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Blog de inglés Iberlingva
22 Feb 2017

A crash course in London slang

Any linguist who has travelled somewhere specifically to improve their second language knows that there is a large discrepancy between the formal vocabulary you are taught in class and what is actually spoken on the street. Although these sub-languages are constantly morphing, adapting to new trends and cultures, here we present a passing snapshot of the current slang used in and around London (in some cases further North also).

Banging (adj.) – a highly positive adjective; fantastic [synonym: sick]

Beef (n.) – hostile disagreement; used with the verb ‘to have’

Broke (adj.) – lacking in money [synonym: skint]

Ends (n.) – the area where you reside or are from; usually prefixed with the, these, my or your

Fag (n.) – cigarette; N.B. In the US, this word is used as a derogatory term for homosexuals.

Fam (n.) – abbreviation of ‘family’, however it is usually reserved for people whom you are closest with and trust deeply, not necessarily literal family members; used to refer to a friend you are with [synonym: mate]

Fit (adj.) – physically attractive, usually used to refer to people [synonym: piff]

Fresh (adj.) – highly approved by someone; new [synonym: sick]

Garms (n.) – short for garments [see ‘wavey’]

Gutted (adj.) – deeply disappointed

Having a laugh (expr.) – making a joke; an expression of disbelief

Hench (adj.) – muscular, strong

Knackered (adj.) – really tired, exhausted

To kotch (vb.) – to chill out, relax [synonym: to jam]; may refer to staying the night with someone

Kretin (n.) – idiot, stupid person

Legit (adv.) – abbreviation for ‘legitimately’

Lit (adj.) – amazing, awesome

Lush (adj.) – lovely, great, amazing; frequently used in Northern England

Peak (adj.) – bad, unfortunate

Quid (n.) – one Great British Pound sterling; not unique to London

Sitch (n.) – abbreviation of ‘situation’

Standard (expr.) – another word for “of course”/”obviously”

To throw shade (expr.) – to insult

Tight (adj.) – shortened from “tight-fisted”; financially stingy

Tune (n.) – music you love beyond belief

Vexed (adj.) – incredibly angry, agitated, annoyed

Wavey (adj.) – cool, unique, enviable [often a prefix to garms]; drunk or high

Remember that these words and phrases are generally used by the younger English-speaking generations, and that they are unlikely to be shared with American youth. Whereas a formal language may be spoken in different accents and across multiple continents and still be understood internationally, slang relies on the specific culture and unique influences of a country, city or even a neighbourhood. It is therefore subject to substantial change according to location.



Gabbi Brinning,
English Teacher, Iberlingva


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