13 British expressions you need to know
If you’re learning English, chances are you’ve come across UK expressions. From classic idioms to regional slang, understanding the nuances of the language is key to mastering the art of conversation. So if you want to sound like a local, here are 13 popular and essential expressions that you need to know.
Why learn British expressions?
There are many reasons to learn British expressions. For one, they can help you better understand the culture and history of the United Kingdom. Additionally, they can make you sound more like a native speaker when speaking with others from the UK. Finally, they can simply be fun to use! Whether you're looking to improve your UK skills or just want to add some variety to your vocabulary, learning this sentence is a great way to do it. If your goal is to become more eloquent, these British literature lessons may be helpful.
13 British expressions to learn
There are certain expressions that are used quite frequently in the UK that you may not be familiar with. Here are a few of the most common British expressions to learn:
- Round the Wrekin ‒ Round the Wrekin is an old English saying that means to go around in circles. The saying is often used when one is trying to avoid something or when they are lost.
- Hit the hay ‒ We all know what it means to be tired. Whether we’ve had a long day at work, a late night out, or we’re just not feeling rested, there are times when we could all use a little more sleep. In the UK, there’s a phrase for this: hit the hay.
- To spend a penny ‒ If you need to use the restroom in the UK, you may hear somebody say that they need to "spend a penny." This phrase is derived from the fact that, up until recently, public restrooms in the UK required users to insert a penny coin into a slot in order to operate the door.
- Faffing around ‒ Faffing around: means you’re either wasting time or not being productive.
- Losing your marbles ‒ If you lose your marbles, you become very confused or forgetful. This is often used to describe one who is losing their mental faculties due to old age.
- Chuffed to bits ‒ If you're ever feeling really pleased with yourself, you can say that you're chuffed to bits. It is used to describe when someone is extremely happy or satisfied with something.
- Bright as a button ‒ "Bright as a button" means very intelligent or quick-witted. It is often used to describe children who are smart beyond their years.
- Brass monkey ‒ A brass monkey is a person or thing that is unpleasant, dirty, or shabby. It is most often used to describe a person who is poor and has a low standard of living.
- The bee’s knees ‒ The term "the bee's knees" is a British phrase that means something is very good or excellent. The phrase is thought to have originated in the early 1900s, and it may be a corruption of the earlier phrase "the cat's whiskers."
- A picnic short of a sandwich ‒ A picnic is not complete without a sandwich. This classic dish is perfect for enjoying the outdoors. There are many different ways to make a sandwich, but the most common is to fill two slices of bread with either cheese, ham, or both.
- To take the biscuit ‒ When we say "to take the biscuit," we mean that something is the last straw or the final insult. This is a very old phrase, dating back to the early 1800s. It's derived from the phrase "to take the bun," meaning to steal something.
- To drop a clanger ‒ it is used to describe a situation in which somebody says or does something that causes embarrassment or offence. It can also be used to describe a situation in which someone makes a major mistake.
- Not my cup of tea ‒ Not my cup of tea is a sentence used to describe something that someone does not like or enjoy. For example, if you don't like country music, you might say "country music is not my cup of tea."
When it comes to learning a new language (no matter if you are advanced or beginner, there are always going to be words and useful, interesting and funny phrases and sentences that trip you up. The same can be said for British English, which has its fair share of phrases that might leave you scratching your head. If you are foreign, these idiomatic sentences need a so-called translation to understand their meaning in the UK, and if you want to sound like a local you need practise.