I was watching a Youtube video on English accents, and in the middle of a Yorkshire one, I think, the author of the video used the word "minging", in what seemed to be an insult. So I have two questions: What's the definition of the word, and does it have any preferred phrases or contexts its used in? I'm looking for more the connotative elements that dictionaries aren't really good at giving.

  • 5
    For those who’ve never heard it spoken, note that minger, minging etc. usually rhyme with singer, singing, etc., occasionally (in some accents) with finger, but never afaik with the j sound of words like binge. That pronunciation would suggest a different and more offensive slang word.
    – PLL
    Apr 7, 2011 at 4:38
  • @PLL: 'whinge'?
    – Mitch
    Apr 7, 2011 at 14:19
  • @PLL What is that "more offensive slang word", pray tell?
    – Uticensis
    Apr 7, 2011 at 17:15
  • 2
    I believe he is referring to minge, thefreedictionary.com/minge
    – Robb
    Apr 7, 2011 at 18:27
  • One also sometimes hears minger and minging with a hard g. Or at least a hint of a hard g. I think it's more of a Northern thing, and is sometimes heard in other ing words too.
    – TomH
    Jul 22, 2011 at 2:20

7 Answers 7


The most common uses are probably to describe people (and to a slightly lesser extent, objects), with the meaning "very ugly" or "repulsive". Less common but still frequently it can mean "smelling very bad".

It is also found frequently as a verb ("That food mings"; "She mings to high heaven"), with either of the senses above, and also commonly with an "-er" suffix to denote a person not possessed of physical beauty ("That psmears is a right minger").

  • Excellent answer, @psmears. Are any particular class of people or people from a particular city characterized by their use of this word, or is it very general amongst the British population?
    – Uticensis
    Apr 6, 2011 at 21:57
  • 1
    Another example of usage being Ali G's description of Sporty Spice as suffering from "mingingitis". Apr 7, 2011 at 1:59
  • 2
    It’s also often used to describe weather: “Ugh, it’s minging out today!” (I don’t think I need to add, appropriate weather is very common in much of the UK.) Geographically, I’d associate minging slightly more with Scotland and northern England, but it’s certainly not restricted to them.
    – PLL
    Apr 7, 2011 at 4:32
  • 2
    @Billare: I don't think there's a particular class association. PLL says it's associated more with northern England, which may be true (and is consistent with the dictionary etymology), but as he hints it's used and understood all over. It's probably fair to say that, as with a lot of slang/colloquial expressions, it's used more by the (relatively) young: it would be unusual to hear someone over, say, 40 use this word (though that may be more common in areas where the word has been in use longer).
    – psmears
    Apr 7, 2011 at 7:10
  • 2
    I believe I once saw Gordon Ramsay on TV giving his advice to a rather misguided young chef who had chosen black pudding with hollandaise sauce as his "signature dish". Having tasted this relvoting combination, Gordon's verdict was "that's minging" - after which he stepped outside and threw up.
    – TomH
    Jul 22, 2011 at 2:27

As a northern English man I use this word all the time. Minging can mean stinking, revolting, honking. Also there is minger, someone who looks unsightly, or failed to wash and smells, or is generally repulsive. You then have other variations such as ming monged when you're drunk. I'm minging when drunk.

Basically you can use it in any context when describing something revolting. He was, she was minging, he is, she is, they were minging etc.


The New Oxford American Dictionary has:

minging (adjective; British; informal): foul-smelling.
• very bad or unpleasant: I'd really like to burn that minging beige jacket he has glued to him all the time.
ORIGIN 1970s: perhaps from Scots dialect ming ‘excrement.’

  • Yours is the only good answer. Also in the main Oxford dictionary, listing the noun as "orig. and chiefly Sc." listing the earlier form meng as 1923 (I've heard this still used "in the wild"); the definition being "Human excrement; an unpleasant smell (now the usual sense)." It arose from the Germanic noun "ming" meaning a mix, used in Scotland to mean a substitute for tar used for smearing or marking sheep. (I imagine it looked and smelt like excrement.)
    – Rich
    Sep 14, 2017 at 1:24

Being 'minging' can also mean to be hungover.

I've also personally used 'minging' or 'ming' to describe:

  • the weather, during a day of heavy rain
  • a particular poor piece of programming
  • London, when particularly bad for air pollution

My brother uses the phase "ming-be-gone" to refer to anti-perspirant. I'm sure he must have picked that up from somewhere, but I've never heard anybody else use it. It's largely for comedic effect.


Minging originates from a British Army term for being drunk. E.g. "I'm absolutely minging!" This morphed to a wider meaning of "in a bad way or in bad order". E.g., if you have very muddy, dirty boots you may say "My boots are minging!" This later translated into Civi street as "dirty, nasty, ugly, smelly etc.".


Just for interest's sake, I live in London - the use of 'minging' and all its other forms was very common 10 years ago, but has since faded, as 'fad' words do ('wicked' meaning good being one that's almost completely disappeared). I still hear it occasionally, but rarely, so seems like its only being used by older people, or in other regions of the UK.


It means "unpleasant" but you can use it in many contexts; ugly or dirty or disgusting (as in food).

  • Welcome to EL&U! We strive to provide objective and well-researched answers. One-liners are likely to be deleted as they show a lack of research. If you expand and provide evidence, this could become a great answer! Take the Tour and see How to Answer for more. Oct 18, 2016 at 16:42

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.