A Conversation for English Slang

Unexplained Phrases

Post 1

Global Village Idiot

There are two bits of slang (at least, I may think of more later) that I'm led to believe are not commonly understood outside SE England, or perhaps it's just Watford. In fact I'd never understand them if I hadn't been brought up with them. They are:

"On the earhole", meaning to have the intention of borrowing something or obtaining it for free;

"Taters" (of weather), meaning cold.

If anyone knows where either comes from, I'd be grateful.


Unexplained Phrases

Post 2

Peta

It's pissing down
Raining cats and dogs
bleedin' taters here today (cold)
There's 'nout as queer as folk
bloody hell and bloody generally
It's cold enough to freeze the bollocks off a monkey

Well - love a duck! (exclamation)

He's a bit of a Bungalow (lot down below but nothing upstairs)

I am so hungry I could eat a scabby child

Gay
He's a bit of a woofter.
A pansy
A shirtlifter
A nancy-boy

A nonce = someone who rats on a criminal
doing porridge -
doing stir

In the family way
She's up the guff
one in the oven
up the spout
preggers (middle class)






Unexplained Phrases

Post 3

Cheerful Dragon

It's not 'cold enough to freeze the bollocks off a monkey', it's 'cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey'. This saying has nothing to do with the genitalia of metal simians. It's actually a naval expression. A 'monkey' was the plate on which cannon balls stood on warships, and these monkeys were sometimes made of brass. Law of Physics (can't remember whose): different metals contract at different rates as the temperatures drop. This made the pile of cannon balls unstable, and they would fall off. Hence 'cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey'.


Unexplained Phrases

Post 4

Cheerful Dragon

Here's one my husband's family uses: 'It's black over Bill's mother's', meaning there are a lot of very dark rain clouds about. I don't know where this phrase comes from.

My father always used to say 'It's black as Newgate's knocker' in similar circumstances. He probably picked up this expression when he lived in London, where Newgate prison had a black door knocker (when it was still standing!)


Unexplained Phrases

Post 5

what you know as km

"Raining cats and dogs" has to do with the fifteenth century or so when a thatched roof was the favorite place for animals to live, but when it rained, the roof would get soggy, and the cats and dogs would fall into the house. (Or, I suppose, just slide off from time to time.)


Unexplained Phrases

Post 6

Kzin

Please--someone explain "Bob's your uncle" to me! I get it from context, but what's the history?


Unexplained Phrases

Post 7

Bob The Frog

Taters: When potatoes are nearing their time for harvest, the earth is heaped up around them. This heap is a "mould". we then have taters (potatoes) in the mould = cold.

Doing bird = bird lime (guano) =time if anyone's interested.

I can also offer (orig. my late father) Almonds (almond rocks) = socks and Gregory (Peck)= neck.

Hey, I gotta million of 'em.


Unexplained Phrases

Post 8

Podster

Sorry to be boring...
but "taters" is cockney rhyming slang again.
It's a contraction of "taters and mould" = "cold".


Unexplained Phrases

Post 9

Podster

Sorry, Bob The Frog...
You'd already got the answer.
I'm just so busy... Oh, Ok ! I just didn't go through the other messages... I didn't think anybody else was still thinking clearly (?) at this time of night "
Mea culpa !


Unexplained Phrases

Post 10

Paul the Brake

Don't know where the phrase "on the earhole" came from, but I used to hear it a lot at work some years ago. But what I want to hnow is where did the phrase "bold as brass" come from and what what does it really mean


Unexplained Phrases

Post 11

Antithesis

As an American listener to many Monty Python records and CD's... you can imagine my trouble when hearing many slang expressions used by them. In particular, the word "bugger". When this word is said, the audience certainly gets a kick out of it. And it seems to offend some of my teachers at school. I didn't say it because I was utilizing the meaning, but to provoke a reaction. But now I really need to know... what does it mean?


Unexplained Phrases

Post 12

Cheerful Dragon

The meaning of 'bugger' depends on it's context. I'm not a Monty Python expert, so I don't know how often they use the word. The only time I can recall is at the end of the program containing the 'Spanish Inquisition' sketch. Right at the end of the program, Michael Palin starts to say 'No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!' just as the closing credits finish rolling. The sentence comes out as 'No one expects the ... Oh bugger!'

Rough 'translations' of bugger:

'Oh bugger!' = Oh damn! (Oh shit / hell / rats / whatever you normally say)
'Bugger off!' = F*** off! Go to hell!
'Bugger this for a lark' = I'm seriously fed up with this, and am going to / want to do something else.
'Daft bugger' = Stupid a**hole! (Mind you, this is sometimes used as a term of affection - but that's the English for you. However, if you ever do come to England, I'd be careful about using it in this sense!)

The exact meaning of 'bugger' i.e. 'to bugger' is the same as 'to sodomize', and 'a bugger' is someone who commits sodomy. So I'm not surprised that your teacher was offended!


Unexplained Phrases

Post 13

Paul the Brake

I must say that was explained very well Cheerfull dragon. Funny thing my mother says "Oh bugger" whenever she does something wrong and what's funny is I'm sure she has no idea of the real meaning of the word cause she never swears.


Unexplained Phrases

Post 14

Paul the Brake

The Time is "Harry Lime" got the Harry, originates from WWII, the Germans has a Radio presenter called Harry Lime who played the Harry Lime theme for the british to make them want to go back to good ole blighty.


Unexplained Phrases

Post 15

Paul the Brake

Does anybody know where the expresion "Charlies, Knockers or Lill's" came from. for the uninformed these are the female breasts or tits as they are more commonly known


Unexplained Phrases

Post 16

wingpig

Don't know about those, but "Bristols" comes from "Bristol Cities" or "Bristol City's" (christ knows which) which in turn rhymes with "titties". "Charlies" probably comes from some pre-war personage called Charles [something that rhymes with one of the words for breasts]. "Shirt potatoes" is a good one, also meaning breasts. "B****r" was supposed to have derived from "Bulgar" meaning a person from Bulgaria, who were thought to be either a bit strange or a bit inclined to pack the fudge in olden times. Bugger sounds quite amusing by itself, but is also the expletive of choice for respectable people who would otherwise never swear (except for the usual inoffensive favourite such as "sh-sugar!", "drat!", "cripes!", "Crikey!", "darn!", "garn!", "dash it all, man!" or "dash it all to heck!", "bother!", "f-ff-fiddlesticks!" and all the rest) even though it's technically worse than "f**k", seeing as the latter is natural and the former technically unnatural. Expletives can pretty much be invented at will - as long as they sound good when shouted they'll do. "Crikey f**kballs!" was invented by a mate in response to the behaviour of a fruit machine in the local pub, and is probably best for the "I don't believe it!"-style amazement expletive. It also makes normal people able to say "crikey!" without sounding like one of the fictional 1930s schoolboys who were the only people to ever use such words.
Anyway. "Twot" seems to be about again, coming from Eire and meaning a dickhead. Maybe it's a polite in-the-company-of-the-vicar euphemism for "t**t". "Crab ladder" can mean either the penis OR the bit of hair on a man's stomach linking a man's hairy chest with his pubes.


Unexplained Phrases

Post 17

Peta

I hate doing that it's a real palarvar! Don't get in such a palarvar about it!!

Meaning a bother or a fuss. Anyone know why?


Unexplained Phrases

Post 18

wingpig

No, but I'll ask my mother as she used it somewhat when I was small. I doubt she'll know as she didn't know any welsh slang when I asked her. We need to find an ex-military bloke, preferably one that served in India. Vast amounts of commonly-used british phrases seem to have some from there. In the meantime, has anyone said Codswallop yet?


Unexplained Phrases

Post 19

Global Village Idiot

In this context I'm reminded of an American colleague who (talking of some problem) said "that must really bug you", and then got very worried that I might have been offended. The reason for his concern was the erroneous assumption that a "bugger" was "one who bugs", and that therefore he might have implied that the problematic thing performed an unnatural act on me. It just shows how careful you have to be...


Unexplained Phrases

Post 20

wingpig

maybe that's where "going bugshit" came from. Do people actually use that or is it merely used by people writing books? I'll have to try it on some tourists sometime.


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