Do You Know These British Phrases Well Enough to Translate Them?



By: Teresa McGlothlin

6 Min Quiz

Image: Flashpop / DigitalVision / Getty Images

About This Quiz

If you haven't streamed a few episodes of "Doctor Who" or "Prisoners Wives," you've been missing out! If you have, you've probably found yourself occasionally wondering what on earth they are talking about. Americans and Brits might speak the same language, but the differences are as vast as the Atlantic. How well do you think you'll do when you try to decipher some of their most popular phrases?

Have you ever gone to "see a man about a dog?" Are you currently feeling "dishy," "dodgy" or "gutted?" Would you rather go "knees up" or "off to Bedfordshire" this weekend? Throughout this quiz, you'll be asked to act as a translator. When you see the British phrase, it will be your job to define it using American terms. Whether you're "jammy" or you simple speak fluent British, you might learn a new phrase or two! 

Do you think you know enough British phrases to make it through this quiz, though? Take your best shot at figuring out what they mean, and you'll feel "well chuffed" by the time you reach the last question. Will your results make you feel "over the moon," or will you need to book a flight for more practice? "Chivvy up" and find out!

You're riding the train and someone asks you to "budge up." What do they want you to do?

Don't worry! You're not being accosted. When a Brit asks you to "budge up," it's their way of letting you know that you're taking up too much room. You are being asked to scoot over a little.


If you hear a Brit say "Bob's your uncle," what do they mean?

Not everyone in the UK has an uncle Bob. When you hear someone say that "Bob's your uncle," they are not actually referencing a person. It's another way of saying "presto" or "ta-da" or "voila."


Do you have any idea what's meant by the phrase "bog standard?"

This is not a bog-standard quiz. No way! This quiz is far from unordinary or plain. When you hear a British person use the phrase, they are saying that something comes without bells and whistles.


How is a British person feeling when they say they are knackered?

The use of the word "knackered" is another way to express one's exhaustion. After a long day of work, it's not uncommon to hear someone with a British accent saying that they are too knackered to go out for the evening.


What might a British person say when they are feeling deeply disappointed?

Whether their team has lost the match or they're upset about losing their job, a Brit would say, "I'm gutted." Being "gutted" is a popular way to describe a feeling of sadness or disappointment.


Which part of your body would be the location of a "crusty dragon?"

We're sorry to be gross, but that's what the British say! Unless a "crusty dragon" has found its way to another part of your body, boogers usually remain in or near your nose. Hopefully, they make their way into your tissue.


Where is someone going if they are "off to Bedfordshire?"

Even though there is a place called Bedfordshire on the British Isles, "off to Bedfordshire" is another way of saying that it's time to go to bed, hit the hay or turn in for the night.


If "it's monkeys outside," what is the weather like?

When something is crazy in the United States, we say that it's bananas. We're not sure how the Brits relate monkeys to cold weather. Nonetheless, "it's monkeys outside" means it's extremely cold.


When you go out looking like the "dog's dinner," how are you dressed?

Being told that you look like the "dog's dinner" might not sound all that flattering. The Brits commonly use the expression when someone wears something that makes them look well polished, but not necessarily suitable for the occasion.


What does it mean when you hear someone say that their boss is "off his/her trolley?"

Being "off your trolley" doesn't mean that you've stopped riding a shopping buggy around. According to the Brits, it means that someone has lost their marbles and gone completely insane.


When you go "see a man about a dog," where are you going?

Let's say you need to use the restroom or you want to go somewhere without giving out your location. The British have a phrase for that! Going to "see a man about a dog" is a way to dismiss yourself from a room discreetly.


Oh, no! You've been "made redundant." What has happened?

Donald Trump might like to walk around, saying, "You're fired." That's not how they do it in Britain, though. There, they say that you have been "made redundant." It's a nicer way of saying you've been fired, replaced or laid off.


Your British friend tells you that they want to go "knees up" this weekend. What do they want to do?

Everyone needs to blow off a little steam sometimes, and dancing is a great way to do it. Plus, saying that you're going "knees up" makes it sound like you're going to have a good time.


What is a British person doing when they "throw a wobbly?"

If you've ever seen a toddler screaming, red-faced and in the middle of a tantrum, you've seen someone "throw a wobbly." Wobblies are not only meant for kids. The phrase is also used to describe adult meltdowns, too.


You've been advised to "know your onions" before going on "Hell's Kitchen." What does that mean?

You might know your shallots from your scallions from your Vidalias, but that doesn't mean that you "know your onions." Knowing your onions implies that you are well informed or that you are an expert in your field.


Your best friend is "well chuffed" about their birthday gift. Do they like it?

If your best friend is "well chuffed" about their gift, you have done a great job. The British commonly use the phrase to describe a sense of being pleased or happy with something. We're "well chuffed" that you're taking this quiz.


If something is "a bit dodgy," what's it like?

You wouldn't want to eat anything in your refrigerator that might be "a bit dodgy." Being "a bit dodgy" means that something is questionable. It could be used to describe anything from food to someone's behavior.


How is someone behaving if they are being "a total nutter?"

Being "a total nutter" doesn't have anything to do with peanuts or walnuts. For a Brit, the phrase "a total nutter" is a way to say that someone is acting in a weird or insane manner.


Your friend says, "give us a bell." What do they want you to do?

Often times, British folks will replace the word "me" with the word "us." In this case, the phrase "give us a bell" means that your friend would like for you to call them when you can.


If you're visiting someone at "Her Majesty's pleasure," where are you seeing them?

Unfortunately, you won't get to see the Queen when you go to "Her Majesty's pleasure." You'll be visiting a prison! The phrase is another way of saying that someone is being detained without the chance of parole.


Can you correctly figure out what "horses for courses" means?

In the United States, the phrase "a horse is a horse" means that something is exactly what it looks like. For Brits, "horses for courses" is another way of saying "to each their own."


What does it mean when something is "sixes and sevens?"

Should something get messed up, the British say that it's "sixes and sevens." You might also hear them say that something is in "total shambles" or "shambolic." All three phrases mean basically the same thing.


When you've had a "spanner thrown in the works," what has happened?

No matter how detailed your plans are, there's always a chance that you'll have a "spanner thrown in the works." The phrase means that something has happened to cause you to need to change your course.


What would a Brit be doing if they were "splashing out?"

"Splashing out" might sound like something fun, and, in the moment, it might be. However, the interest that compiles on your credit card balance when you overspend makes "splashing out" anything but fun!


If someone is going to "spend a penny," where are they going?

Whether they're going to the loo or the restroom, the Brits like to say that they are going to "spend a penny." They might dismiss themselves by saying they are "going to see a man about a dog," too!


When a Brit tells you that they've "put paid to," what have they done?

If your British friend has recently had rain ruin a footie match, they might say that the weather "put paid to" the game. It's another way of saying that something has been ended by something unforeseen.


How does someone look if they are "a bit dishy?"

When you translate this phrase, did you think of an attractive plate of food or a sink of dirty dishes? If you thought about a nice dish of Brussel sprouts, you were on the right track. "A bit dishy" is the way the Brits say that someone is good looking.


Can you figure out how long "donkey's years" are?

There's no actual specification of time meant when someone uses the phrase "donkey's years." If you overhear a British person saying they haven't seen someone in "donkey's years," they mean they haven't seen them in a long time.


What do you think it means when a Brit is "cheesed off?"

There are a lot of British ways to express one's anger, but we can't use most of them here! However, we can use the phrase "cheesed off." Being "cheesed off" means that you are seeing red.


This one should be easy — what is the American equivalent of "loo roll?"

Whether they use the phrase "loo roll" or "bog roll," Brits are talking about toilet paper. Sometimes, they even call it "lavatory roll." No matter where you go in the world, it's a necessity.


You're asked to go out for a "chin-wag." What are you going to do?

If you're asked out for "bants" or a "chin-wag," someone wants to chat. If your friend starts talking and doesn't stop for a long period of time, the Brits would say they were "waffling."


"Bite your arm off" is a way to express what feeling?

"Chomping at the bit" and "biting your arm off" have very similar meanings. To the British, both phrases mean that someone is filled with great excitement. You're "biting your arm off" to know how well you've done during this quiz, aren't you?


What is meant by saying "best of British" to someone?

When you are parting company with a British person, they might say "best of British to you." It's their way of wishing you good luck. It's short for the longer phrase "best of British luck."


What do you think is meant by "the full Monty" treatment?

While Americans might remember "the full monty" treatment involving nudity, it's not what the Brits mean when they say the phrase. There, it means that someone is going above and beyond what's required.


If a task is a "doddle," how hard is it?

Quiz taking can be difficult or it can be a "doddle." British folks use the word to describe something that is "easy peasy." "Easy peasy" is another phrase they use to describe simple tasks.


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