Although I brought my kids up to know their British heritage, and apparently we did a lot of things that weren’t typically American, I never once chided them for using Americanisms. OK, (just in case they’re reading), I did go a bit full-on making sure they said “Please”, which quite a few Americans seem to omit. (Calm down, I’m not saying anyone’s necessarily rude, but I’ve done unscientific surveys on it and the actual word is often absent.)
Anyway, I’ve never understood Brits in the USA who insist on using their British English vocabulary and worse, get annoyed or sneer when Americans don’t understand them. As Rob Lowe illustrates here, some British words are so different from American English that no one would stand a chance if they were trying to guess the meaning.
Trainers – I suppose an educated guess here might yield results since these shoes were originally designed for exercise, but I knew never to use it in the US anyway. Interestingly, despite the plethora of American words that cross the Pond every year, I’m not noticing Brits saying “sneakers” much. Continue reading →
Britain is known as a rainy country, despite the fact that it doesn’t get any more rain than say, Seattle. But it’s true that Britain is very wet. Their soggy maritime climate has shaped their history and culture, and it’s no surprise that like the Inuit with multiple words to describe snow, the British also […]
Britain is known as a rainy country, despite the fact that it doesn’t get any more rain than say, Seattle. But it’s true that Britain is very wet. Their soggy maritime climate has shaped their history and culture, and it’s no surprise that like the Inuit with multiple words to describe snow, the British also have many different phrases to describe the different kinds of rain. Here are our favorites.
Pissing down – In America, variations of the word ‘piss’ are considered quite coarse language, it’s not so in Britain, it’s a much softer connotation. Pissing down is torrential rain.
Bucketing down – A nice way of saying ‘pissing down’ – raining very hard.
Tipping Down – Raining heavily.
Mizzly – A common Cornish phrase for rain – it’s a misty rain that seems to settle on the landscape. It’s doesn’t feel like it’s actively raining, but everything is wet.
Spitting – Very light rain – with only a few drops at a time.
Plothering – A phrase often used in the Midlands or Northeast that describes is heavy rain that, well, plothers (the sound it makes hitting the ground).
Lovely weather for ducks! – A jovial phrase that the terrible weather must be good for something at least – like Ducks.
It’s chucking it down – Heavy and constant rain.
It’s siling/syling down (N. England) – A heavy rain.
Sea Fret – A wet mist or haze that comes inland from the sea (see Mizzly)
Smirr – A Scottish term for an extremely fine and misty rain that comes from a poem by George Campbell Hay.
Scotch mist – A thick mist and drizzling rain.
Letty – A West Country term that says that there is just enough rain to make outdoor work impossible (coming from a word that once meant disallow).
Cow-quaker – A sudden massive rainstorm characteristic during the month of May when the cows are traditionally let back on the fields.
Snell – A Scottish phrase for a very, very cold rain.
Smizzle – A Scottish phrase for a light rain.
Duke of Spain – Cockney Ryhming Slang for rain.
Raining forks’tiyunsdown’ards – A colorful Lincolnshire phrase meaning heavy rain like it’s raining pitchforks.
Confused by the traditional lingo in our city – well here’s some ‘lump of ice’
Whether you have lived in London all of your life, or are new to the city, you’ve probably have heard people speaking Cockney.
There’s literally hundreds of Cockney phrases, which means the native East End language can get pretty confusing.
For those Only Fools and Horses fans you would have heard Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter use rhyming slang including: “would you Adam and Eve it”, which is slang for you won’t believe it.
We’re also used to Danny Dyer tell Queen Vic punters he’s “done some bird” as he plays Mick Carter in EastEnders , or hearing acting legend Michael Caine naturally use the lingo during television interviews.
So to help you navigate your way around the London dialect we’ve comprised a list of of 33 popular Cockney rhyming slang terms and what they mean.
“We had to move away, Cos’ the rent we couldn’t pay.”
What does it mean to be cockney? Pearly kings and queens? Rhyming slang? Pie and liquor? It’s commonly believed that to be truly cockney, you must be born within earshot of Bow Bells, which peal from Cheapside’s St Mary-le-Bow church.
Noise pollution and a lack of maternity wards in the area have rendered this definition practically obsolete. The term ‘cockney’ dates back to the 1300s and was originally used as a pejorative label for the city’s toffee-nosed urban folk. It’s since become a term of endearment primarily referring to the working class, down-to-earth, East Enders of London.
But in 2010, Professor Paul Kerswill of the University of York estimated that the cockney accent would disappear from London “within 30 years”. 10 of those years have now elapsed. Is this native London breed really set to become brown bread? And what has triggered the mass exodus of these former city-dwellers to surrounding counties such as Essex and Kent?
“We’re still alive and kicking, but we’re hanging by a thread”
Think cockney and Pearly Kings and Queens often spring to mind. The tradition, dating back to the Victorian costermongers (street traders) of north London, was founded by Henry Croft, a former workhouse inmate, who — inspired by the style-savvy costermongers who sewed lines of pearls onto their clothes to mimic the rich — chose to go one step further by completely embellishing suits with pearl buttons [ . . . ]