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My Top 3 Favourite British Slang Words

Posted by on 25 May 2014

When I was new in Malaysia, it took me quite  a while to adjust from American English (the norm in the Philippines) to British English (the norm in Malaysia). Suddenly, I had to start saying ‘lift’ instead of ‘elevator’; add u’s to words like neighbour, labour, and colour; pronounce ‘family’ as ‘femly’ and ‘sure’ as ‘shore’ and shorten the ‘ary’ in words like secretary, military, and elementary.

Twenty-one years later, my English is a hodgepodge of Filipino English, American English, British English, and Malaysian English (Manglish?). Every time I go back to the Philippines, people can’t quite place my accent and, often, I’d have to modify the way I pronounce things to make sure I get understood.

Lately, I notice that I tend to lean more towards the British way of pronouncing things. Perhaps I can blame this on a predisposition for all things British — in no particular order: scones with clotted cream and jam, Sherlock, Harry Potter, Merlin, Jamie Campbell Bower (‘City of Bones’), Benedict Cumberbatch (‘Sherlock’), Sam Claflin (‘Hunger Games’), Jim Sturgess (‘Across The Universe’), One Direction, and The Beatles.

I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for British English and am even learning to distinguish its variations (the Queen’s English versus Cockney, for a start). Watch this adorable little girl demonstrate to us the difference between Cockney and the Queen’s English:

And now in my 21 years of living in Malaysia and learning British English, I can now handpick my favourite informal words (a.k.a. slang) in British English:

1. Wicked
(slang) excellent
He’s got some wicked trainers.

My favourite use of ‘wicked’: When Ron meets Harry for the first time and gets to see Harry’s lighting scar on his forehead.


2. Bloody
(British English, very informal)  used to express anger or to emphasize what you are saying in a slightly rude way

I’ve had a bloody awful week.
It’s a bloody disgrace that some war widows don’t get a decent pension.
Don’t be a bloody idiot!
This computer’s bloody useless! It’s always going wrong.
Don’t you tell me what to do! I’ll do what I bloody well like in my own house.

Click here to see a video of actor Russell Brand “accidentally” swearing (i.e. using the word ‘bloody’) during a TV interview.


3. Brilliant
(British English, informal) very good

“Did you like the film?” “I thought it was brilliant.”
She’s got a brilliant sense of humour.
Oh, brilliant! My parcel’s arrived.

All definitions sourced from Cambridge Dictionaries Online.

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