Ask Wally, he knows his onions about London!
Navigating British Slang: Quid, tube, "you all right", and knowing your onions!
When I first moved to London in the 90's getting to know the language wasn't as easy as one would think. Yes, the Brits speak English, but being familiar with the slang is what will have you feeling "chuffed" in no time!
I remember a time when shopping in Covent Garden at one of the street shops and the clerk said "....that'll be 15 quid" and I stood there looking through all my bills and coins and couldn't find any "quid". Embarrassed and feeling a bit like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman I opened my hands to reveal the numerous currency I was holding and they sheepishly took the 15 pounds from my hands. The clerk gave a wink and said "you have about 30 quid right there". Ah-ha! quid is slang for pounds!
Now, here's a Top Ten list of slang I've learned over the years that makes me a bit more of a Brit!
- Fortnight - Very common British slang term for a period of two weeks. Believe me, when making plans this term is used all the time
- Gutted - A state of extreme despair. "I was super gutted that we couldn't meet the Queen for tea!"
- Nob - Person of high social status, snob. "Some nob in a fancy car nearly splashed me."
- Jammy - Used in place of Lucky when describing someone else.
- Gobsmacked - Incredibly amazed.
- Pissed - Drunk, intoxicated. This one took me a bit of time to get as in the US we use it for angry. Also, Pisser - A good time. Taking the piss - teasing someone.
- Dodgy - Suspicious. "That guy looks a bit dodgy, lets cross over the road."
- Knackered - Tired.
- Tosser/Wanker - Idiot. "Aw he's a bit of a tosser!"
- Know one's onions - To be well versed on a subject. "Ask Wally, he knows his onions about London!"