15 IDIOMS & SAYINGS USED IN BRITISH ENGLISH

British Idioms and Sayings15 IDIOMS & SAYINGS USED IN BRITISH ENGLISH

Here are 15 idioms & sayings used in British English. In English, we use a lot of idioms and sayings. We have no idea where most of the saying came from, but over time they became commonly used. Many are used in informal English, but they can also be used just as easily in business situations. 

The terms below are generally British English, but some are spreading into American English.

Have fun reading the sayings below. Think about how you could use them when speaking in English. Listen to your English speaking colleagues to see if they use any of them and try using them yourself when speaking in English.

“Bog-standard”

Something that is “bog-standard” is completely ordinary with no frills, embellishments, or add-ons.

It is a fancy car?’ ‘No it is just the bog standard one with not extra features.’

“Botch job”

A repair or a quick fix job that’s been completed in a hurry and will probably fall apart reasonably soon is considered a “botch job.”

It can also be related to business when a person tried to maybe put to get a sales presentation fast but did a really bad job, or to surgery, especially plastic surgery.

The movie star had a face lift and its was a real botch job so her career was ruined.’

“Chockablock”

Something full to the brim, or crammed, could be described as “chockalock.”

This is sometimes shortened to “chocka.”

The train was chockablock this morning’ ‘I felt chockablock after that big meal’

“Codswallop”

Something untrue — often made up for dramatic effect.

No one know for sure where the word came from but it became more popular after being used in a TV program in the late 1950’s

Don’t speak a load of Codswallop’

“Full of beans”

Someone that’s energetic, lively, or enthusiastic might be described as “full of beans.”

You can just imaging your boss saying it at an early morning meeting:)

So are we all feeling full of beans this morning?’

“Gutted”

Not to be confused to actually gutting something.

To feel gutted means to be extremely disappointed, let down, depressed over something that has happened

I worked on that deal for months and was gutted when the buyer pulled out’

“Nick”

To nick means to steal. It can be a physical object or an idea.

Again, no one knows where the term came from, but in the UK the Nick is also a term for Prison. 

My boss took all the credit for the great idea that he nicked from me!’

“Pear-shaped”

A situation, event, plan, that has gone badly wrong .

It is not known exactly when the phrase started, but it has been used more since the 1980s, especially when referring to finances and is being used more and more in North America.

Well, that presentation went a bit pear shaped.’

“Round”

To buy a round is an important term to know when at a bar with your colleagues. Often it is easier if one person asks what everyone wants to drink and goes up to the bar to order and pay for them. That is known as getting a round of drinks. The next person gets the next round. 

So, I’ll get this round of drinks.’

“Shambles”

A disorganised mess or chaotic event or place.

That meeting was a complete shambles.’ ‘The teenagers room was a total shambles’

“Skive”

“Skiving” is the act of avoiding doing your work, often by leaving early.

He got fired because he was always skiving off work’

“Sod’s law”

A British axiom that boils down to the idea that: “If anything can go wrong or happen, then it definitely will go wrong or happen.”

“Sod’s law” is often used to explain bad luck or freakish acts of misfortune. This is more commonly known in the US as “Murphy’s law.”

I have always bought a lottery ticket with the same numbers, but this week I changed my number and the numbers I usually used won the jackpot… well, that’s sods law.’

“Waffle”

When someone makes a great speech while skirting around a subject or saying little of any value, you might say that they’re talking “waffle,” or that they’re “waffling.”

The CEO waffled on and on at the meeting but really didn’t say anything of importance’

“Wally”

Someone doing or saying something silly or being incompetent might be described as a wally.

Don’t be such a wally’

“Zonked”

Exhausted; very tired.

I was so zonked after that business trip I slept all weekend’

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