British Lessons


“God, it’s positively cracking out there today, innit?”

“Uhhhh, what?”

This is a recent conversation I had with a client who’s from Northern England. “Cracking” she explained, is what certain Brits say when it’s so hot outside it could crack the flagstones and pavement. An extremely warm day – and they do have them across the pond! – would be termed “cracking the flags!” by the hot and cranky Brits up North.

One of my favorite (or should I say favourite?) games to play with my international clients is about idioms and phrases. While in London a few weeks ago, in addition to a trip to this fabulous restaurant and this hilarious show, I had the pleasure of working with clients from London and Northern England. As Americans, we tend to think of all of England as one riotous Kate Middleton and Harry Potter-fest where everyone talks like Eliza Doolittle and wears Union Jack dresses and says “Blimey!” into his glass of beer. Not only is that all pretty much completely wrong (minus the K-Mid, because yes, she’s on every rag in every Waitrose about town) but it also ignores the differences between London and the rest of the country.

For example, baps. In London, a bap is a type of bread roll used for sandwiches; it’s like a flatter English muffin or crumpet. Up North, a bap is a breast. My client told of purchasing a giant bag of 24 fresh, soft baps to take home to her husband, just because she thought it was so hilarious. She said,”for all that men chase after women to get at their goods, in London I found out you could just buy them at the store!”

A few other hilarious phrases and how they differ from the North and South.


North: a certain brand of trash can

South: a certain brand of woman – a large, ugly one – with whom you’d never want to sleep. Ever.

Now, then!

North: Hi!

South: a transitional phrase that moves you from one sentence to another.


North: Lady bits

South: Just a plain ol’ woodland creature

Having a bit of a strop

North: An epic adult temper tantrum

South: Huh?

Know of any other fun idioms and phrases from abroad? I’d seriously love to hear them in the comments!

Jubilee Queen print from this great Etsy shop!

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