SparkNotes' Glossary of British Slang
British Sparkler FrankiiDoodle1 had a lot of interesting stuff to say in the comments section about this post, so we asked her to write the official SparkNotes glossary of Northern British slang! Enjoy! —SparkNotes Editors
Disclaimer: Much of the slang featured in this post is used solely in the north of England. If you visit London and use these expressions, chances are good no will know what you are going on about.
"Bairn" — a child. A typically Scottish word adopted by the northern counties.
"Bray" — to beat up. (e.g. "Neb out or I'll bray you!)
“Canny” — good or quite. Something can be canny in itself or it can be canny something, e.g. "canny good."
"Chav" — (pronounced ch-ah-v) — one who wears tracksuits, Fred Perry, Berghaus, and excessive amounts of faux Burberry (for your daily dose of laughter, simply Google “chav” and look at them. Maybe we should start putting them in zoos along with the starved tigers…).
"Clip" — to hit round the back of the head.
"Cockney" — someone from London (technically someone who can hear “the great bell of Bow,” a historic London church).
"Fettle" (verb and noun) — term used to describe someone's current mental state (e.g. "in fine fettle") or to threaten someone (e.g. "I'll fettle you.").
"Geordie" — someone from Newcastle.
"Glegs and Sunnyglegs" — glasses and sunglasses. Personally I think sunnyglegs is a much better word than sunglasses, and that we should get it introduced into the dictionary.
"Gob" — mouth/spit. (If someone says they he's going to gob on you, please don’t let him, however nice it may sound in your head.)
"Haway" — come on. This phrase is featured in the Stadium of Light, the field for the Sunderland Association Football Club (actual football, not this mickey take of rugby which Americans call football). People cheer "Haway the lads." (Unfortunately, it doesn’t work; if you know anything about the Premiership, you’ll know SAFC are frankly rubbish.)
"Hoy" — to throw something (e.g. "I got fed up with him going on at me so I hoyed the iron at him." Disclaimer 2: Please don’t throw irons at people. It is not a good idea.)
"Kets" — sweets (candy)
"Lads and lasses" — boys and girls. These terms are usually used to suggest that a person is young or childish. Also used in the possessive ("wor lass") by men referring to their girlfriends. Disclaimer 3: Girls may be offended by this, so please be careful. Unless you have plans to become the singer of a Queen tribute band, it's best to stay away.
"Lug/Lughole" — Ear/ear hole (Usually quite a violent word, as in "He clipped Michael round the lug").
"Mackem" — someone from Sunderland. Disclaimer 4: Geordies and Mackems have a fierce rivalry. If you are happy with the current configuration of your face, do not call a Mackem a Geordie or vice versa. Do not blame me if you disregard this advice and start to resemble a Picasso.
"Mam/Mum" — Mom. Mam is generally used in the north, whilst mum is used throughout the country (so stop telling us we can’t spell, stupid spell checkers).
"Nebby" — nosy (so butt out!).
"Nick/pinch/half inch" — steal.
"Owt/Nowt" — anything/nothing. Often found together in the phrase "owt or nowt" as in "What are you doing later? Owt or nowt?" (It’s a good one, that, isn’t it?)
“Scousers" — people from Liverpool, usually identifiable by their high-pitched voices and their complaints about someone nicking their trainers.
"Smoggie" — someone from Middlesbrough (so called because of the deep blanket of smog over the town).
"Taking the mickey" — making fun of. I’m sure you can see what the American equivalent is.
"Why aye like" — an expression of shock or surprise at something someone has done (often accompanied by the exclamation that something is “sly”).
"Yous" — the plural of you (I don’t know why they do it either).
What do yous think, Sparklers? Shall we adopt "fettle" as the new "it" word of the US?