Can You Unscramble These UK Slang Words?


By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: alashi/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

About This Quiz

As anyone who has tried to read anything in Middle English knows, the language of Shakespeare has been evolving for hundreds of years. Rhymes shift, words become more or less formal, and loan words come in from other languages. Neologisms describe new objects and ieas, whlie concepts and items join forces to create portmanteau words. English is also a languages that is especially prone to picking up phrases and even turns of phrase from foreign tongues, without adjusting its own rules, thus making much of it irregular. All of this is one reason that picking it up as a second language is considered particularly hard.

Slang, of course, makes this even more confusing. British slang is so bewildering that even many Brits can't quite keep up with it, and in the internet age, it's simply changing faster than ever. Sometimes British slang is so confusing that it seems certain it must have been made up to bamboozle the listener, but if you're really on the ball, you will just about be able to keep up. That's why we've given you both help and hindrance in this quiz, in the form of a scrambled version of the answer. If you can identify all these slang terms, you're either a Brit yourself, or you're qualified to become one immediately!

What's two slices of bread with meat between them: tubyt?

A "butty" is a slang word for a special kind of sandwich typically made by folding one piece of bread around. It usually enjoys a precursor to specify the type of sandwich. For example, "I'm dying for a bacon butty!" The etymology is from "butter," without which the sandwich is not technically a proper butty.


How does a Brit express that they are very disappointed: degugt?

When you receive very disappointing or crushing news, you can often feel your stomach physically curl up, such that it feels as though your guts have been torn out. This is the etymology behind "gutted," which is a way of conveying that you are extremely upset.


Where would you go for potatoes and fish: pipych?

The fish and chip shop was introduced to the British palate in the 1800s by a Jewish immigrant, who invented it in London's East End. Now it is a national staple, and there are beloved "chippies" all over the country. It is not a fancy way to eat dinner, but it is delicious!


When something is really awesome, what is the British slang to say so: gikccran?

If something is "cracking," it is very good indeed. "That was a cracking show." "Cracking cheese, Gromit!" You can also use "cracking" in conjunction with another adjective to mean "very," as in, "That was a cracking great night!"


When something or someone just isn't quite right, they're this: usss?

This slang word should not be confused with the term "to suss out," though they do share an origin in the word "suspect." Correct use of "suss" (without any "out") looks like this: "Should we drive the car over that bridge? The supporting beams are a bit suss."


Do you know this British term for a massive mistake: plaubls?

A balls-up means something has gone fantastically wrong, as in, "The party was going well before gatecrashers came and puked everything. It was a total balls-up after that." You can substitute almost any word for "balls," however, as in, "It was a total arse-up."


How might a Brit indicate that they are very tired: deckranrek?

Are you so tired that you are like a farm animal who has become useless and is now at risk of being sent to the knacker's yard? If so, then you are "knackered." The rather cruel etymology of this term is no longer implied, however, so feel free to use it in the presence of vegans!


When you feel very pleased, you're this. What is it: fufched?

If you are absolutely delighted about something, you might well be "made up," but you can also be "chuffed." You can even be "well chuffed" or "dead chuffed." It probably comes from the military, and dates back to early Victorian times. Generally speaking, this is a risky word to use if you are not Cockney or Northern, as it can sound inauthentic.


Can you find a lovely hot beverage: pupac?

Who'd like a cuppa? A cup of tea is the most British response to anything, so of course, there is a slang term for it. If you offer someone a "cuppa," they will surely believe that you are a true Brit — or at least, a true friend of Britain.


If a British person is feeling too lazy to do something, how do they say it: bedecrasten?

This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you truly can't be arsed, it means that you are so unconcerned with doing the action at hand that getting off your behind (that is, your "arse") is simply too much effort.


What term would a Brit give to some friendly joshing: nabst?

If you like to make fun of your mates, then you are undoubtedly already engaging in a little "bants." However, bants is never mean and should not be used to disguise a genuine grievance. Bants is lighthearted and friendly. Be warned, though, the British love their curse words, so if in the course of bants, they call you something unbelievably rude (by overseas standards), it may simply be a term of endearment.


If you're very nervous, you might say you have which of these: woollyclebs?

Regular readers of the 1823 edition of "Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue" will know that "collywobbles" dates back at least that far. It is sometimes believed to be related to coal dust, but it probably comes from "colly," referring to colic. That is, if you're very nervous, your tummy feels wobbly as if you have colic.


When someone's temper has the better of them or they're acting like a crazy person, a Brit says they've done this: lostohelpos?

Losing the plot has a literary origin. A writer who has lost the plot is inevitably doomed to write nonsense. A reader who has lost the plot has clearly forgotten what they're doing. Either way, it means you're not acting in a manner consistent with what past events or the current situation warrant.


Can you unscramble this slang word that means being seriously annoyed: defmif?

Are you profoundly disappointed, annoyed, or irritated? You may be "miffed." There is typically an inciting incident in cases of feeling "miffed," as it is not just a state that you achieve on your own. Thus, "I'm seriously miffed at this traffic" is fine, but, "I woke up feeling miffed today" is not. You also cannot "miff" someone. It is only used in the past tense to refer to one's own state.


What is the right British term for sleeping: ipk?

Kip generally refers to a nap, but it can also mean sleeping all night. The most common construction is "getting some kip." It may hail from a Danish or German background and originally refer to a bed.


Who is your best pal: tmae?

British people used to have pals and chums, but these days they have mates! A mate can be anything from a buddy to a bestie to some bloke you just met, to whom you would like to be friendly. It can also be said harshly, as in, "Mate, I don't want to buy a watch. Leave me alone, or I will call the police."


Can you find a British term here for something that is either crappy, illegal, or both: gyodd?

If something is of dubious origin, or if someone looks like the sort of person who is more likely to mug you than give you directions, this is "dodgy." Something that is particularly suspect may be "well dodgy."


What word would a Brit use to suggest they are very inebriated: lodilert?

If you are totally "trollied," it means you're so drunk that they will have to put you on a trolley (i.e., a gurney) to get you home. However, a fun linguistic quirk of UK English is that almost any word can mean you are drunk. For example, "I was utterly walloped/whirled/kidneyed last night." It's not a real turn of phrase, but if you say it right, everyone will understand.


Which of these might you say if you're really stunned: bogamdecks?

Your "gob" is your mouth, so if you are "gobsmacked," then you are so surprised it is as if you have been smacked there. This slang term appears to date back to the 1930s and is still in common use today.


This phrase means everything will be handled, just like that: unucroobblesy?

The "Bob" in this saying is Prime Minister Robert Cecil, who in 1887 made his nephew Arthur Balfour the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Balfour may or may not have been qualified, but Bob was his uncle, so he got a prestigious job. The phrase thus came into being as a way of saying everything will be fine for you, as in, "Just change the oil and Bob's your uncle!" There is no longer an implication, as in Balfour's case, that you do not deserve things to be fine.


Which of these means a person who is stupid, slow, or simply has made a bad decision: klerpon?

A plonker is someone who does or believes in stupid things. They're generally not malevolent, just incompetent and prone to listening to bad advice. This is thus a more patronizing than vicious term.


Can you find a slang term meaning an upper-class person: offt?

If you are very upper-class and not very nice, you are a "toff." This is a negative term for someone who has a lot of money and connections but didn't earn them. It may hail from the fact that rich people could afford snuff, which caused their noses to drip a toffee-colored fluid, hence "toffee-nosed," but it is more likely that "toffee-nosed" comes from "toff" (with their nose in the air), not the other way around.


Which term means a crazy person: retunn?

Are you bonkers? Have you gone bananas? Did you lose the plot? You might be a nutter! A nutter is a mad person. This slang hails from the 1950s. It is usually pejorative but can be a compliment to someone who has done something very brave, but also arguably stupid. For example, "You climbed Mount Everest naked? You're a complete nutter."


Which of these is a British slang word for money: diqu?

"Quid" is directly analogous to "buck," and refers to pounds. It comes from Latin, as in "quid pro quo," thus implying a question about what you will get in return for something. For example, "That'll be five quid, mate."


If you promise to phone someone, how might you say it: leaboulegivy?

These days, your phone makes just about any sound you want it to make, but initially, phones used bells. Thus, "give you a bell" became a way of telling someone you would call them up. The bells are no more, but the phrase remains.


Can you find a British slang term meaning "goodness" or "wow": yelimb?

Barrère and Leland record the first use of "blimey" in 1889 in their "A Dictionary Of Slang, Jargon And Cant." It is another Cockney term and, like "crikey," is used to get out of blaspheming. It is a contraction of "God blind me," an expression of surprise. It began as "cor blimey," but these days you are more likely to hear just "blimey," though it is no longer a very popular word.


Which of these slang terms means something is delightful and relaxing: yublyv boell?

This Cockney phrase has its origins in the sitcom "Only Fools and Horses," in which a pair of ne'er-do-well brothers, Del Boy and Rodney Trotter, slightly alter the slogan for a drink named Jubbly. The phrase is now pretty universal, and even non-Cockney Brits say it regularly!


Which one of these means a really stupid person: kwacocz?

This delightful term hails from the North, and it means someone is a bit of a twit, but not too bad. "Don't park your car across the line and take up two spaces, you wazzock" is a good example. It means you've done something bad, but you are probably not irredeemable.


How do Brits call something total drivel: stoh?

If something is absolute drivel, it is tosh. An example of correct usage: "That op-ed is total tosh, they should fire the writer." This is a mild word and safe for polite company.


How does our British friend tell us they're very enthused about something: ggginga?

If you have a very strong lust for something, particularly the touch of a partner, you are deemed to be "gagging" for it. The etymology here is rather NSFW, so we will have to leave the specifics to your imagination.


Which of these is British slang for, well, Britain: ithlgyb?

"Blighty" means the UK, as in the war song, "Take me back to dear old Blighty!" This term originates from the British presence in India and is a distortion of an Urdu word, "vilayati" that refers to foreigners, specifically Brits. In a manner fairly consistent with Britain's attitude to India at the time, the word was misspoken, then changed, and "Blighty" was the result.


This is a term of Cockney origin, meaning "wow" or "gee!" Which is it: yicker?

This is a lovely way of avoiding blasphemy and is entirely safe for polite company. "Crikey" hails from "Christ," and was a word developed in the Cockney dialect to be able to express surprise without offending the Lord, or the ears of anyone present.


What is this British slang for something totally great: doclobsglosk?

Why are the dog's bollocks so great? This phrase acknowledges that there is a reason that the dog spends so much time paying attention to them (so to speak). It is important to note that only the dog's bollocks are good—all other bollocks are bad. For example, "That song is bollocks" means the song is terrible. "That song is the dog's bollocks" means the song is splendid.


Which word refers to a place of tertiary education: terivynuist?

If you call a place of tertiary education "school" in the UK, nobody will know what you mean and assume you are referring to primary or secondary educational institutions. Even "college" can refer to the final two years of secondary school, Thus, "university" is the only safe bet, making "uni" the only available slang term.


What British slang word means something a little irreverent: hekyce?

"Cheeky" is, of course, a non-slang word, and refers to impertinent behavior, typically on the part of a child. However, when it is used in a specific way, it becomes slang. Examples would be, "A bird just stole my sandwich! Cheeky bugger!" or perhaps, "Would anyone else care for a cheeky cocktail before dinner?"


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