Weird British Phrases

This past weekend I was skyping with my family back in the US and it was pointed out to me that I’ve picked up some weird british sayings. I was explaining to my dad and my sister that I was going out for a “leaving do” for some co-workers and wouldn’t be around to talk later that day. Of course this sentence sounds pretty normal to me, but they were both fascinated and  tickled by the phrase “leaving do”.

It occurred to me in the US we would call the same event a “going away party”. Here in the UK the term “Do” seems to have replaced the term party. They call the bachelorette party a “Hen Do” and the bachelor party a “Stag Do”. Or they leave out the “Do” all together and say “birthday drinks” or “leaving drinks” implying its a meet up at the local pub to celebrate.

Another strange one I find myself saying is “bog standard” which is a term for normal. I can confess that when I heard it first I thought it was “bob standard” and I said that for a long time – but I have learned the error of my ways. The weirdest part of this phrase is bog is an old word for toilette.

“Chockablock” is a term that Steve still can’t get his head around – but since I learned it when I was young its one I use a lot. It means full or really tightly packed. Like a crowded room would be “chockablock”. No idea where the term comes from – its just what we say.

Cheers! Brits say cheers for everything. When we first came over to look for a place to live we had lunch at a pub and the waiter said cheers when Steve handed him the menu back. The look of confusion on his face what so funny. As americans we think of cheers as a term said when you clink glasses together. Here in the UK its a replacement for yes, thanks and just general acknowledgment.

Now when I say to Steve that I’m going to call my parents I always say I’m going to “ring them”. It’s definitely not an american term but it’s pretty self explanatory – probably why no one has ever asked what I mean when I say it.

After 2 and a half years it shouldn’t surprise me that I’ve picked up some local lingo, but even now I still find myself having to guess when people use some terms. I think it’s just  a part of the expat experience.


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