Monday, 18 August 2014

The American’s Guide To British Swearing

On the 4th of July, every American celebrates their independence from their British oppressors by blowing up large chunks of their country with high-grade explosives.  Sure, independence came with some measly benefits such as centuries of freedom and prosperity, but is that really such a good thing?  Since you’ve been gone, us British folks developed a whole complex lexicon with which to insult each other with.  You defectors are really missing out.

However, being the benevolent master that I am, I’ve decided to produce a quick guide to try and bridge the gap between us.  Think of this as a cultural exchange program; by the end of which you’ll be begging to be part of the empire once more.  Allow me to enlighten you in the art of Great British swearing:

Wanker

Acceptable Uses:  “That wanker just nicked 10 quid”; “Joe is a massive wankstain”

Wanker and Wank are very versatile words that can be thrown around in almost any circumstance.  It’s a swift, sharp sounding word which can be used endearingly, or if spoken with enough venom, can produce a weighty insult.  The word “Wankered” is also a suitable term to describe a person’s state of inebriation, as in the phrase “I’m going to go and get absolutely wankered tonight”.

Tosser

Acceptable Uses:  “Don’t be such a tosser”; “Joe’s been tossing off into the septic tank again”

Tosser is a lighter version of Wanker and, as such, should only be used in jest.  If used with vitriol, this swear word doesn’t have the required impact and can backfire on the user in most social situations.  Take caution with this word and only use with close friends.

Twat

Acceptable Uses:  “That skirt’s so short you can almost see her twat”; “Joe’s new hat makes him look like a massive twat”

Twat is another multi-use word with several different meanings.  First of all, a twat can be an unaffectionate name for a woman’s vagina.  Secondly, a person can be accused of acting like a twat if he or she is deemed to be behaving in a negative manner.  Thirdly, if a person is acting like a twat, you are fully entitled to twat them, aka violently assault them with clenched fist.

Minge

Acceptable Uses:  “I bet she has a ginger minge”; “Joe is such a minge bag”

Another derisory term for a lady garden, minge is a very particular word.  Minge is an all-encompassing word which describes the internal and external parts of the vagina.  I have once heard the term “minge bag” used, but it’s effectiveness as an insult was not fully diagnosed.  What is a minge bag?  How do you get them into a bag?  What kind of bag is up to the challenge?

Minger



Acceptable Uses: “That meal was well minging”; “All the girls think that Joe is a minger”

Minger as a concept enjoyed brief popularity in the early noughties thanks to the success of mingers.com.  The word quickly died out, but the term “minging” soon sprung up as an adjective to describe something that is an affront to the senses.  For example, food from Little Chef should always be described as minging.

Knobhead



Acceptable Uses:  "Joe is a massive fucking knobhead"; "A knobhead is Joe"

Taken literally, this can either mean a person who has a penis on their head, or a person who exhibits the same characteristics as the helmet of a circumcised phallus.  Although the exact definition varies from place to place, the insult is used in a similar way.  A knobhead is basically an idiot.

Shite



Acceptable Uses: “Let me in, I’m busting for a shite”; “Joe is an utterly useless sack of shite”

Shite is just a dirtier way of saying shit.  It has all of the same application as the word shit, but rhymes with night.  Feel free to throw it into a conversation for a little bit of variety.

Bloody



Acceptable Uses:  “Bloody hell fire”; “Joe can bloody well piss off”

A northern curse used in cases of mild or extreme anger.  In the north of England, it is a common sight to see someone stub their toe and exclaim “bloody hell”.  It’s a delightful little swear word that most children graduate to before they learn their first fuck.

Bugger



Acceptable Uses:  “Bugger my arse”; “Bugger off Joe, no one likes you”

Bugger is an odd word.  It is usually delivered in a friendly, jovial circumstance, and is often used by adults towards children who are undergoing mischief.  It’s common for a parent to say “you cheeky bugger” if a child does something rude or silly.  However, buggery is also a term for anal sex.  Quite how this word has become acceptable to say in front of kids is rather baffling.

Bawbag



Acceptable Uses:  ”Joe’s wee bawbag is showing”

One from our Scottish cousins, bawbag is basically what it sounds like (bawbag=ballbag=scrotum).  It can be used as an insult or, as I learned during a trip to Edinburgh zoo, can also refer to male underwear.  It’s a lovely word that everyone should use.

This is just a small sample of what you’re missing.  For more information, feel free to submit to the will of our great nation, and we will consider your request.  If you have any questions about anything I’ve written, just send a letter to the Queen.  She’s sure to pass it on when everyone in England goes to Buckingham Palace together for Sunday lunch.  Tally bye!

P.S. If you see Joe, tell him he owes me a tenner.

23 comments:

  1. You forgot "drunkenly". The 4th of July is when we celebrate by "drunkenly blowing up large chunks..."
    We have twat too, but it's not nearly as celebrated a term. There's also shite, but like a lot of British terminology, we took off the extraneous "e".
    I'm all for adopting more filthy Brit neologisms. The more disgusting terminology the better. Just as long as you don't try to hoist any of that garbage cockney rhyming slang on us.

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    1. You're having a Rory McGrath inchya?

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  2. Sometimes being a quiet middle class British chap you can find yourself surounded by strange words. Luckily for me I have spent some time in Wales and have a very useful pair of words that I can use in moments of Crisis . . . . . .TWLL DUN (pronounced sort of . . . tooth dean) . . . Why not pop into a Welsh pub and shout this at some big bloke standing at the bar as a test and see if he chases you. . .

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    1. What's wrong with that? When I went to Cardiff, I bumped into a Welsh guy who said "twll din pob sais", which I took to mean "good day sir". I would have acknowledged him if he wasn't a filthy Welsh peasant, so I carried on down the street, twirling my cane until it struck another man, who again said "twll din pob sais".

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    2. OOoo sorry I did the Dun Not Din, North, South Wales thing . . . . a bit like Arse and Ass with our young American friends, I still think Arse is better, yet it is out of favour these days as decent British Spellings are killed off . . . .(yes OK I cant spell but I try to remain old school).

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  3. "Getting pissed is BRILLIANT!" something a drunken Irishman yelled at me in a bar in London. He meant getting drunk, but I found that out much later. Good list!

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    1. Thanks, and I can confirm that getting pissed is brilliant. I imagine to somebody who isn't a British native, that might sound like "Wetting yourself is BRILLIANT" though.

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  4. Can "wank" also be used as a verb? As in, "I started wanking when I was 12."?
    I won't say that I did, but...oh, who the bloody hell am I trying to kid?
    Guilty as charged.

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    1. It can be used as a verb or an adjective. For example, if I thought that someone had horrible taste in furniture, I could say "that table is wank".

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  5. British curse words are pretty awesome. There's a lot of variety to be had, and what's better, is they all sound amazing with our accents. I can walk up to a bloody yank, call him a tossing wankerbean and he'd probably thank me because I just sound so complimentary.

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    1. I usually find patriotism rather vulgar, but I do swell with pride when I hear someone pull out a uniquely vitriolic combination of swears that could only be produced in the British Isles. It makes me cry into my jam sandwiches.

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  6. When I was in college, I had a roommate from Pakistan who taught me how to curse in Urdu.

    Now I can say that i know how to curse in English!

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    1. Isn't it funny that the first words you learn of a new language are Hello, Goodbye, and then all the swear words? I'm pretty sure I can effectively insult people from most countries in the world, other than the incomprehensible gibberish that is Welsh.

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  7. I already knew most of these, but that's okay, because I love them all. Here in America someone gets mad at you and says, "Fuck you, motherfucker!" So boring and repetitive. It's like we gained our independence and lost our creativity. That's nothing compared to the magic that is, "Piss off, you bloody wankstain."

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    1. At the moment I quite enjoy telling people to "shite down a bloody periscope". Americans just tend to shoot you, which brings the argument to an abrupt close, but is just so dull.

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  8. I heard most of these from that show The Inbetweeners. Your swears sound so eloquent and carefully considered. I'd probably accidentally thank an English man for calling me a bloody knobhead.

    "Bugger off, you bloody minge."
    "Hey thanks, you too!"

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    1. Happy to oblige you minging knobwanker.

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  9. The only one of these I hadn't heard of is bawbag. My mum once said that you should call people 'tossers' if you get angry at them while driving, because they'd be able to lip read it, though I think that works with most of these.

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    1. That's a great idea. Or if you want a different effect, you can say "elephant juice" because it looks like "I love you".

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  10. Cock is a funny word. It can be both an expression of hate; "Joe is a cock" or can also be a term of greeting: "Alright cock!" I have also heard it being used a term for a boy chicken.... weird or what?

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    1. Cock is a great word. I love cock! Wait, I don't mean like that!

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  11. Shite! All that tea we sacrificed for bawbags, knobheads and wankers. And I thought wanker only meant someone who masturbates (e.g., Al Penwasser at 12 years old). I'm such a naive American.

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    1. Most swear words can be appropriated as verbs or even adjectives. I quite enjoy the term "getting shit-faced", which means getting drunk as opposed to starring in a adult German movie.

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