Brits and Americans dress the same, eat at the same chain restaurants and pass music back and forth across the Atlantic. But the second we Brits open our mouths, all bets are off. The aim of these unscholarly pages is to guide you through the jungle of British slang, uncovering the etymology but also illuminating the correct usage. And if it doesn’t accomplish that, at least you’ll be aware that when a British citizen describes you as a “wally,” a “herbert,” a “spanner,” or a “bampot,” he’s not showering you with compliments. Knickers in a Twist is as indispensable as a London city guide, as spot-on funny as an episode of The Office, and as edifying as Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
Screenwriter Jonathan Bernstein’s collection of Cockney rhyming slang, insults culled from British television shows of yore, and regional and “high British” favourites provides hours of educational, enlightening, even lifesaving hilarity.
Incompetent execution of a relatively simple task; also a delicious repast.
BETTER THAN A POKE IN THE EYE WITH A SHARP STICK
Another way of reminding an ungrateful recipient that the paltry amount he is receiving for, say, compiling a list of British slang is better than nothing at all.
SICK AS A PARROT
Horribly disappointed; most frequently employed by heartbroken UK football fans after their hopes of international glory are once again dashed.
FANCY THE PANTS OFF
To sexually desire someone so intensely that their clothes spontaneously disappear. Only the first four words of the previous sentence are technically accurate.
Jonathan Bernstein is a Los Angeles-based author, screenwriter and journalist.