tend
to be longer in American English than in
British. Thus, the American has sek-ret-
air-y instead of the British sek-re-t'ryr
ne-cess-0/r-y'mstead of ne-cess- 'ry,
\ab-ra-tor-ee instead of la-bor'-tree.


Grammar and Usage

In grammar and syntax, American and

British English are remarkably similar.
Examples of the main differences are
listed below. The influence of American
English on British English, however, is
constantly growing - through films,
television, pop music, the internet, and
so on - so that even such contrasts as
these are likely, if not to disappear, at
least to diminish in importance. It should
be noted that, in many of the following
cases, two different forms are possible
in one variety of English, while only one
of the forms is normal in the other

1. Irregular verbs.
A number of verbs can be either regular US GB
or irregular in the Past Simple. However,
in the US and in GB the forms most burned, burnt burnt, burned
commonly used are not the same.
dived, dove dived
Where two forms are given in the
dreamed, dreamt dreamt, dreamed
following list, the first is the more
commonly employed. It will be seen that knelt, kneeled knelt
in American English, the regular form is leaned leaned, leant
usually preferred, and in British English leaped, leapt leaped, leapt
the irregular.
learned learned, learnt
smelled, smelt smelt, smelled
spelled spelt, spelled
spilled, spilt spilt, spilled
spoiled, spoilt spoilt, spoiled
woke, waked woke

The verbs fit, guit and US GB

regular in British English, but
irregular in American. In the case
fit -fit -fit fit -fitted -fitted
of quit and wet, however,
quit -quit -quit quit - quitted - quitted
American usage is now well on
its way to replacing British in GB. wet - wet - wet wet - wetted - wetted

In American English, the past participle

oiffet\s either gotten or got, except in
the structure have got, used as an
alternative to have, which is the same
as in British English.


His tennis has gotten (or got) much better. His tennis has got much better.
I've gotten to know him over the years. I've got to know him over the years.
I've got a terrible headache. I've got a terrible headache.

2. Use of Past Simple
and Present Perfect tenses,
In American English these two tenses
are often interchangeable in conditions
where only the present perfect can be
used in British English. For instance,
when an action in the past has a result
now (as in the first example below), the
present perfect is normally employed.
Other typical cases are with words like
just, already, and yet, and with ever
and never when referring to a period of
time that continues until now.


I've lost my keys. Have you seen them? I've lost my keys. Have you
or 1 lost my keys. Did you see them? seen them?

John isn't here. He's gone to the bank. John isn't here. He's gone to
or John isn't here. He went to the bank. the bank.

I'm not hungry. I've just had breakfast. I'm not hungry. I've just had
or I'm not hungry. l just had breakfast. breakfast.

You can't speak to him. He's already left. You can't speak to him.
or You can't speak to him. He already left. He's already left.

Have you finished that letter yet? Have you finished that letter
or Did you finish that letter yet? yet?

Have you ever read Macbeth?. Have you ever read Macbeth?
or Did you ever read Macbetffl.

I've never seen this man before in my life. I've never seen this man
or | never saw this man before in my life. before in my life.

3. Auxiliary and modal verbs.
In British English, shall'and its US GB
contracted negative shan't can be
substituted for will, indicating the We will probably goto We will (or shall)
future, when used with the pronouns / Florida. probably go to Florida.
and we. In American Englishshallis l won't be here tomorrow. 1 won't (or shan't) be here
unusual. Where shall is used in GB to tomorrow.
ask for advice, should'^ employed in
Which bus should l take? Which bus should (or
the US. shall) l take?

In both varieties of English, it is US GB

possible to use can and could'with
verbs of perception, i.e. see, hear, l saw Alan coming up l could see Alan coming
feel, smell, and taste, but this the hill. up the hill.
practice is much more common in
l smell something l can smell something
British English. burning. burning.

In British English needn't is often US GB

substituted for don't need to, but in
America needn't is unusual. We have plenty of time, We have plenty of time,
we don't need to hurry. we don't need to hurry
(or we needn't hurry).

In subjunctive constructions, for US GB

example after verbs like suggest,
recommend, demand, insist, etc., What do you suggest l What do you suggest l
do? (should) do?
should is often used in British
l recommended that he l recommended that he
English. In American English this is
be fired. (should) be fired.
It's vital that he be It's vital that he (should)
informed. be informed.

In British English, US GB
but not American,
do can be used Will you go to the party? Will you go to the party?
alone as a I may. I haven't decided yet. I may (or\ may do). I haven't
substitute verb decided yet.
after an auxiliary He didn't pass the test, but he He didn't pass the test, but he
verb. In such cases, could have if he had studied a little could have (or he could have
the auxiliary verb is harder. done) if he had studied a little
stressed. harder.

4. Expressions with 'have' and 'take'.
In a small number of expressions,
British English prefers have to US
take. All l want is to take (or All l want is to have a
have) a shower and go shower and go to bed.
to bed.

Why don't you take a Why don't you have a

bath now and then? bath now and then?

5. Position of adverbs.
Certain adverbs, known as mid- US
position adverbs (e.g sometimes,
always, never, often, definitely,
certainly], are usually placed after She probably has arrived She has probably arrived
auxiliary verbs and before other by now. (normal) by now. (normal)
verb s: He has certainly done it. She probably has arrived
However, when we wish to by now. (emphatic)
emphasize the auxiliary verb, we
It probably will lead to a It will probably lead to a
put most mid-position adverbs
vote, (normal) vote, (normal)
before it instead of after: He
certainly has done it. In British
English this second construction is
always emphatic. In American
English, however, the adverb is
frequently placed before the
auxiliary, even when there is no
intent to emphasize.

6. Use of 'real' as an intensifier.

In informal American English, real US GB
is often used before adjectives
and adverbs where British English
That was a real nice That was a really nice
insists on really. meal. meal.

He drives real fast. He drives really fast.

7. Collective nouns.
In British English, collective US GB
nouns like government,
staff, committee, company,
The government intends to The government intends (or
firm, audience, family, cut taxes. intend) to cut taxes.
team, etc., can take either
a singular or a plural verb. In The committee hasn't made a The committee hasn't (or
decision yet. haven't) made a decision yet.
American English such
nouns usually take a Italy is scheduled to play Italy is (or are) scheduled to
singular verb. The same is Brazil in the opening match. play Brazil in the opening
true of certain proper
nouns, for example the Air France has announced Air France have (or has)
additional flights. announced additional flights.
names of countries or

8. Prepositions.
The use of prepositions
occasionally varies,
especially in adverbial It's twenty of twelve, I've It's twenty to twelve, I've
expressions. When a got to go. got to go.
preposition is used in They arrived at ten after They arrived at ten past
two. two.
one variety of English
What time is it? It's half What time is it? It's half (-)
but not in the other, this
past nine. nine.
is signified by (-). Here
His was different from (or His was different from
are some well-known than) mine. (or-to) mine.
examples: I'd like for you to go now. I'd like (-)you to go now.
How many people were in How many people were on
the course? the course?
What do you do on the What do you do at the
weekend (or on weekends)? weekend (or at weekends)?
She lives on the same She lives in the same
street. street.
I'll write (-) you as soon as I'll write to you as soon as l
l get back. get back.
They met with the They met (-) the directors to
directors to discuss it. discuss it.
The boss wants to talk The boss wants to talk
with you. to you.
My aunt came over to My aunt came round
see us. to see us.
He parked in back of He parked behind the
the restaurant. restaurant.
You'll have to do it over. You'll have to do it again.

9. Use of 'one'.
The pronoun one, used
to talk about people in
general, including the
One cannot prosper unless he One cannot prosper unless
speaker and the works. one works.
listener, is much less
One should always be kind to One should always be kind
used in the US than in
his mother. to one's mother.
GB. When it is used in
American English,
however, he, him and
his are generally used
later in a sentence to
refer back to it, where
British English would
continue to use one or
the possessive one's.

10. Other usages.
Most of the differences we have
mentioned are small and easily
understandable in context, even if they
sound amusing or quaint, as shan't and
ought do in the US, or as gotten and in
back of do in GB. Many usages, it is
true, occur in only one variety of the
language and are not generally
understood in the other. To visit with,
for example, is used in the US meaning
to visit, but it has the additional
meaning of being with another person
virtually, so that it is possible to visit
with someone by phone. This usage is
unknown in Britain. (Many similar
examples are discussed in the dictionary
section of this book.) But the usages
that give American and British English
their peculiar characters belong to the
first category. Only an American would
say 'I sure could use a drink' or 'I need
to use the bathroom'. A Briton would
find some equivalent but subtly different
linguistic formula, such as 'l'm dying of
thirst' or 'I have to go to the loo'. If, as
Shaw said, Britain and America are
'divided by a common language',
perhaps the main element of division lies
precisely in such subtle distinctions as


A to Zed: a GB / US lexis


and aggression, it signifies aggressive

A behaviour, rough stuff, especially by street
gangs. It has also acquired the more
A.N. OTHER, n - an unnamed person. Used in generalised meaning of irritation and ex-
team lists, etc. to indicate that a place re- asperation. I don't need the aggro. Postpon-
mains to be filled. ing new hospitals and roads causes far less
A SHARES, p/ n - ordinary shares in a com- aggro than firing superfluous municipal
pany which carry restricted voting rights. workers.
A-LEVEL, n - an exam generally taken at age AIR MARSHAL, n - a senior RAF officer, equiva-
18 in three subjects. It is the advanced level lent in rank to a general.
of the General Certificate of Education, AIRCRAFTMAN, n - the most junior rank in the
needed for university entrance. What were RAF, equivalent to airman.
your A-level subjects? He failed A-level AIRER, n - a collapsible apparatus for drying
German. An A/S-LEVEL is similar, but with a clothes outside.
smaller course content than an A-level. AIRING CUPBOARD, n - a warm closet, usually
ABATTOIR, n - a slaughterhouse, packing- built around a hot water tank, where clothes
house. that have been washed and partly dried can
ACCOMMODATION, n - in the sense of lodgings, be dried completely.
always singular in GB usage. AIRY-FAIRY, adj (col) - fanciful, unrealistic,
ACCUMULATOR, n - 1. an automobile storage head-in-the-clouds. I'm sick of your airy-
battery. 2. in horse racing, a collective bet fairy schemes to make money - just go out
or parlay, in which the winnings on each and find an honest job.
successive race are carried forward to be- ALDERMAN, n - until 1974, when the post was
come the stake on the next. abolished, one of the senior members of a
ACE, adj (col) - first-class, excellent. She had local council, elected by other councillors.
a real gift for political organization and was ALL, adv (col) - especially in the expression
an ace campaign manager. AND ALL added to the end of a statement
ADAM'S ALE, n (col) - water. and meaning: as well, too. And you can
ADMIRALTY BOARD, n - a department of the Brit- wipe that silly grin off your face and all. All
ish Ministry of Defence, responsible for the also combines with some other words to
administration of the Royal Navy. The add emphasis, e.g. damn all, bugger all,
equivalent of the Navy Department in the sod all, fuck all, all meaning 'absolutely
US. nothing'.
ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND, n - a children's play- ALL IN, adj - 1. (col) completely exhausted,
ground containing building materials, tired out. 2. all-inclusive, i.e. with any other
slides, climbing structures, etc. Often found costs or service charges included in the
in city parks. price: The flat is 400 a month all in.
ADVERT, n (col) - short for advertisement, like ALLOTMENT, n - a small plot of land rented by
ad. an individual, usually a city-dweller, for
ADVISER, n - a subject specialist who advises growing vegetables and flowers. We start
school principals on current teaching meth- digging our allotment in early spring.
ods and facilities. Similarly, an ADVISORY ALSATIAN, n - a German shepherd dog.
TEACHER is one who visits schools to advise AMBER, n - an amber traffic light used as a
teachers on curriculum developments warning between green and red. An AMBER
within a particular subject area. GAMBLER is a driver who races through the
AERIAL, n - antenna. lights when they are at amber.
AFTERS, n (col) - dessert. What's for afters? AMUSEMENT ARCADE, n - a Covered area With
AGGRO, n (col) - Short for both aggravation coin-operated game machines.


ANAESTHETIST, n - an anesthesiologist. letics team. An ATHLETE is a competitor in

ANCIENT MONUMENT, n - a historical building or track and field events.
the remains of one, usually dating from the ATTACHE, n - a junior member of the staff of
medieval period or before, that has been an embassy or legation.
designated as worthy of preservation and ATTAINMENT TARGET or (abbr) AT, n - a general
is often in the care of a government de- defined level of ability that a student is ex-
partment. pected to achieve in every subject at each
ANGELS-ON-HORSEBACK, n - a dish Of Oysters key stage of the NATIONAL CURRICULUM.
wrapped in slices of bacon and served on AUBERGINE, n - an eggplant.
toast. AUNT SALLY, n - in carnivals, the figure of an
ANKLE SOCKS, pi n - anklets. old woman's head, usually with a clay pipe,
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Or (abbr) AGM, H - which people throw balls or wet sponges
the statutory meeting of the directors and at. Figuratively, it refers to anybody who is
shareholders of a company or of the mem- a target for insults or criticism, or to any-
bers of a society, held once every fiscal thing which is set up as a target for dis-
year, at which the annual report is pre- agreement or attack with the object of pro-
sented. ducing constructive thought, new ideas,
ANORAK, n - a parka. The word is Eskimo. etc.
ANTICLOCKWISE, adj & adv - counterclockwise. AUNTIE, n (col) - an informal name for the
AREN'T, v - in interrogative sentences and BBC, also known as the Beeb.
question tags, the usual contraction of 'am AUTOCUE, n - a teleprompter. Both words are
not'. Why can't I decide? I'm the manager trademarks.
of this firm, aren't I? AXE, n & v - ax. As a verb, it means the se-
ARGY-BARGY, n (col) - a wrangling argument vere cutting down of expenditure, espe-
or a lot of fuss about something. Why did cially the removal of unprofitable sections
she leave? She just couldn't stand all the of a public service.
argy-bargy at home. AYE AYE, interj- an expression of amused sur-
ARMY LIST, n - an official list of all serving prise at encountering something that con-
commissioned officers of the army and re- firms one's suspicions, expectations, etc.
serve officers liable for recall. Aye aye, what are those two up to, then?
ARROWS, n (col) - darts. How about a game of
ARSE, n (col) - ass, fanny. To ARSE ABOUT is to
play the fool or act stupidly. An ARSE LICKER
is a brown-nose.
ARTICLED CLERK, n - a person who is being
trained as a lawyer while working in a legal
office. BABY-WALKER, n - a go-cart.
ARTICULATED LORRY, n - a trailer truck. BACK PASSAGE, n - the rectum.
ASSENTOR, n - one of the eight voters legally BACK SHIFT, n - the second shift of the work-
required to endorse the nomination of a ing day.
candidate in a parliamentary or local elec- BACK-TO-BACK, n - a small house, part of a row
tion in addition to the nominator and the of such houses, built so that their backs are
seconder. joined to another row or separated from it
ASSESSOR, n - an insurance claims adjuster. only by a narrow alley. Usually built in the
ASSURANCE, n - life insurance. Similarly, the 19th century in industrial and mining towns.
verb ASSURE: to insure against loss of life. BACKBENCHER, n - a rank-and-file Member of
ATHLETICS, pi n - track and field, as in an ath- Parliament. In the House of Commons, gov-



ernment ministers and the opposition's BALLOON, n - in various sports, a kick or stroke
shadow cabinet sit facing each other on the that propels 3 ball high into the air. Used
front benches, with ordinary MPs ranked as a modifier: a balloon shot.
on the benches behind. BALLS-UP, n (col) - something botched or
BACKHANDER, n (col) -La bribe. 2. a seem- fouled up.
ingly complimentary comment which is in BALLY, n (col, old) - a euphemistic word for
fact an insult or criticism, also called a BACK- bloody. I've just about had enough of your
HANDED COMPLIMENT. bally nonsense.
BACKLOG, n - an undesirable accumulation of BANBURY CAKE, n - a pie consisting of 3 pastry
something which has to be dealt with , e.g. shell filled with currants, raisins and can-
uncompleted work or unsold stock. A back- died peel, with a criss-cross pattern on the
log of cases to be heard. The backlog of top.
demand for housing. BANG, v- to cause stock prices to fall by rapid
BACKWOODSMAN, n (col) - a peer who rarely selling. Alternatively, to sell stocks rapidly,
attends the House of Lords. thereby causing prices to fall.
BACON, n - in the expression SAVE ONE'S BA- BANG ON, adj & adv (col) - with absolute ac-
CON: to escape from a dangerous situstion, curacy. Bang on cue they arrived.
to save one's skin. BANGER, n (col) - 1 . 3 sausage. 2. a noisy old
BAD PATCH, n - especially in the expression car, 3 clunker. 3. a firecracker that explodes
GO THROUGH A BAD PATCH: tO have a rough with a sudden bang.
time. He went through a bad patch after his BANK HOLIDAY, n - 3 legal holiday when banks
wife died. are obliged to remain closed.
BAG, v (col) - to reserve the right to have or BAP, n - a \arge soft bread roll, like a ham-
do something. He bagged the best seat, as burger roll.
usual. BAR BILLIARDS, n - in pubs, 3 table game in
BAGMAN, n (col) - a traveling salesmsn. which short cues are used to pocket balls
BAGS, n (col) - 1. lots, piles. We've got bags into holes guarded by wooden pegs
of things to do before we leave. There's BARGEPOLE, n (col) - the ten-foot-pole you
bags of room. He has bags of money. 2. wouldn't touch something with. This whole
trousers. business stinks of fraud -1 wouldn't touch
BAIRN, n - a child. Scottish and northern En- it with a bargepole.
glish. BARLEY WINE, n - an exceptionally strong beer.
BALACLAVA, n - a warm woolen headgear BARMAN, n - a bartender. If a woman, a BAR-
which 3lmost completely covers the head MAID.
and neck, originally worn by soldiers in the BARMY, adj (col) - mad, eccentric, daft. She's
Crimean War but now by mountain climb- extremely rich and completely barmy.
ers, skiers, bankrobbers, terrorists, BARNEY, n (col) - a noisy argument, a row.
antiterrorists, etc. BARONET, n - a commoner who holds the low-
BALLOCKS or BOLLOCKS, pi n (col) -1. testicles. est hereditary title of nobility, ranking be-
2. a muddle, a foul-up. It was an easy low a baron. He styles himself 'Sir Joe Blow,
enough job but he managed to make a bart' to distinguish himself from a knight.
bollocks of it. 3. 3 disparaging term for an- BARRACK, v (col) - to jeer at, criticize loudly or
other person. You clumsy bollocks, look shout against a speaker, a p\ayer, a team,
what you've done. The word can also be etc.
used as an exclamation of annoyance, dis- BARRISTER Or BARRISTER-AT-LAW, n - a lawyer
belief, etc. Oh bollocks, I've missed my who is qualified to plead cases in court,
train. As a verb, it means to botch or bungle. also known as a QUEEN'S COUNSEL. Prepa-
From Old English beallucas. ratory work, called a BRIEF, is done by a



SOLICITOR. bedroom, often with rudimentary cooking

BARROW, n - a handcart, usually with two and washing facilities. Also called BEDSITTING
wheels and a canvas roof, used especially ROOM.
by street vendors. A BARROW BOY is a man BEEB, THE, n (col) - an informal name for the
who sells his wares from such a cart.. BBC.
BASE RATE, n - 1. the rate of interest used by BEEFEATER, n - a yeoman warder of the Tower
individual commercial banks as a basis for of London, dressed in 15th-century uniform
their lending rates. 2. the rate at which the for the delight of tourists and children. Origi-
Bank of England lends to the discount nally the term was pejorative, referring to a
houses, which effectively controls the in- well-fed servant.
terest rates charged throughout the bank- BEERMAT, n - a coaster, usually with a
ing system. brewery's logo printed on it.
BASH, n (col) - in the expression HAVE A BASH: BEETROOT, A) - beet, red beets.
to make an attempt, have a try. She decided BELISHA BEACON, n - a flashing light in an or-
to have a bash at swimming the Channel. ange ball mounted on a pole, marking a
BASH UP, v (col) - to beat up, to thrash. PEDESTRIAN CROSSING point.
BATH, v- to have a bath. BELL, n (col) - a telephone ca\\, especially in
BATH BUN, n - a sweetish cake containing the phrase GIVE SOMEONE A BELL. Why don't
spices and dried fruit. you give him a bell and ask him?
BATH CHAIR, n - a hooded wheelchair for in- BELT UP, v (col) - to shut up, stop talking. Of-
valids. ten used in the imperative.
BATH CUBES, pi n - bath salts in cube form. BEND, n (col) - in the expression ROUND THE
BATHE, v- to go swimming, but not to have a BEND: crazy. That job was driving me round
bath. the bend. I'd have gone round the bend if
BATSMAN, n - the batter in cricket. I'd stayed there any longer.
BATTEN, n - a narrow strip of wood used espe- BENEFIT, n - an allowance paid by the gov-
cially for flooring. To BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES ernment to a person who is sick or unem-
is to use battens in nailing a tarpaulin over a ployed under the national insurance
hatch on a ship to make it secure. scheme.
BATTERY, n - a large group of cages for rear- BENT, adj (col) -1. corrupt, venal. A bent cop-
ing poultry intensively. As a modifier: bat- per. 2. homosexual.
tery hens. BERK, n (col) - a stupid or irritating person.
BB, adj- the symbol, printed on pencils, for Lewis was an uncouth berk, whose attitude
double black, denoting a very soft lead. to what he called her 'little bits of writing'
BEAK, n (col) - a judge, magistrate or school- was arrogant and absurd.
teacher. BESPOKE, adj- of a suit, jacket, etc., made to
BEANFEAST, n (col) - specifically an annual din- the customer's specifications, custom-tai-
ner given by employers to employees, but lored. At Favourbrook it costs the same to
the word can be used of any festive occa- have a bespoke waistcoat made as it does
sion. to buy one off-the-peg. A BESPOKE TAILOR is
BEARING REIN, n - a checkrein in horse-riding. one who makes or sells such items.
BEARSKIN, n - a tall helmet of black fur worn BIERKELLER, n- a pub decorated in German
by certain regiments in the British Army. style and selling German beers.
BED AND BREAKFAST or (abbr) B&B, n - over- BIFFIN, n - a variety of red cooking apple.
night accommodation and breakfast in a BIG DIPPER, n - another name for a roller
boarding house or hotel. coaster.
BEDSITTER or BEDSIT, n - one-room accommo- BIKE, n (col) - in the imperative expression
dation, a combination of living room and ON YOUR BIKE: get out of here.



BILL, n - the check in a restaurant or bar, as of a union, especially by refusing to join a

well as the bill in a store. The word 'check' strike.
is not used in this sense in Britain. BLAG, n (col) - an armed robbery, perpetrated
BILLINGSGATE, n - obscene or abusive lan- by a BLAGGER. 'You go pulling blags with
guage. Billingsgate was, until 1982, the site other villains, you wind up being grassed,
of London's largest fish market, where foul know what I mean?' (G.F. Newman)
language was proverbial. BLANCMANGE, n - a jello-like dessert, stiffened
BIN, n - a storage place for bottled wine. usually with cornstarch and set in a mould.
BIND, n (col) - a troublesome or annoying situ- Pronounced bla-monge.
ation, a drag. It's such a bind having to cook BLEEDING, adj & adv (col) - see BLOODY.
your own meals. BLIGHTER, n (col) - a fellow, usually deroga-
BINT, n (col) - a derogatory term for a girl or torily. Let's make these blighters pay for
woman. what they've done.
BIRD, n (col) - 1. a girl or young woman. Cf. BLIGHTY, n (col) - England, home. A World War
US chick. 2. prison time. Just settle down I term, still used by troops serving abroad.
and do your bird - you'll find the time A BLIGHTY ONE was a slight wound, suffi-
passes quickly enough. ciently serious for the recipient to be sent
BIRO, n - a kind of ballpoint pen. A trademark home to England.
that has become generic. Pronounced by- BLIMEY, interj (col) - an exclamation of sur-
row. prise or annoyance. Short for Cockney
BISCUIT, n -1. a cookie. 2. a thin, crisp, cracker. GORBLIMEY: God blind me.
Colloquially, to TAKE THE BISCUIT is to be re- BLIMP, n - a pompous, reactionary, jingoistic
garded (by the speaker) as the most sur- person. From a cartoon character called
prising thing that could have occurred. But Colonel Blimp. The adjective is BLIMPISH.
the biscuit was taken by several clergymen BLIND, v (col) - to swear, especially in the ex-
who gave evidence. pression EFFING AND BLINDING. He stormed in
BIT, n (col) - the word combines with many here effing and blinding, accusing us of
others to denote a sexually attractive having betrayed him.
woman, e.g. a bit of all right, a bit of crum- BLINKERS, pi n - blinders on a horse.
pet, a bit of skirt, a bit of stuff, a bit of tail, a BLINKING, adj (COl) - See BLOOMING.
bit of fluff, etc. BLOCK OF FLATS, n - an apartment house. Un-
BITTER, n - draught beer with a slightly bitter like US cities, British cities are never laid
taste. The most popular kind of beer in Brit- out in a grid, so the word block is never
ain. used in the US sense of a city block.
BLACK, v- to organize a boycott of specified BLOCK RELEASE, n - the release of industrial
goods, jobs, work, etc. as part of a labor trainees from work to study at a college for
union action, especially in support of strike several weeks.
action elsewhere. BLOCK VOTE, n - the system whereby the vote
BLACK HOLE OF CALCUTTA, n (col) - any of each delegate at a conference (espe-
cramped, overcrowded place. Named after cially of trade unionists) has a value in pro-
a small dungeon in which in 1756 the portion to the number of people he repre-
Nawab of Bengal confined 146 English pris- sents.
oners, of whom only 23 survived. BLOKE, n (col) - a man, a guy.
BLACKCAP, n - formerly, the cap worn by a BLOODY, adj & adv (col) - an all-purpose in-
judge when passing the death sentence. tensifier with no specific meaning. Some-
BLACKLEG, n - a scab in a labor dispute. It can times, but not always, it adds a note of irri-
be used as a modifier: blackleg labor. As a tation: Bloody train's never on time. What a
verb, it means to act against the interests bloody fool you've been. I've been up all



bloody night. That was a bloody wonderful litically radical or left-wing. Shortened from
meal. A variant is BLEEDING. Bolshevik.
BLOODY-MINDED, adj - deliberately obstructive BOLT HOLE, n - a hiding place, a place of es-
and unhelpful. The noun is BLOODY- cape from danger.
MINDEDNESS. This isn't inefficiency, it's sheer BOMB, n - 1. a great success, especially in
blood-mindedness. the expressions GO DOWN A BOMB and GO LIKE
BLOOMER, n (col) - stupid mistake, a blunder. A BOMB. The play went down a bomb. 2. a
BLOOMING, adv& adj (col) - an intensifier like lot of money. Speculators made a bomb. It
BLOODY, but milder. Interchangeable with cost me a bomb.
BLINKING, FLIPPING and FLAMING. All are clearly BOMBARDIER, n- a noncommissioned rank be-
euphemistic. He's a blooming genius. It was low the rank of sergeant in the Royal Artil-
blooming painful. She's a blinking nuisance. lery.
BLOW, n (col) - cannabis. BONCE, n (col) - the head.
BLOWER, n (col) - a telephone. BONK, n (col) - 1. to hit. 2. to have sex with
BLUE, n - a sportsman who represents Ox- someone.
ford or Cambridge University and has the BONKERS, adj (col) - mad, crazy. You must be
right to wear the university color. An Ox- flaming bonkers!
ford blue. BONNET, n - the hood of an automobile.
BLUEBOTTLE, n (col, old) - a policeman. BOOB, n (col) - an embarrassing mistake, a
BLUES, THE, pi n - the Royal Horse Guards. blunder. Inviting her mother was a bit of a
BOARDER, n - a pupil who lives at at a board- boob, wasn't it?
ing school except during vacations. Cf. BOOK IN, v- to record something in a register,
DAYBOY. especially one's arrival at a hotel.
BOAT RACE, THE, n - the annual race, held in BOOKER PRIZE, n - the best-known British lit-
the spring on the River Thames, between erary prize, awarded annually for a novel
the Oxford and Cambridge University row- written by a British, Commonwealth or Irish
ing crews. Inexplicably part of the national author.
calendar. BOOKING, n - a reservation, e.g. of a table in a
BOB, n (col) - formerly, a shilling. Still used in restaurant, a room in a hotel, a seat in a
expressions like A BOB OR TWO and A FEW theater, a seat on a train. Used as a modi-
BOB, meaning a lot of money. A car like that fier: the booking office at the station.
must have set you back a few bob. BOOKSTALL, n - a newsstand.
BOBBY, n (col) - a policeman. After Robert BOOT, n - an automobile trunk. A BOOT SALE
Peel, who, as Home Secretary, set up the or CAR-BOOT SALE is a kind of collective ga-
Metropolitan Police Force in 1828. Until rage sale, with people selling goods from
relatively recently, the term PEELER was also the trunks of their cars in a parking lot hired
used for a policeman, and in Ireland still is. for the occasion.
BOFFIN, n (col) - a scientist, especially one BOOTIE, n (col) - a Royal Marine.
engaged in military research. BOOZER, n - a bar or pub, as well a a person
BOG, n (col) - the toilet. who likes drinking. I'm going down to the
BOILED SWEET, n - a hard sticky piece of candy, boozer for half an hour.
made of boiled sugar. BORSTAL, n - formerly an establishment in
BOILER SUIT, n - overalls. which offenders aged 15 to 21 were de-
BOLLARD, n - a small post placed on a curb or tained for 'corrective training'. The word
traffic island to make it conspicuous to driv- survives although the institution was re-
ers. placed in 1982 by youth custody centres.
BOLSHIE or BOLSHY, adj (col) -1. difficult to man- BOTH WAYS, adj & adv- see EACH WAY.
age, rebellious, refusing to conform. 2. po- BOTHER, interj - an exclamation of mild an-



noyance. coins, but were subsequently minted in

BOTTLE, n (col) - nerve, courage, especially bronze.
in the phrase LOSE ONE'S BOTTLE. If you're BRASS NECK, n (col) - effrontery, nerve.
wanting to pull out and haven't the bottle BRASSED OFF, adj (col) - fed up, disgruntled.
to say, ...I'll trouble you to get up your cour- BREAK, n - a recess at school.
age and declare yourself now, not later BREATHALYSER, n - a device used for estimat-
(John le Carre). / didn't want them to think ing the amount of alcohol in the breath, the
I'd lost my bottle. equivalent of a drunkometer. A trademark.
BOTTOM DRAWER, n - the equivalent of a hope BREEZE, n (col) - a lively quarrel.
chest. BREW UP, v (col) - to make tea, especially out
BOVVER, n (col) - rowdiness caused by gangs of doors.
of teenage thugs, synonymous with AGGRO. BRICK, n - in the expression DROP A BRICK: to
A BOVVER BOY is such a youth. His accoutre- make a tactless or indiscreet remark.
ments include BOVVER BOOTS, heavy boots BRICKIE, n (col) - a bricklayer.
used for kicking in gang fights. BRIDGE ROLL, n - a soft bread roll in a long
BOWLER, n - 1. a derby hat. 2. in cricket, the thin shape, like a hotdog bun.
person who bowls the ball to the batsman. BRIEF, n - a solicitor's instructions to a BARRISTER
BOWLS, n - a game played on a level lawn, in on the representstion of a client, giving all
which opposing teams take turns to roll the facts and points of law of a case. Hence,
large wooden balls towards a target ball to BE GIVEN A BRIEF means to be given offi-
called a 'jack'. Usually played by elderly cial instructions to do or deal with some-
gentlemen in sedate and verdant surround- thing: When you were appointed librarian
ings. here, you were given the brief of develop-
BOX, THE, n (col) - television, the tube. ing research into local history. In under-
BOX JUNCTION, n - a road junction with yellow world slang, a brief is a lawyer, especially
cross-hatching painted on the road surface. a solicitor. I'm not answering any questions
Vehicles may only enter the hatched area till I've seen my brief.
when there is a clear exit. BRIGHT SPARK, n (col) - a person who is clever
BOX ROOM, n - lumber room. or witty. The term is often used ironically.
BOXING DAY, n - December 26, a public holi- Who's the bright spark who left my papers
day. The term derives from the 19th-cen- next to an open window?
tury custom of giving Christmas boxes, or BRING OUT, v-1. to cause workers to strike. 2.
gifts, to tradesmen and staff on this day. to introduce a girl formally into society as
BOYO, n (col) - a boy or young man. Often a debutante.
used as a form of address, especially by BRISTOLS, pin (col) - a woman's breasts. Short
the Welsh. for Bristol City, RHYMING SLANG for titty.
BRACES, pi n - suspenders (for holding up trou- BRITISH TELECOM, n - Britain's major telecom-
sers). munications company, formerly state-
BRAINSTORM, n (col) - a sudden mental aber- owned.
ration. / can't imagine why I bought such BROAD BEAN, n - a lima bean.
an awful piece of rubbish -1 must have had BROADMOOR, n - an institution in Berkshire for
a brainstorm. housing and treating criminals who are
BRASS, n (col) - money. A northern English mentally ill.
term. Proverbially: Where there's muck, BROADS, THE, n - a group of shallow navigable
there's brass. Iakes, connected by a network of rivers, in
BRASS FARTHING, n (col) - something of little or Norfolk and Suffolk, or the region around
no value. His opinion isn't worth a brass these lakes, which is a tourist center no-
farthing. Farthings were originally silver table for its bird sanctuaries.



BROCK, n another name for a badger, used BUILDING SOCIETY, n - a savings and loan as-
especially as a form of address in stories. sociation.
BROLLY, n (col) - an umbrella. BULGE, n - the projecting part of an army's
BROWNED-OFF, adj (col) - thoroughly discour- front line, a salient.
aged, fed up. Frankly, I'm browned-off deal- BULL, n - short for the bull's-eye of a target,
ing with them, they never pay on time. e.g. in darts.
BROWNIE or BROWNIE GUIDE, n - a member of BULLET, n (col) - dismissal from a job, espe-
the junior branch of the Girl Guides, British cially in the phrases GET THE BULLET or GIVE
equivalent of the Girl Scouts. SOMEONE THE BULLET.
BROWNING, n - a substance used to darken BULLFINCH, n - a high thick hedge which is too
soups, gravies, etc. difficult for a horse and rider to jump.
BRUCE, n - a jocular name for an Australian. BUM, n - the buttocks or anus.
BRUMMIE, n (col) - a native or inhabitant of BUM-BOY, n (col) - a disparaging term for a
Birmingham, Britain's second largest city. male homosexual.
BRUSH-UP, n - the act of tidying one's appear- BUMF or BUMPH, n (col) - toilet paper, and, by
ance, especially in the phrase WASH AND extension, official documents, forms,
BRUSH-UP. memorandums, etc. / wish the trade depart-
BST, n (abbr) - British Summer Time, com- ment would stop sending me all this bumf.
parable to daylight saving time. Short for bum fodder.
BUBBLE AND SQUEAK, n - leftover boiled cab- BUMP START, n - a method of starting a car by
bage and potatoes fried together, some- engaging low gear with the clutch de-
times with cooked meat. The name is imi- pressed and pushing the car or allowing it
tative of the sounds it makes as it cooks. to roll down a hill until sufficient momen-
BUCKET SHOP, n - any small business that can- tum has been acquired to turn the engine
not be relied upon, especially one selling by releasing the clutch. Also used as a
cheap airline tickets. noun.
BUDGERIGAR, n - an Australian parakeet, com- BUMSUCKING, n (col) - obsequious behaviour,
monly kept as a pet. Informally, a BUDGIE. brown-nosing. See ARSE.
BUFFER, n (col, old) - especially in the phrase BUN, n - a small roll, similar to bread but con-
OLD BUFFER: a foolish and bumbling old man. taining sweetening, spices, dried fruit, etc.
Hedley threatened to resign, that's what Coloquially, to HAVE A BUN IN THE OVEN means
swayed the old buffers on the committee. to be pregnant.
BUFFET CAR, n - a railroad car where drinks BUNCHES, pi n - a hairstyle in which hair is
and snacks are served. Pronounced boof- tied into two sections on either side of the
fay. head at the back.
BUGGER, n (col) - in spite of its formal mean- BUNG, v (col) - 1. to throw, sling. 2. to bribe.
ing, usually a humorous or affectionate As a noun, it means either a tip or a bribe.
term for a man or child. He's a clever little BUNK, v (col) - a hurried departure, usually
bugger. The silly old bugger talks to him- under suspicious circumstances, especially
self. BUGGER ALL means nothing. See ALL. in the phrase DO A BUNK. Next thing I knew,
As a verb, it means to completely ruin the whole family had done a bunk.
something. Well, that's buggered our plans BUPA, n (abbr) - the British United Provi-
for the weekend. To BUGGER ABOUT means dent Association, Britain's largest private
to waste time on unnecessary tasks. To health insurance company.
BUGGER OFF is to depart quickly, often used BUREAU, n - a large writing desk with pigeon
in the imperative. To BE BUGGERED is to be holes, drawers, etc., against which the writ-
exhausted, but I'LL BE BUGGERED is a set ing surface can be closed when not in use.
phrase used to express amazement. US bureau = GB chest of drawers.



BURN, n - in card games, to throw away or gage in cadging, as a CADGER does.

exchange a useless card. CAFE, n - a small, inexpensive restaurant or
BURSARY, n - the treasury of a college, etc. snack bar. Coloquially, a CAFF.
BURTON, n (col) - in the expression GO FOR A CALL BOX, n - a public telephone booth.
BURTON: to be hopeless, broken, useless, or CAMP BED, n - a cot. GB cot = US crib.
lost, or to be killed. Well, that's our pay rise CAMPUS UNIVERSITY, n - a university in which
gone for a burton. the buildings, often shops and cafes, are
BUSBY, n - a tall fur helmet with a bag hang- all on one site.
ing from the top, worn by hussars in the CANNON, n - a carom in billiards. As a verb, to
British Army. cause to carom.
BUSHEL, n - 1 Imperial bushel = 0.03637 cu- CANTABRIGIAN, n - a member of graduate of
bic meters (1 US bushel = 0.03524 cubic Cambridge University (or, incidentally, of
meters). Harvard University) or a person from Cam-
BUSK, n - to make money by singing, danc- bridge.
ing, acting, etc. in public places, e.g. in front CAP, n - in sport, an emblematic hat given to
of queues at movie theaters or in the sub- someone chosen for a representative team.
way. A BUSKER is a street-performer of this He has won three England caps.
kind. CAPITAL, adj (col, old) - excellent, first-rate.
BUST-UP, n (col) - a disturbance or brawl. That's a capital suggestion.
BUTCHER'S, n (col) - a look at something. / had CAPTIAL GEARING, n - in accounting, leverage.
a quick butcher's at the paper before I went CAR PARK, n - a parking lot.
to work. RHYMING SLANG, from butcher's CARAVAN, n - a trailer.
hook. CARCASS TRADE, n (col) - the practise of re-
BUTTERY, n - in some universities, a room in constructing dilapidated pieces of old fur-
which food is sold to students. niture with new veneer and passing them
BUTTON, n - an object of no value, especially off as antiques.
in the expression NOT WORTH A BUTTON. CARD PUNCH, n - another name for a key
BUTTY, n (col) - 1. sandwich. A jam butty, a punch.
bacon butty. 2. a friend or workmate. Mainly CARDS, pi n - an employee's national insur-
northern English. ance and other documents held by the
BUZZ OFF, v- to go away, beat it. Usually im- employer. To ASK FOR ONE'S CARDS is to leave
perative. a job, to GET ONE'S CARDS is to be fired.
BY-LAW, n - a municipal ordinance. CARETAKER, A7 - a janitor.
BYE-BYE, sent sub (col) - goodbye. CAREY STREET, n - formerly, the street in which
BYRE, n - a shelter for cows. the London bankruptcy court was situated.
It now signifies the state of bankruptcy, es-
pecially in the phrase BE IN CAREY STREET.
CARNY or CARNEY, v (col) - to coax or cajole or
act in a wheedling manner.
CARR, n - an area of scrub-covered bog or
C fern.
CARRIAGE, n - a railroad passenger coach or
CACK-HANDED, adj (col) - 1. left-handed. 2. subway car.
clumsy. CARRIER BAG, n - a shopping bag.
CADDIE, n - a small container, especially for CARRY-ON, n - a fuss or commotion. / don't
tea. care what she said, I won't put up with a
CADGE, v- to bum or sponge something, e.g. carry-on like this.
food or money. To be ON THE CADGE is to en- CARVE-UP, n - the act of dishonestly prearrang-



ing the result of a competition. ployed on parliamentary work determined

CASH UP, n - in stores, etc., to add up the by the Prime Minister.
money taken during the working day. CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, n - the senior
CASHIER, n - a teller. finance minister in the British government,
CASTOR SUGAR, n - very fine granulated sugar. equivalent to the Secretary of the Treasury.
CATAPULT, n - a slingshot. CHANGEOVER, n - in sport, the exchange of
CATCH OUT, v (col) - to trap someone in an ends (of a playing field) by two teams, usu-
error or doing something reprehensible. I've ally at half time.
caught him out in more than one lie, he sim- CHAR, v (col) - to do housework, cleaning, etc.
ply isn't trustworthy. as a job. The word is possibly a corruption
CATSEYES, pi n - glass reflectors placed at of chore. As a noun, it is short for CHAR-
regular intervals along roads to guide driv- WOMAN, a person who does such work. It is
ers at night. A trademark. also a slightly old-fashioned word for tea.
CATTLE GRID, n - a Texas gate. CHARADE, n - an absurd act, a travesty.
CAUCUS, n - a group or faction within a politi- CHARGE NURSE, n - a nurse in charge of a ward
cal party, who discuss strategy, choose in a hospital: the male equivalent of sister.
candidates, etc. CHARGE SHEET, n - a document on which a po-
CAUSE LIST, n - a list of cases awaiting trial. lice officer enters details of the charge
CAUTION, n - a formal warning given to a per- against a prisoner and the court in which
son suspected of a crime that his words he is due to appear.
will be taken down and may be used in evi- CHARLIE, n (col) - a silly person, a fool.
dence against him. As a verb, to give such CHASE, n - an enclosed area of Iand where
a warning. wild animals are preserved to be hunted.
CBE, n (abbr) - Commander of the Order of CHAT UP, v (col) - to talk flirtatiously to a per-
the British Empire, a title awarded for ser- son of the opposite sex with a view to se-
vice to the community. duction. In a wider sense, to talk persua-
CENTENARY, n- a centennial. Pronounced cen- sively to someone, especially with an ulte-
teen-ery. rior motive. What I wanted to know when I
CENTRAL RESERVE Or CENTRAL RESERVATION, n - was fifteen was the best way to chat up
the median strip on a highway. girls, and it's what I still want to know.
CESS, n - an Irish word for luck, especially in CHEAP, adj - in the expression ON THE CHEAP:
the phrase BAD CESS TO YOU! at a low cost.
CHALK, n - a score or record. Colloquially, BY CHEERIO, sent sub (col) - goodbye!
A LONG CHALK means by a wide margin, by CHEERS, sent sub (col) - the most common
far. NOT BY A LONG CHALK: by no means, not drinking toast. Depending on context, it can
possibly. Not every farm-worker belongs to also mean goodbye (cf. CHEERIO), or thanks.
the union, no, not by a long chalk. CHEESED-OFF, adj (col) - bored, fed up, angry.
CHAMBERS, pi n - in England, the set of rooms She left a couple of hours ago, I think she
occupied by BARRISTERS where clients are got cheesed-off waiting for you.
interviewed. CHEMIST'S or CHEMIST'S SHOP, n - a pharmacy,
CHAMPERS, n (col) - champagne. drugstore. It dispenses prescribed medi-
CHANCELLOR, n - 1. the chief secretary of an cines and sells toiletries, cosmetics, etc. but
embassy. 2. the honorary or titular head of never food or drink.
a university. CHEQUERS, n - the official country residence
CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER, n - a of the Prime Minister.
minister of the crown, nominally appointed CHEST OF DRAWERS, n - a dresser, bureau.
as representative of the Queen (who is CHESTERFIELD, n - a Iarge tightly stuffed sofa,
Duchess of Lancaster), but in practice em- often upholstered in leather, with upright



arms of the same height as the back. CHUCK IN, v (col) - to abandon or give up.
CHESTY, adj (col) - 1. suffering from a chest CHUCKER-OUT, n (col) - another name for a
disease or symptomatic of one. He had a bouncer.
chesty cough. 2. with a large over-devel- CHUFFED, adj (col) - pleased, delighted. They
oped bosom. were well chuffed at the size of the pay rise.
CHICORY, n - endive. CHUNDER, n & v (col) - vomit.
CHILDCARE, n - care provided for children with- CHUNKY, adj - of clothes, made of thick bulky
out homes or with a seriously disturbed material.
home life by a local authority. CHUNTER ON, v - to mutter or grumble inces-
CHIMNEY, n - a smokestack, e.g. of a locomo- santly and meaninglessly.
tive or ship. CHURN, n - a large container for milk.
CHIMNEYPIECE, n - another name for mantel- CID, n (abbr)- Criminal Investigation Depart-
piece. ment, the detective division of a police
CHINA, n - pal, buddy, especially in the phrase force.
MY OLD CHINA. Originally Cockney RHYMING CIDER, n - an alcoholic drink made from the
SLANG of china plate with mate. fermented juice of apples. Hard cider.
CHINLESS WONDER, n (col) - a person, especially CINE CAMERA, n - a movie camera. CINE FILM is
an upper-class person, who lacks strength movie film.
of character. CINEMA, n - the usual word for a movie house,
CHINWAG, n (col) - a chat or gossipy conver- theater.
sation. CIRCUIT JUDGE, n - a judge presiding over a
CHIPOLATA, n - a small, skinny sausage. county court or crown court.
CHIPPY, n (col) - 1. a fish-and-chip shop. 2. a CIRCUS, n - an open, usually circular place in
carpenter. a town where several streets converge, e.g.
CHIPS, pi n - French fries. Piccadilly Circus.
CHIT or CHITTY, n - a note, memorandum, or CITY CENTRE, n - downtown.
receipt. From a Hindi word meaning note. CITY EDITOR, n - the editor in charge of finan-
A mother who wants to get skimmed milk cial and commercial news. The CITY DESK is
for her baby must first get a chit signed by his or her department.
a health worker. CITY, THE, n - the area in central London in
CHOCK UP, v- to cram full. The cubby-hole was which the UK's major financial business is
chocked up with old newspapers and vari- transacted, or the financial institutions lo-
ous kinds of rubbish. cated there. Equivalent of Wall Street.
CHOKED, adj (col) - angry, upset or disap- CIVIL LIST, n - the annuities voted by Parlia-
pointed. He was too choked to say anything ment for the support of the royal family, the
more. royal household and royal hangers-on.
CHOKEY, n (col) - prison slang for solitary con- CIVVY, n (col) - a civilian. The plural CIVVIES
finement. refers to civilian dress as opposed to uni-
CHOO-CHOO, n - a child's name for a train. form. The phrase CIVVY STREET means civil-
CHOP, v (col) - to dispense with or reduce. To ian life and work. In the army your job's se-
GET THE CHOP is to be fired. cure, whereas in civvy street they can give
CHOPPER, n - a small hand ax or a butcher's you the sack any time they like.
cleaver. Also a slang name for the penis. CLANGER, n - a blunder, a faux pas, a con-
CHRISTIAN NAME, n - first name, given name. spicuous mistake, especially in the phrase
CHRISTMAS BOX, n - a tip or present given at DROP A CLANGER. / realise I dropped a clanger
Christmas. See BOXING DAY. asking about his wife, but how was I to know
CHRISTMAS PUDDING, n - another name for plum she'd left him.
pudding. CLAPPED-OUT, adj (col) - worn out, dilapidated,



especially referring to machinery. There edge or information about something. He's

was this clapped-out farmhouse right on the really clued-up on the technical aspects of
border (John le Carre). the deal.
CLAPPERS, pi n (col) - in the expression GO or CLUELESS, adj (col) - helpless, ignorant, stu-
RUN LIKE THE CLAPPERS: to move extremely pid, incapable of doing anything properly.
fast. Realising this was likely to be the last CO-ED, n - not a student, but a school or col-
bus, I ran like the clappers to catch it. lege providing coeducation.
CLARET, n - a dry red wine, especially one COACH, n - a long-distance bus.
from the Bordeaux region of France. COAL HOLE, n - a small coal cellar.
CLASS, n - a grade in a university degree. COAST, n - the seaside. They went down to
She's got a second-class honours degree the coast for the day.
in economics. COASTER, n - a vessel engaged in coastal com-
CLEARWAY, n - a stretch of highway on which merce.
drivers may stop only in an emergency. COB or COB LOAF, n - a round loaf of bread.
CLEVER, adj (col) - sly, cunning. It's a clever COBBLERS, pi n (col) - a slang word for tes-
little gadget. ticles but mainly used figuratively, like b3lls,
CLEVER DICK or CLEVERDICK, n - a person who to mean rubbish, nonsense. He has an alibi
is obnoxiously opinionated or self-satisfied, but it's a load of old cobblers. As an inter-
a know-it-all. jection, the word expresses strong dis-
CLINIC, n - a private hospital or nursing home. sgreement.
CLINK, n - a pointed steel tool used for break- COCK, n (col) - nonsense. The US equivalent
ing up the surface of a road before it is re- is bull.
paired. COCKNEY, n - a working-class native of the
CLIPPIE, n (col) - a bus conductress. Her main East End of London, speaking a charac-
function is to issue tickets and collect fares. teristic dialect of English, or the dialect it-
CLOAKROOM, n - 1. checkroom. A cloakroom self. A Cockney is traditionally defined as
attendant is a hat check girl. 2. often a eu- someone born within the sound of the bells
phemistic word for toilet. of St Mary-le-Bow church. Also used as an
CLOBBER, n (col) - personal belongings, es- adjective.
pecially clothes and equipment. COCKUP, n (col) - the same as a BALLS-UP, i.e.
CLOSE, n - a courtyard or quadrangle en- something done badly. To COCK SOMETHING
closed by buildings or an entry leading to UP is to botch it.
such a courtyard. When used as part of a COD, v (col) - to make fun of, tease. As a noun:
streetname, e.g. Burnside Close, it signi- a hoax or trick.
fies a quiet residential road. CODSWALLOP, n (col) - nonsense.
CLOSE-DOWN, n - the end of a period of radio COLLAR STIFFENER, n - a collar stay. A collar
or television broadcasting, especially late stud is a collar button.
at night. COLLIER, n - 1. a coal miner. A COLLIERY is a
CLOT, n - a stupid person, fool. coal mine. 2. a ship which transports coal
CLOTH CAP, n - a flat cap with a stiff peak, now or a member of its crew.
a symbol of working-class ethos or origin. COLONEL BLIMP, n - see BLIMP.
Used as a modifier: cloth-cap attitudes. COLONIES, THE, pi n - the territories which for-
CLOTHES PEG, n - a clothespin. merly comprised the British Empire.
CLOTTED CREAM, n - a thick cream made from COLOUR SUPPLEMENT, n - 3n illustrated maga-
scalded milk, especially in SW England. zine 3ccompanying a newspaper, espe-
CLUB, n - in the expression IN THE CLUB: preg- cially a Sunday paper.
nant. COMBINATIONS, pi n - a union suit. Often short-
CLUED-UP, adj (col) - having detailed knowl- ened to COMBS or COMS.



COME, v (col) - to play the part of. I'll give you the Conservative Party, one of Britain's two
a piece of advice, sonny - don't come the major political parties.
old soldier with me. CONSTABLE, n - a police officer of the lowest
COME UP, n - to begin one's first term at a col- rank.
lege or university. To COME DOWN is to leave CONSTITUENCY, n - a district which sends a rep-
university. resentative to Parliament or all the resi-
COMFORTER, n - a woolen scarf. dents of that district. A parliamentary con-
COMMISSIONAIRE, n - a uniformed doorman at stituency is roughly the equivalent of a con-
a hotel, theater, etc. gressional district.
COMMON, n - a tract of open public land, es- CONSULTANT, n - a doctor holding the highest
pecially one now used as a recreational sppointment in a particular branch of medi-
area. cine or surgery in a hospital.
COMMON-OR-GARDEN, adj (old) - ordinary, un- CONTENT, interj - in the House of Lords, a for-
exceptional. mal expression of assent. The opposite ex-
COMMONS, THE, n - short for the House of Com- pression iS NOT CONTENT.
mons. CONTRACT OUT, n - to agree not to participate
COMMUNICATION CORD, n - a chain or cord in a in something, especially the state pension
train which may be pulled by a passenger scheme.
to stop the train in an emergency. CONVENIENCE, n - 3 euphemism for a public
COMMUNITY HOME, n - a reform school for young toilet.
offenders. Its formal name is community CONVERSION, n - a house converted into sepa-
home with education on the premises. rate apartments.
COMPANY SECRETARY, n - an officer of an incor- COOK SHOP, n - a store th3t sells cookery
porated company who has certain legal ob- equipment.
ligations. COOKER, n - 1. another word for a stove. 2.
COMPENDIUM, n - 1. a book containing a col- any large sour apple used in cooking.
lection of useful hints. 2. a selection of dif- COP, v (col) - to suffer something unpleas-
ferent games in one container. 3nt. You'll cop a clout about the ears if you
COMPERE, n - a master of ceremonies who in- do that again. He copped 15 years for
troduces cabaret or television acts. Also armed robbery. In a military context, to COP
used as a verb. IT means to be killed.
COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL, n - a public high COP SHOP, n (col) - a police station.
school for children of all abilities. COPY TASTER, n - a person who selects or 3p-
CONK, n (col) - nose. proves text for publication in a magazine
CONKER, n - a horse chestnut. CONKERS is a or newspaper.
schoolboy game in which one player swings COR, interj (col) - an expression of surprise,
a chestnut, threaded onto a string, against amazement, admiration, etc. A corruption
that of an opponent to try to break it. of God. Similarly, COR BLIMEY or GORBLIMEY,
CONSENTING ADULT, n - a man over the age of another expression of surprise, is a corrup-
twenty-one, who may legally engage in ho- tion of God blind me. See BLIMEY.
mosexusl behaviour in private. CORE SUBJECTS, pi n - the three foundation sub-
CONSEQUENCES, n - a game in which each jects that are compulsory throughout each
player writes down a part of a story, folds KEY STAGE in the NATIONAL CURRICULUM, viz.
over the paper, and passes it on to the next English, matherrotics and science.
player, who continues the story. After sev- CORN, n - any cereal plant.
era\ contributions by each player, the re- CORNED BEEF, n - processed and canned meat.
sulting nonsensical stories are read out. US corned beef = GB salt beef.
CONSERVATIVE, n - a supporter or member of CORNET, n - an ice-cream cone.



CORNFLOUR, n - cornstarch. eaten with cheese.

CORPORATION, n - the municipal authorities of CRECHE, n - a day nursery for very young chil-
a city or town. He works for the corpora- dren. A French word, pronounced cresh.
tion. CREEK, n - a narrow inlet or bay, especially of
' COSH, n - a blunt weapon, often made of hard the sea.
rubber, a blackjack. As a verb, to sap with CREMATOR, n - a furnace for cremating
this weapon. corpses, an incinerator, found in a CREMA-
COT, n - a boxlike bed for a small child, usu- TORIUM.
ally with vertical bars. A crib. US cot = GB CRESCENT, n - a crescent-shaped street, usu-
camp bed. COT DEATH (sudden infant death ally lined with houses of the same style.
syndrome) is crib death. They live in Hillside Crescent.
COTTAGE FLAT, n - an apartment in a two-storey CRIB, n - 1. an infant's bed. 2. a list of an-
house that is divided into four apartments, swers used illicitly in an examination, a
two on each floor. pony. Used as a verb, it means to copy from
COTTAGING, n (col) - homosexual activity be- another student.
tween men in a public toilet. CRINGE-MAKING, adj (col, old) - causing feel-
COTTON, n - another word for thread. A COTTON ings of acute embarrassment or distaste.
REEL is a spool of thread. CRISPBREAD, n - a cracker made of wheat or
COTTON WOOL, n - absorbent cotton, cotton bat- rye.
ting. CRISPS, pi n - potato chips.
COUNCIL, n - the local governing authority of CROCK, n (col) - a person or car th3t is old
a town, county, etc. and decrepit, especially in the phrase OLD
COUNCIL FLAT or COUNCIL HOUSE, n - an apart- CROCK. What's a sweet young thing like her
ment or house provided by a local council doing with an old crock like him?
at a subsidized rent, usually to working- CROCKED, adj (col) - not drunk but injured.
class families. CROCODILE, n (col) - a line of schoolchildren
COUNTERFOIL, n - the stub of a cheque, receipt, walking two by two.
postal order, etc. CROFT, n - a sma\\ enclosed plot of \and, ad-
COUNTRY, n - in the expression GO TO THE COUN- joining a house, worked by the occupier and
TRY: to dissolve Parliament and hold an his family, especially in Scotland. A person
election. who farms in this W3y is a CROFTER.
COURGETTES, pi n - ZUCChini. CROSSTALK, n - rapid or witty talk or conver-
COURSING, n - the hunting of hares with sation.
hounds. CRUISERWEIGHT, n - in boxing, another term for
COURT OF INQUIRY, n - a group of people ap- a light hesvyweight.
pointed to investigate the causes of a di- CRUMBLE, n - a baked pudding consisting of 3
saster, an accident, etc. crumbly mixture of flour, fat and sugar over
COURT SHOE, n - a pump. stewed fruit, e.g. apples or rhubarb.
COVENTRY, n - in the expression SEND TO COV- CRUMPET, n -1. a light soft yeast cake, eaten
ENTRY: to ostracize or ignore someone. They toasted and buttered. 2. (col) sex, or a sexu-
punished her by sending her to Coventry ally desirable woman, especially in the ex-
for the rest of the summer holidays. pression A PIECE OF CRUMPET.
cow GUM, n - rubber cement. A trademark. CRUSH BARRIER, n - a barrier erected to sepa-
CRACKERS, adj (col) - insane. rate section of large crowds to prevent
CRANWELL, n - the Royal Air Force College. crushing.
CRASH, v (col) - short for gate-crash. CS GAS, n - a riot gas used in civil distur-
CRAYFISH, n - crawfish. bances. It causes tears, salivation and pa\r\-
CREAM CRACKER, n - a soda cracker, often ful breathing. Comparable to mace.



CUP FINAL, THE, n - the annual final of the FA DARBY AND JOAN, n - an ideal elderly married
Cup soccer competition for the national couple, archetypal of domestic harmony
championship, played at Wembley. and contentment. A DARBY AND JOAN CLUB
CUPBOARD, n - a closet. is one for elderly people. The original
CUPPA or CUPPER, n (col) - a cup of tea. couple existed in an 18th-century English
CURRENT ACCOUNT, n - a checking account at ballad.
a bank. DARTMOUTH, n - home of the Royal Naval Col-
CUSHY, adj (col) - easy, comfortable. A cushy lege. Equivalent of Annapolis.
job. From a Hindi word meaning pleasant. DAVENPORT, n - a tall narrow desk with a
CUT UP ROUGH, n (col) - to become angry or slanted writing surface and drawers at the
bad-tempered. side.
CUTTHROAT Or CUTTHROAT RAZOR, A7 - a Straight DAY RELEASE, n - a system whereby workers
razor. are released for part-time education with-
CUTTING, n - a clipping from a newspaper, or, out loss of pay.
in the horticultural sense, from a plant. DAYBOY, n - a boy who attends a boarding
school daily, but returns home each
evening. Cf. BOARDER.
DAYCARE, n - treatment or supervision during
the working day for people who might be
at risk if left on their own, usually provided
D by a local authority or health service.
DEAD, adv (col) - very or exactly. The exam
D-NOTICE, n - an official notice sent to news- was dead easy. They were running dead
papers, prohibiting the publication of cer- level until the last few seconds of the race.
tain security information. If something is DEAD ON, it is exactly right.
DAB, n (col) - a fingerprint. DEATH DUTY, pi n - formerly, a tax on property
DAB HAND, n (col) - a person who is particu- inheritance comparable to estate tax. Now
\ar\y skilled 3t something. Get Alan to do it called inheritance tax, although the older
- he's a dab hand at hanging wallpaper. term survives, especially in the plural.
DADDY-LONGLEGS, n (col) - another name for a DEBAG, n (col) - to remove someone's pants
crane fly. by force, usually as a prank. See BAGS.
DAFT, adj (col) - foolish, simple, stupid. DECORATOR, n - a professional house-painter
DAILY, n - another name for a CHARWOMAN. and paper-hanger.
DAILY DOZEN, n - regular physical exercises. DEED POLL, n - a legal declaration made by
DAME, n - 1. the title of a woman who has one party only, used when a person
been awarded the Order of the British Em- changes his name.
pire as well as certain other orders of chiv- DEKKO, n (col) - a look, glance, view. Let him
alry equivalent to a knighthood. Also the have a dekko at the photo, maybe he knows
legal title of the wife or widow of a knight or her.
baronet. Dame Elizabeth. 2. the role of a DEMERARA, n - a brown crystallized cane sugar
comic old woman in a pantomime, usually from the West Indies.
played by a man. DEMO, n (col) - short for demonstration.
DAMN-ALL, n (col) - absolutely nothing. See DEMOB, n & i/(col, old) - short for demobilize
ALL. 3nd demobilization, meaning discharge
DAMPCOURSE, n - a horizontal layer of imper- from the services.
vious material in a brick wall, close to the DEMOCRAT, n - a member or supporter of the
ground, to protect against moisture rising. Social and Liberal Democratic Party.
DARBIES, pi n (col, old) - handcuffs. DENIZEN, n - an individual permanently resi-



dent in a foreign country where he enjoys DIRECT LABOUR, n - workers who are part of
certain rights of citizenship. an employer's own labor force rather than
DEPOSIT ACCOUNT, n - a savings account. hired through a contractor, e.g. construc-
DEPOT, n - a building used for the storage and tion workers employed by a local authority.
servicing of buses or railroad engines. DIRECTORY INQUIRIES, n - information (on the
DERV, n - another name for diesel oil when telephone).
used for road transport. DIRTY, n (col) - in the expression DO THE DIRTY
DESELECT, v - of a constituency organization, ON SOMEONE: to behave meanly or unkindly
to refuse to select an existing MP for re- towards someone.
election. DISCOUNT HOUSE, A? (col) - a financial organi-
DETACHED, adj - of a house, standing apart, zation engaged in discounting bills of ex-
not connected to another house. In Britain change, etc. on 3 large sca\e, primarily by
SEMI-DETACHED HOUSES Or SEMIS, i.e. houses borrowing call money from commercial
separated on one side and joined on the banks.
other, are very common. In thirty years of DISHY, adj (col) - good-looking, attractive.
nuclear power generation, this country has Used by women to describe men. / saw this
produced enough high level waste to fill a really dishy bloke in the pub last night.
pair of semi-detached houses. DITHER, v - to be uncertain or indecisive. Af-
DEWDROP, n - euphemistically, a drop of mu- ter dithering helplessly for several minutes,
cus on the end of one's nose. he picked up the phone.
DIABOLICAL, adj (col) - excruciatingly bad or DIVERSION, n - detour.
outrageous. His Japanese is diabolical. It DIY, n (abbr) - short for do-it-yourself. DIY
had been a diabolical conspiracy on the stores sell everything for the home handy-
part of the police, the prosecution, the man.
judge; they were all actively involved (G.F. DO, v (col) - to treat violently, to assault.
Newman). DOCKER, n (col) - 3 longshoreman.
DIAL, n (col) - face. DOCKET, n (col) - 1 . a piece of paper sccom-
DIBBLE, n - a small hand tool used to make panying a package or other delivery, stat-
holes in the ground for planting seeds, ing contents, delivery instructions, etc. 2. a
bulbs and roots. customs certificate declaring that duty has
DICEY, adj (col) - difficult, dangerous, risky, been paid.
tricky. DODDLE, n (col) - something easily accom-
DICKY, adj (col) - in a bad condition, shaky, plished, a pushover. I'd like to pretend that
unsteady, unreliable. / feel a bit dicky to- it took great cunning on my part to smuggle
day. He has a dicky heart. it in, but in fact it was a doddle.
DICKY BOW, n (col) - a bow tie. DODGEM, n - another name for a bumper car.
DIDDLE, n - to swindle, gyp. A trademark.
DIFFERENTIAL, n - the difference between rates DODGY, adj (col) - risky, difficult, uncertain,
of pay for different types of labor, especially tricky. Conmen are cashing in on the re-
when forming a pay structure within an in- cession with a record number of dodgy cut-
dustry. price deals and get-rich-quick schemes.
DIGESTIVE BISCUIT, n - a soft, whole-meal Synonymous with DICEY.
cookie. DOGS, pi n (col) - greyhound racing.
DIGS, pi n (col) - lodgings. DOGSBODY, n (col) - a person who does me-
DINKY, adj (col) - small and neat, dainty. nial work.
DINNER JACKET, A7 - a tUXedO. DOINGS, pin (col) - anything of which the name
DINNER LADY, n (col) - a female cook or can- is not known or euphemistically left unsaid.
teen worker in a school. Have you brought the doings for unblock-



ing the sink? cards, e.g. a whist drive, a beetle drive.

DOLE, n - money received from the state while DRONE, n - a person who lives off the work of
out of work. To be ON THE DOLE means to be others.
unemployed and receiving such money. DRY, n - a hard-line Conservative. See WET.
DON, n - a member of the teaching staff at a DSO, n (abbr) - Distinguished Service Or-
university or college, especially at Oxford der.
or Cambridge. DUAL CARRIAGEWAY, n - a divided highway.
DONKEY'S YEARS, n (col) - a long time. It's been DUCK or DUCK'S EGG, n - in cricket, a score of
donkey's years since I've seen her. nothing by a batsman. Cf. US goose egg.
DORMITORY, n - not a building but a room in DUCKS or DUCKY, n (col) - dear, darling. Used
which a lot of people sleep. US dormitory as a term of endearment, often between
= GB hall of residence. perfect strangers.
DORMITORY SUBURB, adj - an area from which DUFF, adj (col) - bad, useless, not working. A
most of the residents commute to work. duff idea, a duff engine.
DOSS, v (col) - to sleep rough. All the poor DUMBWAITER, n - a stand placed near a dining
bugger was looking for was a place to doss table to hold food, and also a lazy Susan.
down for the night. A DOSSER is usually a DUMMY, n - a baby's pacifier.
homeless person. A DOSSHOUSE is a flop- DUNDEE CAKE, n - a rich fruit cake decorated
house. with almonds.
DOTTY, adj (col) - feeble-minded, eccentric, DUNGAREES, pi n - overalls.
slightly crazy. To be DOTTY ABOUT something DUREX, n - the best-known brand of British
is to be extremely fond of it. condom. Cf. US Trojan.
DOUBLE DUTCH, n (col) - gibberish, incompre- DUSTBIN, n - a garbage can, trash can.
hensible talk. DUSTMAN, n - a garbage collector.
DOUBLE FIRST, n - a first-class honours degree DUTCH BARN, n - a farm building consisting of
in two subjects. a steel frame and a curved roof.
DOUBLE SAUCEPAN, n - a double boiler. DYNAMO, n - another name for a generator.
DOUBLE-DECKER, n - a bus with two passenger
DOWNING STREET, n - the small London street
where the Prime Minister officially resides.
Nearly all prime ministers have lived at No.
10 Downing St. since the early 1700's. E
DOWNPIPE or DRAINPIPE, n - a downspout.
DOZY, adj (col) - stupid. EACH WAY or BOTH WAYS, adj & adv - (of a bet in
DRAPER, n - a dealer in fabrics and sewing horse racing) made on the same horse to
materials. A DRAPER'S is a drygoods store. win, place or show. Across-the-board.
DRAUGHT EXCLUDER, A? - weather stripping. EARLY CLOSING, /? - the shutting of most of the
DRAUGHTS, A? - checkers. Played on a shops in a town one afternoon a week or
DRAUGHTBOARD. A checker is a DRAUGHTSMAN. the day on which this happens. Wednes-
Pronounced drafts. day is early closing in Ballymena. As an
DRAWING PIN, n - a thumbtack. adjective: early-closing day.
DRESSER, n - a person who assists a surgeon EARTH, n - an electrical ground. An EARTH WIRE
during an operation. is a ground wire.
DRESSING GOWN, n - a bathrobe. EAST END, THE, n - a densely populated part
DRINKING-UP TIME, n - the time allowed to fin- of London, containing former industrial and
ish drinks before a pub closes. dock areas and most of the older and
DRIVE, n - a large gathering of people to play poorer neighborhoods.



ELASTIC BAND, n - a rubber band. school. The student is then an EXHIBITIONER.

ELEVENSES, pi H (col) - a light snack, usually EXOR., n (abbr) - executor.
with tea or coffee, taken in mid-morning. EYETIE, n & adj (col) - slang for Italisn.
EMPLOYMENT OFFICE, n - a government office
whose function is to collect and provide the
unemployed with information about job va-
cancies. Formerly, a labour exchange. Cf.
ENCLOSURE, n - a section of a sports ground
or race track reserved for certain specta-
tors. Stewards never die; they scull to the FACE CLOTH Or FACE FLANNEL, n - a Washcloth.
Great Enclosure in the Sky. FAFF ABOUT, v (col) - to act indecisively, to fuss.
ENDORSE, v - to record a conviction on a FAG, n (col) - 1 . 3 cigarette. A FAG END is the
driver's license. stub of 3 cigarette. 2. formerly, a student
ENGAGED, adj - of a telephone line, busy. The at a British public school who was required
ENGAGED TONE is the busy signal. to perform menial tasks for a student in a
ENUMERATOR, n - a person who issues and re- higher class.
trieves forms during a census of popula- FAIR or FUNFAIR, n - a carnival.
tion. FAMILY DIVISION, n - a division of the High
EPILOGUE, n - the final program of the day on Court of Justice dealing with divorce, the
a television station, often of a religious na- custody of children, etc.
ture. FANCY, v (col) - to like or be physically 3t-
EPISCOPE or EPIDIASCOPE, n - an opaque pro- tracted to another person. / think she fan-
jector. cies you.
EPISTEMICS, n - the interdisciplinary study of FANNY, n - not the buttocks but the female pu-
knowledge and human information-pro- dendum.
cessing, using the formal techniques of FANNY ADAMS Or SWEET FANNY ADAMS, n (CO/) -
logic, linguistics, philosophy and psychol- nothing 3t all, absolutely nothing. The term
ogy. is now a euphemism for fuck all or sweet
ESTATE CAR, n - another name for a station fuck all. It derives from the name of a 19th-
wagon. century murder victim, whose body was cut
EVE'S PUDDING, n - a baked sponge cake with up into small pieces. The case was well
a \ayer of app\e at the bottom. publicized and sailors in the Royal Navy
EVER, adv - used as an intensifier in the began to refer to the canned chopped meat
phrases EVER so, EVER SUCH and EVER SUCH they were being served as Fanny Adams,
A: It was ever so good. We had ever such inferring it was not worth eating. By degrees
bad weather. It's ever such a waste. the term took on its present meaning.
EX WORKS, adv & adj - excluding the cost of FARINA, n - starch, especially prepared from
delivery from the factory to the customer. potato flour.
A common commercial term. The price is FARMHOUSE LOAF, n - a large white loaf with
10,000 ex works. slightly curved sides and top.
EX-DIRECTORY, adj- of a telephone number, un- FASCIA, n - another, less common name for
listed. dashboard.
EX-SERVICEMAN, n - a veteran. In British En- FATHER CHRISTMAS, n - another narne for Santa
glish the word 'veteran' connotes advanced Claus.
age and long service. FEN, n - low-lying, flat, marshy land.
EXHIBITION, n - an allowance or scholarship FESTER, v (col) - to be idle or inactive.
awarded to a student at a university or FETE, n - a village fair.



FIDDLE, n (col) - an illegal or fraudulent trans- FLASHER, n (col) - a person who indecently
action or arrangement. Also used as a verb. exposes himself. The verb is to FLASH.
He's been fiddling his expense claims for FLAT, n - an apartment. A FLATMATE is a per-
years. To be ON THE FIDDLE is to be engaged son with whom one shares a flat.
in fraudulent transactions. FLEET STREET, n - British journalism. Many
FIDEI DEFENSOR, n - Latin: defender of the faith. newspaper offices were formerly situated
This was the title given to Henry VIM by in this central London street.
Pope Leo X. It appears on modern British FLEX, n - flexible insulated electric cord.
coins as FD. FLICK KNIFE, n - a switchblade.
FILL IN, v (col) - to attack and injure someone FLIPPING, adj (col) - see BLOOMING.
severely. FLIT, v (col) - to depart hurriedly and stealth-
FILMSETTING, n - photocomposition, photoset- ily in order to avoid obligations. Also DO A
ting. FLIT, which has the same meaning.
FILTER, n - a traffic signal permitting cars to FLOAT, n - a flutterboard.
turn either left or right when the main sig- FLOG, v (col) - to sell. Subtlety is the key -
nals are red. trying to flog a vacuum cleaner at a dinner
FILTH, n (col) - underworld slang for the po- party is clearly out. The expression FLOG A
lice. The adjective FILTHY has a much wider DEAD HORSE means to harp on some long
application, meaning extremely unpleasant. discarded subject.
What filthy weather, eh? FLUTTER, n - a small bet or wager. With or with-
FIN, n - a plane's vertical stabilizer. out the customary flutter, the Grand Na-
FINANCIAL YEAR, n - the fiscal year. tional is part of British life.
FINGER, n (col) - in the expression PULL ONE'S FLY, adj (col) - sharp-witted and wily.
FINGER OUT: to begin or to speed up activity, FLYOVER, n - an overpass.
especially after initial delay or slackness. FOOLSCAP, n - a size of writing paper, 13.5 by
FIRE BRIGADE, n - the fire department. 17 inches.
FIRST, n - a university degree with first-class FOOTBALL, n- SOCCer.
honors, the highest class. FOOTPATH, n - in common usage a synonym
FISH SLICE, n - a kitchen spatula, a pancake for pavement, i.e. the sidewalk.
turner. FOOTSTEPS EDITOR, n - in film-making, a foley
FISHMONGER, n - a retailer of fish. I've got to or foley artist.
go to the fishmonger's. FORM, n - 1. a grade in a secondary school.
FIT UP, v (col) - to incriminate someone on a What form is he in? 2. the track record of a
false charge, to frame. The filth fitted him horse, an athlete, etc. 3. (col) - a criminal
up for the Romford bank job. A FIT-UP is a record.
frame-up. FOUNDATION SUBJECTS, pi n - the subjects stud-
FITTED CARPET, n - wall-to-wall carpeting. ied as part of the NATIONAL CURRICULUM, in-
FIXTURE, n - a scheduled sporting event. cluding the compulsory CORE SUBJECTS.
FLAG, n - the part of a taximeter that is raised FREE CHURCH, n - any Protestant Church, es-
when a taxi is for hire. pecially the Presbyterian, other than the
FLAKE OUT, v (col) - to collapse or fall asleep Church of England.
because of exhaustion. FREE HOUSE, n - a pub not bound to sell only
FLAMING, adj (COl) - See BLOOMING. one brewer's products.
FLANNEL, v (col) - to talk evasively or to flatter FREEFONE, n - toll free. A trademark.
in order to mislead. As a noun, it means FRENCH STICK, n - a long straight stick loaf.
evasive talk or deceiving flattery. He gave FRENCH WINDOWS, pi n - French doors.
us no flannel, but, on the contrary, told us FRIESIAN, n - a breed of dairy cattle, Holstein.
exactly what we needed to know. FRIGATE, n - a warship larger than a corvette



and smaller than a destroyer. humbug.

FRINGE, n - bangs. GAMMY, adj (col) - gimpy.
FROGMARCH, n - a method of carrying a resist- GAMP, n (col, old) - an umbrella.
ing person horizontally and face down- GANGER, n - the foreman of a gang of labor-
wards. Also used as a verb. ers.
FRONT BENCH, n - in the House of Commons, GANGWAY, n - an aisle between rows of seats.
the foremost bench of either the Govern- GARDEN, n - a yard, i.e. any plot of ground
ment or Opposition. A FRONTBENCHER is a with grass or plants, regardless of size, ad-
member of the leadership of either group. joining a house. In GB, a yard is paved
See BACKBENCHER. with concrete.
FRUITCAKE, n (col) - an eccentric or insane per- GARIBALDI, n - a type of cookie with a layer of
son. raisins in the center.
FRUITERER, n - a fruit seller. GAWP, v (col) - to stare stupidly, gape, rub-
FRUITY, adj (col) - erotically stimulating, sala- berneck.
cious. GAZETTE, n - an announcement in an official
FULL STOP, n - at the end of a sentence, a journal. As a verb, to publish such an an-
period. nouncement.
FUNFAIR, n - an amusement park or fairground. GAZUMP, v - to raise the price of something,
FUNK or BLUE FUNK, n - a state of nervousness, especially a house, after verbally agreeing
fear or depression. a price with an intending buyer. A related
FUNNY BONE, n - crazy bone. verb is to GAZUNDER: to reduce an offer on a
FUR, n - a deposit of calcium carbonate pre- property immediately before exchanging
cipitated from hard water onto the insides contracts, having previously agreed a
of pipes, boilers and kettles. higher price with the seller.
FUSSPOT, n - a fussbudget. GBH, n (abbr) - grievous bodily harm.
GCSE, n (abbr) - General Certificate of Sec-
ondary Education, a public examination in
specified subjects for 16-year-old school-
children. It replaced GCE O-level.
GEAR LEVER, n - gear shift.
G GEN, n (col) - information. I'd like to get the
gen on any new projects they're working
GAFF, n (col) - in the expression BLOW THE GAFF: on. To GEN UP ON something is to study it in
to spill the beans. detail, to become fully conversant with it. /
GAFFER, n (col) -La boss, a foreman, the can't accept these responsibilities if I'm not
owner of a factory, etc. You'll have to ask properly genned up.
the gaffer. 2. an old man. GENTRIFICATION, n - the process whereby
GAFFER TAPE, n - strong adhesive tape used middle-class people move into traditionally
in electrical repairs. working-class areas of a city, so changing
GALA, n - a sporting occasion involving com- the character of the area.
petitions in several events. A swimming GENTRY, n - persons just below the nobility in
gala. social rank. The word is often used deroga-
GALLON, n - GB 1 gallon = US 1.20 gallons. torily.
GAME, n (col) - prostitution, especially in the GENTS, n (col) - a public toilet for men.
phrase ON THE GAME. They lure young Rus- GEORDIE, n (col) - a person from Tyneside,
sian girls over here with all kind of prom- the area around Newcastle in northeast En-
ises, then put them on the game. gland.
GAMMON, n (col, old) - deceitful nonsense, GEORGE, n (col) - the automatic pilot in an



aircraft. GOOSE PIMPLES, pi n - goose bumps.

GEORGE CROSS or (abbr) GC, n - an award for GOOSEBERRY, n (col) - an unwanted third per-
bravery, especially of civilians. son with a couple, especially in the phrase
GET ALONG, interj (col) - an exclamation of mild PLAY GOOSEBERRY.
disbelief. GORMLESS, adj (col) - stupid, dull, lacking vi-
GET CRACKING, v (col) to start doing something tality.
quickly. GOVERNOR, n (col) - a boss or the warden of a
GET KNOTTED!, v (col) - see STUFF. prison. The word and its shortened form GUV
GET OFF WITH, v (col) - to establish an amo- are used as a form of respectful address
rous or sexual relationship with someone. from man to man. I'd like to give you a bet-
GET or GIT, n (col) - a worthless, contempt- ter price, but I don't think my governor
ible person, a bastard. would agree to it. What can I do for you,
GEYSER, n - a domestic hot water heater. guv?
GIRL GUIDE, n - a Girl Scout. GRADIENT, n - the grade on a road.
GIRO, n (col) - an unemployment or welfare GRAMMAR SCHOOL, n - a state-maintained sec-
payment by giro cheque. ondary school providing an education with
GLASSHOUSE, n - 1. a greenhouse. 2. (col) a an academic bias for selected children,
military prison. US glasshouse = GB glass- covering roughly the sixth through the
works. twelfth grades. Most grammar schools were
GO DOWN, v- 1. to leave university. He went abolished in the 1970s by the socialists and
down without taking a degree. 2. (col) - to replaced by COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOLS.
go to prison for a specified period. He went GRANGE, n - a farmhouse or country house
down for twenty years tor rape with trim- with its various outbuildings.
mings. GRASS, n - a police informer, a snitch. Also a
GO OFF, v (col) 1. of food, milk, etc., to be- verb: How do you think we found you? You
come stale, rotten or sour. 2. to stop liking. were grassed, my old son, that's how.
But after their marriage, she went right off GREASEPROOF PAPER, n - wax paper.
him. GREASER, n (col) - a car mechanic or a semi-
GO ON FOR, v- to approach a time, an age, an skilled engine attendant aboard a merchant
amount, etc. I'm not sure how old he is, but ship.
he must be going on for seventy. GREEN FINGERS, pi n - green thumbs.
GO UP, v - to go or return to university at the GREEN PEPPER, n - 3 bell pepper.
beginning of a term or academic year. See GREENGROCER, n - 3 retail seller of fresh fruits
GO DOWN. and vegetables, but not other foods.
GO WITHOUT, y/ - to be denied or deprived of GRIDDLE, n - a thick round iron plate with a
something, especially food. Well, if you half hoop handle over the top, for making
don't like porridge, you can go without. scones, etc. Also a verb.
GO-SLOW, n - in a labor conflict, a slowdown. GRILL, v- to broil.
The verb is GO SLOW. GRISKIN, n - the lean part of a loin of pork.
GOB, n (col) - mouth. As a verb, it means to GRITTER, n - a vehicle which spreads grit on
spit. A GOBSTOPPER is a large, hard candy roads during icy weather.
consisting of different colored concentric GROUND FLOOR, n - the first floor.
layers that are revealed as it is sucked. GUARD, n - the official in charge of a tram.
GOBSMACKED, adj (col) - astounded, amazed. GUILDHALL, n - the meeting hall of a guild or a
GOGGLEBOX, n (col) - the boob tube. town hall.
GOODS, pi n - freight, as in goods train, goods GUMDROP, n - a small candy made of sweet-
wagon (freight car), goods lift (freight el- ened, colored and flavored gum arabic. Of-
evator), etc. ten coated with coarse granulated sugar.



GUMPTION, n (col) - common sense, initiative HAMMER, v- to criticize severely.

or resourcefulness. He doesn't have the HAMPER, n - a \arge basket and the food it
gumption to come in when it rains. usaslly contains.
GUV, n (col) - see GOVERNOR. HARD, adj (col) - incorrigible or disreputable,
GUY FAWKES NIGHT, n - November 5, cel- especially in the phrase A HARD CASE.
ebrated with bonfires and fireworks. It com- HARD CHEESE, sent sub (col) - bad luck. An-
memorates the foiling of the plot led by other common expression with exactly the
Guy Fawkes in 1605 to blow up the Houses same meaning is HARD LINES.
of Parliament and its occupants, including HARLEY STREET, n - a street in central Lon-
the king. A GUY is a crude effigy of Guy don famous for the \arge number of medi-
Fawkes, usually made of old clothes stuffed C3l specialists who have their offices there.
with straw and rags, and burnt on top of a HARVEST HOME, A7 - 3 harvest SUpper.
bonfire. HASTY PUDDING, n - a simple pudding made
GYMKHANA, n - a meet at which contests are from milk thickened with tapioca, semolina,
held to test the skill of the competitors, e.g. etc., and sweetened.
in equestrianship, gymnastics, or sports car HAT TRICK, n - in cricket, the achievement of a
racing. bowler in taking three wickets with three
successive balls. Generally, any three suc-
cessive successes. McHugh scored three
fine goals and only narrowly missed a hat
H sexual intercourse.
HAVE ONE OVER THE EIGHT, adj (col) - to be drunk.
H, adj (abbr) - on pencils, the letter signifies HEADMASTER Or HEADMISTRESS, n - the principal
the degree of hardness of the lead: H, 2H, of a school.
3H. HB stands for hard-black, denoting a HEATH, n - a large open area, usually with
medium-hard lead. sandy soil 3nd scrubby vegetation, espe-
HABERDASHER, n - not a seller of men's cloth- cially heather.
ing, but of small articles for sewing, e.g. but- HELTER-SKELTER, n - a high Spiral Slide at a fair-
tons, zips, ribbons, thread, etc. ground.
HAIR, n (col) - in the expression KEEP YOUR HAIR HERDSMAN, n - a herder of livestock.
ON!: don't get excited, keep calm. HIDE, n - a hunter's or birder's blind.
HAIR SLIDE, n - a barette. HIGH JUMP, n (col) - in the expression BE FOR
HAIRGRIP, n - a bobby pin. THE HIGH JUMP: to be liable to receive a se-
HAIRLESS, adj (col) - very angry, raging. vere reprimand or punishment.
HAKE, n - a fish related to and resembling the HIGH STREET, n - main street. They had a little
cod. flat off Kensington High Street. Used as a
HALF, n (col) - in the adverbial expression NOT modifier, it means geared to meet the re-
HALF: really, very, indeed. He's not half quirements of the general public: high-
clever. street fashion.
HALF SEAS OVER, adj (col) - drunk. HIPSTERS, pi n - hip-huggers.
HALF TERM, n - a short holiday midway through HIRE OUT, v - to pay independent contractors
an academic term. for work to be done.
HALLMARK, n - an official series of marks HIRE-PURCHASE or (abbr) HP, n - instalment
stamped by the London Guild of Goldsmiths plan.
on gold, silver, or platinum articles to guar- HOARDING, n - a billboard.
antee purity. HOCKEY, n - field hockey, mainly a girls' sport



in Britain. liament, made up of members of the nobil-

HODMAN, n - another name for a hod carrier. ity and high-ranking clergy.
HOLDALL, n - a large strong bag, a carryall. HOUSE-TRAIN, v - to housebreak.
HOLIDAY, n - the usual word for a vacation. A HOUSEHOLD GODS, pi n (col, old) - the essen-
HOLIDAY CAMP is a place, especially near the tials of domestic life.
sea, providing accommodation, recre- HOUSEMAN, n - an intern in a hospital.
ational facilities and so on for HOLIDAY-MAK- HOUSING ESTATE, n - a planned area of hous-
ERS. ing, often with its own shops, amenities,
HOLS, pi n (col) - short for holidays. and particular social problems. A distinc-
HOME AND DRY, adj (col) - definitely out of dan- tive feature of urban Britain, a cross be-
ger or successful. We won't be home and tween a subdivision and a housing project.
dry until all the votes have been counted. HOVERCRAFT, n - an air-cushion vehicle.
HOME COUNTIES, pi n - the counties surround- HUM, v (col) - to smell unpleasant.
ing London. HUMBUG, n - a hard boiled candy, usually fla-
HOME OFFICE or (abbr) HO, n - the govern- vored with peppermint and having a striped
ment department responsible for law and pattern.
order, immigration, etc. The Home Secre- HUMP, v (col) - to carry or heave something
tary is in charge of it. heavy, especially on the back. He humped
HOMELY, adj- warm and domesticated in man- the body down to the river. As a noun, the
ner or appearance, or unpretentious. The word means a fit of depression or sulking.
word is not insulting. Just thinking about it gives me the hump.
HONK, v (col) - to chuck up, vomit. She asked for my opinion and then took
HONOURS LIST, n - a list of those who have had the hump when I told her. The adjective
or are having a title conferred on them. HUMPY means angry or gloomy.
There are two new honours lists each year, HUMPBACK BRIDGE, n - a bridge with a sharp
in January and June, when people receive incline and decline, usually on a narrow
titles of nobility or membership of one of roadway.
the various orders of chivalry. HUMPTY, n - a low padded seat, a pouffe.
HOOD, n - the folding roof of a convertible. US HUMPTY DUMPTY, n - a short fat person.
HOOK, n - in the expression SLING ONE'S HOOK: pounds (50.802 kilograms), not, as in the
to leave. US short hundredweight, 100 pounds
HOOPLA, n - a carnival game in which a player (45.359 kilograms).
tries to throw a hoop over an object, thereby HURLEY, n - another name for the game of hurl-
winning the object. ing.
HOORAY HENRY, n (col) - a derogatory term for HUSH PUPPY, n - a brand of soft suede shoe.
a spoiled upper-class young man. HYPERMARKET, n - a huge self-service store,
HOOT, v- to honk a horn. usually built on the outskirts of a town.
HOOTER, n (col) -1. a car horn. 2. a nose.
HOOVER, v- to vacuum. Used as a noun, an-
other word for vacuum-cleaner. A trade-
HORSEBOX, n - a trailer used for transporting
HOTPOT, n - a baked stew or casserole made
with meat or fish and covered with a layer ICE LOLLY, n (col) - popsicle.
of potatoes. ICING SUGAR, n - confectioners' sugar.
HOUSE OF LORDS, n - the upper house of Par- ILLUMINATIONS, pi n - colored lights used as



decoration in streets, parks, etc. placent selfishness. It can be used as a

IMMEDIATELY, adv - at the same time as, as modifier: an 'I'm all right, Jack'attitude.
soon as. Immediately he opened the door, JACKSIE or JACKSY, n (col) - the buttocks or
the noise of the machines filled the room. anus, butt, can.
IMMERSION HEATER, r? - a device for heating a JAKES, pi n - a Iatrine or privy.
domestic hot-water tank. JAMMY, adj (col) - lucky. You jammy so-and-
IMMIGRANT, n - a person who has been settled so! That was a jammy shot if I ever saw
for less than ten years in a country of which one.
he is not a native. JAR, n (col) - a glass of alcoholic drink, espe-
INCOME SUPPORT, n - a welfare payment for the cislly beer. We have time for one more jar
unemployed and people on low incomes. before we go back. Why don't we get to-
INDENT, v- to place an order for foreign goods gether for a jar or two one of these eve-
through an agent, or to order goods by pur- nings?
chase order or official requisition. As a JELLY, n - 1. jello. 2. (col) a slang name for
noun, it means an official requisition or gelignite.
purchase order for goods. JERKS or PHYSICAL JERKS, pi n (col) - physical
INDUSTRIAL, adj - often used to refer to labor: exercises.
an industrial dispute, industrial conditions. JIB AT, n - to be reluctant to do something, to
INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, n - an industrial park. hold back from, to balk 3t.
INFANT, n - as well as baby, the word can mean JIGGERY-POKERY, n (col) - dishonest or deceit-
a young schoolchild under the age of ful behavior, trickery. The Inland Revenue
seven. rules are understandably framed to prevent
INFANT SCHOOL, n - school for children aged jiggery-pokery.
between 5 and 7. See PRIMARY SCHOOL. JOB, n (col) - in the expression ON THE JOB:
INGLENOOK, n - 3 corner by a fireplace, a chim- engaged in sexual intercourse.
ney corner. JOBBER, n - a middleman in the exchange of
INLAND, adj - operating within a country, do- stocks and securities among brokers.
mestic as opposed to foreign. JOBCENTRE, n - a government office in the
INSOLVENCY PROVISION, n - the right of employ- main shopping area of a town in which job-
ees of a company that goes bankrupt to hunters can consult displayed sdvertise-
receive money owed to them as wages, etc. ments in informal surroundings. There are
INTERVAL, n - an intermission, e.g. between hundreds of them throughout the country.
two acts of a play. JOE BLOGGS or JOE SOAP, n (col) - Joe Blow.
INVERTED COMMAS, pi n - another name for quo- JOHNNY, n (col) -1. a man or boy, a fellow. 2. a
tstion marks. condom.
INVIGILATE, v - to proctor. A person who does JOINER, n - a person trained and skilled in
so is an INVIGILATOR. making finished woodwork, e.g. windows,
doors, stairs, etc.
JOINT, n - a piece of meat for roasting.
JOINT-STOCK COMPANY, n - a business enterprise
characterized by its separate legal exist-
ence and the sharing of ownership between
J shareholders, whose liability is limited. In
a US joint-stock company, owners 3re is-
JAB or JAG, n (col) - an injection, a shot. Polio sued shares of transferable stock but do
jabs. not enjoy limited liability.
JACK, n (col) - in the expression I'M ALL RIGHT, JOLLY, adv - extremely, to a great extent or
JACK: a remark indicating smug and com- degree. He had some jolly interesting things



to say. tion.
JOY, n (col) - success, satisfaction. Did you KINK, n (col) - a sexual deviation. The adjec-
get any joy with that loan you asked for? tive is KINKY.
JUDY, n (col) - a girl or woman. KIOSK, n - a telephone box.
JUG, n - a pitcher. KIP, n - sleep, a nap. /'// leave the baby at
JUGGERNAUT, n - a very large truck for trans- your place, so I can get some kip. I feel like
porting freight by road, especially one that a kip. Also used as a verb: You can kip in
travels throughout Europe. my bed.
JUMBLE SALE, n - a rummage sale. KIPPER, n - smoked herring.
JUMP SEAT, n - a folding seat in a London taxi. KIRBY GRIP, n - a bobby pin.
JUMPER, n - a light pullover. KIT OUT, v - to provide with a kit of personal
JUNIOR SCHOOL, n - school for children aged effects and necessities.
between 7 and 11. See PRIMARY SCHOOL. KITTENS, pi n (col) - in the expression HAVE
KITTENS: to have a cow. Another expression
with an identical meaning is HAVE A CANARY.
KNACKERED, adj (col) - exhausted. Is it much
further? I'm knackered.
KNEES-UP, n (col) - a lively and noisy celebra-
tion, especially one with dancing. Deriving
from the Cockney dancing song 'Knees up
KEEN, adj- of prices, extremely low, competi- Mother Brown'.
tive. KNICKERS, pi n - panties. Colloquially, to GET
KEEP, v - to have permanently in stock. This ONE'S KNICKERS IN A TWIST is to become un-
shop keeps all kinds of wools. duly angry or annoyed about something. I'm
KEG, n - an aluminum container in which beer not a toy-boy, but if it amuses you to call
is transported and stored. KEG BEER is kept me that, I'm not going to get my knickers in
in such a container, infused with gas, and a twist over it.
served under pressure. KNOBS, pi n (col) - in the expression AND THE
KERB, n - a curb. KERB-CRAWLING is the act of SAME TO YOU WITH KNOBS ON: the same to you
driving slowly along the edge of the pave- but even more so.
ment while soliciting a prostitute. A KERB- KNOCK BACK, v (col) - to drink, either quickly
CRAWLER is a person who does this. or in quantity. / never met anybody who
KERFUFFLE, n (col) - commotion, disorder, agi- could knock back the beer the way you can.
tation. KNOCK OFF, v (col) - to steal.
KEY STAGE, n - in education, one of the four KNOCK UP, n - not to make someone pregnant
broad age-group divisions to which the NA- but 1. to wake or rouse someone. Can you
TIONAL CURRICULUM applies. These are 5-7, knock me up early tomorrow morning? 2.
7-11, 11-14 and 14-16 years. to make something quickly or to improvise,
KG, n (abbr) - Knight of the Order of the Gar- e.g a meal, a set of shelves, etc. Do you
ter. want me to knock you up a few sand-
KIDOLOGY, n (col) - the art of bluffing or de- wiches? 3. to warm up before a tennis or
ception. Cf. US sayings like Don't kid a kid- squash match.
der. KNOCK-ON, adj - resulting indirectly but inevi-
KING OF THE CASTLE, n - a children's game in tably from another event or circumstance.
which each child tries to stand alone on a // the factory closes, the 500 people who
mound, sandcastle, etc. by pushing other work here will lose their jobs, and, because
children off it. By extension, any person of the knock-on effect, so will hundreds of
who is in a commanding or superior posi- others in the area.



KNOCKDOWN, adj - cheap. If you wait until the LEAGUE TABLE, n - a tabulated comparison of
January sales, you can get them at a knock- clubs or teams competing in a sporting
down price. league. By extension, a comparison of per-
KNOCKING SHOP, o (col) - a brothel. formance, merit, importance, etc. in any
competitive situation. They refer to a league
table of wages.
LEFT-LUGGAGE OFFICE, n - a baggage room,
LEG-PULL, n (col) - a practical joke or mild de-
L ception.
LEMON SQUASH, n - a drink made from a sweet-
L-DRIVER, n - a learner-driver, who must be ened lemon concentrate and water.
accompanied by a qualified driver and dis- LET, v- to lease or rent property. As a noun,
play L-plates on the car. An L-PLATE is a it means the act of renting property or ac-
white rectangle with a red 'L' and must be commodation. The majority of new lets are
fixed to both the front and the rear of the covered by the rent regulations.
car. LETTER BOX, /7 - 1 . 3 dOOr Slot, USU3lly COV-
LABOUR PARTY, n - one of the two main politi- ered with a hinged flap, through which let-
cal parties in Britain, formed in 1900 to se- ters are delivered to a building. 2. a public
cure adequate parliamentary representa- box into which letters are put for collection
tion for labor. and delivery. In the Iatter sense, also called
LADDER, n - a run in hose or stockings. a POSTBOX Or a PILLAR BOX.
LADYBIRD, n - a ladybug. LEVEL CROSSING, n - a grade crossing.
LAMPPOST, n - a street lamp. LEVEL PEGGING, n (col) - equaIity between two
LANDLORD, n - a pub-keeper. contestants.
LARRY, n (col) - in the expression AS HAPPY AS LIBERAL STUDIES, n - a supplementary arts
LARRY: extremely happy. course for those specializing in scientific,
LASH OUT or SPLASH OUT, v (col) - to spend technical or professional studies.
money freely or extravagantly. This year we LICENSING LAWS, pi n - the laws governing when
decided to lash out on a really good holi- 3nd where liquor may be sold.
day, so we're going to India. LID, n (col) - in the expression PUT THE LID ON
LASHINGS, pi n (col) - lavish quantities, espe- SOMETHING: to be the final blow to some-
cially when referring to food or drink. Roast thing.
beef with lashings of gravy. LIE-IN, n - a long stay in bed in the morning.
LAUNDERETTE, n - a laundromat. Both words LIFE PRESERVER, n - not a life jacket but a kind
are trademarks. of blackjack kept for self-defence.
LAVATORY PAPER, n - another name for toilet LIFT, n - an elevator.
paper. LIMB, n (col) - in the expression OUT ON A LIMB:
LAW CENTRE, n - an independent service pro- isolated, especially because of unpopular
viding free legal advice and information to opinions.
the general public and financed by a local LIMITED or (abbr) LTD, n - or a company, in-
authority. corporated. It refers to the shareholders'
LAY ON, v - to install. / hope they can lay on limited liability. See PLC.
electricity. LINESMAN, n - a lineman.
LAY-BY, n - a place for drivers to stop at the LIP-SALVE, n - chap-stick.
side of a highway, a pull-off. LIVER SAUSAGE, n - liverwurst.
LEADER or LEADING ARTICLE, n - the main edito- LOAF, n (col) - head, brains. Use your loaf!
rial in a newspaper. RHYMING SLANG: loaf of bread.



LOCAL, n (col) - a pub close to one's residence in a pub or hotel, most pubs being divided
or place of work and an Englishman's sec- into PUBLIC BAR and lounge.
ond home. LOUNGE SUIT, n - a business suit.
LOCAL AUTHORITY, n - local government. LOVE or LUV or LOVEY, n (col) - a friendly or
LOCK, n - the extent to which a car's front affectionate way of addressing anyone of
wheels will turn to the right or left. This car the opposite sex. That'll be 6.50, love. Is
has a good lock. this your first visit to England, love?
LOCKUP, n - a garage or storage place sepa- LUCKY DIP, n - a grab bag.
rate from the main premises. LUD, n - lord. Used only in the phrase M'LUD
LOCOMAN, n (col) - an engine-driver. (my lud) when addressing a judge in court.
LOCUM or LOCUM TENENs, n - a person who LUDO, n - a simple board game played by chil-
stands in temporarily for another member dren in which players advance counters by
of the same profession, especially a doc- throwing dice.
tor, chemist or clergyman. From Latin: hold- LUG, n - ear. A Scottish word.
ing the place. LUGGAGE VAN, n - the baggage car.
LODGE, n - a small house at the entrance to LUMBER, n- miscellaneous household articles
the grounds of a country mansion. that are stored away. As a verb, to clutter
LODGER, n - a roomer. up with such articles. A LUMBER ROOM is a
LOLLIPOP, n - a large piece of candy on a stick, spare room where things are stored.
for sucking slowly. LUMBER WITH, v- to burden with something un-
LOLLY, n (col) - 1. another name for LOLLIPOP pleasant, tedious, etc. Women still tend to
or ICE LOLLY. 2. a slang word for money. be lumbered with the cooking and clean-
LOO, n (col) - a toilet. In the middle of the ing. When reports have to be written, I'm
night he awoke to find he had to go to the always the one who gets lumbered.
loo again. LUMP, THE, n - self-employed workers in the
LORD, n - a title and way of addressing an construction industry considered collec-
earl, marquess, baron or viscount, or the tively, especially when referring to tax and
younger sons of a duke or marquess. national insurance evasion.
LORD CHANCELLOR, n - in the British govern- LUNCHEON VOUCHER or (abbr) LV, n - a voucher
ment, the cabinet minister who is head of worth a certain amount issued to employ-
the judiciary in England and Wales and ees to be exchanged for food in restaurants.
Speaker of the House of Lords. The British equivalent of a meal ticket.
LORD'S, n- Britain's main cricket stadium, in
LORDSHIP, n - preceded by Your or His, a title
used to address or refer to a bishop, a judge
of the high court, or any peer except a duke.
LORRY, n - another word for truck. Colloqui-
ally, the phrase FALL OFF THE BACK OF A LORRY
implies that something has been dishon- MAC or MACK or MACKINTOSH, n - a raincoat.
estly acquired. If he's selling DVDs at that MAGISTRATES COURT, n - a court held before two
price, you can be sure they fell off the back or more justices of the peace or a stipendi-
of a lorry. ary magistrate and dealing with minor
LOSSMAKER, n - an organization, industry or crimes and preliminary hearings (to decide
enterprise that consistently fails to make a whether there is a case to answer).
profit. MAGPIE, n - a person who hoards small ob-
slightly superior and more expensive bar MAID OF HONOUR, n - a small tart with an al-



mond-flavored filling. MATE, n - a friend, usually of the same sex.

MAINS, n - the pipes or wires which supply The word is often used to address any other
water, gas, and electricity to buildings. Used male. We've been mates ever since we
especially to refer to the place where these were at school. Tell you what, mate, I'll let
pipes and wires end inside the building. you have it for a tenner. The adjective MATEY
First turn the water supply off at the mains. means friendly or intimate, on good terms.
To save batteries, plug your laptop into the MATHS, n - math.
mains whenever possible. MATRON, n - the administrative head of the
MAISONETTE, n - a self-contained duplex apart- nursing staff in a hospital.
ment, often part of a larger house and hav- MAY or MAY TREE, n - another name for haw-
ing its own outside entrance. thorn.
MAKE REDUNDANT, v - to deprive someone of MAYFAIR, n - a smart, rich district in the cen-
his job because it is no longer necessary. ter of London. On the British Monopoly
A common and chilling expression. They board, the most expensive place to land.
will be making 250 workers redundant at MAYOR, n - the chairman of a municipal or bor-
their processing plant next year. ough council. Outside this restricted field,
MANAGING DIRECTOR, n - the chief executive of- his functions are mainly ceremonial.
ficer of a corporation. MEALS-ON-WHEELS, n - a welfare service, run
MANCUNIAN, n - a person from Manchester. by a social services department or volun-
MANOR, n (col) - a police district. tary organization, which delivers hot meals
MANURE, n - any material, especially chemi- to senior citizens or other housebound
cal fertilizer, used to fertilize land. people who might otherwise be unable to
MARCHING ORDERS, pi n (col) - notice of dis- have them.
missal from a job, walking papers. MEAN, adj - miserly, tight with money, petty.
MARG or MARGE, n (col) - short for margarine. As employers, they are notoriously mean.
MARGINAL, adj - relating to a constituency in A MEANIE or MEANY is a miserly or stingy per-
which elections tend to be won by narrow son.
margins. The seats they are defending are MECCANO, n - a brand of construction set,
marginal. similar to an Erector set.
MARK, v- in soccer, to stay close to an oppo- MEP, n (abbr) - Member of the European Par-
nent in order to hamper his play. liament.
MARK SOMEONE'S CARD, v (col) - to put some- MEPACRINE, n - the drug quinacrine.
one in the picture, inform someone: 'There MERCER, n - a dealer in textile fabrics and fine
are one or two Old Bill in the bar,' he in- cloth, especially silks.
formed him. 'Thought I'd mark your card, MERCHANT BANK, n - an investment bank.
Jack. Know what I mean' (G.F. Newman). MERRY, adj (col) - slightly drunk.
MARKET GARDEN, n - an establishment where MESS KIT, n - in the military, formal evening
fruit and vegetables are grown for sale at a dress for officers.
market. A truck farm. METHYLATED SPIRITS, n - denatured alcohol. Of-
MARMITE, n - a yeast and vegetable extract ten shortened to METHS.
used as a spread, flavoring, etc. A trade- METROPOLITAN POLICE, n - the London police.
mark. MEWS, n - an alley or street lined by buildings
MARROW, n - marrow squash. originally used as stables but now con-
MASH, n (col) - mashed potatoes. verted into fashionable and expensive
MASSES, pi n (col) - lots, great numbers or dwellings. Informally, an individual resi-
quantities. The table was piled high with dence in such a street.
masses of food. MICKEY, n (col) - self-assurance. To TAKE THE
MASTER, n - a male teacher. See HEADMASTER. MICKEY OUT OF SOMEONE is to tease or make



fun of them. It was nothing serious, I was MOPED, n - a motorbike, i.e. not over 50cc.
just taking the mickey out of him. MOTHERING SUNDAY, n - another, less common
MIDLANDS, THE, pi n - the central counties of name for Mother's Day, the fourth Sunday
England, characterized by manufacturing in Lent.
industries. MOTION, n - 1. the evacuation of the bowels.
MILD, n - draught beer, darker colored than 2. excrement. I've been rather constipated
bitter and flavored with fewer hops. lately, Doctor - slow motion and no motion,
MILESTONE, n - a mlilepost. you know.
MILK FLOAT, n - a small truck used to deliver MOTOR, n - a car. A MOTORIST is a driver, espe-
milk to houses. cially when considered as a car-owner. The
MILK ROUND, n - a route along which a milk- MOTORING CORRESPONDENT Of a newspaper
man regularly delivers milk. By extension, covers developments in the automobile in-
a regular series of visits, especially those dustry. A MOTORWAY is a superhighway.
made by recruitment officers from industry MOUSETRAP, n (col) - cheese of poor quality.
to universities. The term may be used as a MOUTH ORGAN, n - another name for a har-
modifier: milk-round recruitment. monica.
MILLEFEUILLE, A? - a napoleon, i.e. a small cake MP, n (abbr) - Member of Parliament, i.e.
of puff pastry filled with cream. From elected to the House of Commons.
French: thousand leaves. MRS BEETON, n - a British cookery writer of
MINCEMEAT Or MINCED MEAT Or MINCE, n - ham- the 19th century, still referred to as an au-
burger meat. thority today.
MINCER, n - a meat grinder. MRS MOP, n (col) - a cleaning lady.
MIND OUT, v - to be careful or pay attention. MUCH OF A MUCHNESS, n - very similar. In gen-
You'd better mind out the boss doesn't see eral appearance they were all much of a
you doing that. muchness.
MINDER, n (col) - a bodyguard or an aide to MUCK ABOUT, v (col) - to waste time, to mess
someone in public life, especially a politi- about. To MUCK UP or TO MAKE A MUCK OF some-
cian, keeping control of press and public thing is to ruin or spoil it.
relations. MUCK IN, v (col) - to share something, e.g. du-
MINERAL, n - a soft drink, soda. ties, work, etc. with other people, to pitch
MINGE, n - the female genitals or women col- in together. If we all muck in, we can get
lectively considered as sexual objects. this finished in no time.
MINGY, adj(col)- meagre, niggardly. Probably MUCKER, n (col) - a friend.
a blend of mean and stingy. MUDDLE THROUGH, v - to succeed in doing
MINICAB, n - a small saloon car used as a taxi. something in spite of lack of organization.
It responds to phone calls but is not li- MUG, n (col) - someone who is easily
censed to cruise for fares. swindled, a sucker. A MUG'S GAME is an ac-
MISCARRY, v - of freight, mail, etc., to fail to tivity where one is sure to lose money. Bet-
reach a destination. ting on horses is a mug's game.
MISERY, n (col) - a person who is habitually MUGGINS, n (col) -1. a foolish person who has
depressed. He's such a misery. been taken advantage of by others, a
MISTER, n - the form of address for a surgeon. sucker. 2. a humorous way to refer to one-
MISTRESS, n - a female teacher. See MASTER. self. In both cases, it is normally used with-
MO, n - short for moment, especially in the out an article.
phrase HALF A MO. MUM, n (col) - mom.
MOBILE, n - a cellular phone. MUSIC-HALL, n - vaudeville.
MOG or MOGGY, n (col) - a cat. MUSO, n (col) - a derogatory term for a pop
MONKEY NUTS, pi n - peanuts in their shells. musician who is overconcerned with tech-



nique rather than content or expression. in the expression GET THE NEEDLE: to feel dis-
like, distaste, nervousness or annoyance.
He got the needle after she had refused
his invitation.
NERVY, adj - not brash, bold or brazen, but
tense, apprehensive, jumpy. Harding was
becoming nervy and irritable; having his
sleep interrupted in the manner it had been
NAAFI, n (abbr) - Navy, Army, and Air Force did nothing to induce calm (G.F. Newman).
Institutes, an organization providing can- NEVER-NEVER, n (col) - instalment plan. He
teens, shops, etc., for British military per- bought the car on the never-never. See HIRE
sonnel at home and overseas. A Naafi shop PURCHASE.
is similar to a PX store. NEWSAGENT, n - a newsdealer. His shop not
NAFF, adj (col) - inferior, in poor taste, socially only sells newpapers and magazines, but
unacceptable. Princess Anne used the verb also stationery, greetings cards, candy, etc.
NAFF OFF, in the imperative, to tell members NEWSREADER, n - a radio or television news
of the press to beat it. announcer.
NANCY or NANCY BOY, n (col) - like US nance, a NICK, v (col) -1. to steal. / left it in the car and
disparaging term for an effeminate man, es- some bastard nicked it. 2. to arrest. They
pecially a homosexual. nicked them as they came out of the bank.
NAPPY, n - a diaper. Diaper rash is NAPPY RASH. As a noun, the word means either a police
NARK, n (col) - 1. an informer or spy working station or the condition something is in. It's
for the police. 2. a person who complains had four previous owners, but it's still in
irritatingly: an old nark. Used as a verb, it fairly good nick.
means to annoy, upset or irritate: He was NICKER, n (col) - a pound sterling.
narked by her indifference. NIP, v (col) - to hurry, go quickly or for a short
NASTY PIECE OF WORK, n (col) - a cruel, dan- time. I'll just nip out and post these letters.
gerous or miserly person. They nipped into the pub for a quick one.
NATIONAL GRID, n - a network of high-voltage NIPPER, n (col) - a small boy.
power lines connecting major power sta- NIPPY, adj (col) - quick, nimble. It can also be
tions. used to describe a car which is small and
NATIONAL INSURANCE, n - the compulsory state relatively powerful.
insurance scheme based on weekly con- NISSEN HUT, n - British equivalent of a Quonset
tributions from employees and employers hut.
and providing payments to the unemployed, NO-GO AREA, n - a district in a town that is
the sick, the retired, etc., as well as medi- barricaded off, usually by a paramilitary or-
cal services. ganization, which the police, army, etc. can
NATTER, v - to talk idly, to chatter or gossip. only enter by force.
Also used as a noun. NOB, n (col) - a person of wealth or social
NAVVY, n - an unskilled worker on a construc- distinction. The nobs were forever snubbing
tion site, excavation or roadwork. In the the snobs (C.C. O'Brien).
19th century navvies dug the navigational NOBBLE, v (col) - 1. to disable a race-horse,
canals between the major industrial cen- especially with drugs. 2. to suborn a juror
ters. by threats or bribery.
NEARSIDE, n - the side of a car nearest the NON-U, adj - not characteristic of or used by
edge of the road, i.e. in Britain, the left side. the upper class, especially regarding lan-
Cf. OFFSIDE. guage.
NEEDLE, n (col) - ill-will, a grudge, especially NORMAN, adj - relating to the period in En-



gland following the conquest of 1066. bad, sour, etc. This milk is off. 2. in a res-
NOSY PARKER, n - a prying person, a busybody. taurant, not being served at the moment.
NOT HALF, adV (COl) - See HALF. Sorry, sir, haddock is off.
NOTE, n - short for banknote. The word 'bill' is OFF COLOUR, adj - slightly ill, unwell.
not used in this sense. Have you got change OFF-LICENCE, n - a package store, liquor store.
for a ten-pound note? Sales of alcoholic drink for consumption off
NOUGHTS AND CROSSES, n - tick-tack-toe, criss- the premises by a pub or an off-licence at-
cross. tached to a pub are called OFF-SALES.
NOUS, n (col) - good sense, intelligence, OFF-THE-PEG, adj - off-the-rack, ready-made.
shrewdness. Hillela had the nous to take OFFSIDE, n - the side of a vehicle nearest the
up with the General when he was on the centre of the road, i.e. in Britain, the right
up-and-up again (Nadine Gordimer). Pro- side. The OFFSIDE LANE is the right-hand lane,
nounced noose. the OFFSIDE PASSENGER DOOR is the one on
NUMBER, n (col) - in the expression ONE'S NUM- the right. The opposite is NEARSIDE.
BER is UP: one is finished, one is ruined or OIK, n (col) - a person regarded as inferior
about to die. because ignorant, ill-educated, or lower-
NUMBER PLATE, n - the license plate on a car. class.
NUT, n (col) - in the expression DO ONE'S NUT: OLD BAILEY, n - the chief criminal court in Lon-
to be extremely angry, go into a rage. don. Also the Central Criminal Court of En-
NUTMEG, v (col) - in various sports, to kick or gland.
hit the ball between the legs of an oppos- OLD BILL, n (col) - the police or any individual
ing player. policeman.
NUTTER, n - a crazy person, a headcase. OLD BOY, n - a male graduate of a school, an
alumnus. Not necessarily of a British pub-
lic school, despite the disapproving term
OLD BOY NETWORK, meaning the appointment
to power of former alumni of the same small
group of public schools and universities. He
O got on to the board through the old boy net-
work. An OLD GIRL is a female ex-student.
O LEVEL, n - formerly, the basic level of the OLD LAG, n (col) - a long-term prisoner.
General Certificate of Education, now re- OLD SCHOOL TIE, n - a distinctive tie that indi-
placed by GCSE, an exam taken at age 16. cates which school the wearer attended.
He has eight O-levels. He failed O-level OLD SWEAT, n (col) - an old soldier, a veteran,
maths. The 'o' stood for ordinary, as op- or, generally, a person who has a great deal
posed to advanced. See A-LEVEL. of experience in some activity.
O.N.O., n (abbr) - in advertisements the ab- OM, n (abbr) - Order of Merit, an order con-
breviation of or nearest offer. Equivalent of ferred on civilians and servicemen for emi-
USo.b.o. nence in any field.
QBE, n (abbr) - Officer of the Order of the ONE-OFF, n - something that is carried out or
British Empire. made only once. As a modifier: a one-off
OBSTACLE, n - a fence or hedge in job. The group is set to play a one-off show
showjumping. with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.
ODDS, pin-a significant difference, especially ONIONS, pi n (col) - in the expression KNOW
in the phrase IT MAKES NO ODDS. ONE'S ONIONS: to be fully acquainted with a
ODDS AND SODS, pi n (col) - miscellaneous subject.
people or things. OPEN UNIVERSITY, n - a university founded in
OFF, adj - 1. of food and drink, having gone 1969 for mature students studying by cor-



respondence courses, aided by television PACK, n - another word for a deck of cards.
and radio lectures, local counselling and PACK IN, v (col) - to stop doing something, es-
summer schools. pecially in the phrase PACK IT IN. I'm getting
OPENCAST MINING, n - strip mining. too old for this kind of work. Soon I'm go-
OPENING TIME, n - the time at which pubs can ing to have to pack it in.
legally start selling drinks. PACK UP, v- to break down, stop working. The
OPERATING THEATRE, n - the operating room in engine packed up just before we reached
a hospital. Dover.
OPTIC, n - a device attached to an inverted PACKED LUNCH, n - a SaCk lunch.
bottle for dispensing measured quantities PAKI, n (col) - a derogatory term for a Paki-
of liquid, e.g. whiskey, gin, etc. stani or person of Pakistani descent, or,
ORDINARY SHARES, pi n - Common StOCk. loosely, for a person from any part of the
ORDNANCE SURVEY, n - the official map-mak- Indian subcontinent. The racist practice of
ing body of the British or Irish government. making unprovoked physical assaults on
ORPINE or ORPIN, n - the plant live-forever. such people is called PAKI-BASHING. Pro-
OTHER RANKS, pi n - all those who do not hold nounced pack-ee.
a commissioned rank in the armed forces. PANDA CAR, n - a police cruiser. So called be-
OUTFITTER Or MEN'S OUTFITTER, n - a Shop that cause its blue-and-white markings re-
sells men's clothes, a haberdasher. semble the black-and white markings of the
OVEN GLOVES, pi n - pot holders. giant panda.
OVERALL, n - a loose-fitting protective outer PANNIKIN, n - a small metal cup or pan.
garment, a smock. PANTECHNICON, n (old) - a furniture removal
OVERSPILL, n - the movement of people from truck.
overcrowded cities to less populated areas. PANTO, n (col) - short for pantomime. See next
OVERTAKE, n - to pass another vehicle. entry.
OWNER-OCCUPIER, n - a person who owns or is PANTOMIME, n - a kind of play peformed at
in the process of buying the house or apart- Christmas, characterized by farce, music,
ment he or she lives in. lavish sets, stock roles, and topical jokes.
OXBRIDGE, n - Oxford and Cambridge univer- Or, generally, any confused or farcical situ-
sities regarded as the seat of traditional ation.
academic and social excellence, privilege PANTS, pin - underpants. US pants = GB trou-
and exclusiveness. Used as a modifier: He sers.
spoke with an Oxbridge accent. Oxbridge PARAFFIN or PARAFFIN OIL, n - kerosene.
graduates have long dominated the diplo- PARALYTIC, adj (col) - blind drunk.
matic service. PARCEL, n - another word for a package.
OXONIAN, adj - relating to Oxford or Oxford PARKY, adj (col) - of the weather, chilly, cold.
University. As a noun, it means someone PART EXCHANGE, n - a transaction in which used
who comes from Oxford or who is a mem- goods are taken as partial payment for
ber of the university. more expensive ones of the same type. A
PARTERRE, n - the pit in a theater.
PASS OUT, v- to qualify for a military commis-
sion. General Anderson passed out from
Sandhurst in 1957.
P PASSENGER, n (col) - a member of a group or
team who is a burden on the others be-
p & P, n (abbr) - postage and packing. cause of not participating fully in the work.
PA, n (abbr) personal assistant. / expect everybody to pull his weight, be-



cause there's no place for passengers on are trademarks but are often written in
this project. lower case. The receptionist regrets the
PASTY, n - a pie or turnover, especially one construction of a perspex divider at her
filled with seasoned meat or fish. counter.
PATHETIC, adj (col) - ludicrous, beneath con- PETITIONER, n - the plaintiff in a divorce suit.
tempt, worthless. The standard of PETROL, n - gasoline. A PETROL STATION is a fill-
goalkeeping in amateur football today is pa- ing station.
thetic. PETTY SESSIONS, n - another name for a mag-
PATIENCE, n - the card game solitaire. istrates' court.
PATROLMAN, n - a man employed to patrol an PEW, n (col) - a seat, especially in the phrase
area to help drivers in difficulty. TAKE A PEW.
PAVEMENT, n - the sidewalk. PIAZZA, n - a covered passageway or gallery.
PAVILION, n - a building at a sports ground, PICTURES, THE, n - a movie theater or film show.
especially a cricket pitch, in which players When we were kids, we used to go to the
change. pictures every Saturday afternoon.
PAWKY, adj - shrewd and cunning, often in a PIGEON, n (col) - concern or responsibility, as
humorous way. in It's his pigeon now, let him worry about
PAYE, n (abbr) - Pay As You Earn, a system it.
whereby tax is deducted from wages at PIGSTY, n - a pigpen. Figuratively, a dirty or
source. untidy place. When was the last time you
PEASOUPER, n (col) - a dense, dirty yellowish cleaned out your room? It's a pigsty!
fog. PILLAR BOX, n - a red pillar-shaped box for
PEBBLE DASH, n - a rough finish for external mailing letters.
walls consisting of small stones embedded PILLOCK, n (col) - a stupid or annoying per-
in plaster. son.
PECKER, n (col) - courage, pluck, spirits, es- PINK, adj (col) - left-wing.
pecially in the expression KEEP ONE'S PECKER PINK GIN, n - gin and bitters.
UP. Keep your pecker up, mate, we haven't PINT, n - 1 UK pint = 0.568 litre, 1 US pint =
lost this match yet. 0.473 litre. Informally, a pint always refers
PECKISH, adj (col) - feeling slightly hungry. to a pint of beer, as in He's gone out for a
called a ZEBRA CROSSING. PISSED, adj (col) - not angry, but drunk. To GO
PEER, n - a member of the nobility, a noble- ON THE PISS means to go on a drinking binge.
man. A life peer, e.g. Margaret Thatcher, is A PISS-UP is a drinking session. A PISSHEAD
one who has been given the title of baron is a drunkard, a bullshit artist, or, very of-
or baroness and an accompanying seat in ten, both. A PISS ARTIST is a boastful or in-
the House of Lords, and whose title lapses competent person, or one who drinks
at death. heavily. To TAKE THE PISS means to tease or
PERIPATETIC, adj - employed in two or more to make fun of someone. To PISS OFF, used
educational establishments and travelling only in the imperative, means to go away.
from one to another. A peripatetic football PIT, n (col) - bed. It's nearly noon and the
coach. lazy bugger's still in his pit.
PERK, n (col) - short for perquisite. PITCH, n - 1. in many sports, e.g. soccer and
PERSISTENT CRUELTY, n - in British law, conduct cricket, the field of play. 2. a vendor's sta-
causing fear of danger to the life or health tion, especially on a sidewalk. Colloquially,
of a spouse. The term is used in matrimo- to QUEER SOMEONE'S PITCH is to upset their
nial proceedings before magistrates. plans or opportunities.
PERSPEX, n - similar to plexiglass. Both words PLACE, n - in horse racing, the first, second



or third position at the finish. PONCE, n (col) - another word for a pimp. To
PLACEMAN, n - a derogatory term for a person PONCE ABOUT is to do something slowly, in-
who holds a public office as a reward for correctly or unseriously.
political support and for private profit. PONG, n (col) - an offensive smell, a stench.
PLASTER, n - see STICKING PLASTER. He removed his shoes and instantly a pow-
PLATELAYER, n - a trackman. erful pong filled the room. Also used as a
PLATFORM, n - a raised area in a railroad sta- verb. The bazaars ponged of filthy oriental
tion, from which passengers have access spices. Pooh! it pongs!
to the trains. The 9:30 to Manchester is now PONTOON, n - another name for twenty-one,
departing from platform 8. i.e. the cardgame bisckjack.
PLAY UP, v (col) -1. to function erratically, e.g. PONY, n (col) - a sum of 25.
a machine. The bloody photocopier is play- POOF, n (col) - derogatory slang for a male
ing up again. 2. to hurt or cause one pain. homosexual.
My back's playing me up something fierce. POOLS or FOOTBALL POOLS, pi n - an organized
PLC or PLC, n (abbr) - public limited com- nationwide postal gambling pool betting on
pany, a synonym for LTD (limited) after the the result of soccer matches.
name of a corporation. Equivalent to Inc. POORLY, adj (col) - ill, unwell.
PLEB, n (col) - a common vulgar person. Short POPOVER, n - an individual Yorkshire pudding,
for plebeian. The adjective is PLEBBY. It was often served with roast beef.
a plebby sort of party. PORTER, n - a person in charge of a gate or
PLIMSOLLS, pi n - rubber-soled cloth shoes, door, a doorman.
sneakers. Also called GYM SHOES. POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION, n - affirmative action
PLONK, n (col) - cheap wine, usually of infe- (to counter discrimination against minority
rior quality. The word probably derives from groups in employment and education).
French blanc, white, in vin blanc. POST, v- to transfer to a different unit or ship,
PLUMMY, adj (col) - of speech, having a deep e.g. on taking up a new appointment.
tone and a refined and somewhat drawling POSTAL CODE Or POSTCODE, n - Zip COde.
articulation. POTHOLING, n - a sport dedicated to the ex-
PM, n (abbr) - the Prime Minister. ploration of underground caves. Practised
PO, n (col, old) - short for chamber pot. by a POTHOLER.
POCKET MONEY, n - a small weekly sum of POTTER ABOUT, v- to busy oneself in a desul-
money given to children by parents as an tory though agreeable way. I've been
allowance. pottering about in the garden all morning.
POET LAUREATE, n - the poet appointed as court To POTTER AWAY a period of time means to
poet of Britain, a lifetime post. The first was waste it. / intended to do all kinds of things
Ben Jonson in 1616. during the holidays, but in the end I just
POINTS SYSTEM, n - a system used to assess pottered them away as usual.
applicants' eligibility for local authority POTTY, adj (col) - slightly crazy, eccentric.
housing, based on points awarded for such PRAM, n - a baby carriage.
factors as the length of time the applicant PRAT, n (col) - an incompetent or ineffectual
has lived in the area, how many children person. Often used as a term of abuse.
are in the family, etc. PREFECT, n - a schoolchild appointed to a po-
POLE, n (col) - in the expression UP THE POLE: sition of limited power over other students.
slightly mad or completely mistaken, on the PREFERENCE SHARES, pi n - preferred stock.
wrong track. PREZZIE, n (col) - a present, gift.
POLYTECHNIC, n - 3n institute of higher educa- PRIMARY SCHOOL, n - grade school, for children
tion offering courses, especially vocational below the age of 11. It is usually divided
courses, at degree standard and below. into INFANT SCHOOL, for children aged be-



tween 5 and 7, and JUNIOR SCHOOL, for those PURSE, n - a change purse. US purse = GB
aged between 7 and 11. handbag.
PRIVATE PATIENT, n - a patient receiving medi- PUSH-BIKE, n (col) - a bicycle.
cal treatment not paid for by the National PUSHCHAIR, n - a stroller.
Health Service. Similarly, a PRIVATE PRACTICE PUT PAID TO, v - to end or destroy. This latest
is a medical practice that is not part of the injury puts paid to his hopes of participat-
NHS. ing in the forthcoming Olympics.
PRIVY PURSE, n - the money voted by Parlia-
PUT THROUGH, n - on the telephone, to con-
ment for the personal expenses of the mon-
PRODUCER, n - the director of a play. Similarly,
PRODUCTION refers to artistic direction, not
PROLE, adj (col) - short for proletarian.
PROMENADE, n - a public walk, especially at a Q
seaside resort.
PROVINCES, THE, pin- all of Britain outside Lon-
don. QUACK, n (col) - a doctor.
PROVOST, n-a military policeman. Informally, QUARTERLIGHT, n - a small pivoted window in
a REDCAP. Cf. US provost marshal. the door of a car for ventilation.
PSEUD, n (col) - a person who is false, unau- QUEEN'S COUNSEL or (abbr) QC, n - see BAR-
thentic, especially because of unwarranted RISTER.
intellectual pretensions. QUEER FISH, n (col) - an odd or eccentric per-
PUB-CRAWL, n (col) - a bar-hopping tour. son.
PUBLIC BAR, n - a bar in a pub serving drinks QUEER-BASHING, n - the practice of making
at a slightly cheaper price than in the sa- unprovoked physical assaults on homo-
loon bar or LOUNGE. sexusls or supposed homosexuals. Cf. PAKI-
scheme whereby authors receive payment QUEUE, n - a line of people waiting for some-
when their books are borrowed from public thing. There was a long queue in front of
libraries. the cinema. Also used as a verb: to stand
PUBLIC SCHOOL, n - a private school.
in line. We had to queue for hours.
PULL, v (col) - to attract and pick up mem-
QUICK ONE, n (col) - a speedily consumed 3l-
bers of the opposite sex. A good-looking
coholic drink.
lad like Jim has no trouble pulling the birds.
QUID, n (col) - one pound sterling. To BE QUIDS
PULL-IN, n - a roadside cafeteria, especially
for truck drivers. IN is to be in a very favorable or advanta-
PUNCH-UP, n (col) - a fight or brawl. geous position.
PUNTER, n - a person who gambles, a QUIETEN DOWN, v - to m3ke or become calm,
prostitute's trick, or the victim of a grifter. silent.
The favourites, as any punter will tell you, QUIFF, n - a prominent tuft of hair, especially
don't always win. Also, any member of the one brushed up above the forehead.
public, especially when a customer. The QUIN, n - a quint (quintuplet).
punters flock into the sales. QUINTILLION, n - a nonillion, i.e. one followed
PUP, n (col) - a conceited young man, espe- by 30 zeros.
cially in the phrase YOUNG PUP. QUIZ MASTER, n - the chairman of a quiz or
PURPLE HEART, n (col) - a heart-shaped purple panel game.
tablet consisting mainly of amphetsmine.



performed and births, marriages, and

deaths are recorded.
REGISTRAR, n - a senior doctor in a hospital,
RABBIT ON, v (col) - to talk inconsequentially, ranking just below a CONSULTANT.
to chatter. REGISTRATION DOCUMENT, n - a document giv-
RACECOURSE, n - a racetrack. ing identification details of a vehicle, e.g.
RADA, n (abbr) - the Royal Academy of Dra- date of registration, engine and chassis
matic Art, Britain's leading drama school. numbers, owner's name, etc.
RAG, v - to tease, taunt or play rough practi- RELEGATE, v - to demote a soccer team to a
cal jokes on. As a noun, it means a practi- lower division.
cal joke, especially on a fellow student, or REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY, n - Veterans' Day.
a prank. During a university RAG WEEK, vari- RESERVED LIST, n - a list of retired officers from
ous events are organized to raise money the armed services who are available for
for charity, including processions of deco- recsll to active service in an emergency.
rated floats, the sale of special magazines, RESERVED OCCUPATION, n - in time of war, a job
etc. from which one will not be drafted into mili-
RAG-AND-BONE MAN or RAGMAN, n - a junkman. tary service.
RAILCARD, n - an I.D. card that young people RESIDENT, n - a junior doctor who lives in the
or pensioners can buy, permitting them to hospital where he works.
buy train tickets more cheaply. RETURN, n - a round-trip ticket. When you ask
RAILWAY, n - a railroad. A RAILWAYMAN is a rail- for a ticket to your destination, you will prob-
road worker. ably hear the question: Single or return?
RAMP, n (col) - a swindle, especially one in- See SINGLE.
volving exorbitant prices. RHYMING SLANG, n - slang in which a word is
RANDY, adj (col) - sexually eager or excited, replaced by a phrase or the first part of a
horny. The heat made them both randy. phrase which rhymes with it. Cockney rhym-
RANK, n - a taxi stand. ing slang has given modern colloquial En-
RATES, pi n - formerly a tax levied on prop- glish many common terms. See BUTCHER'S,
erty by a local authority. Now replaced by LOAF, BRISTOLS, CHINA, TEA LEAF.
the community charge. RIDER, n - a statement made by a jury in ad-
RATTY, adj (col) - irritable, annoyed, testy. dition to its verdict, such as a recommen-
RAVER, n (col) - a person who leads a wild or dation for mercy.
uninhibited social life, a party animal. The RIGHT AS RAIN, adj (col) - perfectly fit, perfectly
verb is to rave, to enjoy oneself wildly. A all right.
RAVE or RAVE-UP is a raucous party. RIGHTO or RIGHT OH, sent sub (col) - an ex-
RE-SIT, n - to take an examination for the sec- pression of agreement or compliance.
ond time. Also used as a noun. He'll have RING UP, v- to Call someone on the telephone.
another chance at the re-sits in Septem- To GIVE SOMEONE A RING has the same mean-
ber. ing. She keeps ringing me up in the middle
READER, n - similar to an assistant professor. of the night. I'll give you a ring when I get
READIES, pl n (col) - money. back. To RING OFF is to hang up the phone.
RECEIVE, v - to buy and sell stolen goods. A /'// have to ring off now, but I'll call you later.
RECEIVER is a fence. RINGROAD, n - a belt, beltway.
RECEPTION, n - the front desk in a hotel. RISE, n - a salary raise.
REDCAP, n (col) - not an airport porter but a ROCK CAKE, n - a small cake with a rough hard
military policeman surface and containing currants.
REGISTER OFFICE Or REGISTRY OFFICE, n - a gov- ROCKET, n (col, old) - a severe reprimand, es-
ernment office where civil marriages are pecislly in the phrase GET A ROCKET.



ROLL-UP, n (col) - a hand-rolled cigarette. SARNIE, n (col) - a sandwich.

ROPE IN, v- to persuade someone to take part SAUSAGE ROLL, n - a roll of sausage meat in
in some activity, with no connotation of trick- pastry.
ery. SCARPER, v (col) - to depart in haste. When
ROPY, adj (col) - inferior or inadequate. he heard the law at the door, he did what
ROTA, n -1. a roll call or roster of names. 2. a all his instincts told him to do: he scarpered.
rotation of duties. From Italian scappare, to escape.
ROUGH ON, adj (col) - severe towards some- SCATTY, adj (col) - empty-headed, frivolous,
one, or unfortunate for someone. thoughtless. It derives from scatterbrained.
ROUNDABOUT, n - 1. a traffic circle. 2. another SCENT, n - another word for perfume.
word for a merry-go-round. SCHOONER, n - a large glass, not for beer but
ROUNDERS, n - a ball game in which players for sherry.
run between posts after hitting the ball, SCOFF, n - to eat food quickly and greedily, to
scoring a rounder if they round all four be- devour.
fore the ball is retrieved. Clearly, not unre- SCOTCH EGG, n - a hard-boiled egg wrapped
lated to baseball. in sausage meat, coated with bread
ROWING BOAT, n - a rowboat. crumbs, and deep-fried. Standard pub-
RUBBER, n -1. an eraser. 2. (col) - a condom. grub.
RUCKSACK, n - a backpack. SCOUSE, n (col) - a person from Liverpool or
RUG, n - a piece of thick, warm fabric or fur the dialect spoken there.
used as a coverlet or lap robe for travelers. SCRIBBLING PAD, n - a scratchpad.
RUGGER, n (col) - rugby. SCRUBBER, n (col) - derogatory slang for a pro-
RUM, adj (col) - strange, peculiar, odd. miscuous girl.
RUMBLE or TUMBLE, v (col) - to find out about SCULLERY, n - a small room or part of a kitchen
something or someone. The police rumbled where dishes are washed, vegetables pre-
their plans. pared, etc.
RUN-UP, n - the period immediately preced- SCUPPER, v - to sink one's own ship deliber-
ing something. Our sales always increase ately.
dramatically in the run-up to Christmas. The SEASON TICKET, n - a commuter ticket.
term derives from cricket, where the bowler SECATEURS, pi n - a small pair of shears for
takes a run before pitching the ball. pruning.
RUNNER BEANS, pi n - French beans. SECOND STRING TO ONE'S BOW, n - an alternative
course of action to be used if the first one
SEE SOMEONE RIGHT, v (col) - to ensure that
someone is treated fairly.
SELLOTAPE, n - scotch tape. Both names are
S trademarks which have become generic.
SAFE AS HOUSES, adj (col) - very secure. SEMI-SKIMMED MILK, H - lOW-fat milk.
SALE OF WORK, n - a sale of goods and handi- SEMOLINA, n - cream of wheat.
crafts made by the members of a club, SEND DOWN, v-1. to expel from a university. 2.
church congregation, etc. to raise money, to send to prison.
usually for a worthy cause. SEND UP, v (col) - to make fun of or parody.
SALOON, n - a sedan automobile. The noun is SEND-UP. It's a satirical
SANDHURST, n - home of the Royal Military programme, they do send-ups of all the ma-
Academy, equivalent to West Point. jor political figures.
SARKY, adj (col) - sarcastic. SERVICE FLATS, pi n - an apsrtment hotel.



SERVIETTE, n - a napkin. Guinness at lunchtime.

SHADOW, adj- relating to members of the main SIT, v - to be 3 candidate. He's sitting his fi-
opposition party in Parliament who would nal exams in June.
hold ministerial office if their party were in SIT OUT, v- in sailing, to hike out.
power: shadow cabinet, shadow Chancel- SITTING ROOM, n - another name for the living
lor. room.
SHAG, v (col) - to have sex with someone, or, SKIMMED MILK, n - nonfat milk.
as a noun, an act of sexual intercourse. SKINT, adj (col) - broke, without money.
SHAMBOLIC, adj (col) - completely disorga- SKIPPING ROPE, n - a jump rope.
nized, chaotic. The country's transportation SKIRTING BOARD, H - baseboard.
system is in a shambolic state. An alter- SKIVE, v- to evade work or shirk responsibil-
ation of shambles. ity. A person who persistently does so is a
SHEEPWALK, n - a tract of land for grazing SKIVER.
sheep. SKIVVY, n - an often contemptuous term for a
SHEPHERD'S PIE, n - a meat pie baked in a crust female servant who does various menial
of mashed potatoes. jobs. As a verb, it means to do such work.
SHIN, n - a cut of beef: the lower foreleg. SLAB, n (col) - an operating or mortuary t3ble.
SHIRTY, adj (col) - bad-tempered or annoyed. SLAG, n (col) - a coarse girl or woman of ill-
SHOELACE, n - a shoestring. repute. Used as a verb, the word means to
SHOP, n - a store. bad-mouth or trash verbajly.
SHOP, v (col) - to inform on or to betray to the SLAP AND TICKLE, n (COl) - Sexual play, espe-
police. cially in the phrase A BIT OF SLAP AND TICKLE.
SHOP ASSISTANT, n - a salesclerk. SLAP-BANG, adv (col) - slam-bang.
SHOPWALKER, n - a floorwalker in a department SLAP-UP, adj (col) - of meals, lavish, excel-
store. lent.
SHORT, n - a drink of spirits as opposed to a SLASH, n (col) - the act of urinating. To GO FOR
long drink such 3s beer. A SLASH is to go for a leak.
SHORT LIST, n - a list of suitable applicants for SLATE, n (col) - in the expression ON THE SLATE:
a job, from which the successful csndidate on credit.
will be selected. The verb is to SHORT-LIST. SLEEP IN, v- to sleep longer than usual.
SHORTHAND TYPIST, n - a stenographer. SLEEPER, n - a railroad crosstie.
SHORTS, pi n - short pants. SLEEPING PARTNER, n - in business, a silent part-
SHOUT, n (col) - a round of drinks or one's ner.
turn to buy a round of drinks. All right, come SLEEPING POLICEMAN, n - 3 bump built aCrOSS
on, whose shout is it? roads, especially in housing eststes, to de-
SIDEBOARDS, pi n - another name for sideburns. ter drivers from speeding.
SILENCER, n - the muffler on car.a SLIMY, adj (col) - obsequious, servile.
SINGLE, n - a one-way ticket. How much is a SLOSHED, adj (col) - drunk.
single to London, please? See RETURN SLOWCOACH, n (col) - a slowpoke.
TICKET. SMACK IN THE EYE, n (COl) - a Snub ar Setback.
SINGLET, n - either an undershirt or the gar- SMALL BEER, n (col) - people or things of no
ment worn with shorts by athletes, boxers, importance.
etc. SMALLS, pi n (col) - items of personal Isun-
SINGSONG, n - 3n informs! session of singing, dry, especially underwear.
e.g. by customers in a pub, especislly of SMARMY, adj (col) - obsequiously flattering or
popular or traditional songs. unpleasantly suave. My boss was a smarmy
SINK, v (col) - to drink. It was nothing unusual ex-salesman of the worst kind. To SMARM UP
for him to sink three or four pints of TO someone is to ingratiste oneself.



SMASHER, n (col) - a person or thing that is rugs, etc.

very attractive. SOHO, n - a small district of central London,
SMASHING, adj (col) - excellent, first-rate, won- known for its strip clubs, sex-shops, res-
derful. This is a smashing book and I rec- taurants and pubs.
ommend it wholeheartedly. SOLICITOR, n - a lawyer who advises clients
SMOOCH, v - to dance very slowly and amo- on matters of law, draws up legal docu-
rously with one's arms around one's part- ments, and prepares cases for BARRISTERS,
ner. i.e. who handles most of the out-of-court
SNAP, n - a children's card game in which the work.
word 'snap' is called when two cards of the SONG AND DANCE, n (col) - an unnecessary
same kind are turned up. In everyday fuss. Her father made a great song and
speech, a cry of 'snap' usually means 'me dance of her coming home after midnight.
too', e.g when two friends discover they SOPPY, adj (col) - excessively sentimental,
both have to see the dentist, or that they mawkish. A painting of a fluffy little kitten
are both reading the same book. with big staring eyes will always sell, if it's
SNATCH, n (col) - a robbery. A diamond snatch. soppy enough.
SNATCH SQUAD, n - a squad of soldiers or po- SORBET, n - sherbet. Pronounced sorr-bay.
lice trained to pick out and arrest the ring- SORT OUT, v-1. to solve something. 2. (col) -
leaders of civil demonstrations. to beat someone up.
SNEAK, v (col) - to tell tales, especially in SPANNER, n - a monkey wrench. Colloquially,
SNIP, n (col) - a bargain. pede or hinder something.
SNOG, v - to kiss and cuddle, to neck. Also SPARE, adj (col) - very angry or upset, espe-
used as a noun. cially in the phrase GO SPARE. Why didn't you
SNOOK, n - in the expression COCK A SNOOK: to call to let us know where you were? Your
thumb one's nose. The clock is set wrong mum's been going spare with worry.
and hung crooked, as if to cock a snook at SPARE TYRE, n (col) - a jocular term for a de-
the importance of time (K. Crossley-Hol- posit of fat just above the waist.
land). SPEAKING CLOCK, n - a telephone service which
SNOOKER, n - pocket billiards, played with 15 states the correct time precisely.
red balls and 6 balls of other colors. Collo- SPECIAL BRANCH, n - the branch of Scotland
quially, the verb snooker means to lead Yard dealing with political crimes and ter-
someone into a situation in which all pos- rorism.
sible choices are undesirable, to trap. Cf. SPEECH DAY, n - in schools, a day each year
the US expression behind the eight ball. on which prizes are presented and
SNOUT, n (col) - 1. tobacco, especially now speeches made
for hand-rolled cigarettes. 2. a police in- SPEND A PENNY, v (col, old) - to go to the toilet.
former. 3. a person's nose. SPIDERMAN, n (col) - a person who erects the
SNUG, n - a very small private room in a pub. steel structure of a building.
SOCK, n (col) - in the expression PUT A SOCK IN SPIKE, n (col) - a flophouse. Also called a
IT: to be quiet, shut up. DOSSHOUSE.
SOCKET, n - an electrical outlet. SPINNEY, n - a small wood or copse.
SOD, n (col) - 1. an obnoxious person. 2. a SPIT IT OUT!, v (col) - a command given to
fellow, a guy. Poor sod, he almost got lucky someone that he should speak immedi-
for once (Jack Higgins). The verb SOD OFF 3tely.
means to go away, to depart. The word is SPIV, n (col) - a person who makes a living by
shortened from sodomite. petty grifting. The adjective SPIVVY connotes
SOFT FURNISHINGS, pi n - curtains, hangings, a sharp, flashy way of dressing.


SPLASH OUT, V (COl) - See LASH OUT. STATELY HOME, n - a large mansion, especially
SPOD, n (col) - an Internet addict. one open to the public.
SPOKE, n - in the expression PUT A SPOKE IN STATEROOM, n - a large room in a palace or
SOMEONE'S WHEEL: to thwart someone's other building for use on st3te occasions.
plans. STD, n (abbr) - subscriber trunk dialling. The
SPONGE BAG, n - a water proof bag for toilet UK equivalent of direct distance dialing.
articles. STEEP, n - of a statement, extreme or far-
SPONGE PUDDING, n - a light steamed or baked fetched.
pudding, spongy in texture, made with vari- STEWED, adj-1. a word used to describe tea
ous flavorings or fruit. that has been left to infuse for too long and
SPOT-ON, adj (col) - absolutely correct, very so has a bitter taste. 2. (col) - a slang word
accurate. Cf. BANG-ON, DEAD-ON. for drunk.
SPOTTED DICK, n - a steamed or boiled suet STICK, n (col) - abuse. The wife's been giving
pudding containing dried fruit. him a lot of stick about spending so much
SPOUT, n - in the expression UP THE SPOUT: 1. time down in the pub.
pregnant. 2. completely wrong. These fig- STICKING PLASTER or PLASTER, n - a band-aid,
ures are completely up the spout. 3. com- adhesive tape.
pletely wasted. That's another 50 up the STILETTO or STILETTO HEEL, n - 3 spike heel on
spout. 4. in great difficulty. Now you're re- a woman's shoe.
ally up the spout. STOCKBROKER BELT, n (COl) - the area outside
SPRING ONION, n - a scallion. a city, especially London, in which rich com-
SPUD BASHING, n (col) - in the military, the task muters live.
of peeling potatoes, given as a punishment. STOCKING FILLER, n - a small present, espe-
Other activities are similarly named, e.g. cially one suitable for inclusion in a Christ-
SQUARE-BASHING: drill on a barrack square. IT13S stocking.
SPUNK, n (col) - semen. STONE, n - 1. the pit of certain fruits, e.g. a
SQUIRE, n (col) - an ironic term of address peach or cherry. 2. a unit of weight, used
used by one man to another. Now, squire, especially to express human body weight,
what can I do for you? equal to 14 pounds or 6.350 kilograms.
STAFF, n - in surveying, a rod. ASTAFFMAN holds STONE THE CROWS, interj (col) - an expression
the levelling staff when a survey is being of surprise, dismay, etc. 'Well, stone the
made. crows,' she shouted. 'Corporal Pine. After
STAFF SERGEANT, n - a noncommissioned of- all these years. What on earth have you
ficer with a rank between sergeant and done to your hand?' (John le Carre)
warrant officer, employed on administrative STONY-BROKE, adj (col) - stone-broke, fist-
duties. broke.
STAGE, n - a division of a bus route for which STOP PRESS, n - news items inserted into a
there is a fixed fare. newspaper sfter the printing has been
STAND, n - to be a candidate for office. US started.
politicians run. He has announced his in- STORM CONE, n - a canvas cone hoisted as a
tention to stand for Parliament at the next warning of high winds.
elections. STORM IN A TEACUP, n - 3 tempest in 3 teapot.
STANDARD LAMP, H - a floor lamp. STRAIGHT, n - the straightaway of a racetrack.
STARKERS, adj (col) - stark naked. STRAIGHT UP, sent sub (col) - honestly, truly,
STARTER, n - the first course of a meal. exactly. Straight up, guv, those were his
STARTING STALLS, n - a line of stalls in which very words.
horses are enclosed at the start of a race. STRAIGHTFORWARD, adj- of a task, simple, easy.
STATE SCHOOL, n - a public school. STREAM, v - to divide students into streams



according to their ability. thority, e.g. in an organization or military

STRETCH, n - in the expression AT A STRETCH: if force.
really necessary or in extreme circum- SURGERY, n - a doctor's or dentist's office, as
stances. well as the period during which a doctor
STROPPY, adj (col) - angry, awkward, looking sees patients. He saw the poster in the
for trouble. doctor's surgery. Outside surgery hours,
STUFF, v (col) - to have sex with a woman, to please phone the emergency number. By
screw. A BIT OF STUFF is a girl or woman con- analogy, a regular period of time when con-
sidered sexually. GET STUFFED! is an excla- stituents can visit their member of parlia-
mation of contemptuous anger or annoy- ment or local councillor to discuss their
ance against another person, synonymous problems.
with GET KNOTTED! SURROUND, n - a border, especially the area
SUB, v (col) - to grant an advance on wages, of uncovered floor between the walls of a
or to lend someone money until payday. room and the carpet, or around an open-
SUBALTERN, n - a commissioned officer just ing or panel.
below the rank of captain in the British SURVEY, v- to inspect a building to determine
army. its condition and value. Used also as a
SUBEDITOR, n - a person who checks and ed- noun. A SURVEYOR is a person who inspects
its copy on a newspaper. things officially to evaluate them.
SUBSCRIPTION, n - the membership dues paid SUSPENDERS, n - an elastic strap for holding
to a society or club. up stockings, but not trousers. Trousers are
SUBTOPIA, n - suburban development that en- held up by BRACES.
croaches on rural areas, offering some of suss or SUSSY, adj (col) - suspect. Don't ask
the attractions of country life to town-dwell- too many questions, they might think that
ers. a bit suss. To suss SOMETHING OUT means to
SUBWAY, n - not an underground train system, discover how it works or how to do it, to
but an underground passage enabling pe- suss SOMEONE OUT is to discover their true
destrians to cross a busy road. US subway character. She had me sussed out in the
= GB tube or underground. first five minutes.
SULTANA, n - a large raisin. SWAGGER CANE, n - another name for a swag-
SUMP, n - the oil pan. ger stick, a short cane occasionally carried
SUN BLIND, n - a blind that shades a room from by army officers.
the glare of the sun. SWAN-UPPING, n - the practice of marking the
SUNDOWNER, n (col) - an alcoholic drink taken beaks of young swans with a sign of own-
at sundown. ership. Royal cygnets on the Thames are
SUNRAY PLEATS, pi n - sunburst pleats. marked in this way annually.
SUPER, interj - an enthusiastic expression of SWEDE, n - rutabaga or Swedish tunip.
approval or assent. SWEET, n - 1. a pudding, fruit, or any sweet
SUPERTAX, n - a graduated surtax on high in- dish served as dessert. 2. a piece of candy.
comes. SWEETS or (col) SWEETIES are candy and are
SUPLEMENTARY BENEFITS, pi n - formerly, weekly sold in a SWEET SHOP, a candy store.
welfare payments made to various groups SWING THE LEAD, v (col) - to malinger or make
of people, e.g. pensioners, to bring their in- excuses, to goldbrick.
comes up to minimum levels established SWINGEING, adj - punishing, causing great
by law. Replaced in 1986 by income sup- harm or hardship, severe. It was a
port. swingeing indictment of her policies.
SUPPLY TEACHER, n - a substitute teacher. Swingeing tax increases.
SUPREMO, n - a person who has overall au- SWISH, adj (col) - fashionable, smart.



swiss ROLL, n - jelly roll. comes TEA-LEAVE. He tea-leaved it, didn't

SWITCHBACK, n - another word for a roller he?
coaster or anything resembling one, e.g. a TEA TROLLEY, n - a tea Cart.
mountain road which rises and falls sharply TEACAKE, n - a flat cake made from a yeast
many times or has many sharp bends. dough with raisins in it, usually eaten
swiz or swizz, n (col) - a swindle. The verb is toasted and buttered.
to SWIZZLE, to cheat. TEAR, v (col) - in the expression TEAR SOMEONE
SWOT, v (col) - to study hard. Also, as a noun, OFF A STRIP: to reprimand or rebuke some-
a person who does so, disapprovingly con- one severely.
sidered. Before an examination, you SWOT TEARAWAY, n - a reckless and unruly young
UP a subject. person.
SYLLABUB, n - a cold dessert made from milk TEASHOP or TEAROOM, n - a restaurant where
or cream beaten with sugar, wine, and tea and light refreshments are served.
lemon juice. TEAT, n - the nipple on a baby's bottle.
SYLLABUS, n - the subjects studied for a par- TELEPHONIST, n - a telephone operator. Pro-
ticular course. nounced tel-eff-on-ist.
TELEPRINTER, n - a teletypewriter.
TELLY, n (col) - short for television.
TENNER, n (col) - a ten-pound note.
TERM, n - in Britsin the academic year falls
into three terms, as opposed to the two se-
T mesters of the US academic year.
TERMS OF TRADE, pi n - in economics, the ratio
TA, interj (col) - thank you. 'Ta,'she said, as of export prices to import prices. This ratio
I handed her the book. measures a nation's trading position, which
TA-TA, sent sub (col) - goodbye. 'Tata, 'he said, improves when export prices rise faster or
'Be seeing you'. fall slower than import prices.
TABLE, v- not to suspend discussion of a bill, TERRACE, n - a row of houses, usually identi-
but, on the contrary, to submit it for consid- C3l, joined together. A terrsced house is a
eration by a legislative body. row house, a town house. They live in
TAFFY, n (col) - a Welshman. Grosvenor Terrace.
TAKEAWAY, adj & n - take-out, food to go. He TERRACES, pi n - the unroofed tiers around a
lives on takeaway food. Why don't we get a soccer pitch on which spectators stand.
Chinese takeaway? Have you tried the new TERRITORIAL ARMY, n -.a standing reserve
Indian takeaway? army. A TERRITORIAL is a part-time reserve
TANK UP, v - 1. to fill the tank of a car with soldier.
gasoline. 2. (col) - to drink a large quantity TEST MATCH, n - an international cricket match.
of alcohol. THICK, adj (col) -1. stupid, slow. ATHICKIE is a
TAP, n - a faucet. slow-witted person. 2. in the expression A
TAPE, v (col) - to take stock of a person or BIT THICK: unfair or excessive. You want me
situation. Usually used in the passive. He to work an extra ten hours a week? That's
had the job taped in the first couple of days. a bit thick, isn't it?
TART, n - 1. a pie. 2. a prostitute or sexually TICK, n (col) - 1. a moment or instant. /'// be
promiscuous woman. The verb TART UP with you in a tick, love. 2. credit or an
means to dress up in a tawdry, garish way. amount of credit, especially in the phrase
TATTY, n - shabby, tawdry, unkempt. ON TICK: They let me have it on tick.
TEA LEAF, n (col) - rhyming slang for a thief. TICK OFF, v (col) - to scold, reprimand.
As a verb meaning to thieve or steal, it be- TICK OVER, n - of a car's engine, to run with



the transmission disengaged, to idle. Figu- tained.

ratively, to run smoothly without any major TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE, n - a dish made of sausages
changes. All I'm asking you to do is to keep baked in a batter.
the firm ticking over until I get back. TOBACCONIST, n - a shop that sells cigarettes,
TICKTACK, n - a system of sign language, tobacco, pipes, etc.
mainly using the hands, by which bookmak- TOD, n - in the expession ON ONE'S TOD: on
ers at race tracks transmit their changing one's own.
odds to each other. TOERAG, n (col) - a contemptible person. The
TIDDLER, n (col) -La very small fish, espe- term originally meant a beggar, referring
cially a stickleback or minnow. 2. a very to the pieces of rag beggars wrapped round
small child, especially one who is under- their feet.
sized for its age. TOFF, n (col, old) - a rich, well-dressed, or
TIDDLY, adj - 1. small, tiny. 2. (col) - slightly upper-class man.
drunk. TOFFEE-NOSED, adj - stuck-up, supercilious,
TIDEMARK, n - 1. a mark showing a level pretentious, used especially of snobbish
reached by a liquid. He never washes the people.
bath after using it - dirty bugger always TOMBOLA, n - a kind of lottery in which the
leaves a big black tidemark behind him. 2. winning tickets are drawn from a revolving
a dirty mark on the skin, indicating the ex- drum.
tent to which someone has washed. TOMMY, n (col) - a private in the British army.
TIE, n - a match or game in an eliminating Short for Tommy Atkins, a name often used
competition, e.g. a cup tie. on sample forms.
TIGHTS, pi n - pantyhose. TON, n -1 GB ton = 2240 pounds or 1016.047
TIMBERYARD, n - a lumberyard. kilograms. 1 US ton = 2000 pounds or
TIME, n - in bars and pubs, closing time. Time, 907.184 kilograms.
gentlemen, please. Drink up now. Time, TOP UP, v-1. to raise the level of something,
please. e.g. a liquid or powder, usually bringing it
TIN, n - a can. But the two words are not in- to the brim of a container. Can you top up
terchangeable. E.g. Britons speak of a 'tin the sugar in those bowls. 2. to add money,
of peaches', 'a tin of soup', and a tinopener, e.g. to a bank account, in order to keep it
but of a can of beer', a 'can of worms', and at an acceptable level.
canned music. TORCH, n - a flashlight.
TIN, adj - made of corrugated or galvanized TORY, n - a member of the Conservative Party.
iron. A tin roof. The word derives from Irish Gaelic toraidhe,
TINKER, n - in Scotland and Ireland, another a robber or outlaw.
name for a gypsy. TOSS OFF, v (col) - to masturbate. A TOSSER is
TINKLE, n (col) - 1 . 3 telephone call. 2. a piss, someone who does so, or, more often, a
a leak. worthless person. The expression NOT GIVE
TINPOT, adj (col) - cheap, inferior, unimpor- A TOSS means not to care.
tsnt. TOTTING, n - the practice of searching through
TIP, v- to dump rubbish. As a noun, it means trash for usable or saleable items.
an ares for dumping something, such as TOUCH UP, v (col) - to touch or caress some-
garbage, e.g. from a mine. one, usually with a view to arousing sexual
TIP THE WINK, v (col) - to give a hint or let some- feelings.
one know something secretly. /'// tip you the TOWER BLOCK, n - 3 high residential or office
wink when it's safe to come back. building.
TIPSTAFF, n - an official in a law court. His prin- TOY BOY, n - the much younger male lover of
cipal function is to see that order is main- an older woman.



TRADE UNION, n - a labor UNION She kept dropping hints but still he didn't
TRADESPEOPLE, pi n - storekeepers. twig.
TRAFFIC WARDEN, n - a person who is appointed TWISTER, n - a swindling or dishonest person.
to supervise road traffic and report traffic TWIT, n (col) - an idiot.
offences. TYKE, n (col) - a person from Yorkshire or a
TRAM, n - a streetcar. A TRAMWAY or TRAMLINE is boor.
a streetcar line.
TRAPEZIUM, n - a trapezoid, i.e. a quadrilat-
eral with two parallel sides of unequal
TRAVELLING PEOPLE, pi n - gypsies or other itin-
erant people. They use this term to describe
TREACLE, n - similar to molasses. U, adj (col) - characteristic of the upper class,
TRENDY, adj (col) - consciously fashionable. especially as regards language habits. Cf.
The word is often used derogatorily. It's one non-U.
of London's trendiest nightclubs. Every time U CERTIFICATE, n - the equivalent of a 'g' rat-
I turn on the box, I get trendy intellectuals ing in the US, allowing admission to mov-
talking about life. ies of persons of all ages.
TRICK CYCLIST, n (col) - a shrink, psychiatrist. UNDERCARRIAGE, n - the landing gear of an air-
TRIFLE, n - a cold dessert made with sponge craft.
cake spread with fruit, soaked in wine or UNDERSEAL, n - the undercoat of a car, ap-
sherry, and covered with a custard sauce plied to prevent corrosion.
and cream. UNIONIST, adj - relating to trade unionism.
TRIPPER, n - a tourist or excursionist. UNIT TRUST, n - a mutual fund.
TROUSERS, pin- pants. GB pants = US under- UNOFFICIAL STRIKE, n - another term for a wild-
pants. To WEAR THE TROUSERS in a marriage cat strike.
is to wear the pants. UP, n - in the expression ON THE UP AND UP: on
TRUNCHEON, n - a policeman's nightstick. the upward trend or movement. After sev-
TRUNK CALL, H - a long-distance telephone call. eral hard years, the company's finally on
TUBE, THE, n - the subway, especially in Lon- the up and up again.
don. Also called THE UNDERGROUND. UPPISH, adj (col) - snobbish, arrogant, pre-
TUCK, n (col) - a schoolchild's word for food, sumptuous.
especially pastry and candy.
TUP, n - an uncastrated male sheep, a ram.
TUPPENCE or TWOPENCE, n - a very small
amount. He doesn't care tuppence about
TURF ACCOUNTANT, n - the formal name for a
TURF OUT, n (col) - to throw out. They were VAN, n - a closed railroad car used for carry-
turfed out of the club. ing baggage, freight or mail. A heap of lug-
TURN-UPS, pi n - trouser cuffs. gage had been thrown from the guard's
TWEE, adj - excessively sentimental, sweet van.
or pretty. They live in a twee little cottage in VARNISH, n - another word for nail polish.
a twee little village. Derived from tweet, a VAT, n (abbr) - value-added tax, a tax on
mincing or affected pronunciation of sweet. practically all products and services, ulti-
TWIG, v- to realize or understand something. mately paid by the consumer. Comparable



to sales tax, but included in the price WASH UP, n - to wash the dishes.
marked on the product. WASHING POWDER, n - soap powder.
VC, n (abbr) - the Victoria Cross, Britain's WATERPROOF, n - another name for a raincoat.
highest military award for conspicuous WEAR, v (col) - to accept or put up with some-
valor. thing. He's gone too far this time and I'm
VERGE, n - the shoulder of a road. not going to wear it. Bill won't wear that ar-
VEST, n - an undershirt. US vest = GB waist- gument.
coat. WEE, n - the act of urinating, a leak. Be back
VET, v - to subject to thorough examination in a minute, just going for a wee.
or evaluation. Weaponry purchased by WEEK, adv - seven days before or after a
police forces is carefully vetted. Before he specified day. /'// be back on Friday week.
was appointed, he was very thoroughly WELL IN, adj (col) - on good terms with some-
vetted. one. Ask Bill to help you, he's well in with
VETERAN, n - a soldier who has seen consid- their Personnel Manager.
erable active service, not simply an ex-ser- WELL-STACKED, adj (col) - of a woman, having
viceman. large breasts. Voluptuously proportioned.
VICE-CHANCELLOR, n - the chief administrator WELLINGTONS or WELLINGTON BOOTS, pi n - knee-
of a university. See CHANCELLOR. length rubber boots, worn especially in wet
VILLA, n - a DETACHED or semidetached subur- or muddy conditions. Informally, shortened
ban house. to WELLIES.
VILLAIN, n (col) - a criminal. Police and un- WEST END, n - a part of west central London
derworld slang. Villains like to hear them- containing the main shopping and enter-
selves talking, that's why we catch so many. tainment areas.
VIVA, n - an oral examination. WESTMINSTER, n - the part of central London
VOUCHER, n - a ticket or card serving as a sub- in which Parliament is situated, hence of-
stitute for cash. A gift voucher. ten used to mean the center of government.
WET, adj- feeble, foolish, ineffectual. Used in
a political context, as a noun, the word re-
fers to a Conservative politician who is con-
sidered not to be a hard-liner (a dry).
WHACK, n - a share or part. Whatever hap-
W pens, I want my whack - that was the agree-
ment. Don't worry about Dick, he always
WAFFLE ON, v (col) - to speak or write in a pays his whack.
vague or wordy manner. He waffled on in- WHACKING, adj & adv (col) - enormous. A
terminably about what Yeats was 'painting whacking great piece of pie, a whacking big
a picture of. As a noun, waffle is verbal lie.
padding. WHIP, v (col) - to steal something.
WAISTCOAT, n - vest. GB vest = US undershirt, WHIP-ROUND, n - an impromptu collection of
T-shirt. money. Somebody organized a whip-round
WALLY, n - a stupid person. at the office to buy her a wedding present.
WANK, v (col) - to masturbate. A WANKER is a WHIPPET, n - a swift, short-haired dog resem-
masturbator, or, in a very common usage, bling a greyhound but smaller, developed
a stupid or useless fellow. for racing in some parts of England.
WANT, v - to need (doing). / expect the house WHIRLIGIG, n - a pinwheel.
will want cleaning up a bit. WHISKY, n - Scotch whisky.
WARDEN, n - a park ranger. WHITE SPIRIT, n - a substitute for turpentine.
WARDER or (fern) WARDRESS, n - a prison guard. WHITEHALL, n - a street in London where most



of the important ministries are located, leum corridor (John le Carre).

hence often used to mean the executive WOODEN SPOON, n - another name for a booby
side of government. prize, given to a person or team who comes
WHOLEMEAL, adj - whole-wheat. last in a race or competition.
WICK, n (col) - in the expression GET ON WOOLSACK, n - the seat of the Lord Chancel-
SOMEONE'S WICK: to irritate or annoy. Listen, lor in the House of Lords, formerly made of
mate, you're beginning to get on my wick. a large square sack of wool.
WICKET, n - in cricket, the three stumps stuck WOOLY, n - a woolen garment, especially a
in the ground behind the batsman which sweater. Often used in the plural. She was
the bowler tries to hit with the ball. Collo- wearing a long, droopy wooly. They sat
quially, to be ON A GOOD WICKET is to be in an round the fire muffled in their woolies.
advantageous position, while to be ON A WORK-TO-RULE, n - a form of disruptive labor
STICKY WICKET is to be in an awkward one. action in which employees adhere rigidly
WIDE, adj (col) - unscrupulous and astute. A to all the working regulations laid down by
WIDE BOY is a professional cheat. their employers, with the deliberate inten-
WILLIE, n (col) - a childish or humorous term tion of reducing the rate of working.
for penis. Apo's a voluptary... he's one of WORKING PARTY, n - a committee established
those little men who's got to prove he's got to investigate a problem or carry out some
a bigger willie than all the big men put to- other specific function.
getf7er(John le Carre). WORKS, pi n- a factory.
WIND UP, v (col) - to tease someone. WRAC, n (abbr) - Women's Royal Army
WINDCHEATER, n - a windbreaker. Corps. Equivalent to the WAC.
WINDSCREEN, n - windshield. WRAP, n (abbr) - Women's Royal Air Force.
WINDY, adj (col) - afraid, frightened, nervous. WRAP UP, v (col) - to be silent, shut up. Usu-
To GET THE WIND UP is to become very fright- ally in the imperative.
ened, usually with the result that one de- WREN, n (col) - a member of the Women's
cides not to do something after all. Royal Naval Service. From the abbreviation
WING, n - the fender of a car. WRNS.
WINKLE, n - an edible sea-snail with a spirally
coiled shell.
WINKLE OUT, v (col) - to extract, to pry out. Our
officers usually manage to winkle out of
people exactly what they want to know.
WIRELESS, n (old) - radio.
WOBBLY, n (col) - especially in the expression
THROW A WOBBLY, to become suddenly very Y-FRONTS, pi n - boy's or men's underpants
agitated or angry. with a front opening inside an inverted Y
WODGE, n (col) - a thick lump or chunk cut or shape.
broken off something. YANK or YANKEE, n (col) - any person from
WOG, n (col) - a derogatory term for a for- the USA, whether from the North or the
eigner, especially one who is not white. South.
Probably deriving from golliwog. YARD, n - a small piece of ground either paved
WONKY, adj (col) - shaky, unsteady, liable to or laid with concrete adjoining a house. With
break down. The table's a bit wonky, see if grass it is a garden, irrespective of size.
you can slip something under one of the US yard = GB garden.
legs. He can't play tennis, he has a wonky YARD, THE, n (col) - Scotland Yard.
knee. The trolley had a wonky wheel and YOB or YOBBO, n (col) - a hooligan, an aggres-
you could hear it whistling down the lino- sive, surly, badly-behaved, working-class



youth, usually in a group of his peers. They

looked a real bunch of yobs.
YOMP, v (col) - to walk or trek laboriously, es-
pecially over difficult terrain while carrying
a heavy load. Originally military slang.
YONKS, pi n (col) - a very long time, ages. /
haven't seen her for yonks.
YORKSHIRE PUDDING, n - a light, puffy baked
pudding made from a batter of flour, eggs
and milk, traditionally eaten with roast beef.
YOUR ACTUAL, adj (col) - a meaningless phrase
used, often facetiously, as an intensifier:
That's a lovely piece of music - that's your
actual Mozart, that is.

ZED, n - spoken form of the letter 'z'. Zee.


A to Zee: a US / GB lexis


cado. Avocado trees supposedly grow in ar-

A eas infested by alligators.
ALMA MATER, n - the school, college or univer-
A LA KING, adj - cooked in cream sauce with sity that one has attended. Latin: nourish-
green pepper or pimiento and mushrooms, ing mother.
as in chicken a la king. ALTERNATE, n - a person acting in the place of
A LA MODE, adj - with ice cream, as in apple another, a substitute. Pronounced all-tar-
pie a la mode. nat.
ABOLITION, n -the emancipation of the slaves, ALUMNUS, n -A male graduate or former stu-
accomplished by the Emancipation Proc- dent of a university. The Latin masculine
lamation of 1863. An ABOLITIONIST was an plural, ALUMNI, is commonly used for gradu-
anti-slavery campaigner. ates of both sexes. However, the feminine
ACCESSORY APARTMENT, n - another name for a form alumna and its plural alumnae also
granny flat. Also called an in-law rental and exist, enabling the joint plural ALUMNI AND
a mother-in-law apartment. ALUMNAE.
ACE, v (col) - to get the better of someone. AMBROSIA, n - a dessert containing mainly or-
The candidate aced his opponents in the anges, bananas and flaked coconut.
primaries. AMBULANCE-CHASER, n (col) - a lawyer who
ACETAMINOPHEN, n - paracetamol. gains clients by persuading accident vic-
ADJUSTER, n - an insurance assessor. tims to sue for damages, or, in a wider
ADMINISTRATION, n - the people, appointed by sense, one who stirs up business in unethi-
the President, who constitute the executive cal ways.
branch of the government. Americans AMERICAN LEGION, n - a large ex-servicemen's
speak of the Clinton administration as Brit- organization, noted for its patriotic stance.
ons would of the Blair government. In this AMERICAN PLAN, n -a hotel rate which includes
sense, the word is often written with a capi- some meals. Similar to half-board. Cf.
AFL-CIO, n (abbr) - American Federation of AMTRAK, n - the National Railroad Passen-
Labor and Congress of Industrial Organi- ger Corporation, which operates major in-
zations, the national trade union body. At tercity rail services.
the end of the 1990s, approximately 70% ANESTHESIOLOGIST, n - an anaesthetist.
of all US union members belonged to the ANGEL FOOD CAKE, n - a light, fluffy, almond-
AFL-CIO's affiliated unions. flavoured sponge cake.
AIR CUSHION VEHICLE or (abbr) ACV, n - a ANGELENO, n - a native or inhabitant of Los
hovercraft. Angeles.
AIRHEAD, n (col) - an irresponsible person. ANNAPOLIS, n - the capital of Maryland and
How can you even think of giving a sensi- home of the US Naval Academy, often re-
tive job like this to an airhead like Sophie? ferred to by the name of the city. Thus, the
ALDERMAN, n - a member of the municipal leg- equivalent of Dartmouth in GB.
islative body in a town or city in many juris- ANNE OAKLEY, n - a free ticket or pass. Named
dictions. after the famed markswoman because of
ALL-AMERICAN, adj - 1. chosen as the best the association of the hole punched in the
amateur in the US in a particular sporting ticket 3nd a bullet hole.
event or position, e.g. an ail-American full- ANTE UP, v - to pay or to pay up, as in Let's
back. 2. representative of the ideals of the ante up the bill. The ante is each player's
people of the US: an all-American boy. stake in a poker game. See PENNY-ANTE.
ALLIGATOR CLIP, n - crocodile clip. ANTEBELLUM, adj - of or pertaining to the pe-
ALLIGATOR PEAR, n - another name for an avo- riod before the Civil War, i.e. before 1861:



the antebellum South, an antebellum man- sion HAVE AN ATTITUDE: to be resentful, hos-
sion. tile and generally uncooperative.
ANTENATAL, adj - another word for prenatal. ATTORNEY, n - another word for lawyer.
ANTENNA, n - aerial. AUDIT, v-at university, to attend a course with-
ANTSY, adj - restless, fidgety, apprehensive. out seeking or receiving 3n academic credit
The longer his speech dragged on, the for it.
antsier his audience became. AUTOMAT, n - an automated restaurant where
APARTMENT, n - a flat. An apartment house or food and drink are dispensed from vend-
apartment building is a block of flats. ing machines.
APE, adj (col) - completely unrestrained, es- AWESOME, adj (col) - great, outstanding, bril-
pecially with enthusiasm. To GO APE, or more liant. Sampras played a really awesome
crudely, to GO APESHIT over something game.
means to become wildly excited or enthu-
siastic about it.
APPALOOSA, n - a sturdy breed of saddle horse
characterised by its spotted rump.
APPLE BETTY, n - apple crumble.
APPLE BUTTER, n - 3 sauce made from stewed
spiced apples.
APPLE POLISHER, n (old) - a sycophant or toady. BABBIT, n - a complacent and narrow-minded
APPLE-PIE, adj-1. nearly perfect. If something middle-class American. After the main char-
is IN APPLE-PIE ORDER, it is shipshape or in scter of the novel Babbit by Sinclair Lewis.
good order. 2. characterised by values re- Also, BABBITRY.
garded as distinctly American. BABY CARRIER, n - a carrycot.
APPLEJACK, n - a brandy distilled from cider, BACK UP, v -1. to drive a car in reverse. Re-
usually homebrewed. versing lights are BACK-UP LIGHTS. 2. to cause
APPLESAUCE, n (col) - nonsense, foolishness. to accumulate, as in The accident backed
APPRAISE, v - to value a house. The person the traffic up for miles.
who performs this APPRAISAL is an APPRAISER. BACKLOG, n - a desirable reserve of some-
AREA CODE, n - dialling code. thing, e.g. a backlog of orders. But also, as
AREA RUG, n - a large rug. in GB, an undesirable accumulation of
ARMORY, n - a building in which training in the something, e.g. work or correspondence.
use of arms and drill takes place, a drill hall. BAD, n (col) - very good, great. Declined
ASH CAN, n - dustbin. BADDER, BADDEST. A bl3Ck Slang Usage at-
ASPCA or SPCA, n (abbr) - American Soci- tested from slavery times.
ety for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. BAD NEWS, n (col) -La persistently annoy-
Equivalent of the RSPCA. ing, unpleasant or dangerous person. Stay
ASS, n (col) -1. arse. 2. sexual intercourse or away from him, he's bad news. 2. a regret-
a woman considered sexually, especially t3ble situation or event.
in the phrase A PIECE OF ASS. BAD-MOUTH, v (col) - to criticize or disparage,
ASSEMBLY, n - the lower chamber in various often spitefully or unfairly. Personally I don't
state legislatures. like the guy, but that doesn't mean I'm go-
ASSIGNMENT, n - homework. ing to bad-mouth him.
ATM, n (abbr) - a cash dispenser. Short for BAG LADY, n - a homeless or destitute woman
Automatic Teller Machine. who wanders city streets with all her pos-
ATTABOY or ATTAGiRL, n (col) - a pat on the back, sessions in shopping bags.
a commendation. BAGEL, n - a breadroll in a doughnut shape. It
ATTITUDE, n (col) - especially in the expres- has 3 tough, chewy texture.


BAGMAN, n (col) - a person who collects money performing in barns.

for racketeers. BARREL ALONG, v (col) - to move or travel very
BAGS, pi n - suitcases. fast, to belt along.
BALL, n - baseball. Also BALL PARK, BALL PLAYER, BARRIO, n (col) - the Spanish-spesking part
etc. A BALL PARK FIGURE is a rough estimate. of town.
BALL, v (col) - to have sexual intercourse with. BASE, n - in baseball, any of the four corners
BALLSY, adj (col) - tough, courageous, gutsy. of the diamond, which runners have to
BALLYHOO, n - sensational advertising. Used reach in order to score. Many idiomatic ex-
as a verb, it means to publicize by sensa- pressions derive from this term. To GET TO
tional or blatant methods. FIRST BASE is to accomplish the first stage
BALONEY, n - a variant of bologna, a large sea- in a project or a series of objectives. To GET
soned and smoked Italian sausage. Infor- TO HOME BASE is to 3chieve one's goal. To BE
mally, as in GB, it means nonsense. (WAY) OFF BASE is to be badly mistaken. To
BANANA OIL, n (col) insincere flattery or exag- COVER ALL BASES is to take care of every-
gerated nonsense. thing or plan for all eventualities. To TOUCH
BANANAS, adj & adv (col) - crazy. The heat and BASE is to get in touch with someone. If THE
the noise are enough to drive you bananas. BASES ARE LOADED, it's 3 make or break situ-
BAND-AID, n - a trademark for a kind of stick- ation.
ing plaster, now a generic word. Used figu- BASEBOARD, n - skirting board.
ratively, it means a patch-up job: True wel- BASH, n (col) - a celebration or party. They're
fare reform is being bypassed for Band-Aid throwing a big bash for their 50th wedding
solutions. anniversary.
BANG, v (col) - to hump, screw, have sexual BASKET CASE, n (col) -La helpless, hopeless,
intercourse with. distraught person. If I had to worry about
BANG, n (col) - thrill, excitement. We really pleasing everybody, I'd be a basket case
got a bang out of seeing him in person. in no time. 2. anything ruined or hopeless.
BANGS, pi n - hair in a fringe. This company was a basket case when
BANKROLL, n - a roll of banknotes or one's Mike took over, but he turned it round.
ready cash. Colloquially used as a verb, BASSINET, n - an infant's crib.
meaning to finance or undewrite the ex- BAT, n (col) - a binge, bender, drinking spree.
penses of a venture. BATHE, v - to take 3 bath. It also has the GB
BAR GIRL or B-GIRL, n - an attractive girl who meaning, to swim.
works in a bar and whose job consists in BATHROBE, n - a dressing gown.
encouraging male customers to buy drinks. BATHROOM, n - nearly always a euphemism
BARETTE, n (col) - hairslide. for toilet.
BARF, V (COl) - tO Vomit. A BARF BAG iS a dis- BATHTUB, n - bath.
posable paper or plastic bag provided to BATTENBOARD, n - perforated hardboard.
passengers by airlines for use in case of BATTER, n - in baseball, the player at bat. Idi-
airsickness. omatically, if you are BATTING A THOUSAND, you
BARFLY, n (col) - a person who hangs around are going great guns. Conversely, if you are
bars, usually a heavy drinker. BATTING ZERO, you are getting nowhere.
BARHOP, v (col) - to go on a pub crawl, al- BAWL, v - to cry or sob loudly, to wail.
though not necessarily with the deep sense BAWL OUT, v (col) - to reprimand loudly or
of purpose implied by the British term. harshly.
BARKEEP or BARKEEPER, n - 3 bartender. BAY WINDOW, n (col) - a protruding belly, a
BARNSTORM, v - to travel around rural districts paunch.
making political speeches, lecturing or pre- BAYOU, n - a sluggish marshy tributary of a
senting plays. From the original practice of lake or river of the southern US.


BAZOOLAS, BAZONGAS Of BAZOOMS, pi D (COl) - 3 BENEDICT ARNOLD, n - a Revolutionary Gen-

woman's breasts. eral who betrayed the American cause to
BB GUN, n - an air gun that shoots BBs, small the British. Now, another term for traitor.
lead pellets. A pellet gun. BENEFITS, pi n - health insurance and pension
BEAN, n (col) - another word for head. As a as part of a wage agreement.
verb, it means to hit someone on the head BENT, adj (col) - in the expression GET BENT
with a thrown object, especially by accident OUT OF SHAPE: to become very angry. It was
with a pitched baseball. only a simple question, I don't know why
BEANIE, n - a round close-fitting brimless hat he got all bent out of shape about it.
resembling a skullcap. BIAS PLY TIRE, n - a cross ply tyre.
BEANS, pi n (col) - a small amount, as in / BIBLE BELT, n - certain regions of the US, es-
don't know beans about nuclear physics. pecially in the South, where Protestant fun-
The expression FULL OF BEANS, as well as damentalism is rampant.
its GB sense of frisky or energetic, means BIG APPLE or THE APPLE, n (col) - New York
badly mistaken: / wouldn't believe what he City.
says, he's full of beans. BIG DIPPER, n - (constellation) the Plough.
BEAT UP ON, v - to beat (someone) up. To BEAT BIGFOOT, n - see SASQUATCH.
UP ON ONESELF is to punish oneself. BIG TIME, adv (col) - really, greatly. You had
BEAVER, n (col) - the female genitalia, espe- your chance but you screwed up, I mean
cially with a display of pubic hair. Also an you blew it big time.
offensive term for a girl or woman. Kurt BILL, n - a piece of paper money, a note, as
Vonnegut explains the origins of the term: in a ten-dollar bill. All currency notes are
The expression was first used by news pho- the same size and colour (green), differing
tographers, who often got to see up only in the picture and denomination, which
women's skirts at accidents and sporting is printed in all four corners.
events... They needed a code word to yell BILLBOARD, n - hoarding.
to other newsmen let them know what BILLFOLD, n - a type of wallet.
could be seen. The word was this: 'Beaver!' BILLION, n - a thousand million. GB billion (a
(Breakfast of Champions) million million) is now giving way to the US
BEE, n - a social gathering with a specific pur- usage.
pose, e.g. to perform some communal task BILLY or BILLY CLUB, n - a truncheon.
or hold a competition. A quilting bee, a knit- BIMBO, n (col) - a derogatory term for a girl or
ting bee. A SPELLING BEE is a contest where woman, especially one perceived 3s vacu-
participants are eliminated if they fail to ous or over-interested in sex.
spell words correctly. BIRCHER, n - a member or supporter of the
BEET or RED BEET, n - beetroot. JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY, founded in 1958, an
BELL PEPPER, n - green pepper. ultra-nationalist anti-Communist organiza-
BELLBOY or BELLHOP, n - a man or boy em- tion.
ployed by a hotel or club to carry luggage BIRD DOG, n - a dog trained to retrieve game
and answer calls for service, a porter. birds after they are shot, a gun dog.
BELT, n (col) - a swallow of something alco- BIRDER, n - another name for a bird watcher.
holic. He can't face an audience without BISCUIT, n - similar to a scone. GB biscuit =
taking a couple of belts first. US cookie.
BELTWAY, n - a ring road. BITCH, v (col) - to complain, whinge or
BENCH, v - in American football, to take some- grumble. Used as a noun, it means some-
one out of the game and put him on the thing very difficult or unpleasant.
bench. Hence, figuratively, to put someone BLACK, n & adj- Negro. Currently the usage
out of action. in favour, supplanting 'Negro' and



'coloured'. Sometimes written with a capi- ductions, often a clearance sale.

tal, sometimes without. BLT, n - a bacon, lettuce and tomato sand-
BLACK-BAG JOB, n (col) - a burglary conducted wich.
by police or federal agents in search of evi- BLUE BOOK or BLUEBOOK, n - an official list or
dence but without a warrant. people employed by the US government or
BLACKEN, v - to coat fish or meat with pepper a register of socially prominent people.
and other spices and then sear in a hot fry- BLUE CROSS and BLUE SHIELD, n - the two larg-
ing pan or over a strong flame, thereby pro- est private health-insurance companies in
ducing food that is spicy and black on the the US.
outside but tender on the inside. BLUE LAWS, pi n -a number of repressive pu-
BLACKJACK, n - a leather-covered lead trun- ritanical laws of the colonial period, restrict-
cheon or cosh with a flexible shaft or strap. ing shopping, drinking, entertainment and
BLACKTOP, n - a bituminous mixture used for other secular activities on Sundays.
surfacing roads, or a road covered with this BLUEGRASS, n - a type of country music origi-
material. Tarmac. nating in Kentucky, the Bluegrass St3te.
BLANK, n - an empty form, e.g. a telegraph BLUENOSE, n - a puritanical or prudish per-
blank. son.
BLAST, n (col) - a thrilling or pleasurable ex- BOARD OF TRADE, n - an unofficial association
perience, often a party. of bankers and business people to promote
BLEACHERS, pi n -tiers of inexpensive, uncov- local commercial interests.
ered seats in a sports stadium or similar BOARDWALK, n - a promenade along the sea
venue. front, generally raised and made of planks.
BLINDERS, pi n - blinkers on a horse. Under the boardwalk, down by the sea, On
BLINDSIDE, v - to catch someone unawares, a blanket with my baby is where I'll be (Drift-
especially with detrimental results. ers' song).
BLITZED, adj (col) - drunk. BOBBY PIN, n - a hairgrip, kirby grip.
BLOCK, n - a city block bounded by streets on BOBBYSOCKS, pi n - ankle-length socks worn
four sides. The distance between streets is by girls and women. Colloquially a
often measured in blocks. A BLOCK PARTY is BOBBYSOXER is 3 girl who wears such socks,
a neighbourhood celebration with the street or simply a teenager.
closed to traffic. BOBCAT, n - a wild cat of North America, re-
BLOCKBUSTING, n - the practice of persuading Isted to but smaller than the lynx.
white homeowners to sell their property BOCK BEER, n - heavy, dark stong beer.
quickly and cheaply by exploiting their fears BODACIOUS, adj (old) - remarkable, extraordi-
of lower prices if racial minorities move into nary, prodigious. He could eat a bodacious
the area. amount of food, and then ask for more.
BLOOPER, n (col) - a clumsy mistake, a blun- BOFF , n (col) - 1. a line in a play or film that
der. gets a big laugh. 2. a conspicuous success,
BLOTTER, n - official daily record of events in 3lso called BOFFO or BOFFOLA. A showbiz
a police station. term, probably deriving from b(ox) off(ice).
BLOW A FUSE, v (col) - to lose one's temper. To BOILED SHIRT, n - 3 dress shirt with a stiff front.
BLOW ONE'S LID and BLOW ONE'S STACK mean BOILERPLATE, n -formulaic language, often su-
the same. perfluous. In journalism, material that is
BLOW TORCH, n - a blow lamp. used merely to fill space.
BLOWHARD, n (col) - a braggart, a loudmouth. BOLL WEEVIL, n - a beetle whose larvae live in
BLOWOUT, n -1. a sudden rupture or bursting, and destroy cotton bolls.
especially of a car tyre. 2. (col) - a big party. BOMB, v - to fail miserably, to flop, especially
A BLOWOUT SALE is one with large price re- in the theatre: The play bombed. Hence, the



opposite of the UK meaning. BOX SCORE, n -A printed summary of a base-

BONDSMAN, n - A person whose occupation is ball game, in the form of a table listing the
to stand surety, at a high interest rate, for players and their positions and recording
suspected criminals released on bail. individual performances.
BONE WRENCH, n - a box spanner. BOXCAR, n - a goods wagon on a train.
BONER, n - a gaffe or blunder. BRAIDS, pi n plaits.
BOO-BOO, n (col) - a stupid mistake, a blun- BRAKEMAN, n - a guard on a train.
der. BRANCH WATER or BRANCH, n - plain water, as
BOOB TUBE, n (col) - television, the idiot box. opposed to carbonated water, especially
Pronunciation: the vowel sounds are iden- when mixed with whisky.
tical - boob toob. BREEZEWAY, n - a covered, open-sided pas-
BOOBY HATCH, n (col) - a mental hospital. sageway, e.g. connecting a house and a ga-
BOODLE, n (col) - bribe money, money gained rage.
by graft and corruption. BRIGHTS, pi n - the main beams of the head-
BOOGER, n (col) - dried nasal mucus, a bogey lights of a car.
or snotter. It can also refer to any item BROAD, n (col, old) - a woman.
whose name is unknown or forgotten: It's BROAD JUMP, n - another name for the long
one of those sharp little boogers you pull jump.
off the beer cans (Hunter S. Thompson). BROADSIDE, v - to crash into the side of an-
BOONDOCKS or BOONiES, pi n (col) - backwoods, other car. You run the lights, some guy's
a wild and remote rural area. going to broadside you for sure.
BOONDOGGLE, n (col) - unnecessary, wasteful BROASTED, adj- grilled and roasted. From broil
work. As a verb, to waste time or money and roast.
on such work. BRODIE or BRODEY, n (col) - in the expression
BOOSTER, n -1. a person whose job is to pro- DO A BRODEY: 1. to spin a car through 180
mote something by singing its praises. 2. degrees. The road was so slippery that
(col) - a shoplifter. when I braked, I did a brodie. 2. to commit
BOOT, n -1. a rubber patch used to repair a suicide, especially by jumping from a high
puncture in a tyre. 2. a wheel clamp. GB place.
boot = US trunk. BROIL, v - to grill food. A BROILER is like a grill,
BOOT CAMP, n - a training camp for military but deeper.
recruits, especially to the US Navy or Ma- BRONX CHEER, n - a loud fart-like noise made
rine Corps; the period of basic military train- with the lips and tongue to express deri-
ing. sion or contempt, a raspberry.
BOOTH, n - a (telephone) kiosk. BROOKS BROTHERS, adj - in the conservative
BOOZER, n (col) - the drinker, not the bar. style of this men's clothing shop in New
BOSS, adj (col) - first-rate, topnotch. York.
BOSTON BRAHMIN, n - a member of the old BROWN BAGGING, n -the practice of taking one's
Anglo-Saxon aristocracy of Boston. lunch to work or of taking one's own alco-
BOSTON CREAM PIE, n - a round cake with a hol into a restaurant where SETUPS are avail-
custard or cream filling. able. A person who does this is a BROWN
BOURBON, n - whisky distilled mainly from BAGGER.
maize, added to malt and rye. Named after BROWN-NOSE, v (col) - to curry favour by ser-
Bourbon County, Kentucky. Pronounced vile or obsequious behaviour, to arse-lick.
burr-bon. As a noun, it describes a person who be-
BOWERY, n - a section of lower Manhattan in haves in this manner.
New York City, notorious for its petty crimi- BROWNIE, n - a small, moist, chocolate-
nals and derelicts. flavoured cake, often with nuts.



BROWNIE POINTS, n - notional marks to one's lot reserved for building.

credit for impressing a superior. From the BULL, n (col) - short for bullshit.
practice of awarding points to Brownies in BULL SESSION, n (col) - an informal group dis-
the Girl Scouts. cussion, usually among men.
BROWNSTONE, n - a reddish-brown sandstone BULLETIN BOARD, n - a notice board.
used in building, or a house built with this BULLHORN, n - a megaphone, loud-hailer.
stone. BULLPEN, n - 1. a large cell where prisoners
BRUNCH, n - a mid-morning meal, combining are temporarily confined together. 2. in
a late breakfast and an early lunch. baseball, an area where relief pitchers
BTO, (abbr, col) - big time operator. warm up during a game.
BUCK, n (col) - a dollar. BUM, n (col) - 1 . a tramp or a Iazy, shiftless
BUCK, v (col) - to resist or oppose stubbornly. person. 2. an insignifican person: Icould've
You can't buck the system forever. had class and been somebody. Real class.
BUCKAROO, n - cowboy. An alteration of the Instead of a bum, let's face it, which is what
Spanish word vaquero. I am (On the Waterfront).
BUCKBOARD, n (old) - an open horse-drawn BUM STEER, n (COl) - See STEER.
cart. BUMMER, n (col) - 1. A disagreeable person,
BUCKEYE, n - a horse chestnut, a conker. event or situation, in particular an adverse
BUCKSAW, n - a two-handled woodcutting saw reaction to a hallucinogenic drug. 2. a fail-
with the blade usually set in an H-shaped ure: The trip was a bummer.
frame. BUNCH, n (col) - pile, lot, as in He won a bunch
BUDDY, n (col) - an informal word for friend. of money at the racetrack. They have a
Also, as a term of address, BUD. Equivalent bunch of kids. Thanks a bunch, you've been
to GB mate. really helpful.
BUFFALO, n (col) - 1. to intimidate, cow. 2. to BUNCO or BUNKO, v (col) - a swindle, especially
deceive, hoodwink. 3. to confuse or bewil- one by confidence tricksters. As a verb: to
der. con.
BUFFALO WINGS, pi n (col) - spicy chicken BUNS, pi n (col) - buttocks. She's got the neat-
wings. est little buns. While you were down there
BUFFET, n - a sideboard. enjoying yourself, we've been sitting up
BUG, v (col) -1. to irritate, pester or annoy. 2. here freezing our buns off.
of the eyes, to bulge or protrude: His eyes BUNT, v - in baseball, to hit a pitched ball very
bugged when he saw what she was wear- gently.
ing, and bugged even more when he saw BUREAU, n - a chest of drawers.
what she wasn't. To BUG OUT is to shirk a BURGLARIZE, v- to burgle
duty or a responsibility: You could always BURLAP, n - a coarse fabric woven from jute
rely on him to bug out on you at the least or hemp and used to make sacks or cover-
sign of trouble. To PUT A BUG IN SOMEONE'S ing, hessian.
EAR is to give someone a useful piece of BURRO, n - a small donkey, especially one
information discreetly, to mark someone's used as a pack animal. The word is Span-
card. ish.
BUG, n -1. any insect, e.g. the JUNE BUG or the BUS, v - to transport schoolchildren by bus
LIGHTNING BUG. 2. a devotee or enthusiast: a from their own neighbourhood to a racially
model train bug. 3. in poker, a joker used mixed school in another area, as a means
as an ace or wild card to fill out a straight of achieving racist integration.
or a flush. BUSBOY or BUSSER, n -A restaurant employee
BUILDING SITE, n - not a site where something who clears away dirty dishes, sets tables
is actually being constructed but a vacant and generally assists the waiters or wait-



resses. train crew.

BUSH LEAGUE, n - in baseball, the minor train- CADDY, n - shopping trolley.
ing league. Often used metaphorically to CAESAR SALAD, n - A tossed salad of lettuce,
connote amateurism, lack of status, infe- anchovies, croutons, grated cheese and a
rior quality, etc. raw egg.
BUSHEL, n - 1 US bushel = 0.03524 cubic CALABOOSE, n (col) - a prison, jail.
metres, or 64 US pints. (1 Imperial bushel CALL COLLECT, v - to make a reverse-charge
is equivalent to 0.03637 cubic metres.) In- phone call.
formally, the word means a large amount, CALL-IN, n - another name for a phone-in.
a great deal. CALLER ID, n - (telephone) caller display.
BUSHWHACK, v (old) -1. to ambush. 2. to fight CALLING CARD, n -1. equivalent of a telephone
as a guerrilla in wild terrain. 3. to cut or beat charge card, for use with a pay phone. 2. a
one's way through thick woods. The noun visiting card.
iS BUSHWHACKER. CALLIOPE, n - a steam organ. Pronounced: ka-
BUST, v (col) - 1. to arrest. 2. to smash or lie-e-pee.
break: They busted the machine. 3. to de- CAN, n (col) -1. a tin, as in a can of dogfood.
mote, especially in military rank. 4. to break 2. toilet, loo. 3. arse. He fell on his can. 4.
or tame, e.g. horses. 5. to fail. jail or prison.
BUST A GUT, v (col) - to laugh hard. Martha CAN, v (col) -1. to stop, e.g. doing something
didn't think I laughed loud enough. Martha annoying, especially in the expression CAN
thinks that unless she demurely puts IT! 2. to dismiss from a job. 3. to pre-
it... that unless you 'bust a gut'you aren't serve food. In the US fruit is canned in a
amused (Edward Albee). Mason jar, the equivalent to bottling fruit
BUSY SIGNAL, n - (telephone) engaged signal. in a Kilner jar.
BUTT, n (col) -1. cigarette. 2. backside, bum, CANDY, n - sweets. A candy store is a sweet
buttocks. shop.
BUTTON, n - a badge. She was wearing a Bush CANDY APPLE, H - toffee apple.
campaign button. CANDY STRIPER, n - a volunteer worker in a hos-
BUTTONED-DOWN, adj - conservative, conven- pital. From the resemblance of the
tional, unimaginative in style. volunteer's red and white striped uniform
BVDs, pi n - BVD is a trade name for a brand tO a STICK CANDY.
of men's underwear so well known that, with CANDY-ASS, n (col) - a sissy, a wimp.
a final a, it now means men's underwear CANUCK, n (col) - a Canadian. Formerly, a
in general: Any Presidential candidate French-Canadian.
knows that he will be under constant scru- CANVASS, v - to scrutinize or to discuss thor-
tiny, right down to his BVDs. oughly, in particular to inspect votes to de-
termine their validity. It also has the GB
meaning of soliciting votes or orders.
CAPITOL HILL, n - the hill on which the main
building of the US Congress is located.
Hence, Congress.
CAPTAIN, n -1. a head waiter 2. a supervisor
of bellboys in a hotel. 3. a district official
C-NOTE, n (col, old) - a hundred-dollar bill. for a political party.
CABANA, n - a tent or hut on a beach or by a CAR, n - a carriage, as in railroad car, dining
swimming pool, used as a changing room. car, etc.
CABOOSE, n -the last wagon on a goods train CARAVAN, n - convoy.
with cooking and sleeping facilities for the CARD, v - to check someone's indentification,



especially to verify their age. for which proof of delivery is obtained.

CARFARE, n - money for fares on buses, tubes CHALKBOARD, n - blackboard.
or trams. CHAPS, pi n - heavy leather trousers without
CARHOP, n - a waiter or waitress at a drive-in a seat worn by cowboys over their ordinsry
restaurant. trousers to protect their legs.
CARNIVAL, n - a funfair. CHAPSTICK, n - cylinder of a product for pre-
CAROUSEL, n - merry-go-round. venting or soothing chapped lips, lip-salve.
CARPETBAGGER, n - a Northerner who went to CHARLEY HORSE, n (col) - a cramp or stiffness,
the South after the Civil War to profit from especially in the upper leg, caused by ex-
RECONSTRUCTION. By extension, any outsider, ertion or injury. Originally baseball slang.
especially a politician, who seeks to exploit CHARLIE, n (col) - the Vietcong. Charlie
a locality to his own advantage. launched a major offensive.
CARRYALL, n -1. a holdall. 2. a closed car with CHARTER MEMBER, n - an original or founder
two lengthwise seats facing each other. member of a society or organization.
CARRYOUT or TAKEOUT, n - a takeawsy. Often CHECK, n - 1. a bill in a restaurant or bar. 2.
used as a modifier, e.g. some carryout the usual spelling of cheque. A CHECKING AC-
sandwiches, the carryout counter. COUNT is a current account.
CASE or DAIRY CASE, n - in a superrtwket, the CHECK-OUT COUNTER, n - the cash desk in a
area where milk and dairy products are supermarket.
found. CHECKER, n - the cashier in a supermarket.
CASKET, n - another name for coffin. CHECKERS, n - draughts. A draughtboard is a
CATCH SOME Z's, v (col) - to have a nap or CHECKERBOARD.
zizz. Pronounced zeeze. CHECKING ACCOUNT, n - S66 CHECK.
CATER-CORNERED Or CATTY-CORNERED, adj - di- CHECKROOM, n - a left-luggsge office or a
agor\a\, diagonally placed. From the French cloakroom.
word for four and pronounced kat-er-kor- CHEESY, adj (col) - vulgar, Iacking in taste. It
nerd. was a hideous room, expensive but cheesy
CATHOUSE, n (col) - brothel. (J.D. Salinger).
CATSUP, n - ketchup. CHEF'S SALAD, n - a tossed green Salad with
CAUCUS, n -1. a closed meeting of the mem- raw vegetables, hard-boiled eggs and
bers of one party in a legislative chamber julienne strips of cheese and meat. A mea\
to make policy or leadership decisions, or in itself.
such a group of politicians: the Republican CHERRY, n (col) - 1 . 3 virgin, of either sex. 2.
CaUCUS in Congress. 2. a local meeting of virginity, 3s in He still hasn't lost his cherry.
party members. As a verb, it means to hold CHERRY PICKER, n - a mobile crane with a ver-
3 caucus. tical boom to raise a person so that jobs
CENTENNIAL, n - another name for centensry. like streetlight maintenance can be per-
(abbr) CST, n - standard time in the sixth CHEW OUT, v (col) - to reprimand, to tell off.
time zone west of Greenwich, i.e. six hours CHICANO, n - a US citizen of Mexican origin.
behind GMT. One of four time zones in the In some parts of the Southwest, the term
US. is a badge of ethnic pride; in others, it is
CERTIFICATE OF DEPOSIT or (abbr)CD, n-a sav- considered derogatory. A wholly acceptable
ings certificate. synonym is Hispanic.
CERTIFIED CHECK, n - a cheque guaranteed by CHIEF EXECUTIVE, n - the President of the US.
a bank to be covered by sufficient funds on CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER or (abbr) CEO, n -
deposit. managing director. Also called president.
CERTIFIED MAIL, n - uninsured first-class mail CHIEF JUSTICE, n - the presiding judge of a high



court having several judges, especially the CIRCULATING NURSE, n - a theatre sister.
US Supreme Court. CITY EDITOR, n - a newspaper editor respon-
CHIFFON, adj - made frothy and light by the sible for local news and reporters' assign-
addition of beaten egg whites, as in lemon ments. Unlike a British city editor, he has
chiffon pie. nothing to do with commercial or financial
CHILL OUT, v (col) - to relax or to calm down. news.
Chill out and enjoy yourself, life is short. CLAPBOARD, n - a long thin timber board with
When the stress gets too much, we have one end thicker than the other, used in
this little place we go to chill out. wood-frame construction by lapping each
CHINCH, n - another name for a bedbug. board over the one below. Often used as a
CHINOOK, n - a warm dry wind blowing down modifier, as in a clapboard house.
the easterly slopes of the Rocky Mountains CLERK or SALESCLERK, n - shop assistant. Pro-
and causing a sudden rise in temperature. nounced clurk. Also called SALESPERSON.
Also called a snow eater. CLOSET, n - a cupboard or wardrobe. A US
CHIPPED BEEF, n - dried beef smoked and cupbosrd is found only in the kitchen.
sliced very thin. CLOSET, adj (col) - secret, undeclsred. Used
CHIPPER, adj- lively, cheerful, chirpy. until recently only in such expressions as
CHIPS, pi n - potato crisps. GB chips = French CLOSET QUEEN, meaning a secret male ho-
fries. mosexusl, or COME OUT OF THE CLOSET, mean-
CHISEL, v (col) - to cheat or obtain by cheat- ing to acknowledge one's homosexuality
ing. publicly, it now has a wider application, e.g.
CHOPPED LIVER, n (col) - something insignifi- a closet alcoholic, closet information.
cant. Why does she always ignore me? CLOTHES PIN, n - clothes peg.
What am I? Chopped liver? CLUNKER, n (col) - a decrepit old car, an old
CHORINE, n - chorus girl. banger. You actually bought that clunker?
CHOW, n (col) - grub. COASTER, n - a table mat placed under glasses
CHOWDER, n - a thick soup or stew containing and bottles to protect a table top or other
fish, clams, potatoes, onions, and toma- surface.
toes. COBBLER, n - a hot dessert made of fruit cov-
CHUCK UP, v (col) - to vomit ered with a rich cakelike crust.
CHUCK WAGON, n (col) - a wagon carrying cook- COED or CO-ED, n - a female undergraduate.
ing utensils and food for men working in Used as a modifier, as in a coed university,
the open, such as cowboys or ranch hands. a coed dorm or a coed pool, it means open
CHUTES AND LADDERS, pi n - snakes and lad- to both sexes. Derived from coeducational.
ders. COFFEE CAKE, n - a cake or sweetened bread,
CHUTZPAH, n (col) - shameless audacity, un- usually containing nuts and raisins, to be
believable nerve, effrontery. Leo Rosten de- taken with morning coffee. Not coffee-
scribes as having chutzpah a man who flavoured.
killed his father and mother and then threw COFFEE KLATSCH Or KAFFEEKLATSCH, H - a CasuaI
himself on the mercy of the court because social gathering for coffee and conversa-
he was an orphan. A Yiddish word, pro- tion, usually among housewives.
nounced khoot-spah. COLLAR BUTTON, n - Collar Stud.
CIGAR STORE, n - tobacconist's shop. Formerly COLLAR STAY, n - collar stiffener.
a cigar-store Indian, i.e. a wooden effigy of COLLECT ON DELIVERY, n - cash on delivery.
a Native American brandishing a cluster of COLLEGE, n - in everyday speech, synony-
cigars, stood emblematically at the en- mous with university. In the words of the
trance. song: Old Bill Jones had a daughter and a
CINCH, n (col) - an easy task, a piece of cake. son, The son went to college and the



daughter went wrong. ber of Congress, specifically of the lower

COLONIAL, adj - pertaining to the 13 British house, the House of Representatives.
colonies which became the original US in CONNECT, v - 1. on the telephone, to put
1776, or referring to the period which pre- through. 2. (col) - to be successful.
ceded independence. CONSTRUCTIONS, n - a person who construes
COME ON TO, v (col) - to make a sexual ad- a legal text, especially the Constitution, in
vance at someone. The noun is COME-ON, a particular way. Members of the Supreme
either a sexual approach or proposal, or, Court, for example, are often divided into
commercially, an enticement to buy. strict constructionists, who interpret the
COMER, n - a person who is a potential suc- texts narrowly, and loose constructionists.
cess, e.g. a political comer. COOKIE, n - a sweet biscuit. A COOKIE SHEET is
COMFORT STATION, n (old) - public convenience. a baking tray. To be CAUGHT WITH ONE'S HAND
COMFORTER, n - a quilted bed covering, an ei- IN THE COOKIE JAR is to be caught in the act.
derdown. To TOSS ONE'S COOKIES is to vomit.
COMMENCEMENT, n - a ceremony at which aca- COOKOUT, n (col) - a party where a meal is
demic degrees or diplomas are conferred. cooked and eaten out of doors.
COMMISSARY, n - 1. a supermarket supplying COOL, adj (col) - excellent, first-rate. We had
food or equipment in a mining or military a cool time at the party.
camp. 2. a cafeteria, especially in a film or COOLER, n - 1. an insulated box for keeping
television studio. food and drinks cool, a coolbox. 2. (col) a
COMMON STOCK, n - ordinary shares. jail.
COMMUTER TICKET, n - season ticket. COON, n (col) - raccoon. Also, as in GB, an
COMSTOCKERY, n - immoderate censorship on insulting term for a black person.
the grounds of immorality. Coined by G.B. COP OUT, v (col) - to fail to assume a respon-
Shaw after his play Mrs Warren's Profes- sibility or to commit oneself. The noun is
sion had to be closed in New York because COP-OUT.
of the agitation of the Society for the Sup- COPASETIC or COPESETIC, adj (col, old) - com-
pression of Vice, founded by Anthony pletely satisfactory, excellent.
Comstock. COPING SAW, n - fretsaw.
CONCERTMASTER, n - the first violinist and as- CORD, n - electrical wire, flex.
sistant conductor in a symphony orches- CORDUROY ROAD, n - a road over swampy
tra. ground, made of logs laid down trans-
CONCOURSE, n - an open space where people versely.
can gather or walk, often with shops, e.g. CORN, n - maize.
in an airport or railway station. CORNBALL, n (col) - a person who behaves in
CONDOMINIUM, n -An individually owned flat in a mawkish or unsophisticated way. As a
a block of flats where common areas are modifier, it means unsophisticated, corny,
jointly owned. Often shortened to CONDO. or ridiculous: The kid told a bunch of corn-
Owners of condos frequently time-share or ball jokes. Where did you get that cornball
lease to others. hat?
CONDUCTOR, n - a railway official in charge of CORNBREAD, n - a bread made from maize
a train. meal. Also known as Indian bread.
CONE, n - a cornet, as in an ice cream cone. CORNDODGER or DODGER, n - a small round ball
CONFECTIONERS' SUGAR 10X, n - icing sugar. of cornmeal, flour, milk, oil and sugar that
Confectioner's sugar 4X is castor sugar. is fried hard. Chiefly Southern US.
CONFIDENCE COURSE, n - (military) another CORNED BEEF, n - salt beef.
name for an obstacle course. CORNPONE or PONE, n - plain corn bread usu-
CONGRESSMAN or CONGRESSWOMAN, n -a mem- ally shaped into a flat cake and fried on a



griddle. Also called johnnycake. As a modi- uneducated white person of the rural South.
fier, it means folksy, homespun in manner A country bumpkin.
or speech: He had a penchant forcornpone CRACKER-BARREL, adj - rural, rustic, home-
humor. spun, especially with regard to CRACKER-
CORNSTARCH, n - Cornflour. BARREL PHILOSOPHY. After the cracker barrels
CORPORATION, n - limited company. around which people would allegedly
COT, n - camp bed. gather for conversation in old-time general
COTTON, v (col) - to take a liking to. The dog stores.
ain't naturally vicious, it just don't cotton to CRANBERRY, n - a red berry, used for making a
strangers. To COTTON UP TO someone is to jelly-like sauce without which no Thanks-
suck up to them. giving dinner would be complete.
COTTON CANDY, n - candy floss. CRANKY, adj - not eccentric but irritable, bad-
COTTONWOOD, n - a kind of N. American pop- tempered, fussy.
lar, whose seeds have a tuft of cottony CRAPS, n - a popular gambling game using
hairs. two dice. To SHOOT CRAPS is to play this
COUCH POTATO, n (col) - a person who lounges game.
around watching television. He's not a CRAWFISH, v (col) - to walk sideways or, meta-
couch potato like you, he actually goes out phorically, to withdraw from an undertak-
sometimes and does things. ing.
COULEE, n - a steep-sided ravine formed by CRAZY BONE, n (col) - funny bone.
heavy rain or melting snow, or an intermit- CRAZY QUILT, n - patchwork quilt.
tent stream in such a ravine. From French CREAM, v (col) - to defeat overwhelmingly.
couler, to flow. Pronounced koo-lay. CREAM OF WHEAT, n - semolina.
COUNSELOR, n -1. a lawyer, especially one who CREEK, n - a stream, often shallow or inter-
conducts cases in court. 2. a person who mittent.
supervises children at a summer camp. CRIB, n - a cot as well as a crib. Hence CRIB
COUNTERCLOCKWISE, adj & adv - anticlockwise DEATH is cot death.
COUNTERMAN, n - a man who tends a snack CRIMP, n (col) -1. something which obstructs
bar or lunch counter. or hampers. 2. a dreary, boring person.
COUPE or COUPE, n - a closed two-door car. CRITTER, n (col) - a living creature. The pro-
COURTESY CAR, n - a vehicle sent by a hotel to nunciation of this corruption of 'creature'
pick up guests from an airport or station at would have been familiar to Shakespeare,
no extra charge. since, in the 17th century, the suffix -ture
COVERALLS, pi n - overalls, a boiler suit. still had not acquired its modern ch sound.
cow, n (col) - in the expression HAVE A cow: to CROSSWALK, n - pedestrian crossing.
have kittens, have a canary. CROTCH, n - crutch, in the sense of the geni-
COW-CATCHER, n - the triangular metal frame tal area.
projecting from the front of a locomotive, CROW, n - humble pie, especially in the ex-
serving to clear the track of obstructions. pression EAT CROW, to be forced to accept
COYOTE, n - a small, wolflike animal roaming or do something humiliating.
the western deserts and prairies. Also CRUD, n (col) - a piece of sticky filth, espe-
called prairie wolf. Pronounced ki-o-tay. cially when encrusted. The adjective is
CPA, n (abbr) - certified public account, the CRUDDY: nasty, repellent, worthless.
equivalent of a chartered accountant. CRUISER, n - a police car. Also called a PROWL
CRACK UP, v (col) - to laugh unrestrainedly or CAR, a squad car or a PATROL CAR.
to cause to do so. / crack up just thinking CRULLER, n - a small ring-shaped cake, fried
about those old jokes. They crack me up. in deep fat.
CRACKER, n - a disparaging term for a poor or CUBE SUGAR, n - lump sugar.



CUFFS, pi n - turn-ups on trousers. into a bed.

CUM LAUDE, ad v - the lowest of three designa- DAY BED, n - studio couch.
tions for above-average achievement in uni- DAYLIGHT-SAVING TIME or (abbr) DST, n - time
versity final examinations, roughly the during which the clocks are put an hour
equivalent of a 2.2 in GB. The other dis- ahead of standard time to have more day-
tinctions are MAGNA CUM LAUDE, comparable light at the end of the working day in late
to a 2.1, and SUMMA CUM LAUDE, comparable spring, summer and early autumn.
to a class 1. Latin: with praise. DEADHEAD, n (col) -1. an aircraft, bus, train or
CUPBOARD, n - a kitchen cupboard or larder. other vehicle that is transporting no pas-
Any other cupboard is a CLOSET. sengers and carrying no goods during a
CURVE BALL, n - in baseball, a pitched ball trip. The word can also be used as a verb
which veers to one side in midair. Hence, meaning to drive such an empty vehicle. 2.
the expression THROW SOMEONE A CURVE BALL, a person who gains free admittance to en-
meaning to trick, mislead, deceive some- tertainment or who travels without paying.
one. 3. a dull-witted, sluggish person.
cuss, n (col) - to curse or curse at. DEBARK, v - another word for disembark.
CUSTOM-MADE, adj - made to measure. DECAL, n - a transfer or sticker. Short for de-
CUT A FAT HOG, v (col) - to bite off more than calcomania.
one can chew. DECK, n - a wooden platform, typically with
CUT LOOSE, v - to go wild, to speak or act with- low sides, adjacent to a house.
out restraint. He cut loose with a string of DEED, v - to convey or transfer property by
hair-raising obscenities. deed.
CUT THE CHEESE, v (col) - to fart. All right, own DEN MOTHER, n - a woman who supervises a
up - who cut the cheese? den (i.e. a pack) of Cub Scouts.
CUT UP, v (col) - to behave in a playful or bois- DENATURED ALCOHOL, n - methylated spirits.
terous way, to clown about. As a noun it DEPOT, n - another word for a bus or railway
means a joker or buffoon. station.
CUTESY, adj (col) - affectedly coy or exces- DERBY, n - a bowler hat. Pronounced durr-be.
sively cute. DESK CLERK, n - receptionist.
CYCLONE CELLAR Or STORM CELLAR, n - an Un- DETOUR, n -diversion.
derground shelter in or next to a house DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE, n - a rich chocolate cake.
where refuge can be taken in severe wind- DIAL TONE, n - dialling tone.
storms. DIAMONDBACK, n - a rattlesnake.
DIAPER, n - nappy.
DIBS, pi n (col) - a claim, rights, as in / have
dibs on the last piece of pie. A juvenile term
deriving from dibstones, counters used in
a game.
D DICK, n (col) - detective.
DICKER, v - to haggle, bargain.
DANDY, adj- very good, fine. DIME, n - a 10-cent piece.
DAR, n (abbr) - Daughters of the American DIMMERS, pln -1. dipped headlights on a road
Revolution, a patriotic women's society. vehicle. 2. parking lights on a car. The DIM-
DATE, v - to go out with someone on a date, MER SWITCH is the dip switch.
or to be the boyfriend or girlfriend of some- DINER, n - a small, cheap restaurant with a
one of the opposite sex. On a DOUBLE DATE, long counter and booths, designed to look
two couples go out together. like the restaurant car on a train.
DAVENPORT, n -a large sofa, often convertible DINGBAT, n (col) - 1. an empty-headed, zany



or silly person. 2. an object, such as a brick nounced doe-gy.

or stone, used as a missile. DOOHICKEY, n (col) -La small mechanical de-
DIRECTIONAL, fi (col, old) - a car indicator. vice whose name is not known. 2. a pimple
DIRIGIBLE, n - zeppelin. DOOZY or DOOZIE, n - a person or thing which
DIRT FARMER, n (col) - a farmer who does all is extraordinary or bizarre.
the work, often hard and unlucrative, on his DORMITORY, n - a hall of residence.
property. Also, DIRT FARMING. DOUBLE HEADER Or TWIN BILL, n - tWO games
DIRTY POOL, n (col) - unfair or unethical played consecutively 3s part of the same
behaviour, dirty tricks. programme, especially in baseball. Also
DISASSEMBLE, v - another word for dismantle. used metaphorically.
DISCOMBOBULATE, v - to throw into a state of DOUBLE TAKE, n - a delayed reaction to an un-
confusion, to disconcert. usual remark or circumstance. Commonly
DISH TOWEL, n - tea towel. used as a comic device.
DISHPAN, n - flat-bottomed basin for washing DOUBLE WHAMMY, n (col) - a dual disadvantage
up. According to advertisers, using the or two-pronged difficulty. The doublea
wrong washing-up liquid causes 'dishpan whammy of high home prices and high in-
hands'. terest rates.
DISHRAG, n - another word for dishcloth. DOUBLE-CLUTCH, v - to double-declutch.
DISORIENTED, adj - disorientated. DOUGHBOY, n (col) - an infantryman, especially
DISTRICT, n - constituency. A congressional in the First World War.
district is the equivalent of a parliamentary DOUGHNUT, n -a ring-shaped pastry, quite dif-
constituency. ferent in taste and texture from a British
DISTRICT ATTORNEY or DA, n - the public pros- doughnut.
ecutor of a judicial district. DOWNER, n (col) - something depressing.
DITCH, v (col) - to skip class, play truant. DOWNSPOUT, n - drainpipe.
DITSY, adj (col) - scatterbrained or inane. DOWNTOWN, n - the central part, of a town or
DIVIDED HIGHWAY, n (col) - dual carriageway. city, especially the commercial area. Also
Also known as a four lane highway or four used as adjective and adverb.
lane. DRAFT, n - conscription.
DIXIE, n - the Southern states that joined the DRAINBOARD, n - draining board
Confederacy during the Civil War. The DRAPES, pi n - curtains of heavy fabric, as op-
name was popularized by the song Dixie's posed to net or lace curtains (which are
Land of 1859. called curtains, sheer curtains or SHEERS).
DOCENT, n -1. a teacher at some universities, DRAWERS, pi n - underpants.
not a full-time faculty member. 2. a tour DRESSER, n - a chest of drawers for storing
guide in a museum, cathedral, etc. clothes in a bedroom or dressing room, of-
DOG, n (col) -1. a hoplessly inferior product. ten with 3 mirror on top.
His book was a total dog. 2. an unattrac- DRIVE TIME, n - the time of day when commut-
tive or uninteresting woman. ers drive to and from work. The best radio
DOG TAG, n - a military identity disc worn programs 3re broadcast during drive time.
around the neck. DRIVER'S HANDBOOK, n - the Highway Code.
DOGGY BAG Or DOGGIE BAG, H (COl, Old) - a bag DRIVER'S LICENSE, n - driving licence.
provided by a restaurant for carrying away DROP-DEAD GORGEOUS, adj (col) - very beauti-
leftovers from a meal, supposedly for the ful.
customer's dog. The term is dying out and DROPOUT, n (col) - someone who drops out of
it is now common to ask for a box. school or university without finishing. Or,
DOGIE, n - a stray or motherless calf. Pro- as in GB, who withdraws from society in



general. time zone west of Greenwich, five hours

DRUGGIST, n (old) - a pharmacist, licensed to behind GMT. One of the four standard time
dispense medicines in a DRUGSTORE. zones in the US, covering the eastern part
DRUGSTORE, n - a shop where medical pre- of the country.
scriptions are made up, like a chemist's, EAT CROW, v - see CROW.
but also selling a wide variety of goods and EAVES SPOUTS or EAVES TROUGHS, pi n - other
with a counter where light meals are words for the gutters that run along the
served. edge of a roof.
DRUMMER, n (col) - a salesman, especially a EDITORIAL, n - leading article in a newspaper.
commercial traveller. EFFICIENCY APARTMENT Or EFFICIENCY, n - a One-
DRY GOODS, pin -textiles, clothing and related room furnished flat with its own bathroom
articles. and kitchenette.
DUDE, n (col) - a city dweller, a dandy, a man EGGPLANT, n - aubergine.
unused to hard work, or simply a man, as EIGHT BALL, n - in pool, the black ball marked
in He's a crude dude. with the number 8, which should be pock-
DUDE RANCH, n - a ranch used as a holiday eted last. The expression BEHIND THE EIGHT
resort for city-dwellers, offering activities BALL corresponds to GB snookered, in a dif-
such as riding and camping. ficult situation.
DUDED UP, adj (col) - all dressed up. ELECTORAL COLLEGE, n - a body of electors cho-
DUDS, pi n (col) - clothes. sen by the voters theoretically to elect the
DUI, n (abbr) - another way to refer to drunk President and Vice President of the US. In
driving. Short for Driving Under the Influ- practice, they follow the dictates of the vot-
ence. ing public.
DUMB, adj- stupid. Also, as in GB, mute. ELEVATED RAILWAY, n - an urban railway track
DUMPSTER, n (col) - a skip. The car had been built on supports above a city street.
parked for several weeks next to a trash ELEVATOR, n - a lift.
dumpster. Originally a trademsrk. EMERGENCY BRAKE, n - the handbrake or park-
DUPLEX APARTMENT, n - a flat on two floors, con- ing brake of 3 car.
nected by an inner staircase. EMMY, n - television's equivalent of an Os-
DUPLEX HOUSE, n - a semidetached house. csr, awarded annually for outstanding per-
DUST BOWL, n - the area of the south central fonrmnces and production.
US, around Oklamoma, where the topsoil EMPIRE STATE, n - a nickname for New York
was destroyed by wind erosion during the state, bestowed by George Washington.
droughts of the mid-1930s. ENDIVE, n - chicory.
DUTCH DOOR, n - a stable door, i.e. a door di- ENGINEER, n - also means a railroad engine-
vided in two horizontally. driver.
DWEEB, n (col) - a moron, a simpleton. ENGLISH, n - side given to ball in billiards or
DYKE or DIKE, n (col) - a disparaging term for pool.
a lesbian. ENGLISH MUFFIN, n - A flat round muffin usu-
slly split and toasted before being eaten
with butter and marmalade for breakfast.
ENJOIN, v - to forbid or prohibit from doing.
This is the opposite of the GB meaning, to
compel to do.
E ENLISTED MAN or (abbr) EM, n - any service-
man who is not an officer 3nd not under
EASTER STANDARD TIME or EASTERN TIME or training to become one. Also ENLISTED
(abbr) EST, n - standard time in the fifth WOMAN, ENLISTED PERSON.



ERASER, n - rubber. In the US, a RUBBER is a right. Curiously, water from the faucet is
colloquial term for a condom. called tap water.
ERECTOR SET, n - a children's toy, similar to FAVA BEAN, n - broad bean. Pronounced fah-
Meccano. ve.
ESTATE TAX, pi n - death duties. FAVORITE SON, n - a man favoured for nomina-
ETHNIC, n - a member of a minority ethnic tion as a Presidential candidate by del-
group, especially one who maintains the egates from his own state at a national
language and customs of the group. political convention.
EUROPEAN PLAN, n - a hotel rate covering room FEDORA, n - a trilby hat.
and service but not meals. Cf. AMERICAN FEISTY, adj- 1. touchy, temperamental. 2. full
PLAN. of pluck or spirit.
EVERGLADES, n - a subtropical swampy region FENDER, n - the wing or mudguard of a car or
of southern Florida, noted for its tall grass, bicycle. A FENDER-BENDER is a car crash re-
winding waterways, alligators, crocodiles sulting in minor damage.
and egrets. FERRIS WHEEL, n - the big wheel at a fair-
EXPIRATION DATE, n - expiry date. ground.
EXPLANATION POINT, n - exclamation mark. FIELD GOAL, A7 - See TOUCHDOWN.
EXPLORER, n - a dental probe. FIELD HOCKEY, n - hockey. Used by itself,
EXPRESSWAY, n - motorway. See FREEWAY. hockey means ice hockey.
EYEBALL, v (col) - 1. to look over carefully, to FIFTH, n (col) - a bottle of spirits containing
scrutinize. 2. to estimate roughly by look- one fifth of a gallon. Marlowe opened the
ing: He eyeballed the area of the wall to be drawer of the desk and pulled out a fifth of
painted. bourbon.
FIG NEWTON, A7 - a fig roll.
FIGURE, v - to think.
FILE CABINET, n - filing cabinet.
FILL OUT, v - (forms) to fill in.
FILLING STATION, n - petrol station.
F FIN, n (col, old) - a five-dollar bill.
FINAGLE, v (col) - 1. to obtain by deceitful
FACILITY, n - something, often a building, cre- means. He finagled a day off work. 2. to
ated for a specific function: hospitals and cheat, swindle. He finagled the old lady out
other health care facilities. of a fortune. Pronounced fi-nay-gel.
FACULTY, n - all administrative and teaching FINK, n (col) -1. a police informant. 2. a strike-
staff at a school or university. breaker, blackleg. 3. a contemptible person.
FAGGOT or FAG, n (col) - a disparaging term As a verb it means to inform on someone
for a male homosexual. or to renege on a promise: They said they
FAIRY, n (col) - a male homosexual. would help us, but then finked out.
FALL, n - another word for autumn. FIRE DEPARTMENT, n - the fire brigade. A FIRE
FANNY, n (col) - the backside, the buttocks. HOUSE is a fire station, A FIRE TRUCK a fire
FAR-SIGHTED, adj - long-sighted. engine.
FAT CAT, n (col) -1. a very wealthy or influen- FIRE PLUG, n (old) - another word for fire hy-
tial person. 2. a wealthy person who is a drant.
heavy contributor to a political campaign. FIRECRACKER, n - another word for firework,
Also used as a modifier: a fat-cat industri- especially a banger.
alist. FIRST FLOOR, n - the ground floor. GB first floor
FAUCET, n - a tap. In the US, for safety rea- = US second floor, and so on.
sons, the cold-water faucet is always on the FIRST LADY, n - the wife of the President of the



United States. FLY or POP-UP is a short high fly ball, which

FISH STICKS, pi n - fish fingers. is easy to catch.
FISH STORY, n (col) - an implausible, boastful FLY BY THE SEAT OF ONE'S PANTS, V (COl) - tO im-
story, e.g. of the one that got away. provise, / have no idea what I'm going to
FIVE-AND-TEN Or FIVE-AND-DIME Or DIME STORE, n tell them, I'll just fly by the seat of my pants,
(old) - a shop selling a wide variety of inex- I guess.
pensive articles. DIMESTORE GLASSES are FLYBOY or FLY-BOY, n (col) - a member of the
reading glasses purchased without a pre- airforce, especially a pilot.
scription. FLYOVER, n - (aircraft) a fly-past.
FIXINGS, pi n -1. apparatus or equipment. 2. FOGGY BOTTOM, n - the US Department of
accompaniments for a dish; trimmings. State. From the Department's location in an
FLACK, n (col) - a press or publicity agent, a area of Washington, DC near the Potomac
PR man. Also used as a verb meaning to River.
publicize or promote: Nowadays authors FOLKS, pi n - one's relatives, in particular
tour the country flacking their books. one's parents. He's staying with his folks.
FLAKE, n (col) -1. an erratic, unreliable per- The colloquial expression JUST FOLKS means
son. 2. in baseball, a flamboyant individu- down-to-earth, open-hearted.
alist. The adjective is FLAKEY. You can't de- FOOD STAMP, n - a stamp or coupon which is
pend on a guy like that, he's too flakey. issued by the government as a form of wel-
FLAP ONE'S GUMS, v (col) - to talk nonsense. fare payment and which can be used to pur-
Quit flapping your gums and listen! chase food in shops.
FLAPJACK, n - another word for pancake. FOOTBALL, n - American football, not soccer.
FLASHLIGHT, n -torch. For an American, a torch FOOTLOCKER, n - a small locker for storing per-
is a portable light produced by a flame. sonal belongings, usually at the food of a
FLAT, n - a puncture. bed, e.g. in a barracks.
FLATFOOT, n (col) - a policeman. FORMULA, n - a liquid food for babies, con-
FLATWARE, n - cutlery. Also called SILVERWARE, taining most of the nutrients in human milk.
regardless of the metal it is made of. FORTY-NINER, n - a prospector who took part
FLIER or FLYER, n - 1. a circular or pamphlet in the California gold rush of 1849.
for mass distribution. 2. a speculative busi- FOUR HUNDRED, n - the most exclusive or af-
ness transaction. fluent social clique in a particular commu-
FLIP, v (col) -1. to go crazy. 2. to react strongly, nity.
especially with enthusiasm: When she saw FOUR LANE HIGHWAY, n - See DIVIDED HIGHWAY.
the new car, she flipped out. FOUR-CYCLE ENGINE, n - four-stroke engine.
FLOAT, n - a carbonated soft drink with a FOUR-FLUSHER, n (col) - a person who bluffs
scoop of ice cream in it. or makes empty claims. In poker, five cards
FLOOR LAMP, n - standard lamp. are required to make a flush.
FLOORWALKER OT FLOOR MANAGER, n - Shopwalker. FOX, n (col) - a sexually attractive woman. The
FLOPHOUSE, n - dosshouse adjective is FOXY.
FLUB, v (col) - to botch, bungle. He came re- FRAG, v (col) - to kill or wound a detested su-
peatedly to the net but each time flubbed perior officer deliberately. The word, though
the volley. not the practice, originated in the Vietnam
FLUNK, n (col) to fail an examination or War, where fragmentation grenades were
course, or to give a failing grade to a stu- sometimes used to this end.
dent. FRATERNITY, n - in US universities, a secret
FLUTIST, n - a variant of flautist. society, usually designated by a Greek let-
FLY BALL, n - in baseball, a ball that is batted ter, joined by male students and function-
in a high arc, usually to the outfield. A POP ing as a social club.



FREEBIE, n - any article or service given away GARAGE SALE, n - a family-organised jumble
free. sale, with items sold from the garage. Also
FREELOAD, v (col) - to eat and drink at some- called a YARD SALE.
one else's expense, taking advantage of GARBAGE, n - rubbish. A GARBAGE CAN is a
their generosity. A FREELOADER is a person dustbin. A GARBAGE TRUCK is a dustcart.
who does this. GARTER BELT, n - another name for a sus-
FREEWAY, n - motorway. Also called express- pender belt. Suspenders are garters.
way, superhighway, or thruway. A freeway GAS MILEAGE, n - another term for the fuel con-
is specifically a highway without tolls. sumption of a car.
FREIGHT CAR, n - goods wagon on a train. GAS PEDAL, n - the accelerator.
FREIGHT ELEVATOR, H - a gOOdS lift. GASOLINE or GAS, n - petrol. Colloquially, the
FRENCH FRIES, pi n - chips or French fried po- verb is to GAS UP a vehicle.
tatoes. Usually thinner, crisper and less GAT, n (col, old) - a pistol or revolver.
greasy than British chips. US chips = GB GEARSHIFT, n - gear lever of a car.
crisps. GERMAN SHEPHERD, n - another name for an
FRESH, adj (col) - cheeky, impudent, saucy. Alsatian dog. The term disappeared in GB
FRESH OUT OF, adv (col) - having recently run during the First World War but continued
out of supplies of something. Sorry, we're to be used in the US.
fresh out of milk. GET OFF, v (col) - to have an orgasm, or, more
FRESH PAINT, n - Wet paint. generally, to experience great pleasure or
FRESHMAN, n - a first year undergraduate. A gratification.
student in the second year at university is GET OUT OF HERE!, interj (col) - an expression
a SOPHOMORE, in the third year a JUNIOR, and of surprise or disbelief.
in the fourth year a SENIOR. GET OUT OF SOMEONE'S FACE, v (col) - to leave
FROG'S EGGS, pi n - frogspawn. someone alone. Look, I have work to do,
FRONT DESK, n - in a hotel, reception. so get out of my face, will you.
FRUIT BREAD, n - currant bread. GET REAL, v (col) - to be serious, adopt a more
FRUIT CUP, n - fruit cocktail. realistic attitude. One of these days you're
FULL-COURT PRESS, n - an all-out effort. The going to have to get real and go out and
Administration undertook a full-court press look for a job.
to secure congressional approval. In bas- GIBSON GIRL, n - the fashionable American
ketball, it is the tactic of harrying the op- young woman of the 1890s, idealized in the
posing team in all areas of the court. drawings of Charles Dana Gibson.
FUNNIES, pi n - the comic strips in a newspa- GIMP, n (col) - a limp or a person who limps.
per. Also used as a verb. The adjective is GIMPY.
FUNNY FARM, A? (col) - a facetious term for a GIRL SCOUT, n - Girl Guide
mental institution. GISMO or GIZMO, n (col) - a mechanical device
or part whose name is unknown or forgot-
ten, a gadget, a whatchamacallit.
GIVEN NAME, n - Christian name.
GLEE CLUB, n - a group of singers performing
short pieces of choral music.
G GLOP , n (col) - any soft, soggy mixture, e.g.
cafeterias serving nondescript glop. Figu-
GABFEST, n (col) - a prolonged bout of con- ratively, sentiments! slush.
versation or gossip. GLORY HOLE, n (col) - a spare room or cup-
GALLON, n -1 US gallon is equivalent to 0.83 board where miscellaneous objects are
imperial gallon or 3.79 litres. stored untidily.



GO-GO, adj (col) - dynamic, forceful, especially of six in the 1st grade and finish twelve
relating to discos and the music and danc- years later in the 12th grade. 2. a military
ing performed in them. rank.
GOBBLEDYGOOK, n - unclear and pretentious GRADE CROSSING, n - level crossing.
language, full of jargon and obscure GRADE POINT AVERAGE or (abbr) GPA, n - a
phraseology. Imitative of the gobbling of a student's overall average in examinations.
turkey. If a student gets a failing grade (i.e. fails
GODDAMNED OT GODDAMN Or GODDAM, adj (COl) - an examination), then his GPA may be too
damned, bloody. low to proceed to the next grade, in which
GOFER, n - an employee whose duties include case he usually has to repeat the year.
menial tasks such a running errands. Al- GRADE SCHOOL, n - primary school.
teration of go for. GRAFT, n - Corruption in public office; money
GOLDBRICK or GOLDBRiCKER, n - a person, es- or other advantages gained by unscrupu-
pecially a soldier, who shirks his work; an lous means.
idler or loafer. GRAHAM CRACKER, n - a. slightly sweet, usually
GONDOLA, n - a low open flat-bottomed rail- rectangular, wholemeal biscuit. Similar to
way goods wagon. a digestive biscuit.
GOOF or GOOF UP, v (col) - 1. to make a care- GRAND JURY, n - a jury of between 12 and 23
less mistake. 2. to hurt oneself. She goofed people whose function is to examine accu-
up her leg skiing. To GOOF OFF is to shirk sations of crime and decide whether there
work, idle or waste time. is sufficient evidence to warrant an indict-
GOOFBALL, n (col) - 1 . 3 fool or an eccentric. ment.
2. a barbiturate or tranquilliser in pill form, GRANDSTAND, v - to behave ostentatiously in
especially when taken for non-medical rea- an attempt to impress an audience. To MAKE
sons. A GRANDSTAND PLAY means the same.
GOOK , n (col) - 1. a racist term for a person GRAVEYARD SHIFT, n - night shift.
from a Far Eastern country. 2. a messy GREASE MONKEY, n (col) - a car mechanic.
sticky substance. GREASER, n (col) - a derogatory term for a
GOON, n - a thug hired to intimidate, espe- Mexican or other Latin American.
cially in an industrial dispute. GREASEWOOD or GREASEBusH, n - a spiny West-
GOOSE BUMPS, pi n - another name for goose ern shrub that yields an oil used as 3 fuel.
pimples. GREEN CARD, n - a government document al-
GOOSE EGG, n (col, old) -1. zero, written as a lowing aliens to work legally in the US.
numeral and indicating that no points have GREEN MOUNTAIN STATE, n - Vermont.
been scored. Cf. GB duck or duck's egg. 2. GREEN THUMBS, pi n - green fingers.
a bump on the head. GREENBACK, n (col) - a note of US currency,
GOP, n (abbr) - Grand Old Party, i.e. the Re- particularly a dollar bill.
publican Party. Often depicted in cartoons GRIDIRON, n -the field of play in American foot-
as an elephant (while the Democrats are ball and hence an informal name for the
usually represented by a donkey). game itself. Often used as a modifier, e.g.
GOTHAM, n - a nickname for New York City. a gridiron hero, a weekend of gridiron thrills.
GRAB BAG, n -1. a lucky dip. 2. (col) - a mis- GRIDLOCK, n - a traffic jam extending in all di-
cellaneous collection. The discussion rections within a grid of streets. Metsphori-
quickly turned into a grab bag of petty com- cslly, a complete Iack of movement or
plaints. progress. Also used as a verb.
GRADE, n -1. a group of pupils of similar age GRIFTER, n (col) - a con mart, a swindler.
or ability taught together at school. Ameri- GRIND, n (col) - a person, especially a stu-
cans start their formal education at the age dent, who works excessively hard.



GRIND, v (col) - to dance erotically by rotating

the pelvis, especially in the expression
bump and grind.
GRIP, n -a suitcase. HABERDASHER, n - a men's outfitter.
GRIPPE, n - another name for influenza. HACK IT, v (col) - to cope or deal with a diffi-
GRITS or HOMINY GRITS, pi n - coarsely ground cult situation.
maize, prepared as a breakfast food or side HAIRPIN CURVE Or HAIRPIN TURN, n - a hairpin
dish, especially in the South, by boiling in bend.
milk or water. HAIRY, adj (col) - dangerous, frightening or
GROSS, adj- disgusting, repellent. I'm not eat- fraught with difficulties.
ing that slop, it looks totally gross. Collo- HALF GLASSES, pi n - half moon glasses.
quially, to GROSS OUT is to disgust, especially HALF-AND-HALF, n - 1. a dairy mixture of half
with obscene language or behaviour. The cream arid half milk, used in coffee and
way they act really grosses me out. baking. 2. a whorehouse mixture of fella-
GROUND, n, v & adj- (electricity) earth. tion and copulation.
GROUND MEAT, n - minced meat. HAMBURGER BUN, n - a bap.
GROUNDHOG DAY, n - 2nd February, the day HAMBURGER MEAT, n - minced meat. Also known
on which the groundhog, a species of mar- as GROUND MEAT.
mot, is supposed to emerge from hiberna- HAND, n - a worker on a farm or ranch.
tion. If, venturing forth, the groundhog sees HANDBALL, n - a game played by hitting a
its shadow, it allegedly returns to its bur- small, hard ball against a wall or walls. Simi-
row, signifying six more weeks of winter. l3r in scoring to volleyball.
GRUBS, pi n (col) - old clothes, especially cut- HANDOUT, n (col) - food, money or other charl-
off jeans. tsble donations, especially with the impli-
GRUNT, n (col) - 1. an infantry soldier or US cstion that the recipient is undeserving.
marine, especially in the Vietnam War. 2. a They're just a bunch of bums living on food
person who performs routine or mundane stamps and other bleeding heart handouts.
tasks, a dogsbody. HANG A RIGHT (LEFT), V (COl) - tO turn fight (left),
GUARD RAIL, n - a crash barrier. as in Hang a right at the traffic lights.
GUBERNATORIAL, adj - relating to a state gov- Synonomyous with MAKE A RIGHT (LEFT).
ernor or his activities. HANG IN THERE, v (col) - to persevere, to stick
GUESS, v -to suppose. 'I guess' means 'I sup- it out.
pose so'. HANG LOOSE, v (col) - to relax, loosen up.
GUINEA, n (col) - a racist term for an Italian or HARD-SHELL, adj (col) - strictly orthodox, un-
person of Italian descent. compromising, e.g a hard-shell Baptist.
GUMBO, n - another name for okra. Also, a HARDCOVER, adj & n - another name for a hard-
soup or stew thickened with okra pods. back book.
GUMSHOE, n (col) - a person who moves about HARDHAT Or HARD-HAT, n (COl) - 1 . 3 COnStrUC-
stealthily, especially a detective. tion worker. 2. an ultraconservstive manual
GURNEY, n - a metal stretcher with wheeled worker with unquestioningly patriotic and
legs, used for transporting patients. reactionary views.
GUSSY UP, v (col) - to dress or decorate elabo- HARDWARE DEALER, n - an ironmonger. His
rately. She gussied herself up in sequins place of business is a HARDWARE STORE.
and feathers. HASH BROWNS, pi n - shredded or diced pota-
GYP, n & v - cheat, swindle. Pronounced jip. toes fried until brown.
HASH HOUSE, /? - a cheap restaurant. A HASH
SLINGER serves food in one.
HASH OVER, v (col) - to discuss or review some-



thing carefully: They hashed over their HIGH GEAR, n - top gear.
plans for the move. HIGH HAT, n (col) - another name for a top hat.
HASSLE, n -1. trouble, a nuisance. 2. a wrangle Colloquially, to HIGH-HAT someone means to
or row. Used also as a verb, meaning to treat them condescendingly or in a super-
argue or to harass. The noun hassle was cilious way, as does the expression GIVE
first recorded in 1945. Possibly a combina- SOMEONE THE HIGH HAT.
tion of harass and tussle. HIGH ROLLER, n (col) - A person who spends
HAT-CHECK GIRL, n - a female cloakroom at- extravagantly or who gambles for high
tendant. stakes. Roller refers to rolling dice in a crap-
HAYRIDE, n - a ride taken for amusement, e.g game.
by a picnic party, in a wagon filled with hay. HIGH SCHOOL, n - upper secondary school,
HAYSEED, n (col) - a yokel, country bumpkin. roughly covering the ages 14 to 18.
HAZE, y - t o persecute or play rough practical HIGHBALL, n - a long iced drink consisting of
jokes on a newcomer. whisky and soda or ginger ale.
HEAD, n (col) -1. the toilet. 2. a habitual drug HIGHBOY, n - a high chest of drawers, a tallboy.
user. 3. oral sex, as in the expression GIVE HIGHTAIL Or HIGHTAIL IT, V (COl) - tO gO Some-
HEAD. / remember you well in the Chelsea where in a great hurry.
Hotel, Giving me head on the unmade bed HIT, v (col) - to murder in fulfilment of 3n un-
(L Cohen). derworld contract. A HITMAN, or hired sssas-
HEATER, n - electric fire. sin, carries out such a hit.
HEAVY, adj (col) - of great significance or pro- HO-HUM, adj (col) - boring, dull, banal. He was
fundity. They sat up half the night talking a ho-hum speaker, unable to catch the at-
heavy, heavy politics. tention of his audience.
HEEL, n -1. the end of a loaf of bread, i.e. the HOBO, n - a tramp.
crust. 2. (col) - a contemptible person. / re- HOCK, v (col) - to pawn. As a noun it can mean
ally didn't mean to land her in trouble like either the state of being pawned (we put
that, I feel like such a heel. the jewellery in hock) or the state of being
HEIST, n (col) - a robbery or burglary. Used in debt (it took us years to get out of hock).
as a verb, it means to steal or rob. HOCKEY, n - ice hockey. See FIELD HOCKEY.
HELL'S KITCHEN, n -a district with a reputation HOG, n (col) - in the expression HIGH ON THE
for crime and violence. HOG, in a Iavish or extravagant manner.
HELP, n - a farm worker or domestic servant, Compare the Irish expression 'on the pig's
or such employees considered as a group. back'. He's been living high on the hog
Often used with the: The help will take care since he got his inheritance.
of it. HOGTIE, v - to tie the legs of an animal to-
HERO SANDWICH, n - half a French loaf slit gether. Figuratively, to impede, hamper,
lengthwise and copiously filled. Also known fetter.
as a HOAGY. HOLLER, v - to yell or shout.
HEX, n - an evil spell or a witch. Used as a HOME FREE, adj - home and dry.
verb, it means to cast an evil spell, to be- HOME RUN or HOMER, n - in baseball, a hit that
witch. allows the batter to make a complete cir-
HICK, n (col) - a gullible, unsophisticated, pro- cuit of the bases to score a run.
vincial person; the opposite of a city slicker. HOMELY, adj- unattractive, plain or ugly. The
Sometimes used as a modifier, e.g. a hick GB meaning - warm in manner or appear-
town. ance - is never understood.
HICKEY, n (col) - the mark left by a love bite. HOMEMAKER, n - housewife. A word introduced
HIGH BEAM HEADLIGHTS, pin- main beam head- and spread by women's magazines.
lights. HOMINY GRITS, pi n - See GRITS.



HONCHO, n (col) - the person in charge, a man- keeper in a women's hall of residence.
ager or boss. HOUSEWARES, pi n - cooking utensils, dishes,
HONKY, n (col) - a common black American and other small articles used in a house-
term for a white person, used disparagingly. hold, especially in the kitchen.
HONOR SYSTEM, n - a set of procedures HOUSING PROJECT, n - a housing estate, a hous-
whereby students or prisoners are trusted ing development. Often shortened to
to act without direct supervision. PROJECT.
HOOCH or HOOTCH, n (col) - alcoholic drink, es- HUCKLEBERRY, n - a wild fruit related to the
pecially illicitly distilled spirits. blueberry.
HOOD, n - the bonnet of a car. 2. (col) a gang- HUCKSTER, n - a person who uses aggressive
ster, shortened from hoodlum. or showy methods to sell a product. Used
HOOF AND MOUTH DISEASE, n - foot and mouth ironicslly of television and radio advertis-
disease. ing copywriters.
HOOFER, n (col, old) - a professional dancer. HUDDLE, n - in American football, a brief gath-
HOOKY or HOOKEY, n (col) - truancy from school. ering of the team behind the line of scrim-
The verb is to PLAY HOOKY. mage to receive instructions for the next
HOOSEGOW, n (col) - a jail. From the Spanish play. Metaphorically, any secret planning
juzgado. conference.
HOOSIER, adj - nickname for a native or resi- HUNDREDWEIGHT, n -100 pounds, not 112.
dent of Indiana. Origin unknown. HUNG JURY, n - a jury that is divided and so
HOOTCHY-KOOTCHY, n (col) - a deliberately sen- unable to render a unanimous verdict.
sual belly dance, performed as part of a HUNK, n (col) - a sexually attractive man with
carnival. a muscular physique.
HOP, v (col) - to travel by means of an air- HUNKY, n (col) - a derogatory term for an im-
plane, bus, etc. He hopped a train to Chi- migrant from east-central Europe.
cago. HUNKY-DORY, adj (col) - perfectly satisfactory,
HOPE CHEST, n - a bottom drawer. More spe- fine.
cifically, a chest used by a young woman HURDY GURDY, n (col) - barrel organ.
to store clothing and household goods in HUSH PUPPY, n (col) - a small, slightly oblong,
anticipation of marriage. deep fried cornmeal cake. Perhaps from the
HORATIO ALGER, n -American author of inspir- fact that they were originally fed to the dogs
ing rags-to-riches adventure books, e.g. to keep them quiet.
Ragged Dick (1867). HUSTLE, v (col) - to obtain something by de-
HORNY, adj (col) - randy, sexually aroused. ceitful, aggressive or illicit means, or (of a
HORSE TRAILER, H - horse bOX. pimp or prostitute) to solicit customers. The
HOSE, n - another word for stockings. noun is HUSTLER, often a con man or a pros-
HOSTLER, n - another word for ostler. titute, male or female.
HOT FLASH, n - hot flush. HUTCH, n - a Welsh dresser.
HOTFOOT, n - the practical joke of surrepti- HYPE, n (col) - excessive publicity and the en-
tiously inserting a match between the sole suing commotion, or exaggerated claims in
and upper of a person's shoe and lighting advertising. As a verb: to promote by ex-
it. As a verb, it means to hurry. I've got to travagant claims. When all the hype dies
hotfoot it down to the bank before it closes. down, we'll be able to decide whether it's a
HOTS, n (col) - sexual attraction or desire, in good movie or not.
the expression HAVE THE HOTS FOR. She cer- HYPHENATED NAME, n - double-barrelled name.
tainly seems to have the hots for him.
HOUSE-BROKEN, adj - house-trained.
HOUSEMOTHER, n - a supervisor or house-




ICEBERG LETTUCE, n - a type of lettuce with very JACK, n (col) - money.

crisp pale leaves tightly enfolded. JACK OFF, v (col) - to masturbate. A variant of
ICEBOX, n (col, old) - another word for refrig- JERK OFF.
erator. JACKASS, n - a male donkey. Colloquially, a
IFFY, adj (col)- doubtful, uncertain. Your plan stupid or foolish person.
sounds a little iffy to me. JACKHAMMER, n - pneumatic drill.
IN BACK OF, prep - behind. Park your car in JACKLIGHT, n - a portable light used as a lure
back of the store. at night in hunting and fishing.
INCORPORATED or (abbr) INC., adj- the equiva- JACKRABBIT or JACK RABBIT, A? - a large hare
lent of limited, as in a limited company. The found in the West. As a verb, it means to
abbreviated form after a company's name move suddenly and rapidly: A rear tire blew
is the equivalent of Ltd. See CORPORATION. out and the car jackrabbited out of control
INDEPENDENCE DAY, n - 4th July, a public holi- (S. Kleinfield).
day commemorating the adoption in 1776 JAG, n (col) - 1. a bout of drinking or drug
of the Declaration of Independence, cel- use. 2. a loss of self-control or lack of re-
ebrated with picnics and fireworks. straint in some activity, e.g. a shopping jag,
INDIAN GIVER, n (col) - a person who gives a crying jag.
something and then demands the return of JAM, n - a preserve made of whole fruit boiled
the gift. to a pulp with sugar. GB jam = US jelly.
INFORMATION, n - directory inquiries, on the JANITOR, n - caretaker.
telephone. Also called DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE. JAVA, n (col) - brewed coffee.
INSEAM, n - inside leg. JAWBONE, n - to urge compliance with official
INSTALLMENT PLAN, n - hire-purchase. policy.
INSTRUCTOR, n - a junior university teacher. JAZZED, adj (col) - alert, energetic, keen.
INTERN, n - approximately the same as a JELLO or JELL-O, n - jelly. Jell-O is a brand
houseman in a hospital. Used as a verb, it name which has become a generic word.
means to serve or train as an intern. In both US jelly = GB jam.
cases, pronounced with the stress on the JELLY, n -jam.
first syllable. JELLY ROLL, n (CO/) - SWiSS TOll.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE or (abbr) IRS, n - JERK, n (col) - a person regarded with con-
equivalent of the Inland Revenue. tempt, especially a stupid or unpleasant
INTRAMURAL, adj- operating within a single es- person.
tablishment, especially a school or univer- JERK AROUND, v (col) - to idle about or play
sity, e.g. intramural athletics. casually: When are you kids going to stop
IV, n (abbr) - a drip. Short for intravenous. jerking around and do some work?
IVY LEAGUE, n - eight major universities with JERK OFF, v (col) - to masturbate.
similar academic and social status to Ox- JERKWATER, adj (col) - inferior and insignifi-
ford and Cambridge in GB. They include cant, used mainly about places: some
Harvard, Yale and Princeton. So called be- jerkwater town.
cause of the ivy that covers the older build- JIGABOO, n (col) - a racist word for a black.
ings. JIM CROW, n (col) - originally referring to a
black person, the term now means system-
atic discrimination against black people, as
in Jim Crow laws, a Jim Crow town, etc.
The term CROW JIM also exists, designat-



ing strong antiwhite prejudice among Reagan).

blacks. KEROSENE, n - paraffin, paraffin oil. US paraf-
JIMMY, n -jemmy. fin = GB paraffin wax.
JOB ACTION, n - industrial action. KEWPIE or KEWPIE DOLL, n - a celluloid doll with
JOCK, n (col) - an athlete, especially at uni- rosy cheeks, wide eyes, and a curl of hair
versity, or a macho male. The term derives on its head. Originally a trademark, now ge-
from jockstrap. neric. Pronounced kyoo-pee.
JOCKEY SHORTS, pl n - See SHORTS. KIBBLE, n - pet food in the form of meal
JOE BLOW, n (col) - Joe Soap, Joe Bloggs. coarsely ground into pellets.
JOHN, n (col) - 1. the toilet, the loo. 2. a KIBITZ or KIBBITZ, v (col) - to look on and offer
prostitute's trick. unwanted advice to others, e.g. to a chess
JOHN DOE, n - used as a name in legal pro- player. A KIBITZER is a person who gives
ceedings to refer to an unidentified or un- intrusive advice.
known man or boy. The female equivalent KICKBACK, n (col) - money given to someone
is JANE DOE. illegally or unethically, usually as the re-
JOHN HANCOCK, n (col) - signature. Derives sult of a secret agreement.
from the fact that Hancock was the first of KIKE, n (col) - a racist name for a Jew.
the Revolutionary leaders to sign the Dec- KITCHEN CABINET, n - a group of unofficial ad-
laration of Independence. visers to the President, chosen on a per-
JOSH, v - to tease someone good-humouredly, sonal basis.
to joke. KLONDIKE BAR, n - a choc-ice.
JUMP ROPE, n - a skipping rope. Used as a KLUTZ, n (col) - a clumsy person. The adjec-
verb, it means to skip. tive is KLUTZY.
JUMPER, n - pinafore dress. GB jumper = US KNEE PANTS, pi n - short trousers.
sweater, pullover. KNICKERS, pi n - a variant of knickerbockers,
JUMPER CABLES, pi H - jump leads. plus fours.
JUNE BUG or JUNE BEETLE, n - a large brown KNOCK UP, v (col) - to make pregnant, put in
scarabaeid beetle, appearing in late spring. the family way.
JUNGLE GYM, n - a climbing frame for young KOOKY, adj (col) - bizarre, eccentric, nutty.
children to play on. Originally a trademark. KVETCH, v (col) - to complain persistently and
JUNIOR, n - a student in the third year of a US whiningly. As a noun, it means a chronic,
high school or college. See FRESHMAN. whining complainer.
JUNIOR COLLEGE, A7 - an educational institution
offering a two-year course which is the
equivalent of the first two years of a four-
year undergraduate course.
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE, n - an official similar to
a British JP, but who can also perform mar- L
LABOR DAY, n - the first Monday in Septem-
ber, observed as a holiday in honour of
working people, and unofficially marking
the end of summer, especially in holiday
LABOR UNION, n - trade union.
LADYBUG, n - ladybird.
KEISTER, n (col, old) - backside. I've had it up LAME DUCK, n - in politics, an elected official
to my keister with these leaks (Ronald whose term of office is due to end shortly,



or who, for other reasons, has lost author- bling a broad bean. Also known as butter
ity or become ineffectual. Also used as a bean.
modifier, e.g. a lame-duck president. LIMEY, n (col) - an English person. From the
LATEX PAINT, n - emulsion paint. use of lime juice on British warships to pre-
LAUNDROMAT, n - launderette. Both words are vent scurvy.
trademarks. LINE, n - queue. The verb is to LINE UP or to
LAY SCRATCH, v (col) - to accelerate a car STAND IN LINE. About 200 people were stand-
quickly, thereby leaving a skid mark. ing in line at the box-office.
LAYER CAKE, n - a sandwich cake. LINE-UP, n - an identity parade.
LAYOVER, n - stopover. LINKS, pi n - breakfast sausages.
LAZY SUSAN, n - a revolving tray for condi- LIQUOR, n - 3ny alcoholic drink, especially
ments or food. spirits.
LEAD FOOT, n (col) - a tendency to drive fast. LIQUOR STORE, n - an off-licence. Also called a
He thinks he's a great driver because he package store.
has a lead foot. LITTLE DIPPER, n - the constellation Ursa Mi-
LEADER, n - an article offered at a sufficiently nor.
low price to attract customers. A LOSS LEADER LIVERWURST, n - liver sausage.
is one sold below cost, in the hope that LOADED, adj (col) - drunk or drugged. Also,
people who buy it will buy other goods as as in GB, wealthy.
well. LOAFER, n - a moccasin-like shoe for casual
LEATHERNECK, n (col) - a member of the US wear.
Marine Corps. A term more often read than LOAN, v - to lend. Not considered incorrect.
heard. LOCAL, n - not a pub, but the local branch of
LEFT FIELD, n (col) - in the expression OUT IN a trade union.
LEFT FIELD: weirdly unconventional, very un- LOCATE, v - to become established, to settle.
orthodox and wrong. Originally a baseball Where do you intend to locate?
term. LOCO, adj (col) - crazy. A Spanish word.
LEG IT, v (col) - to walk. The battery's dead, LOCOWEED or CRAZYWEED, n - a plant found in
we're going to have to leg it. the Southwest that, when eaten by live-
LEGAL HOLIDAY, n - a bank holiday. stock, causes severe poisoning and brain
LEMON, n (col) - something that proves to be disease.
unsatisfactory or defective, especially a car. LOFT, n - the upper storey of a warehouse or
A dud. Did you actually pay money for this factory, or such an area converted into an
lemon? apartment or artist's studio.
LETTER, n - the initial of a university on a LOGE, n - the front rows of the dress circle in
sweater, awarded for outstanding perfor- a theatre.
mance in sports. A LETTER JACKET is a kind LOGROLLING , n - the practice of undemocratic
of windcheater bearing the initial or initials agreements between politicians, involving
of a school or university. mutual favours, the trading of votes, etc.
LEVEE, n - an embankment alongside a river, ei- From the early American practice of
ther natural or manmade to prevent flooding. neighbours gathering to help clear each
LEVERAGE, n - gearing, i.e. the ratio of a other's land by felling trees and rolling off
company's debt capital to its equity capital. the logs to be burned. Also, LOGROLLER.
LIABILITY INSURANCE, n - third party insurance. LONE STAR STATE, n -Texas.
LICENSE PLATE, n - the numberplate on a car. LONG-DISTANCE, n - used as a modifier, a long-
LIFE PRESERVER, n - a life belt or life jacket. distance call: a trunk call.
LIGHTNING BUG, n - a glow worm or firefly. LONGSHOREMAN, n - a docker, dock worker.
LIMA BEAN, n - a common vegetable resem- LOSE IT, v (col) -1. to throw up, vomit. 2. to go



crazy. He's started talking to the furniture, MAILMAN, n - another name for postman. A
that's why I think he's losing it. mailbox is both the US equivalent of a pil-
LOT, n - a plot of land, often one used for a lar box and the box outside the home where
specific purpose, e.g. a parking lot, a film letters are delivered.
lot. MAIN STREET, n - equivalent of High Street.
LOUNGE SUIT, n - not the customary suit of The term also stands for the inhabitants of
matching jacket and trousers worn by busi- small-town America considered as a group.
ness men, but a woman's pyjama-type suit, MAITRE D., n - a common term for head waiter.
suitable for relaxing and lounging about in. Short for maitre d'hotel and pronounced
LOW BEAM HEADLIGHTS, pin -dipped headlights. may-tre dee.
LOWBOY, n - a low table-like chest of drawers. MAJOR, n - a university student's principal field
LOX, n - smoked salmon. The word is of Yid- of study. Her major is psychology. Some-
dish origin. times used of the student: She's a psychol-
LUCK OUT, v (col) - to get lucky, have a stroke ogy major. And often as a verb: He's ma-
of luck. joring in history.
LUG NUT, n - a wheel nut. MAKE, v (col) -1. to achieve the rank of, as in
LULU, n (col) - an outstanding person, object He made captain. 2. to seduce.
or idea, something extraordinary. MAKE OUT, v (col) - to engage in snogging or
LUMBER, n -timber. petting, or to succeed sexually.
LUMPS, pi n (col) - punishment, defeat or re- MAKE OVER, v - to redo, do up, renovate. Also
verses. He took his lumps. to change, as in the song: Why must you
LUNCH PAIL, n - lunchbox. always try to make me over? / Take me as
LUNKHEAD, n (col) - a stupid person. I am or let me go.
LUSH, n (col) - a drunkard. MANHATTAN, n - a cocktail consisting of four
LYE, n - caustic soda. parts rye whisky, one part sweet vermouth
and a dash of bitters.
MANIFEST DESTINY, n - especially in the 19th
century, the belief that the US was a cho-
sen land and had the right and duty to gov-
ern the whole continent of North America.
MARKET, n - to shop for household supplies,
as in We marketed fora special Sunday din-
MACE, n - an aerosol causing tears and nau- ner.
sea, used to immobilize an assailant tem- MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY, n - a public holiday
porarily. Used also in riot control, like CS occurring on the third Monday in January.
gas. A trade name which has become a MASON-DIXON LINE, n -the boundary between
generic word. Pennsylvania and Maryland, regarded as
MAD MONEY, n (col) - a small sum of money the division between free states and slave
kept for unlikely contingencies, specifically states before the Civil War.
by a girl when she goes out on a date, in MASONITE, n - a type of fibreboard used for
case she gets mad at her companion and insulation, partitions, etc. Originally a trade
has to make her own way home. name.
MADISON AVENUE, n - a New York street that is MAT, n - (around a picture) mount.
home to advertising and public relations MATH, n - maths.
agencies, and has come to symbolize their MATRON OF HONOR, n - similar to a bridesmaid
attitudes and practices. but married.
MAGNA CUM LAUDE, adv - See CUM LAUDE. MAVERICK, n - an unbranded cow that has wan-
MAID OF HONOR, n - bridesmaid. dered away from the herd. By extension, a



person who is independent in thought and caravan, that can be moved from one site
action. to another and installed for relatively long
MAZUMA, n (col) - money. periods. Also called a manufactured home.
MD, n (abbr) - medical doctor, a term as com- MOCKINGBIRD, n - a native American bird noted
mon as GP in Britain. for its ability to mimic the song of other
MEAN, adj- 1. selfish, spiteful, malicious, and birds.
generally nasty. But not specifically stingy. MOLASSES, n - black treacle.
2. (col) excellent, skillful: He sure plays a MOM, n - mum.
mean game of golf. MOMENTARILY, adv - very soon, in a moment.
MECHANICAL PENCIL, /? - propelling pencil. The manager is busy right now but he'll be
MEDAL OF HONOR, n - the Congressional with you momentarily. This usage, common
Medal of Honor, the highest award for in everyday speech, is considered unac-
bravery. ceptable by many critics.
MEDIAN STRIP, n - central reserve. MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK, n (col) - a per-
MEDICARE, n - a programme whereby the US son who is wise after the event (who criti-
Social Security Administration reimburses cizes, passes judgement and generally de-
hospitals and doctors for medical care pro- clares how the weekend's game should
vided to citizens over 65 years of age. have been played).
MEMORIAL DAY, n - 30th May, a public holiday MONEY MARKET ACCOUNT, n - a high interest ac-
observed in commemoration of members count.
of the armed forces killed in war. Formerly MONKEY, n (col) - 1. an addict's dependence
known as Decoration Day. It marks the un- on a drug, especially in the expression HAVE
official beginning of summer. A MONKEY ON ONE'S BACK. 2. slang for $500.
MESA, n - a high plateau with steep edges, MONKEY WRENCH, n - an adjustable spanner.
common in the Southwest. From Spanish Colloquially, to THROW A MONKEY WRENCH INTO
mesa, table. SOMETHING is to throw a spanner in the
METERED MAIL, n - franked mail. works.
MEXICAN STANDOFF, n - a stalemate, deadlock, MONONUCLEOSIS, n - glandular fever. Often
impasse. shortened to MONO.
MEZZANINE, n - dress circle in a theatre or cin- MOOLAH, n (col) - money.
ema. MOOSE, n - an elk.
MILK CAN, n - a milk churn. MOPBOARD, n - skirting board. Also known as
MILQUETOAST, n (old) - a meek, mild-mannered, BASEBOARD.
weak or submissive person, a wimp. From MORTICIAN, n - undertaker.
a comic-strip character, whose name is an MOSEY, v (col) - to walk in a leisurely manner,
unadventurous combination of milk and stroll, amble.
toast. MOSSBACK, n - an old turtle or shellfish that
MINOR, n - a university student's secondary has a growth of algae on its back. Figura-
subject. See MAJOR. tively, an extremely old-fashioned or con-
MINT JULEP, n - a long frosted drink made with servative person.
bourbon, or sometimes brandy or rum, MOTHER, n (col) - short for motherfucker. 1. a
crushed ice, sugar and sprigs of mint. person or thing that is unpleasant or exas-
MITT, n - a large padded leather glove worn perating. 2. anything big or imposing.
by the catcher in baseball. MOTORBIKE, n (col) - a moped.
MIXOLOGY, n - the study or skill of mixing cock- MOTORMAN, n - the driver of an electric train
tails. A MIXOLOGIST is a bartender. or tram.
MOB, n - organized crime, the Mafia. MOUNTAIN STANDARD TIME or MOUNTAIN TIME or
MOBILE HOME, n - a trailer, much larger than a (abbr) MST, n - standard time in the 7th time



zone west of Greenwich, used in the Rocky federal service by the President, e.g. in time
Mountain states. of war.
MOUTH OFF, v (col) - to talk disrespectfully orNATIVE AMERICAN, n -American Indian.
insolently. / don't understand parents who NAVY YARD, n - a naval shipyard.
let their kids mouth off to them like that. NEAR-SIGHTED, adj - short-sighted.
MOVIE THEATER or MOVIE HOUSE, n - a cinema. NEAT, adj (col) - wonderful, terrific. It was a
MOXIE, n (col) - spunk, aggressive energy, ini- neat party.
tiative. NEBBISH, n (col) - a weak-willed, timid, inef-
MR. CHARLIE or MISTER CHARLIE, n (col) - a fectual person. From Yiddish nebekh, poor,
black term for a white man or white people unfortunate. The adjective is NEBBISHY.
considered as a group. NECK, v (col) - to snog. They were seen neck-
MUFFLER, n - silencer on a car. ing in the park.
MUG SHOT, n (col) - a photograph of a person's NERD, n (col) - a stupid or objectionable per-
face, especially one taken for police files. son, or one interested in scientific pursuits
MUGWUMP, n - a person who acts indepen- but socially inept.
dently or remains neutral, especially in poli-NERVY, adj- bold, brash, impudent or brazen,
tics. but, in any case, with a lot of nerve. GB
MULESKINNER, n (col) - muleteer, mule driver. nervy = jumpy, apprehensive.
MULLIGAN STEW, n - Irish SteW. NEWSHAWK or NEwsHouND, n (col) - a newspa-
MURPHY BED, n - a bed that folds into a cup- per reporter.
board when not in use. Named after its in- NEWSMAN, n - a man who gathers, reports or
ventor. edits news.
MUSKEG, n - an undrained swampy area. NICKEL, n - a five-cent coin.
MUSS, v (col) - to make untidy, rumple. NICKELODEON, n -an early type of jukebox. For-
MUSTARD, n (col) - in the expression NOT CUT merly, a cinema charging five cents for ad-
THE MUSTARD: to be unable to achieve or fin- mission.
ish something. Round here, those who don't NIGHT CRAWLER, n - a large earthworm that
cut the mustard just don't survive. crawls out of the ground at night. Often
MUTT, n (col) - a mongrel dog, cur. used as fishing bait.
MUTUAL FUND, n - unit trust. NIGHT LETTER, n - a telegram sent for delivery
the next day a\ a cheaper rate than an or-
dinary telegram.
NIGHT STICK, n - a policeman's truncheon.
NIGHTGOWN, n - nightdress.
NIP AND TUCK, adv & adj - neck and neck.
NIPPLE, n (col) - a baby's dummy or the test
on a baby's bottle.
NAIL THE BRAKES, v (col) - to apply the brakes NISEI, n - a person born in the US of parents
of a car suddenly. Seeing the child run to- who emigrated from Japsn.
wards the road, he nailed the brakes. NIX, v (col) - to veto, deny or refuse.
NAPKIN, n - a serviette. NO-GO, adj - not in a suitable condition to go
NARC or NARK, n (col) - a policeman who deals ahead. Used also a a noun: The launch was
with narcotics violations. a no-go due to technical problems.
NATCH, adv (col) - naturally, of course. NO-NO, n (col) - something completely unac-
NATIONAL GUARD, n - the military reserve force ceptable, or a social blunder.
controlled by each state and equipped by NORMAL SCHOOL, n (old) - teacher training
the federal government. It is made up of school.
part-time soldiers and can be called into NOSH, n (col) - a snack of light meal, and not



as in GB food in general. From a Yiddish istered voter may vote for any nominee, re-
word meaning to nibble on something. gardless of party. In a CLOSED PRIMARY, only
NOTIONS, pi n - pins, thread, ribbons, buttons, members of a particular party may vote.
and similar wares used for sewing; haber- OPERATING ROOM, n - operating theatre.
dashery. ORCHESTRA or ORCHESTRA SEATS, n - the front
NUDNIK, n (col) - an obtuse, dreary or annoy- stalls in a theatre.
ing person. ORDINANCE, n - by-law.
NUTS, pi n (col) - the testicles. ORNERY, adj - mean-spirited and contrary,
OUT OF IT, adj (col) -1. in a daze, bewildered,
often because of drugs. 2. unable to suc-
ceed. The Hawks are out of it this season.
OUT TO LUNCH, adj (col) - not in touch with the
O real world, crazy.
OUTFIT, n (col) - a group of people working
OATMEAL, n - porridge. together, especially a military unit or a busi-
OBO, n (abbr) - in the small ads short for Or ness organization.
Best Offer. Equivalent of ONO - Or Near- OUTHOUSE, n - an outside lavatory.
est Offer. OUTLET, n - a power point. Another name for
OBSERVATION car, n - a railway carriage fitted a socket.
with large glass windows to give passen- OUTSIDE LANE or OFFSIDE LANE, n -the slow lane
gers a good view of the scenery. on a US highway. Hence, the opposite of
ODOMETER, n - milometer. GB usage, where the slow lane is the in-
OFAY, n (col) - a disparaging term for white side lane.
people, used by blacks. OUTSIZE, adj- of clothing, extra large or XL.
OFF, v (col) - to murder. OVER EASY, adj & adv - see SUNNY-SIDE UP.
OFFICE, n - (a doctor's or dentist's) surgery. OVERPASS, n - flyover.
OIL PAN, n -sump.
OKIE, n (col) - a migrant farm worker, espe-
cially one fleeing the dust bowl of Okla-
homa in the 1930s.
OLD GLORY, n - the flag of the US.
OLD MONEY, n - the inherited wealth of estab- P
lished upper-class families, or the people
possessing it. He married old money. The PACIFIC STANDARD TIME OR PACIFIC TIME or (abbr)
contrast is with the nouveau riche. PST, n - standard time in the 8th time zone
OLEO, n (old) - margarine. Short for oleomar- west of Greenwich, therefore eight hours
garine. Pronounced o-lay-o. behind GMT. Used in the Pacific coastal
ONE-ON-ONE, adj- one-to-one, individualised. states.
You will receive one-on-one instruction. PACIFIER, n - a baby's dummy.
OP-ED PAGE, n - a newspaper page, usually PACK RAT, n (col) - a petty thief or a hoarder
opposite the editorial page, that carries of miscellaneous objects.
signed columns and other articles express- PACKAGE, n - packet, parcel.
ing personal viewpoints. PACKAGE STORE, n - an off-licence. Also called
OPEN HOUSE, n - 1. a period of time when a a LIQUOR STORE.
house for sale may be viewed, or the house PACKINGHOUSE, n - an abattoir.
itself. 2 an at-home or open day. PAD, n (col) - bribe money taken and shared
OPEN PRIMARY, n - a primary in which any reg- by police officers. The expression ON THE PAD



means taking such bribes. PARLOR CAR, n - 3 firSt-Class railway Coach With
PADDLE, v (col) - to spank. Used as a noun, it individual reserved seats. Also called a
means a ping-pong bat. chair car.
PALOOKA, n (col) - a stupid or clumsy person, PAROCHIAL SCHOOL, n - a school supported by
especially a broken-down boxer. So this a church parish, usually Roman Catholic.
bum Wilson gets the title shot... and what PARTY, v - to carouse or revel.
do I get - a couple of bucks and a one-way PARTY FAVOR, n - a Christmas cracker.
ticket to Palookaville (On the Waterfront). PARTY-POOPER, n (col) - a wet blanket, a per-
PANCAKE TURNER, n - fish Slice. son who refuses to participate with enthu-
PANEL TRUCK, n - a delivery van. siasm.
PANHANDLE, v (col) - to approach strangers PASS-THROUGH, n - a hatch, especially one be-
and beg for money or food. A person who tween a kitchen 3nd a dining room that is
does this is a PANHANDLER. used for passing food.
PANTIES, pi n - knickers. PASTIES, pi n - small, adhesive pstches used
PANTOMIME, n - not a traditional Christmas en- to conceal a woman's nipples. Worn prin-
tertainment, but communication by means cipally by exotic dancers.
of gesture and facial expression. Having PASTRAMI, n - highly seasoned smoked beef.
lost his voice, he could make himself un- PATROL WAGON or PADDY WAGON, n - Black Maria.
derstood only by pantomime. Also a show PATROLMAN, n - 3 policeman who patrols an
performed by a mime artist. assigned area, i.e. an ordinary policeman.
PANTS, pin -trousers. GB pants = underpants. PATSY, n (col) - a person easily taken advan-
PANTYHOSE, pi n - tights. US tights = ballet tsge of, manipulated or cheated. Perhaps
tights. from Italian pazzo, a fool.
PANTYWAIST, n (col) - a sissy, a pansy. PAY STATION, n -a coin- or card-operated pub-
PAPER ROUTE, n - a paper round. lic telephone.
PAPERHANGER, n - a person who hangs wall- PAYOLA, n (col) - money paid in bribes, espe-
paper as an occupation. Colloquially, a per- cially to disk jockeys to promote records,
son who passes bad cheques or a coun- or the practice of paying such bribes.
terfeiter. PEANUT GALLERY, n - in a theatre, the gods.
PARAFFIN, n - paraffin wasx. GB paraffin = US PECAN, n - a hickory tree or its sweet edible
kerosene. nut, similar to a walnut.
PARAKEET, n - budgerigar or other small par- PECKER, n (col) - penis.
rot. PEELER, n (col) - a striptease dancer.
PARALEGAL, n - a person with specialised le- PEMMICAN, n - a small concentrated cake of
gsl training who assists a lawyer, compa- dried meat pounded into paste and mixed
rable to an articled clerk. with berries and nuts. Originally a Native
PARKA, n - anorak. American food, now used for emergency
PARKING GARAGE, n - a multistorey car park. rations.
PARKING LOT, n - a car park. PENITENTIARY, n - a state or federal prison.
PARKWAY, n - a wide road, often divided by a Sometimes shortened to pen.
median strip and Iandscaped with trees and PENNY, n - a cent.
plots of grass. PENNY-ANTE, adj - cheap, low-budget, small-
PARLAY, v -1. to stake the winnings of one bet scsle. A derogatory term.
on a subsequent one. The GB equivalent PERIOD, n - full stop.
is to double up. As a noun, it is similar to PERSIMMON, n - an orangecoloured fruit about
an accumulator. 2. to make money multi- the size of a plum.
ply. They parlayed some small investments PESKY, adj (col) - annoying, troublesome.
into a huge fortune. Pesky flies.



PHI BETA KAPPA, n - a society of university cial line of trading, e.g. the grain pit.
graduates of the highest academic ability, PITCH, n (col) - a line of talk designed to per-
or a member of this society. suade, especially a sales pitch. It can be
PHILADELPHIA LAWYER, n (col) - a lawyer who used as a verb, meaning to try to promote
is particularly shrewd and adept at manipu- or sell, but the usual expression is MAKE
lating legal technicalities. ONE'S PITCH.
PHONOGRAPH, n (old) - another word for PITCHER, n - in baseball, the player who
gramophone or record player. pitches the ball to the batter.
PHOOEY !, interject - used to express disbe- PITMAN, n - another name for the connecting
lief, contempt or disgust. rod in a car.
PHYSICAL THERAPIST, n - another name for a PITS, pi n (col) - the pits: the most loathsome
physiotherapist. person, thing, place or situation. McEnroe
PIAZZA, n - it also means a veranda. is remembered for repeatedly accusing a
PICAYUNE or PICAYUNISH, adj (col) - of small bemused Wimbledon referee of being the
value, trifling, petty. Also, any coin of little pits of the earth. From armpits.
value, especially a nickel or five-cent piece. PIZZAZZ or PIZAZZ, n (col) - an attractive mix-
PICKUP, n - 1. a pickup truck, a small open- ture of vigour and style.
backed lorry. 2. the ability to accelerate rap-PLACE, v - (of a racehorse) to finish in the
idly. This car has good pickup. 3. a hitch- first three, but especially to finish in sec-
hiker. 4. (col) - a stranger with whom one ond position.
makes casual acquaintance, usually in an- PLANK, v (col) - to cook or serve meat or fish
ticipation of sexual relations. on a special wooden board. They sell
PICKY, adj (col) - fussy, choosy, hard to boards specially made for planking food,
please. with grooves for the juices.
PIG OUT Or PORK OUT, V (COl) - See SCARF. PLAY, n - a strategic move or manoeuvre in a
PIECE, n (col) - gun. game, especially in American football. A
PIKER, n (col) - a petty or stingy person, or a brilliant play.
shirker. PLEA BARGAINING, n - an arrangement between
PILGRIM FATHERS or PILGRIMS, n - the English prosecution and defence whereby a defen-
Puritans who sailed on the Mayflower and dant in court pleads guilty to a lesser
founded the first colony at Plymouth, Mas- charge and the prosecutor in return drop
sachusetts in 1620. more serious charges.
PINCH HIT, v - in baseball, to take the place of PLEBE, n - a first-year cadet at a naval or mili-
the scheduled batter, especially when a hit tary academy.
is badly needed. Hence, to stand in for PLEXIGLASS, n - perspex. Both words are trade
someone else in a time of need. names which have become generic. The
PINK SLIP, n (col) - a notice of termination of display pieces are sealed inside plexiglass
employment. cases.
PINKIE, n - little finger. PLUG, n (col) - 1. something inferior, defec-
PINT, n -1 US pint = 0.473 litre. 1 GB pint = tive or worthless, especially an old worn-
0.568 litre. out horse. 2. a piece of chewing tobacco.
PINWHEEL, n - (firework) a Catherine wheel. PLUG UGLY, n (col) - a hard man, thug.
PISSED, adj (col) - profoundly angry, indignant. PLUMB, adu (col) - really. The word is used as
An abbreviation of PISSED-OFF, as is P O'D, an intensifier. The decision was plumb stu-
pronounced pee-owed. It never has the GB pid. After all that work I'm plumb tuckered-
meaning of drunk. out.
PIT, n -1. the stone of a plum, cherry, etc. 2. PLURALITY, n - a relative majority, i.e. when
a section of an exchange devoted to a spe- the winning party has more votes than any



other contending party but not an absolute POTATO CHIPS, pi n - potato crisps.
majority. POTHOLDERS, pi n - oven gloves.
POCKET BOOK, n (old) - handbag. POUND, n - the symbol #, called hash or
POCKET VETO, n - the action of the President square in GB.
in retaining a Congressional bill unsigned POUND CAKE, n - a rich fruit cake, similar to a
during the last ten days of a session, Madeira cake.
thereby effectively killing the bill. POWDER, n (col) - in the expression TAKE A POW-
PODIATRY, n - another word for chiropody. Also DER: to depart hastily, disappear, run away.
PODIATRIST, a chiropodist. POWDERED SUGAR, n - icing sugar. Also known
PODUNK, n (col) - any small, isolated, insig- as confectioner's sugar.
nificant place. Synonymous with JERKWATER. PRACTICAL NURSE, n - a person who has prac-
POISON IVY, n - a shrub which causes a pain- tical experience of nursing but is not a
ful rash and itching on contact with the skin. graduate of a degree programme in nurs-
POLECAT, n - a skunk. ing.
POLICE, v - to make an area neat and tidy, PRECINCT, n -1. a district of a city for adminis-
e.g. They policed the barracks. It's time you trative, electoral and police purposes. 2. the
started policing your room. police responsible for such a district.
POLLYWOG, n - another name for tadpole. PREPARATORY SCHOOL Or PREP SCHOOL, n - a pri-
PONY, n (col) - a crib, either a word-for-word vate boarding school which prepares sec-
translation of a foreign language text, used ondary students for university, and which
illicitly in a test, or a paper from which exam enjoys a similar social status to that of pub-
answers are copied. lic schools in GB. The adjective is PREPPIE,
PONY UP, v (col) - to pay money owed or due. meaning typical of the manners, style and
POOCH, n (col) - a dog. attitude of such schools or students. He ad-
POOP, n (col) -1. inside information. He gave dressed the crowd with preppie self-confi-
me all the poop on their new models. 2. ex- dence.
crement. A POOPER-SCOOPER is an instrument PRESIDENT, n - the general manager of a com-
for scooping up the faeces of a dog or other pany. Also, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER.
pet. PRESIDENTS' DAY, n - a public holiday occur-
POOP, v (col) -1. to tire out or exhaust. After ring on the third Monday in February, com-
the match he was pooped. To POOP OUT is to memorating the birthdays of George Wash-
abandon something because of tiredness. ington and Abraham Lincoln.
He pooped out of the race. 2. to defecate. PRETZEL, n -a brittle savoury stick-shaped bis-
POP THE CLUTCH, v (col) - to release the clutch cuit, glazed and salted on the outside, usu-
too quickly, thereby causing the car to lurch ally served as a snack.
forward. PRIMARY Or PRIMARY ELECTION, n - a local elec-
POPOVER, n -a light puffy hollow muffin, made tion in which voters registered with a par-
with eggs, milk and flour. ticular party choose a candidate from sev-
POPSICLE, n (col) - an ice lolly. Originally a eral nominees.
trademark. PROCTOR, n - a supervisor or monitor who
PORK BARREL, n (col) - a government project invigilates university examinations, en-
which creates jobs and other benefits in a forces discipline, etc. Also used as a verb.
particular locality as well as advantages for PRODUCE DEPARTMENT, n - in a supermarket, the
its political representatives. area where fresh fruits and vegetables are
POST EXCHANGE or (abbr) PX, n - a shop that found. Pronounced prod-oose.
sells goods to military personnel and their PROFESSOR, n - a title which is much more
families, on a military base. Similar to a common in US universities than in British.
Naafi. An ASSISTANT PROFESSOR is a lecturer, an AS-



SOCIATE PROFESSOR is a senior lecturer or at one end and a lash of braided rawhide.
reader, and a FULL PROFESSOR is the equiva- QUITTER, n - a person who gives up easily, a
lent of a GB professor. defeatist or a deserter.
PROM, n - a ball or formal dance at a high QUONSET HUT, n - equivalent of a Nissen hut.
school or university. Short for promenade. Sometimes used without a capital.
PROWL CAR, n - a police patrol car.
PUBLIC SCHOOL, n - an elementary or second-
ary school supported by public funds and
providing free education. Hence, the oppo-
site of a private school or a GB public R
PULL-OFF, n - a lay-by on a motorway. RACE CAR, n - racing car.
PULLMAN or PULLMAN CAR, n - a luxurious rail- RACE MEET, n - race meeting.
way coach, especially a sleeping car. RAFT, n (col) - a large number, collection or
PUNCHBALL, n - a game resembling baseball amount. They asked him a raft of questions.
in which a light rubber ball is struck with RAG, v (col) -1. to tease or taunt. 2. to berate
the fist rather than with a bat. or scold.
PURPLE HEART, n - a decoration awarded to RAILROAD, n - railway. US railway = tracks on
US military personnel wounded in action. which trains run, whereas railroad refers
PURSE, n - handbag. to the company, e.g. Union Pacific Railroad.
PUSHCART, n - another name for barrow. RAILWAY, n - any track for the wheels of a ve-
PUSSY, n (col) -1. the vulva. 2. a woman con- hicle to run on. But GB railway = US rail-
sidered as a sexual object. A man who is road.
PUSSY-WHIPPED is one who is henpecked. RAINCHECK, n (col) -La ticket stub for a sport-
PUT DOWN, v (col) - to criticize, belittle or dis- ing event that permits readmission at a fu-
parage. You're always putting me down. The ture date if the event is cancelled because
noun is PUT-DOWN, something disparaging. of bad weather. 2. a voucher issued to a
customer wishing to buy a sale item which
is temporarily out of stock and which per-
mits him to do so later at the sale price.
Colloquially, TAKE A RAIN CHECK means to ac-
cept the postponement of an offer: He de-
Q clined our invitation to dinner, saying he
would take a rain check.
QUART, n -1 US quart (0.946 litre) = 0.8326 RAISIN BREAD, n - currant bread.
GB quart. RAMBUNCTIOUS, adj - boisterous, disorderly.
QUARTER, n - a 25-cent coin. RAMPIKE, n - a standing dead tree or tree
QUARTERBACK, n & v - in American football, a stump, especially one killed by fire.
backfield player who leads the team and RAP, v (col) - to chat or exchange views, es-
decides the next move. Hence, colloquially, pecially in a candid way. 1960s youth cul-
as a verb: to lead or direct operations. ture was mainly drugs, the quest for mean-
QUICK-AND-DIRTY, adj - cheaply made or done, ing, and endless rapping. A RAPPER is a per-
of inferior quality. A quick-and-dirty con- son who participates in a RAP SESSION, a bout
struction project, a quick-and-dirty research of candid conversation, as well as a per-
report. Used as a noun, the word usually petrator of rap music.
refers to a cheap cafe. RAP, n (col) - a criminal charge, as in BEAT
QUIRT, n - a riding whip with a leather thong THE RAP, to escape punishment or be ac-



quitted, and TAKE THE RAP, to take the con- See LOCATE.
sequences of a crime, whether guilty or not. RESERVE BANK, n - one of the 12 main banks
RATHSKELLER, n - a bar or restaurant, usually of the US Federal Reserve System.
below street level, where important quanti- RESIDENT DOCTOR, n - registrar.
ties of beer are consumed. From the Ger- RESTROOM, n - a room equipped with Isvsto-
man word RATSKELLER, the cellar of a town ries for public use.
hall used for festive drinking. RESUME, n - another name for curriculum vi-
RATTY, n - tatty, shabby. The word has none tse. Pronounced rez-oo-mav.
of the GB connotations of irritability or an- REV or REV UP, v (col) - to stimulate or enliven.
noyance. / don't know what it would take to rev up
RAUNCHY, adj - lewd, vulgar or sexually ex- this deadass bunch - dynamite probably.
plicit. The adjective REVVED means primed and
RAZZ, v (col) - to tease, rag, banter, or de- ready.
ride. REVIEW, v - to revise for an exam. Or, as a
REAL-ESTATE AGENT Or REALTOR, n - estate agent. noun, revision.
REAR END, v - to bump into the car in front. A RHINESTONE, n - an artificial gem made of
REAR-ENDERis an accident in which one car paste or glass, with facets that sparkle in
hits another from behind. imitation of a diamond. A symbol of certain
RECESS, n - a break between classes at aspects of Americana, associated with the
school, or any similar break. costumes of country and western singers
RECONSTRUCTION, n -the period after the Civil and Las Vegas showgirls.
War when the South was reorganized and RIB ROAST, n - a joint of beef or venison, with
reintegrated into the Union (1865-77). AN a large quantity of meat on the outside of
UNRECONSTRUCTED PERSON is one who main- the rib.
tains outdated attitudes and beliefs, par- RICH, adj (col) - in the expression TOO RICH
ticularly a Southener. FOR MY BLOOD: too expensive. It's a good res-
REDCAP, n - a porter at a railway station or taurant, sure, but too rich for my blood.
airport. RIDE, v (col) - to tease, ridicule or harass with
REDNECK, n (col) -La poor uneducated white persistent criticism.
farm worker, especially in the southern RIDE, n - a lift in a car, e.g. We ran out of gas
states. 2. a reactionary and bigoted person. and had to thumb a ride into the city. Can I
Also used as a modifier: redneck attitudes. give you a ride someplace?
REFLECTORS, pi n - (on the road) Catseyes. RINGER, n (col) -1. short for DEAD RINGER, some-
REFORMATORY Or REFORM SCHOOL, n - a yOUth one who looks like someone else. He's a
custody centre, i.e. a penal institution for ringer for his dad. 2. in sport, a contestant,
young or first offenders. especially a horse, entered illicitly, e.g. un-
REGENT, n - a member of the governing board der false representations of identity, abil-
of certain schools and universities. ity, etc.
REGULAR, adj- the word also means ordinary RINKY-DINK, adj (col) - old-fashioned, worn out,
or customary, as in REGULAR COFFEE, coffee cheap or of inferior quality.
with cream and sugar. A REGULAR GUY is RIPPED, adj (col) - very drunk.
someone who is likable, dependable, nor- ROBIN, n - larger than the European robin. It
mal. is associated with the first days of spring
RELIEF, n - government welfare payments to rather than with Christmas.
people in need. Those who receive such ROCK, n - a stone.
aid are ON RELIEF. ROCK AND RYE, n - a liqueur made of whisky
RELOCATE, v - to move to a new place, espe- blended with fruit.
cially to another area or place of business. ROCK-RIBBED, adj - firm, inflexible, especially



where principles or loyalties are concerned: noun: a sorority rush.

a rock-ribbed Republican. RUTABAGA, n - a SWede.
ROCKFISH, n - striped bass. RYE, n - short for rye bread and also for rye
ROMAINE, n - cos (lettuce). whiskey, which is extremely common, since
ROOKIE, n (col) - a new and inexperienced re- by law US whiskey must contain not less
cruit. than 51% rye.
ROOMER, n - a lodger. A ROOMING HOUSE is one
where rooms are let.
ROOT, v (col) - to encourage or applaud a con-
testant, to cheer on.
ROOT BEER, n - an effervescent soft drink made
from various roots, herbs and bark. S
ROTC, n (abbr) - short for Reserve Officers
Training Corps. Comparable to the CCF SACK, n (col) - bed. To SACK OUT is to hit the
(Combined Cadet Force). sack, go to bed.
ROUND-TRIP TICKET, n - a return ticket. SACK LUNCH, n - a packed lunch.
ROUSTABOUT, n - an unskilled labourer on an SAD SACK, n (col) - an inept or clumsy per-
oil rig. son.
ROW HOUSE, n - a terraced house. SADDLE SHOE, n - acasuaIshoe, usually white,
ROWBOAT, n - a rowing boat. with a band of leather in a contrasting
RUBBER, n - a condom. GB rubber = US eraser. colour across the instep.
RUBBER BAND, n - elastic band. SAILBOAT, n - sailing boat.
RUBBER BOOTS, pi n - Wellington boots. SALE, n - in the expession ON SALE, meaning
RUBBERNECK, v (col) - to gape or gawk inquisi- at a reduced price.
tively, especially in a naive or foolish man- SALESCLERK, n - See CLERK.
ner. The cars slowed down so drivers and SALES TAX, n - similar to VAT but added when
passengers could rubberneck at the acci- you pay. That is, the tax, a percentage
dent. The noun is RUBBERNECKER. which varies from State to State, is not in-
RUBBERS, pi n - galoshes, overshoes. cluded in the price marked on a product.
RUBE, n (col) - an unsophisticated country fel- SALISBURY STEAK, n - a patty of ground beef
low, a bumpkin. mixed with eggs, onions and various sea-
RUMBLE, n (col) - a gang fight, or, as a verb, sonings, grilled, baked or fried and covered
to be involved in gang fights. with gravy.
RUMMAGE SALE, n - a jumble Sale. Also GARAGE SALT LICK, n - a salt flat, an exposed natural
SALE. deposit of salt that animals lick.
RUMPUS ROOM, n - a recreation room used for SALT SHAKER, n - salt cellar.
noisy activities, such as parties or SALTINE, n - a thin, crisp cracker sprinkled with
children's games. coarse salt, often served with soup.
RUN, n - a ladder in tights or stockings. SANDBAG, v (col) - to treat unfairly or severely,
RUN, v - to stand for political office. or to coerce. When persuasion didn't work,
RUN A LIGHT, v (col) - to go through a red light. they tried to sandbag him.
He got a ticket for running a (red) light. SANDBOX, n - sandpit.
RUN OFF AT THE MOUTH, V (COl) -tO talk tOO much. SANDLOT, n - a piece of waste ground used
RUNWAY, n - a catwalk for modelling clothes. by children for unorganized games and
RUSH, v - to make a concerted effort to gain sport, especially SANDLOT BASEBALL.
someone's participation or agreement. On SANITARY NAPKIN, n - sanitary towel.
campus, to seek to recruit new members SAP, n & v - cosh.
for a fraternity or sorority. Also used as a SARAN WRAP, n - cling film. Formerly a trade-



SASHAY, v (col) - to strut or flounce in a showy SCHMEAR or SCHMEER, v (col) - to bribe some-
manner, or to walk in a markedly casual one or to soft soap someone. From a Yid-
way. From French chasse, a gliding dance dish word meaning grease.
step. Pronounced sa-shay. SCHMUCK, n (col) - a prick, a stupid and ob-
SASQUATCH, n - a very large, hairy, manlike noxious person. From Yiddish shmok: pe-
beast purported to inhabit the woods of the nis, fool.
Pacific Northwest and to leave huge foot- SCHNOOK, n (col) - a sucker, a dupe, an easily
prints. For this reason, also known as victimized person.
Bigfoot. SCHNOZ, n (col) - a large nose.
SASS, v - to talk or answer back in an inso- SCHOONER, n - a large beer glass, holding a
lent way. As a noun, it means impertinent pint or more. Pronounced skoon-er.
or disrespectful speech. The adjective is SCOPE OUT, v (col) - to examine or study some-
SASSY. thing carefully or in detail. He had scoped
SAUCE, n (col) - booze. the company out before applying.
SAVINGS ACCOUNT, n - a deposit account. SCOTCH TAPE, A7 - SellOtape.
SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATION, n - US equiva- scow, n - a large flat-bottomed boat with
lent of a building society. square ends, used chiefly for transporting
SAWBUCK, n -1. a sawhorse, especially one freight. Also a sailing boat with a flat bot-
with an X-shaped supporting structure. 2. tom.
(col, old) - a ten-dollar bill. This usage was SCRATCH, v - to cancel the name of a candi-
inspired by the Roman numeral X, formerly date from a party ticket in an election.
printed on each corner of the note. SCRATCH PAD, n - notepad, writing block.
SCAG or SKAG, n (col) - 1. cheap, low-quality SCREEN DOOR, n - an outer door of fine-mesh
heroin. 2. a despicable person. The adjec- wire whose purpose is to exclude insects
tive is SCAGGY: sleazy. when the normal inner door is left open for
SCALLION, n - spring onion. coolness.
SCALP, v (col) - to resell at a much higher price SCRUB BRUSH, n - scrubbing brush.
than the established one, e.g. tickets to a SCRUBS, pin-a surgeon's theatre whites. Also
sporting event, i.e. to tout. He makes a liv- called a SCRUB SUIT.
ing scalping tickets to the big matches. SCUTTLEBUTT, A7 (col) - gossip, rumour.
SCAM, n (col) - a swindle. SCUZZY, adj (col) - dirty, grimy. Scuzzy win-
SCARF Or SCARF OUT, V (COl) - tO eat a lot. We dows. 2. disreputable, sleazy. They were
went to this new vegetarian place and re- running a scuzzy business.
ally scarfed out. Equivalent expressions are SECOND-GUESS, v -1. to criticize or judge after
PIG OUT and PORK OUT. the event, with hindsight. 2. to anticipate or
SCHEDULE, n - a time-table. Pronounced predict.
SKEDGE-ULE SECRET SERVICE, n - a branch of the US Trea-
SCHLEMIEL, n (col) - a clumsy or unlucky per- sury Department primarily concerned with
son, a habitual bungler. the suppression of counterfeiting and the
SCHLEP, v (col) - to trudge, lug, drag along. protection of the President. Nothing to do
SCHLOCK, n (col) - something that is shoddy, with the CIA.
trashy, e.g. literature or merchandise. A SEDAN, n - saloon car.
SCHLOCKMEISTER is a person who produces SELECTMAN, A? - any member of the local
or deals in it. boards of most New England towns.
SCHMALTZ, n - 1. animal fat used in cooking. SELF-RISING FLOUR, n - self-raising flour.
2. (col) - excessively sentimental art of mu- SEMESTER, n - a term at school. The academic
sic, maudlin sentimentality. The adjective year is divided into two semesters of 15 to



18 weeks each. resembling a shirt.

SENIOR, n - a final-year student at high school SHOESTRING, n - another name for shoelace.
or university. See FRESHMAN. SHOO-IN, n (col) - a sure winner or an easy
SET-UP, n (col) - an event the result of which victory.
is prearranged, e.g. a contest. SHOOT, inter] - a euphemism for shit. Shoot,
SETUPS, pi n (col) - the ingredients and equip- they forgot to pay me.
ment, such as ice, soda, glasses and mix- SHOOT FROM THE HIP, v (col) - to act or respond
ers, necessary for serving various alcoholic impulsively. / wish that once in a while you
drinks. Some restaurants allow customers would think before you speak, instead of
to bring their own alcohol and charge only just shooting from the hip the way you do.
for the setups. SHORT ORDER, n - food that is easily or quickly
SHADE, n - a window blind or awning. prepared. As a modifier: a short-order cook,
SHADES, pi n (col) - sunglasses. a short-order counter.
SHAFT, v (col) - to treat unfairly or cruelly or SHORTS or JOCKEY SHORTS, pi n - men's under-
both. Often used as a noun with the: They pants that usually reach mid-thigh, as well
were hoping for a raise but all they got was as short trousers.
the shaft, as usual. SHOT, n - 1. a glass of spirits. 2. a hypoder-
SHAG, v - to follow or to chase and retrieve. In mic injection, a jsb. 3. in baseball, a home
baseball, to chase and catch FLY BALLS in run.
practice. SHOW, v -to come in third in a horse race. In
SHAKE DOWN, v - to extort money. the US, an each-way bet is on a horse to
SHAKEDOWN, n (col) - 1 . 3 voyage to test a win, to place or show.
newly commissioned ship or aircraft or to SHOW AND TELL, n - an activity in US primary
familiarize the crew with its duties. 2. an act schools in which children bring to class
of extortion. 3. a thorough search. items of interest, e.g. caterpillars or butter-
SHAPE UP, v (col) -to improve one's behaviour flies, and talk about them. By extension, a
or performance dramatically, often in the public presentation or display.
ultimatum SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT: improve or SHOWBOAT, n - another name for a showoff.
be expelled. SHOWER, n - a party held to honour and give
SHARECROPPER, n - a tenant farmer who pays presents to someone, e.g a prospective
over a part of his crops as rent. bride or a new mother. A bridal shower, a
SHEENY, n (col) - a derogatory word for a Jew. baby shower.
SHEER CURTAINS or SHEERS, pi n - net curtains. SHRINER, n - a member of a US secret frater-
SHELLAC, v (col) - to batter or to defeat deci- nal Masonic-type order, the Ancient Arabic
sively. Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.
SHERBET, n - a sorbet. SHTICK or SCHTICK, n (col) -1. a person's spe-
SHILL, n - a person who poses as a satisfied cial aptitude or talent. 2. an entertainment
customer or an enthusiastic gambler to routine.
dupe bystanders into parting with their SHUCK, n - the outer covering of something,
money. As a verb, it means to lure some- e.g. the husk of a grain of maize or the shell
one into a swindle. of an oyster. As a verb it means to remove
SHINGLE, n (col) - a small signboard or name- this covering, or, colloquially, to cast some-
plate outside the office of a doctor, lawyer, thing off: They shucked their clothes and
etc. He can't hang out his shingle until he lay down on the bed. The city has shucked
takes his bar exam. its ratty image. The interjection SHUCKS is
SHINNY, v - to climb up something, e.g. a pole an expression of embarrassment, mild dis-
or a tree, using the hands and shins. appointment or annoyance.
SHIRTWAIST, n - a woman's blouse or bodice SHYSTER, n (col) - an unethical, unscrupulous



person, especially a lawyer or a politician. chines, etc., especially one used illegally.
SIDE MIRROR Or SIDEVIEW MIRROR, n - Wing mir- 2. (col) - a slow-moving or Iazy person.
ror. SLUGFEST, n (col) - 3 fight in which many heavy
SIDEBURNS, pi n - sideboards. blows are exchanged, or a baseball game
SIDESWIPE, v (col) - to scrape the side of an- in which many hits and runs are scored.
other car when driving. The guy must have SLUMGULLION, n - a cheap and watery meat
been drunk - he drove down the alley side- stew.
swiping parked vehicles all the way. SLUSH FUND, n - a fund created by a group for
SIDEWALK, n - pavement. corrupt practices, such as bribery.
SIDING, n - a covering on the outside wall of a SMALL POTATOES, pi n (col) - something insig-
house to make it weatherproof. nificsnt. His loftiest ambition is still pretty
SILK-STOCKING, adj - wealthy, aristocratic. A small potatoes. You think that's bad, believe
silk-stocking neighborhood, silk-stocking me it's small potatoes compared to what's
prep schools. going to happen if Harry finds out.
SILVERWARE, n - See FLATWARE. SMART-ASS, n (col) - another word for a smart
SIMON LEGREE, n - a brutal taskmaster. After sleek.
a cruel slave dealer in Uncle Tom's Cabin. SMARTS, pi n (col) - know-how, brains, intelli-
SINKER, n (col) - another name for a dough- gence.
nut. SMIDGEN, n - a very sma\\ amount.
SKEET or SKEET SHOOTING, n - a form of clsy- SMOKESTACK, n - 3 tall chimney.
pigeon shooting in which targets are SMOKEY, n (col) - a highwsy patro\man. From
launched from traps at varying speeds and the resemblance of some patrolmen's hats
angles to simulate the flight of birds. to that of Smokey the Bear, an animal who
SKI MASK, n - balaclava. warned against fires in US Forest Service
SKILLET, n - another word for frying pan. posters.
SKINNY-DIP, v (col) - to swim in the nude. A SMUDGE, n - a smoky fire intended to drive
person who does so is a SKINNY-DIPPER. insects away or to protect fruit trees and
SKINS, pi n (col) - tyres. My first set of skins plants against frost. As a verb, it means to
only lasted six months. light such a fire.
SLAMMER, n (col) - a jail or prison. SNAFU, n (col) - a chaotic or confused situs-
SLASH, n - stroke, as in and/or (and-slash- tion. Used also as a verb, to make chaotic,
or). and as an adjective. Originally a military
SLATE, n - a list of candidates in an election. term, an acronym of situation normal all
SLATE, v - to schedule or put on an agenda. fucked up. Pronounced sna-foo.
The history lecture is slated for Friday af- SNAKE OIL, n -1. a quake remedy. 2. Speech
ternoon. or writing intended to deceive, humbug.
SLED, n - another name for a sledge, tobog- SNAP FASTENER, n - a press Stud.
gan. SNATCH, n (col) - an act of kidnapping. Also a
SLEW, n - a great number or amount, a lot. verb: They snatched the kid on his way to
Behind him he left a slew of unpaid bills. school.
MS Office 2000 boasts a slew of new fea- SNEAKERS, pi n (col) - gym shoes, tennis
tures. shoes.
SLINGSHOT, n - catapult. SNOW, v (col) - to deceive or overwhelm some-
SLOPPY JOE, n - barbecued beef in a spicy to- one with elaborate, insincere talk. A
mato sauce, served on an open bun. snowjob is an instance of this.
SLOT MACHINE, n - a fruit machine. SNOWBIRD, n (col) - a winter vacationer in the
SLOWPOKE, n (col) - slowcoach. South.
SLUG, n -1. 3 metal token for use in slot ma- SOAK, v (col) - to overcharge. They intend to



introduce a series of soak-the-rich corpo- SPIGOT, n - an outdoor tap or the wooden tap
ration taxes. placed in the bunghole of a cask. An in-
SOCIAL REGISTER, n - a directory listing a door tap is a faucet.
community's social elite. SPIKE, v (col) - to 3dd alcoholic liquor to a
SOCIALITE, n - a person who is or who seeks nonalcoholic drink. The punch was spiked
to be prominent in fashionable society. with rum.
SODA CRACKER, n - another name for a soda SPIKE HEEL, n - stiletto heel.
biscuit, i.e. a plain biscuit leavened with so- SPIKE HEELS, pi n - another name for stiletto
dium bicarbonate. A water biscuit. heels.
SODA FOUNTAIN, n (old) - a counter serving soft SPIT CURL, n - kiss curl.
drinks, ice-cream dishes, sandwiches and SPITBALL, n -1. a piece of paper chewed and
snacks. shaped into a lump, as thrown by school-
SODA JERK, n (old) - a person who serves at a boys. 2. in baseball, an illegal pitch in which
soda fountain. saliva is applied to the ball before it is
SODA or POP or SODA POP, n - a fizzy drink. thrown.
SOFTBALL, n - a variation of baseball, played SPOOK, n (col) -1. r3cist term for a black per-
ten to a side instead of nine and using a son. 2. a spy. As a verb, it means to frighten:
larger, softer ball, pitched underhand. Any sudden noise or movement could
SOLICITOR, n -1. an officer responsible for the spook the cattle.
legal affairs of a town, city or government SPORT COAT, n - a sports jacket.
department. 2. a person who solicits trade SPORTING HOUSE, n (col) - 3 euphemism for
or contributions. brothel.
SOLITAIRE, n - patience (the card game). SQUARE KNOT, n - reef knot.
SOPHOMORE, n - a second-year student in sec- SQUASH, n - any of 3 number of marrow-like
ondary school or at university. See fresh- plants, or the fruit of these plants, eaten 3s
man. 3 vegetable.
SOREHEAD, n (col) - a disgruntled or easily of- SQUIRT GUN, n - another name for a water pis-
fended person. A whiner. Don't be such a tol.
sorehead. STANDUP, adj (col) - courageous and loyal. A
SORORITY, n - on campus, a social club for standup guy.
women students. The female equivalent of STARS AND BARS, n - the first flag of the Con-
a fraternity. federate states. Used with a singular or plu-
SOUTHPAW, n (col) - someone who is left- ral verb.
handed, especially a left-handed baseball STATE, adj- pertaining to state rather than to
pitcher. federal authority.
SOWBELLY, n (col) - salt pork or bacon. STATE TROOPER, n - a state policeman.
SOY BEANS, n pi - soya beans. STATE'S EVIDENCE, n - 1. the evidence for the
SPARK PLUG WIRES, pi n - spark plug leads. prosecution given on behalf of the state in
SPEAKEASY, n - a piace where alcohol was sold a criminal prosecution. 2. in the expression
illicitly during Prohibition. TURN STATE'S EVIDENCE, to give evidence
SPECIAL DELIVERY or (abbr) SD, n - express against a former accomplice. Equivalent to
mail. GB queen's evidence.
SPIC or SPICK, n (col) - a racist name for a STATEHOUSE, n - the building in which a state
Hispanic person. legislature holds sessions.
SPIEL, n (col) - a speech or argument intended STATESIDE, adj & adv - of or in the continental
to persuade, usually associated with sales- United States.
men. / made my spiel about how I thought I STATION WAGON, n - estate Car.
could improve the company's productivity. STATUTORY RAPE, n - the criminal offence of



having sexual intercourse with a girl under counted against the batter, e.g. one that is
the age of consent. swung at and missed. A batter is out when
STEAMER, n - a soft-shell clam, cooked usu- he has three strikes against him. Used figu-
ally by steaming. ratively in many situations.
STEER, n - a young ox, especially one cas- STRING BEANS, n pi - runner beans.
trated before sexual maturity and raised for STROKE, n (col) - a compliment or comment
beef. A bullock. To give or sell someone a that enhances a person's self-esteem. A
bum steer is to give bad information or ad- usage from transactional analysis. Also
vice. used as a verb. Used as an adjective, it
STENOGRAPHER, n - a shorthand typist. means pornographic or masturbatory, as in
STICK CANDY, n - rock, as sold at the seaside. stroke book, stroke mag.
STICK SHIFT, n - another term for manual trans- STROLLER, n - a child's collapsible pushchair.
mission. STUDENT, n - used in a broader sense in the
STICKPIN, n - a tiepin. US to refer to anyone studying, irrespec-
STIFF, v (col) -1. to tip someone inadequately tive of age.
or not at all. He stiffed the waiter. In the STUMBLEBUM, n (col) -La blundering or inept
US, tipping is expected, 15-20% being con- person. 2. a punch-drunk boxer.
sidered the basic rate. 2. to cheat some- STUMP, n - to campaign, especially by politi-
one of something owed. His roommate Cal speech-making. The expression on the
stiffed him for the rent. stump refers to a p\ace or occasion used
STOCK COMPANY, n -1. a company whose capi- for campaign oratory.
tal is divided into transferable shares. 2. a STUMP ORATOR, n - a rabblerouser.
repertory company. SUBDIVISION, n - a tract of Iand for building com-
STOCKADE, n - a military prison or detention posed of subdivided lots, or, by extension,
area. 3 housing estate built on such land.
STOGY or STOGIE, n - a cheap cigar. Pro- SUBMARINE, n - another name for hero sand-
nounced stoe-gy. wich.
STOMP, v (col) - to assault viciously, to clob- SUBSTITUTE TEACHER, n - supply teacher.
ber. The gang stomped anyone they SUBWAY, n -an underground railway, the tube.
thought might be homosexual. SUCK, v (col) - to be disgustingly nasty, of-
STOOL PIGEON, n (col) - a police informer. fensive, or of wretched quality. This movie
STOOP, n - a small porch or platform with steps not only fails as entertainment, it sucks.
leading up to it at the entrance to a house SUCKER, n (col) - another word for lollipop.
or building. SUDS, pi n (col) - beer.
STOPLIGHTS, pi n - see traffic signals. SUMMA CUM LAUDE, adv - See CUM LAUDE.
STORE, n - a shop. SUMMATION, n - an argument containing a sum-
STOVEPIPE HAT, n (COl) - a top hat. See HIGH mary of principal points, especially a
HAT. lawyer's closing speech in a law case.
STRAIGHT, adj- neat, not mixed with anything SUNNY-SIDE UP, adj- of eggs, fried on one side
else, undiluted. Straight bourbon. only. The alternatives are over easy, fried
STRAIGHTARROW, adj - absolutely honest, mor- on both sides but liquid in the centre, and
ally upright. over hard.
STRAW BOSS, n (col) - a worker who acts as a SUPER, n (col) - short for the superintendent
boss or foreman in addition to his normal (or caretsker) of a block of fiats or offices.
duties. SUPERHIGHWAY, n - motorway. See FREEWAY.
STREETCAR, n - a tram. SUSPENDERS, pi n - braces.
STREETLIGHT Or STREETLAMP, n - a lamppOSt. SWEET POTATO, n - a vegetable, orsnge-
STRIKE, n - in baseball, a pitched ball that is coloured when boiled, commonly eaten in



the US instead of ordinary or white pota- of a lorry. As a verb, it means to drive too
toes. closely behind another vehicle. A TAILGATE
SWELL, adj (col, old) - great, wonderful. SALE is a boot sale.
SWELLED HEAD, n (col) - a bighead, a conceited TAKE FIVE, v - to take a five-minute break.
person. TAMMANY HALL, n - central organization of the
SWING SHIFT, n - the work shift between the Democratic Party in New York county. In the
morning and evening shifts, usually 4 p.m. early part of the 20th century, it became a
to midnight. byword for boss-ruled, corrupt municipal
SWINGER, n (col) - a person who freely en- politics.
gages in promiscuous sex, especially a TANK, n (col) - a jail or Jail cell.
husbandswapper or wifeswapper. TAR BABY, n - a situation or problem from which
SWITCH, n - a railway siding or railway point. it is virtually impossible to extricate one-
SWITCH HITTER, n (col) - in baseball, a player self. From an Uncle Remus story by Joel
who can bat either right-handed or left- Chandler Harris, Bre'r Rabbit and the Tar
handed. By extension, a bisexual person. Baby.
SWITCHBACK, n - a roller coaster. TARDY, adj - Iate, especially at school. A Iate
SWITCHBLADE, n - a flick knife. pupil is given a TARDY SLIP.
SYNDICATE, v - to sell programmes to several TARHEEL, n - a native or resident of North
independent television or radio stations, or Carolina. Tar was once a major product of
to sell columns or comic strips for simulta- the state.
neous publication in several newspapers. TAXI DANCER, n - a woman employed, e.g. by a
nightclub, to dance with customers for a fee.
So-Called because the dancers are hired,
like taxis, for a short period of time.
TEA CART, n - tea trolley.
TEAMSTER, n - a truckdriver. Formerly, the
T driver of a team of horses. The word is now
used mainly in the plural, to signify the
TAB, n (col) - a bill, e.g. in a restaurant. Who's Teamaters Union, one of the largest trade
picking up the tab? unions in the world.
TABLE, v - to suspend discussion of a motion TEE OFF, v (col) - to make or become angry or
or 3 bill indefinitely. The opposite of the GB disgusted, to brown off. He was teed off be-
meaning. cause she didn't call.
TABLE CREAM, n - single cream. TEETER-TOTTER, n - another name for a see-
TACKY, adj (col) - 1. dowdy, seedy, in poor SaW.

repsir. She always looks tacky. Tacky TELEPROMPTER, n - autocue. Both words are
clothes. A tacky old farmhouse. 2. tasteless, trademarks.
shabby. A tacky remark. A tacky thing to TELLER, n - cashier in a bank or Post Office.
do. TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT, n - a Storm in a tea CUp.
TAD, n - a small boy, a very small amount, 3 TEMPLE, n - another name for a synagogue,
bit. She may be a tad overweight but she's especially one of a Reform or Consen/3-
still a good-looker. tive congregation.
TAFFY, n - a chewy sweet made from brown TERRITORY, n - a subdivision of the US which
sugar or molasses boiled with butter. Also, is not a state but which is administered by
a less common name for toffee. an appointed or elected governor and an
TAG, n - label. elected legislature, e.g. the Virgin Islands.
TAG SALE, n - a jumble sale. Most states were territories before achiev-
TAILGATE, n - another name for the tailboard ing full statehood.



TEXAS GATE, n - a cattle-grid, i.e. a grid of chic.

metal bars covering a ditch or hollow, in- TOTAL, v (col) - to write off a car, i.e. by wreck-
tended to allow the passage of vehicles but ing it totally and beyond repair. His car was
to prevent that of livestock. totalled in the accident.
THANKSGIVING DAY or THANKSGIVING, n the TOTE, n (col) - to haul or lug a heavy burden,
fourth Thursday in November, an annual or to carry on one's person. How were they
holiday marked by family reunions and tra- to know he was toting a gun?
ditional celebratory dinners of turkey and TOUCH FOOTBALL, n - an informal version of
pumpkin pie. It marks the gathering in of American football, played by any number
the first harvests by the Pilgrim Fathers in of people and characterized by players
1621. being touched rather than tackled.
THEATER, n - the usual word for cinema. Also TOUCHDOWN, n - in American football, a scor-
a theatre. ing play worth six points, achieved by be-
THEME, n - a short essay set as a writing ex- ing in possession of the ball beyond the
ercise in school. opponent's goal line. A field goal, worth
THIRTEEN COLONIES, n - the original American three points, is accomplished by kicking the
colonies which rebelled against the British. ball through the opponent's goalposts
THREADS, pi n (col) - clothes. above the crossbar.
THRIFT SHOP, n - a charity shop. TOUGH CALL, a, n - a difficult decision.
THROUGH, prep - 1. up to and including: We TOWN MEETING, n - an assembly of the citizens
work Monday through Friday. 2. adj - fin- of a town, or, especially in New England,
ished: She was through with the project. 3. of its qualified voters, to discuss and de-
adj - providing transportation to a destina- cide community issues.
tion with no stops and no transfers: a TRACK, n -1. sports performed on a track, or
through bus, a through ticket. track and field events aS a whole. Athlet-
THROUGHWAY, n - a motorway. See FREEWAY. ics. 2. a racecourse.
THUMBTACK or tack, n - drawing pin. TRACKING, n - streaming in schools.
TIC-TAC-TOE, n - noughts and crosses. TRADE, y-swap.
TICKET, n - the list of candidates nominated TRAFFIC CIRCLE, n - a rOUndabOUt.
by one party in an election. Same as SLATE. TRAFFIC SIGNALS, pi n - another name for traf-
TIGHTS, pi n - ballet tights or any similar gar- fic lights. Also called stoplights, red lights
ment. GB tights = US hose or pantyhose. or lights. One set of lights is singular, as in
TIGHTWAD, n (col) - a stingy person, a miser. Turn left at the next light.
TINHORN, n (col) - a petty braggart who makes TRAILER, n - a caravan.
extravagant and fraudulent claims, e.g. TRAILER TRUCK, n - an articulated lorry. Also
about being rich and important. known as a tractor trailer rig, or, more com-
TIRE WRENCH, n - a tyre lever. monly, as an eighteen wheeler or a semi.
TOGETHER, adj (col) - self-possessed, emotion- TRAMP, n (col) - a prostitute or promiscuous
ally stable, well-organized. He's a very to- girl or woman.
gether guy. TRANSOM, n - a fanlight.
TOLL FREE, n - free phone. TRASH, n - rubbish. A TRASH CAN is a dustbin.
TOM COLLINS, n - a long iced drink of gin, POOR WHITE TRASH refers derogatorily to poor
lemon or lime juice, soda and sugar. White people living in the depressed areas
TONGUE DEPRESSOR, n - another name for a of the southern US.
doctor's spatula. TRASH, v (col) -1. to throw away or discard. 2.
TONY, n - an annual award for outstanding to vandalize or destroy. 3. to subject to
achievement in the theatre. scathing criticism or verbal abuse, to vilify.
TONY, adj (col) - stylish, distinctive, classy, New York critics have been trashing



Spielberg movies for years. something, especially tickets to a play, for

TRICK OR TREAT, n - words shouted by children the price of one.
at Hallowe'en when they call at houses, in-
dicating that unless they are given a
present of money or sweets, they will play
a trick on the householder.
TROJAN, n - the most common brand of con-
dom, the equivalent of Durex in GB.
TROLLEY or TROLLEY CAR, n - a tram. Also called
a STREETCAR. UNCLE, n (col) - in the expression CRY UNCLE
TRUCK, v (col) - to move in a steady dragging or SAY UNCLE, meaning to express a desire
kind of walk. to surrender or give up. The larger boy
TRUCK STOP, n - a transport cafe. pinned him down but still he refused to cry
TRUCKER, n - a lorry driver or market gardener. uncle.
TRUNK, n - the boot of a car. Sometimes called UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, n - the system estab-
the rear deck. lished by abolitionists before the Civil War
TRUNK SALE, n - the sale of last season's mer- to help runaway slaves make good their es-
chandise in a clothes shop. cape, usually to Canada.
TUBE, n (col) - television, the box. See BOOB UNDERSHIRT, n - a Vest. US VeSt = GB waiSt-
TUCKER, v (col) - to tire out, exhaust. Working UNGLUED, adj (col) - in a distressed state. To
in this heat will tucker a man pretty fast. COME UNGLUED is to lose one's composure.
TURKEY, n - 1. a theatrical production that UNLISTED NUMBER, n - an ex-directory number.
flops. See BOMB. 2. an inept or undesirable UNRECONSTRUCTED, adj - See RECONSTRUCTION.
person. UP-FRONT, adj&adv (col) -1. straightforward,
TURNKEY, adj- supplied or purchased in a con- frank. Thank you for being so up-front and
dition ready for immediate use: a turnkey constructive in your criticism. 2. paid in ad-
factory, a turnkey computer system. vance. They won't do it without some up-
TURNOVER, n - a small pastry, made by cover- front cash.
ing one half of the crust with fruit and fold- UPCHUCK, v (col) - to vomit. A varistion of CHUCK
ing the other half over the top. UP.
TURNPIKE, n - a motorway which drivers must UPCOMING, adj - forthcoming.
pay a toll to use. UPGRADE, n - an upward slope. The expres-
TUSH, n (col) - backside. From the Yiddish. sion ON THE UPGRADE means improving or
Pronounced toosh. progressing, e.g. in importance or health.
TUXEDO, n - a dinner jacket, often shortened UPSET PRICE, n - reserve price at an auction.
to TUX. UPTOWN, adj & adv - in or towards a part of
TWIN BILL, n - see double header. town which is away from the centre. As a
TWISTER, n (col) - a cyclone or tornado. noun, it means a part of town comfortably
TWO BITS, n (col) - twenty-five cents or a petty removed from the centre, especially a resi-
sum. / wouldn't give two bits for his chances. dential part. The opposite of DOWNTOWN.
The adjective TWO-BIT means worth 25 UTILITY BILLS, pin- bills for electricity, gas and
cents, as in a two-bit cigar, or worth very water.
little, petty, insignificant: a two-bit hoodlum.
TWO-CYCLE ENGINE, n - two-stroke engine.
skimmed milk.
TWOFER, n (col) - a coupon offering two of



Army Corps, organized during World War

V II, but now no longer a separate branch.
WALDORF SALAD, n - a salad of diced apples,
VACUUM BOTTLE Or VACUUM FLASK, n - a thermos celery, walnuts and mayonnaise.
flask. WALKER, n - a walking frame or zimmer aid.
VALANCE, n - another name for pelmet. WALKING PAPERS, pin (col) - notice of dismissal
VALEDICTORY, n - a farewell oration delivered from a job.
at commencement or graduation by the WALKUP, n (col) - a block of flats without a lift,
most outstanding student, the valedicto- or a flat or office in a building without a lift.
rian. WALKWAY, n - a path or passage designed for
VAMOOSE, v (col) - to depart hurriedly, scram. pedestrian use.
From Spanish vamos, let's go. Pronounced WALL ANCHOR, n - a Rawlplug.
va-moose. WAMPUM, n (col) - money or wealth. From the
VANITY, n - another name for a dressing table. money, made of shells strung together, for-
VAUDEVILLE, n - music hall. merly used by North American Indians.
VEEP, n (col) - a vice president. Pronuncia- WARD HEELER or HEELER, n - a party worker who
tion of the abbreviation V.P. canvasses votes and performs other small
VEHICLE INSPECTION CERTIFICATE, n - equivalent duties at local (i.e. ward) level for a politi-
of the M.O.T. certificate. cal boss.
VENIRE, n - the panel from which a jury is se- WARDEN, n - the governor of a prison.
lected. WASH CLOTH, n - a face cloth, flannel.
VEST, n - a waistcoat. WASH UP, v - to wash oneself, not the dishes,
VEST-POCKET, adj - diminutive, small enough especially to wash one's hands.
to fit into a waistcoat pocket. A vest-pocket WASP, n (abbr) - an acronym for White
park is a very small park set in a heavily Anglo-Saxon Protestant.
populated urban area. WASTE, v (col) - to kill.
VETERAN, n - an ex-serviceman, irrespective WATER COOLER, n - a machine for cooling and
of age or length of service. dispensing drinking water. Very common in
VETERANS DAY, n - 11th November, a public US offices.
holiday observed in honour of veterans of WATER TOWER, n - an elevated tank used as a
the armed services. Formerly Armistice reservoir.
Day. WAX PAPER, n - greaseproof paper.
VISITING FIREMAN, n (col, old) - an important WAY, adv (col) - by a great distance or to a
visitor who is entertained impressively, or great degree. We're way behind schedule.
a free-spending tourist. That happened way back.
VISITING NURSE, n - a district community nurse. WEATHER STRIPPING, n - draught excluder.
VOLSTEAD ACT, n - the 1919 law forbidding WEDDING BAND, n - another name for a wed-
the manufacture, sale or transportation of ding ring.
alcholic beverages in the US, announcing WEENIE, n (col) -1. a hot dog. Short for WIENER,
13 years of Prohibition. or Wienerwurst, a sausage similar to a
frankfurter. 2. a weak and ineffectual man.
WEST POINT, n - seat of the US Military Acad-
emy. The US equivalent of Sandhurst.
WETBACK, n (col) - a disparaging term for a
Mexican, especially a labourer who enters
W the US illegally. From the fact that Mexicans
used to swim across the Rio Grande to
WAC, n (abbr) - a member of the Women's avoid border controls.



WHAMMY, n (col) - a supernatural spell for sub-

duing one's enemies. Unrelated to a DOUBLE
WHAT'S-HIS-FACE, n (col) - what's-his-name. Y or YMCA, n (abbr) - Young Men's Chris-
Similarly, WHAT'S-HER-FACE. tian Association, or more often the hostel
WHISTLE STOP, n -1. a small town or station at it runs in most big cities. /'// be staying at
which a train stops only if signalled. 2. A theY.
brief appearance of a political candidate, YARD, n - garden. American use the word 'gar-
on a whistle-stop tour. den' in a more specialised way to refer to a
WHITE RAISINS Or GOLDEN RAISINS, n pi - SUlt3- carefully cultivated area of flowers, veg-
nas. etables, herbs or fruit. But the area sur-
WHOLE ENCHILADA, THE, n (col) - the whole thing, rounding a house, whether covered with
the whole matter. grass or concrete, is almost always a 'yard'.
WHOLEWHEAT, adj - wholemeal. YARD SALE, n - See GARAGE SALE.
WIENER, n - see WEENIE. YARDBIRD, n (col) -La convict. 2. an untrained
WIG OUT, v (col) - to lose control of oneself or inexperienced soldier, especially one
emotionally, to become extremely upset employed on menial duties.
and irrational. When I told her, she wigged YEGG, n (col) - a thief, especially a burglar or
out, and started screaming and throwing safecracker.
stuff at me. YENTA, n (col) - a person, especially a woman,
WINDBREAKER, n - windcheater. Originally a who gossips or talks continually.
trademark. YO-YO, n (col) - a stupid, unpredictsble or zany
WINDSHIELD, n - windscreen. person.
WINE STEWARD, n - another name for wine
WOP, n (col) - an insulting term for an Italian.
WORK OVER, v (col) - to assault or beat up sys-
WORLD SERIES, n - in baseball, a best-of-seven Z
playoff between the two winning teams of
the National League and the American ZAFTIG or ZOFTIG, n - curvsceous, sexually ap-
League to decide the championship of the pealing in a plump well-rounded way. From
major leagues. Comparable to a Test Match Yiddish zaftig, literally juicy.
in cricket. ZEE, n - zed, the Iast letter of the alphabet.
WORM FENCE, n - a fence of crossed beams ZILCH, n (col) - nothing, zero.
supporting one another and forming a zig- ZINGER, n (col) - 1 . 3 witty, often caustic re-
zag pattern. Also called a snake fence. mark or an awkward question. 2. a sudden
WRANGLER, n - a cowboy or herder, especially revelation or turn of events.
one who breaks in wild horses. ZIP CODE, n - postal code.
WRITE-IN, n - the act of voting for a person by ZIT, n (col) - a pimple or bteckhead.
writing his name on a ballot. ZONED or ZONED OUT, adj (col) - 1. high on
wuss or WUSSY, v (col) - a weakling. Don't be drugs. 2. dazed, oblivious. He hasn't slept
such a wuss, just tell him you don't agree. in 72 hours, no wonder he's zoned.
Shortened from pussy-wussy. ZONK, v (col) - to stupefy or stun, or to intoxi-
Cate with drugs or alcohol.
ZUCCHINI, n -courgette. Pronounced zoo-kee-

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Suggestions for Further Reading
Baugh, Albert C. and Cable, Thomas: McCrum, Robert; Cran, William;
A History of the English Language. MacNeil, Robert:
London, 1951. The Story of English.
London, 1986.
Cheshire, Jenny (ed.):
English Around the World. Marckwardt, Albert H.:
Cambridge, 1991. A Common Language: British and
American English.
Crystal, David: London, 1964.
The English Language.
London, 1988. Mencken, H.L.:
The American Language, 4th ed.
Ekwall, Eilert: New York, 1936.
American and British Pronunciation.
Upsala, 1946. Rubinstein, Mary: Twenty-First Century
American English Compendium.
Finnegan, Edward: Rockville, 1997.
Attitudes Towards English Usage:
The History of a War of Words. Strevens, Peter: British and American
New York, 1980. English.
London, 1972.
Flexner, Stuart:
/ Hear America Speaking. Trudgill, Peter and Hannah, Jean:
New York, 1976. International English: A Guide to the
Varieties of Standard English, 3rd ed.
Lewis, J. Windsor: London, 1994.
A Concise Pronouncing Dictionary of
British and American English.
London, 1972.
McArthur, Tom:
The Oxford Companion to the
English Language.
Oxford, 1992.

And on the Internet...

A wealth of useful recent material is available on the Internet. Sites come
and go, but the following are some of the better ones dealing with the
subject at the time of printing this book:
Dictionary of American and British Usage:
English (British)-American Dictionary,
Notes on American English:
United Kingdom English for the American Novice:
Other titles
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Bilingual Translations 5 levels
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Guide to Phrasal Verbs
Phrasal Verbs - exercises
English Verbs one by one
My English telltale
Conversation in Action - Let's Talk (for teachers)
English irregular Verbs
English Grammar 3 levels
Didactical crosswords
Graded reading - French
Stanley, book of exercises
Stanley, Teacher's book
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In the Third Place (children)
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