This tag is for questions related to English as spoken in Great Britain, and sometimes Ireland.

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7
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3answers
128k views

How offensive is it to call someone a “slag” in British English? (NSFW)

One more colorful slang term I gleaned from the British movie I recently watched is slag. In the movie, it was used in curses like, "Fuck-ing dogs! Slags." "Right slag, that one." Now I know via ...
6
votes
4answers
358 views

Is it acceptable to use a single hyphen as a dash (as the BBC does)?

Is it acceptable to use a single hyphen as a dash (as the BBC does)? Example from BBC News: Venezuela - a major oil producer - has been heavily affected by the fall in oil prices on ...
6
votes
2answers
246 views

What is the origin of using the word “our” preceding a first name when speaking directly to the person so named

In the BBC's Keeping Up Appearences, and Lark Rise to Candleford, "our Rose" and "our Laura" are used in both the third person and second person. The usage seems understandable as a third person ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Identifying accents of British actors

As an American, a large part of my impoverished experience of British accents comes from ancient BBC comedy imports on PBS. I'd very much like to identify the regional accents the following actors are ...
6
votes
7answers
17k views

Does “pants” more commonly mean “trousers” or “underpants”?

In the UK, I've heard pants being used as slang for underpants (or was it in Bridget Jones' Diary?), whereas in India it almost exclusively means "trousers". Describing the meaning of "put your pants ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Brackets Vs Parenthesis

I came across this question on Meta Stackoverflow, where a discussion was going on in the comments about the terms brackets and parenthesis and the right usage of them. It seems there is a different ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Accurate British English term for an oblong deck from shore out into a lake where you tie your rowing boat

This is a typical image of the structure in question: There are also some variations, shown in this Google image search. But I'm after the often not very wide, some 20-30 feet long wood ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the meaning, history, and current popularity of “of a Monday” (or Tuesday, or Wednesday, etc.)?

I was watching a 1934 Hollywood film today and one of the American characters used the phrase, Of a Tuesday. I don't think I'd ever heard an American use this in real life or in a film before then, ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the meaning, and origin, of the phrase “breaking windows with guineas”?

Regarding the phrase: Breaking windows with guineas What is its meaning, and origin? The 'guineas' part of it might mean more to the British audience on this site than the others.
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Differences between dialects

I'm Italian and I'm trying to improve my English, but I have some difficulty speaking with and understanding people of different countries. For example when I study English in books it seems to be ...
5
votes
6answers
4k views

Are these phrases too posh-sounding for conversational English?

I'm German, and I try to speak British English as best I can, it's the language I've learned at school, and I'm always trying to be consistent. However, much of my English vocabulary and phrasing I ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

“Sport” vs “Sports” Origin

I was recently reading this article on the use of "math" vs. "maths" as a collective noun (Americans use the former, Brits the latter). However, the trend seen in "math/maths" is reversed in ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the origin of “have a gander”? (When meaning “look”.)

The phrase "have a gander" meaning "have a look" is common in the UK. (Also can be "have a goosey gander" or just "have a goosey".) What is the origin/meaning of this phrase? I always assumed that it ...
4
votes
3answers
914 views

Is it possible to learn English by just listening and speaking (without knowing formal grammar rules) [closed]

My native language is Chinese. Most people in my country grow up without having been taught formal grammar. I am surprised to find foreigners being taught Chinese and learning grammar rules that even ...
4
votes
1answer
7k views

Where does the word “minge” come from?

The slang term minge in the sense of quim dates from the beginning of the 20th century. However, neither the OED nor Etymonline has any idea where it came from. Here are two of the OED’s citations: ...
4
votes
3answers
6k views

Second name or Surname in British English

I have recently been told by a Londoner that "second name" is the most common way of referring to one's surname. She explained that it arose from the fact that most people just use their first and ...
4
votes
2answers
551 views

What is the students' jargon or abbreviation for assignments made up of “only” data downloaded from the internet in English? (If it exists)

Japanese students call a report and essay made up by only putting data downloaded from the Internet e.g. passages from Wikipedia put together without including their own thoughts or creative ideas, a ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Etymology and meaning of the word “snog”

Having looked to urban dictionary, witionary, online etymology, dictionary.com, Wikipedia and wordfreaks.tribe.net, I have found a wide variance in the etymology and definition of the word snog. I ...
4
votes
3answers
473 views

What were the British equivalents of Webster's dictionary and the Simplified Spelling Board that standardized spelling and usage?

I am familiar with questions about when to double 'l' and differences between British and American spellings. However, I stumbled across this image. As you can see, several words end in the double ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Etymology of “nutmeg”?

What's the etymology of the British informal usage of the word "nutmeg" as a verb to mean "kicking a ball through a player's legs", usually used in football? It doesn't seem to bear any relation to ...
4
votes
2answers
687 views

Is it true that Cockney English is disappearing? And being replaced with “Jafaican”?

I read a couple of comments to that effect on this Youtube video, which is basically a man ranting in Cockney from the movie Football Factory (2004). The comments bemoan American ignorance about the ...
3
votes
1answer
538 views

“In the cards”, “on the cards” origin(s)

In another question in EL&U "Positives changes on the cards" — meaning? , it came up that at least one of us AmE speakers had always heard this idiom as "in the cards" and never as "on ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

“Definite ninety-nine” - UK English meaning

I've been browsing through older lyrics of Judas Priest songs, namely Rocka Rolla, which has the following lines in a verse: Barroom fighter Ten pint a nighter Definite ninety-nine ...
3
votes
1answer
13k views

Battery is flat

I was born and raised in some anglophone Asian country where people use the word "flat" to describe a battery when no electrical current can be generated by it. Some would even use the word "flat" to ...
3
votes
1answer
196 views

If I go to a Language School, do I go to school?

My friend, aged 21, has just started taking classes at a language school, and will shortly be doing 4 hours each weekday there. It feels very odd to be saying "How's school going?" – we finished ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

British term for 'washroom'? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Washroom”, “restroom”, “bathroom”, “lavatory”, “toilet” or “toilet room” What is the British equivalent of the American 'washroom'? (Besides 'loo', of course, as it is ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Order of preposition in US and UK English

In Britain we'd say He had a black hat on. Speakers of American English are more likely to say* He had on a black hat. The latter just seems wrong to me. Is my intuition correct or are ...
3
votes
5answers
1k views

Use of ! to convey sarcasm vs. emphasis

One, two or even three exclamation marks are often added, especially in e-mail, to convey emphasis to phrases such as Thanks!, or No problem!. My problem is that in British English, you could also ...
2
votes
2answers
331 views

Whatever tickles their fancy in the US?

The delightful-sounding tickle your fancy is, I think, one of those rare idioms where the word order can be reversed and its meaning changes; the request: fancy a tickle? said with a raised eyebrow ...
2
votes
1answer
158 views

Is there an AmE/BrE difference whether “by date X” means by the beginning or ending of this date?

A job application in England wants applications to arrive by the 30th. I understand this to mean by the end of the 30th (in London time). The accepted answer to this question appears to indicate the ...
2
votes
2answers
126 views

“Muso” and “Journo” Usage and Origin

I have been watching a lot of British TV recently and I hear the word "journos" for journalists and "musos" for musicians, but I don't ever hear these words in the US. From my understanding they don't ...
2
votes
1answer
394 views

How is the spelling of a hyphenated word read?

How is the spelling of a hyphenated word usually read out loud? For example, with "Anglo-Saxon", do we say: "It is spelt as ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

“Named for” vs. “named after”

As a Brit, I'm used to the phrase named after being used to say how something got its name. For example, in Wikipedia's List of eponymous roads in London, we read that Addison Road is named after the ...
2
votes
5answers
3k views

How do students respond to the “roll call” and how do you pronounce it?

I have two questions. In the UK, to do (or is it read?) a roll call is commonly referred to as "calling out the register". It's been so long since I was a child that I'm not absolutely sure how ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Are commas considered superfluous in legal documents?

I'm in the process of purchasing a house and reading through the contract, I can't find a single instance of the comma. (As if legalese wasn't hard enough to read already!) This includes the ...
2
votes
4answers
7k views

“Fall term”, “autumn semester”, “autumn term” or “fall semester”?

Please clarify which is UK English, American English, and where and when to use which: Fall term (American English?) Autumn semester (UK English?) Autumn term (wrong?) Fall semester (wrong?)
2
votes
3answers
4k views

Where can I find a list of capitalisation rules for pure British writing?

Is there any quality English orthography book that contains rules for capitalising in pure British English? I’ve noticed that an American newspaper capitalises every word in the title of an article ...
2
votes
1answer
7k views

Members’ Benefits vs Member’s Benefits [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Where should the apostrophe go in the word “beginners” in “beginners guide”? I’m currently developing a site which has a membership scheme which ...
2
votes
2answers
660 views

'to'-infinitive without the verb

I seem to recall reading somewhere that using a to-infinitive with the actual verb omitted (because it's clear from context) — as in He asked me to go, but I don't want to. (1) — is ...
2
votes
2answers
289 views

Is it safe to use the British standard for numbering in a novel with a worldwide audience? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Billion and other large numbers Where I am from (Barbados) I grew up knowing a Billion to = 1000 000 000 000, not 1000 000 000, and it was some years before I learned to ...
1
vote
3answers
161 views

What is a “lemus”? [closed]

Here's a fragment from "The Complete Fursey" by Mervyn Wall: Other religious settlements were sadly plagued by disembodied spirits, demons, lemuses and fauns snorting and snuffling most fiendishly ...
1
vote
2answers
185 views

A “Frankenstein's monster” similar metaphors

Although originally it's a novel character, a "Frankenstein's monster" became a metaphor for "something that cannot be controlled and that attacks or destroys the person who invented it." However, are ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

What is the vocative expression we can use to attract the attention of someone whose name or surname we don't know?

I was reading one of my old English Language books when I came across this: "Madame, Señora, Signora, etc, are foreign vocative expressions and they have no equivalent, in either ...
1
vote
4answers
294 views

In England, do people use “people” or “persons” more?

In England, do people use "people" or "persons" more? And do you use the phrase "Keep it on your person"?
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Mixing British and American spellings in writing [closed]

I like color more than colour, but I like favourite more than favorite. For me it is better to write My favourite color is blue. Is it wrong to mix British and American spellings in writing, and ...
1
vote
0answers
111 views

Correct use of “ise” vs “ize” at the end of words [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are the endings “-zation” and “-sation” interchangeable? I am writing some software code and the rule is that we use UK English in all comments. ...
1
vote
1answer
119 views

Which does ‘rising’ here mean, to stand up or to get angry?

Harry was sitting up on a bed in the hospital wing at school, surrounded by his visitors. Fudge, one of them, started to insult Harry. Did Mrs. Weasley want to prevent him from getting angry or from ...
1
vote
4answers
313 views

What does this mean: “Avoid oral calcium, dairy products, shark cartilage & exercise during the medication.”

I found this behind a medicine. At first thought, the sentence looks like it suggests avoiding exercise during the medication. However, I remember reading somewhere that in US English, when there is a ...
0
votes
1answer
409 views

Asking a “Do you have…” question without do-support

Is the following sentence correct English? Have you the address? The address in question is obvious to the person being asked. It's normal to ask such a question as "Do you have the address?" ...
0
votes
2answers
243 views

What's the British equivalent of American “Formica” for faux wood?

In America, the word "Formica" refers to the laminate wood surface of a certain era. (Correct me if I'm wrong on this, as I'm not an American.) This word has a certain retro feel to it. So it would ...