‘Colder than a witch’s tit’ and other British phrases set to die out

A new poll has revealed a list of traditional British sayings which may become extinct despite the UK having one of the most rich and diverse languages in the world.

By Bill McLoughlin
A new poll has revealed a list of traditional British sayings which may become extinct despite the UK having one of the most rich and diverse languages in the world.

According to a study, there are 50 phrases that are in jeopardy of being lost from the English language.

Of those 2,000 people asked, 78 percent have never used the phrase “pearls before swine”.

A further 71 percent said they had never used “colder than a witch’s tit” or “nail your colours to the mast”.

In the poll, conducted by Perspectus Global, 70 percent do not wave goodbye with a “pip pip”.

A further 68 percent of Brits said they had never heard of or used the phrase “know your onions”.

Ellie Glason from Perspectus Global, said: “It’s interesting to see from our research, how language evolves and changes over the years.

“It would seem that, many of the phrases which were once commonplace in Britain, are seldom used nowadays.”

While a series of phrases may now become extinct, four out of five Brits believe the UK has the most descriptive language in the world.

The survey was based on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults, aged between 18 and 50.

British sayings such as “colder than a witch’s tit” and “a dog’s dinner” at risk of dying out.

BRITAIN’S ENDANGERED SAYINGS

1.       Pearls before swine 78% (never use the phrase)

2.       Nail your colours to the mast 71%

3.       Colder than a witch’s tit 71%

4.       Pip pip 70%

5.       Know your onions 68%

6.       A nod is as good as a wink 66%

7.       A stitch in time saves nine 64%

8.       Ready for the knackers yard 62%

9.       I’ve dropped a clanger 60%

10.   A fly in the ointment 59%

11.   Keen as mustard 58%

12.   A flash in the pan 57%

13.   Tickety boo 57%

14.   A load of codswallop 56%

15.   A curtain twitcher 56%

16.   Knickers in a twist 56%

17.   Dead as a doornail 55%

18.   A dog’s dinner 55%

19.   It’s chock a block 55%

20.   Storm in a teacup 55%

21.   Could not organise a p*** up in a brewery 54%

22.   Not enough room to swing a cat 54%

23.   Flogging a dead horse 54%

24.   Toe the line 54%

25.   Popped her clogs 54%

26.   Drop them a line 53%

27.   Steal my thunder 53%

28.   A few sandwiches short of a picnic 53%

29.   A legend in one’s own lifetime 52%

30.   Be there or be square 52%

31.   Fell off the back of a lorry 52%

32.   A bodge job 52%

33.   Eat humble pie 52%

34.   Having a chinwag 52%

35.   Put a sock in it 52%

36.   Mad as a Hatter 51%

37.   Spend a penny 51%

38.   Cool as a cucumber 51%

39.   It’s gone pear shaped 51%

40.   It cost a bomb 51%

41.   Raining cats and dogs 51%

42.   See a man about a dog 51%

43.   It takes the biscuit 50%

44.   He’s a good egg 50%

45.   Snug as a bug in a rug 49%

46.   Chuffed to bits 49%

47.   Have a gander 49%

48.   Selling like hot cakes 49%

49.   Pardon my French 48%

50.   A Turn up for the books 45%

Source: ‘Colder than a witch’s tit’ and other British phrases set to die out

British Slang: It’s Bucketing Down – Lovely British Words and Phrases for Rain

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.

Source: British Slang: It’s Bucketing Down – Lovely British Words and Phrases for Rain

A Londoner guide to 33 popular Cockney rhyming slang terms

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.

1. China plate – mate (friend)

2. Adam and Eve – believe

3. Apples and pears – stairs

4. Boat Race – face

5. Bird lime – time (in prison)

6. Bricks and Mortar – daughter

7. Brown Bread – dead

8. Bubble Bath – Laugh

9. On the floor – poor

10. Scotch mist – pissed

11. Currant bun – sun (also The Sun newspaper)

12. Dicky bird – word

13. Dog and bone – phone

14. Dustbin lid – kid

15. Duke of Kent – rent

16. Hank Marvin – starving

17. Jam-jar – car

18. Lady Godiva – fiver

19. Loaf of Bread – head

20. Mince Pies – eyes

21. Peckham Rye – tie

22. Pony and Trap – crap

23. Rosy Lee – tea

24. Sherbert (short for sherbert dab) – cab

25. Skin and Blister – sister

26. Tea leaf – thief

27. Trouble and strife – wife

28. Vera Lynn – gin

29. Whistle and flute – suit (of clothes)

30. Wonga – cash

31. Duck and dive – hide/skive

32. Lump of ice – advice

33. Pleasure and pain – rain

Source: A Londoner guide to 33 popular Cockney rhyming slang terms – MyLondon

The most confusing slang words for money, and where the terms come from 

The study of 2,000 adults via OnePoll also found 47 per cent think the language of money is evolving, with 28 per cent agreeing that as new words for money are created, historical or traditional words fall by the wayside.
 
Three in ten also believe the evolution of money and payments over the past 10 years has impacted the words they use every day, for example, when they speak about ‘tapping’ for payment or ‘pinging over’ money.
 
The changing of the linguistic guard also looks set to continue as 41 per cent believe we will have different words for money and payments in 20 years’ time as technology continues to evolve.

As technology brings new words in, older words are falling out of favour with younger age groups, with ‘tuppence’ used by 54 per cent of people aged over 55 compared to just 16 per cent of 18-24-year olds.

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