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.