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British English for the Novice M - N - O

British English for the Novice M - N - O

Date: Oct 03 2007

Topic: British English

Author: rhyme_reason


MACINTOSH n. 1. Raincoat, also known as a MAC.

MAGGIE n. 1. Whimsical name for the prime minister of the United Kingdom. This is used in much the same vein as we refer to our President as "Ronnie". The term is now dated, obviously.

MAINS n. 1. The place where the gas or electricity may be turned on or off. Oddly enough this is always plural even if you refer to the shutoff for just one utility. As in, "Before disconnecting the COOKER, be sure the MAINS is disconnected."

MAISONETTE n. 1. Originally this term meant an apartment which covered more than one floor of a building. In recent years this has slowly degenerated to include FLATS (one floor only) in the hope of making FLATS sound nicer.

MANGLE n. 1. Large rollers used to squeeze water from wet clothes, i.e. the ringer-part of a ringer washer.

MARKS AND SPARKS n. 1. Nickname for Marks and Spencer's, a prominent retailer in the U.K. Also known as M&S.

MARMITE n. 1. A spread made from yeast extract that is similar to BOVRIL.  

MARROW n. 1. A type of summer squash similar to zucchini.

MARZIPAN n. 1. A confectionary made from almond paste.

MASH v. 1. To brew TEA. 2. To puree potatoes.

MATCH n. 1. A game, as in, "The FOOTBALL MATCH begins at 3 p.m.".  

MATE n. 1. General term for a pal, as in, "He's me MATE".

MEASURE n. 1. A unit quantity of spirits as served in a PUB. This quantity is regulated by law and must be exactly one fifth of a gill (in Scotland) or one sixth of a gill (in ENGLAND). A notice must be displayed to say which size MEASURE is in use.

MILD n. 1. Name for a type of English beer which is sweeter and darker than BITTER.

MILK FLOAT n. 1. An electric vehicle the milkman drives.

MINCEMEAT n. 1. Hamburger. Alternatives are MINCE MEAT or simply MINCE. 2. Mincemeat as used in mince pies. Note that the sweet stuff used for filling pies has evolved from a pie filling that was once made mainly from meat.  

MIXER TAP n. 1. A tap at a sink which delivers both hot and cold water. This is not as common as an American would expect. There is a law in the UK which requires that MIXER TAPS do not actually mix the water inside the TAP itself, but it must be mixed outside in the air. This apparently stems from a concern that the CISTERN may be contaminated and if the MIXER TAP allowed the two streams of water to mix and the MAINS pressure was too low, contaminated water might escape into the community water supply. This law results in the aggravating situation that water delivered by a MIXER TAP actually comes out in two streams, one cold and one hot, thereby defeating the major advantage of a MIXER TAP! This problem can be overcome by plumbing both the hot and cold water from the CISTERN, resulting in a water source with lower water pressure.

MMMM... phrase. 1. "Expression" meaning a) "Yes", b) "Yes, probably" c) "Yes, but not now" or d) "No". The different meanings are all taken from the inflection of the phrase.

MOGGIE n. 1. Slang term for an ordinary cat. A tabby.  

MOTORWAY n. 1. A limited access highway. An Interstate.

MUCKER n. 1. Friend or MATE, someone you "muck about with".

MUCH OF A MUCHNESS phrase. 1. Equivalent to "Six of one, half dozen of another".

MUG UP v. 1. To cram, to SWOT.  

MUMMY n. 1. Mommy.

MUPPET n. 1. A popular term for a stupid person, often used to refer to oneself as in, "God what a MUPPET, I am".

NAFF adj. 1. NAFF originally was a gay slang meaning a straight person (Not Available For F....) and now means untrendy, as in a NAFF t-shirt.

NAFF OFF v. 1. A jocular term used to tell someone to go away. This is reportedly a favorite expression of Princess Anne. The term was invented for a TV comedy show called PORRIDGE. (PORRIDGE is a slang term for a prison, as in, "Where have you been these last few years? Been in PORRIDGE.")

NAPPY n. 1. Diaper.

NATTER v. 1. To speak in a non-stop manner about unimportant things, as in, "Stop NATTERING on so and tell me what you want". Other variations of NATTER include: CHIN WAG, FLANNEL, RABBIT and WAFFLE.

NATTY adj. 1. Flashy, fancy. A SPIV would likely be a NATTY dresser.

NAVVY (nah-vee) n. 1. Laborer. This was originally a "navigator" who was one who worked on the construction of canals.

NET CURTAINS n. 1. Sheer curtains (sheers).

NEVERMIND v. 1. The ultimate answer to any type of annoying event, no matter how serious, as in, "Your house burnt down last night! Oh, well, NEVERMIND".

NEWSAGENT n. 1. A shop which sells only newspapers, magazines and the like. These seldom are over 10 feet square and are always so overcrowded with material that you cannot find anything you want and must ask for it.

NICK v. 1. To steal, as in, "He NICKED me light".   n 1. Prison or police station. 2. Slang term for the devil (OLD NICK).

NICKER n. 1. POUNDS Sterling. QUID.

NIL n. 1. Zero. Often heard in reporting FOOTBALL scores, as in "Arsenal blanked Leeds, four to NIL."

NIPPER n. 1. A young boy, a kid. One of the jobs for young boys on sailing ships was to coil the large anchor rope as it was pulled in. To assist in this the boy had a hook called a NIPPER which he used to "grab" the rope.

NODDY adj. 1. Simple. The term comes from a TV show "Noddy and His Friends" based on a series of books by Enid Blyton.

NOT CRICKET adj. 1. Falling short of the highest standards of good sportsmanship. As in, "Disguising yourself as a bush so as to take pictures of the Princess of Wales disporting herself in a SWIMMING COSTUME and selling the pictures to FLEET STREET is NOT CRICKET".

NOUGHT n. 1. The number zero.

NOUGHTS AND CROSSES n. 1. The game of tic tac toe.  

OBLONG adj. 1. When your children come home from school and talk about OBLONGS they mean rectangles.

ODDS AND SODS phrase. 1. Odds and ends. BITS AND BOBS has the same meaning.

OFF adj. 1. Unavailable (as used in restaurants etc.), as in: PUNTER: Ham, egg, bacon, tomato and CHIPS, please.  Waitress: Ham's OFF    PUNTER: OK -- egg, bacon, tomato and CHIPS, please. Waitress: Egg's OFF    PUNTER: Bacon, tomato and chips? Waitress: Bacon's OFF     PUNTER: Spam sandwich, please.    

OFF LICENCE n. 1. Liquor store. Abbreviated to OFFO and sometimes referred to as an OFFY.

OFF SALES n. 1. Part of a PUB that functions as an OFF LICENCE.

OFFSIDE Adj. 1. The left-hand side of a car, as in, the "OFFSIDE of a car". The fast lane of a road is on this side of the car. The driver's side of the car is called the NEARSIDE.

OLD UNCLE TOM COBLEY AND ALL phrase. 1. Special form of "etc." intended to imply amusement or exasperation at the large number of items. The term originates with a folk song "Widdicombe Fair" that has a chorus listing a large number of people and ends "OLD UNCLE TOM COBLEY AND ALL". Example: "We have installed DOS/VSE, VSE/Power, VSE/Advanced Function, ACF/VTAM, ACF/NCP/VS, VSE/VSAM, and OLD UNCLE TOM COBLEY AND ALL".  

O-LEVELS n. 1. An exam which is the first part of the General Certificate of Education needed in order to attend the university. After completing this exam, one may. attend a SIXTH FORM COLLEGE to study for his A-LEVELS or more likely study for his A-LEVELS at a local technical college or a further education college or a community college. These exams are taken at age 16.

ON/OFF adj. 1. Down/up when dealing with light switches in the UK. To turn a light switch ON, push the switch down, OFF is up. In addition to lights, most UK wall sockets (called POINTS) have small switches in them. Additionally, many plugs (either on FLEXES or at the end of an appliance) will have a fuse inside. This means you have several more places to look when something won't turn on.

ON THE GAME n. 1. Prostitute, as in, "See that BIRD over there ? Looks like she's ON THE GAME". A man in a car looking for someone ON THE GAME is a KERB CRAWLER

ON THE RAG adj. 1. To be angry, as in, "'E's a bit ON THE RAG, isn't 'e?'. Also used to refer to women at a certain time of the month.

ORDER OF THE BOOT phrase. 1. To be made REDUNDANT. This undoubtedly stems from the names of several royal orders established by kings and queens over the centuries (e.g. the ORDER OF THE GARTER or the ORDER OF THE BATH).

ORIENTEERING n. 1. A game which closely resembles a car rally in which participants are on foot and are provided a map of places to find.

OUT ON THE TILES phrase. 1. Having a riotous time out for the evening. The term probably originates from sleeping on the (tiled) front stoop which is what you must do after the wife has locked you out.

OVERALLS n. 1. A light coat worn over normal clothes to protect them from getting dirty. This might also be called a BROWN COAT. See also BOILER SUIT.

OVERTAKE v. 1. To pass, as in, "OVERTAKING on a bend is dangerous".

OVER THE MOON phrase. 1. Very pleased. When Prince Charles was asked how he felt about his newly born son, he replied that he was "absolutely OVER THE MOON". This phrase is a reference to the Cow That Jumped Over the Moon (presumably because it was so happy).

OXO n. 1. Bouillon, as in bouillon cubes for making gravies.


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