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British English for the Novice P

British English for the Novice P

Date: Oct 03 2007

Topic: British English

Author: rhyme_reason


PAGE THREE n. 1. The phrase refers to the picture of a bare breasted woman which is always to be found on page three of the national newspaper, THE SUN. Hence, anything which is worthy of being on PAGE THREE is not really held in high regard. The phrase is a favorite with comedians in the U.K. See also FLEET STREET and TABLOID.

PANDA n. 1. A small car used by police in rural areas. These were originally white with black doors.

PANTECHNICON n. 1. Moving van. A truck used by movers. This is normally shortened to PAN-TECH (accent on TECH).

PANTOMIME n. 1. A type of play usually put on around Christmas. It is ostensibly for children, but there is much to be found that an adult would enjoy. The play is a farce with much slapstick humor and lots of audience participation. This often takes the form of someone on the stage saying something like, "Oh, no I won't" in a defiant tone of voice. To this the screaming children retort "Oh, yes, you will". This banter continues for several rounds until he finally does.

PANTS n. 1. Shorts, briefs, underwear, but not pants.


PAPER ROUND n. 1. Paper route.

PARAFFIN n. 1. Kerosene. You really need to know this when the instructions for your Raleigh Sport (bicycle) tells you to clean the chain with PARAFFIN.

PARKY adj. 1. Chilly, as in, "It's PARKY in here. Can we turn on the BOILER?"

PASTY (pah-stee) n. 1. A type of meat and potato pie. PASTIES may come from either Cornwall or Devonshire (where they are called TIDDY OGGIES). A CORNISH PASTY purchased outside Cornwall resembles a sausage roll that's been stood on and does not resemble one bought in Cornwall. There's also a CURRY PASTY which is a delic ious Jamaican concoction available from superior CHIPPIES.

PATIENCE n. 1. The card game solitaire.

PAVEMENT n. 1. Sidewalk. These may be as narrow as six inches wide. The English seemingly have no concerns about walking along their extremely narrow PAVEMENTS with cars whizzing past within inches. This observation does not, however, hold true when a COACH, DOUBLE DECKER, LORRY or JUGGERNAUT comes rumbling down the road. One can always identify Americans in England. They are the terrified-looking people who are hugging the walls which line the PAVEMENT.

PAY AND DISPLAY n. 1. U.K. version of metered parking without the meters. This is often posted as "P & D" in the parking lot.

PELICAN n. 1. A type of pedestrian crossing which has a traffic light to stop (at least slow) the oncoming traffic. When the light turns red, a beeping is sounded to tell you it is safe to cross.

PELMET n. 1. Window valence.

PENNYFARTHING n. 1. Old fashion word for a bicycle. The actual PENNYFARTHING had a huge front wheel and a very small rear wheel. It had no chain and hence one turn of the pedal equalled one turn of the wheel.

PERSPEX n. 1. Lucite, plexiglas, clear plastic. The term is a trade name in the UK.

PETROL n. 1. Gasoline.

PICTURES n. 1. Movies, as in, "Lets go to the PICTURES tonight".

PIGS MIGHT FLY phrase. 1. Absurd. Implies someone's idea is completely preposterous, as in, "If PIGS COULD FLY, Scotland Yard would be London's third airport."

PILLAR BOX n. 1. Mail box for mailing letters.

PILLOCK n. 1. A useless or stupid person. The word literally means "small pill". One dictionary claims this is an obsolete term for "penis".

PINAFORE n. 1. Pinafore. 2. Jumper. This is also called a PINNY.

PINCH v. 1. To steal, as in, "He PINCHED me light".

PINT OF (pint-ah) n. 1. The basic unit of drink in the United Kingdom, as in, "A PINT OF BITTER, please." One should never ask for HALF A PINT as the bartender will only hear the word PINT. If you really must have half a pint, refrain from using PINT and say, "HALF OF BITTER, please". See also GALLON.

PIPPED TO THE POST phrase. 1. To narrowly beat, as in, "Missed out on a terrific bargain at MARKS AND SPARKS - was PIPPED TO THE POST by a little old lady!".

PISSED adj. 1. drunk.

PITCH n. 1. A playing field for a sport, as in a soccer PITCH, a RUGBY PITCH etc. "The PITCH is in good condition today, as it only rained two inches this morning."

PLAIN AS A PIKESTAFF phrase. 1. Plain as can be.

PLAITS (plat) n. 1. Hair braids.  

PLASTERBOARD n. 1. Sheet rock.

PLIMSOLLS n. 1. Sneakers. Tennis shoes. These are known as DAPS in Wales.

PLONK n. 1. Very cheaply made wine. To refer to the wine your host is serving as PLONK is a rude insult.

PLOUGHMAN'S n. 1. A traditional PUB lunch which consists of bread, cheese, and pickled onions.

PLUS FOURS n. 1. Baggy knickerbockers. The name comes from the extra four inches of material needed to make them baggy. There are also PLUS TWOS which are similar, but less common than PLUS FOURS. Another theory has it that the name comes from the number of inches below the knee the knickerbockers come.

PONY n. 1. 25 QUID. 2. A revolting drink available at your local PUB.

POOF or POOFTER n. 1. A homosexual or as some might say SWISH.

PUNTER: Half PINT of ale, please.

PUBLICAN: Half PINTS are for ladies and POOFS.

PUNTER: PINT of ale, please.

POP v. 1. To go or put quickly, as in, "I'll just POP in and pick up a new pair of PLIMSOLLS."

POSH adj. 1. An acronym for Port Out, Starboard side Home and meaning upper class travel by boat (usually between India and the U.K.). Traveling POSH meant your room was not in the sun for the trip and therefore much cooler. Since this was very desirable, these rooms were more expensive and were snapped up by the wealthy making POSH become associated with luxury and snobbish behavior. This explaination is apparently just a good story and is not actually true. The meaning 'swanky' or 'deluxe' is correct, but it is not derived from the acronym as explained above.

POST BOX n. 1. Mail box for posting letters.

POSTMAN n. 1. Mailman.

POUND or POUND STERLING n. 1. The basic monetary unit used in the United Kingdom. The coins tend to be quite heavy compared to American coins. After accumulating even a small amount of change, one quickly draws the conclusion that the currency is named from the weight of the coins totalling one POUND. In 1981 one could buy a POUND for slightly less than two dollars and one POUND bought you about eight cents less than you paid for it.

PRAM n. 1. Baby buggy. The term PRAM is actually a short form of PERAMBULATOR. These are in great use throughout the United Kingdom. Elaborate covers are available to keep the rain out so the baby doesn't drown.

PRAT n. 1. A mean or nasty person.

PRAWN n. 1. Shrimp. Actually shrimps are small PRAWNS, but both Brits and Americans ignore this minor distinction. PRAWNS (large or small) are shrimp.

PRECINCT n. 1. Shopping mall.

PRESENTLY adv. 1. Later, as in, "I'll be with you PRESENTLY". 

PRIVATE SCHOOL n. 1. An upper class private school which is not as private as a PUBLIC SCHOOL.

PRESENTLY adv. 1. Later, as in, "I'll be with you PRESENTLY".

PROLE n. 1. Working class person (originally from proletariat). Today has more of a white-trash connotation.

PROOF n. 1. Measure of alcoholic strength. PROOF is not the same as proof. Most drinks in the UK are now marked with alcohol percentage as well as PROOF. One U.S. proof is 0.5% alcohol. UK 100? PROOF is such that when added to standard Navy gunpowder, spontaneous ignition occurs. (Today it is defined in some other way, but that was the origin). Pure alcohol is 175 PROOF. Thus 80 proof = 40% alcohol = 70 PROOF.

PUB n. 1. Short for PUBLIC HOUSE. This is a clean comfortable bar (something beyond the experience of most Americans). It is close in comparison to a German Gaststaette in congeniality. PUBS may likely be divided into two separate bars, called LOUNGE (or SALOON) and PUBLIC BARS. Children are permitted in a PUB, but not within the bars. The rules for minors in PUBS are complex, some follow: 1.        (1) In a PUB room that has a bar, a child of 14 may enter, but not stand or sit at the bar or drink alcohol (but can sniff glue). 2.        (2) In a PUB room that has a bar, a child of 16 may enter and may stand or sit at the bar, but not drink alcohol. 3.        (3) It's a very bad idea to disagree with the PUBLICANS perception of the law relating to his PUB.

PUBLICAN n. 1. Licensee of a PUB. Also called a LANDLADY or LANDLORD depending on the gender of the PUBLICAN. Speculation: What, then, is a REPUBLICAN?

PUBLIC BAR n. 1. A bar found in a PUB which is typically used by the common laborer. In this portion of a PUB, there is no concern about muddy WELLIES. Historically, this was reserved for the lower classes. Darts will be played here, but never in a SALOON BAR. A PUBLIC BAR is also known by the attractive and evocative name "SPIT AND SAWDUST" which refers to a type of floor covering in use before the invention of carpets.

PUBLIC SCHOOL n. 1. An upper class PRIVATE SCHOOL. The U.K. remains a very class conscious society. If one wishes to be really successful in the U.K., it is deemed necessary that he attend a PRIVATE or PUBLIC SCHOOL. It is very difficult for one who is educated in a STATE SCHOOL (regardless of his abilities) to break into some areas of the society (especially government (an MP for example), corporate leaders or professors). This means that aspiring parents may start saving and even contact a school when their children are only a couple of years old. Education in a PRIVATE or PUBLIC SCHOOL is extremely expensive. Curiously, having completed a PUBLIC or PRIVATE SCHOOL education (and passing the exams), entrance to the university is much easier. University education is publicly funded and hence does not pose a heavy burden on the parents.

PULL UP A BOLLARD phrase. 1. A friendly invitation to sit down. This phrase originated with the GOON SHOW which was a famous radio program in the 1950s. The GOON SHOW was a hilarious comedy with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe and Michael Bentine and was responsible for launching their careers. It was carried on the BBC World broadcasts and had listeners worldwide.

PUNNET n. 1. A little basket in which fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, etc. is sold. Fruit is sold in the U.K. by weight (e.g. per pound) rather than by volume (e.g. per pint).

PUNTER n. 1. A gambler, especially one who places bets with a bookie. 2. One who pays for goods or services provided by a SPIV or similar, a sucker.

PURSE n. 1. A pocketbook. A PURSE is something a lady puts her money into and then puts the PURSE into her handbag.

PUSH CHAIR n. 1. Stroller.


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at school where i work one of the teacher told me i'm a "spring chicken". I'm like 'huh?' Well, i told her i'm a bit to old to get my diploma and she told me you are "spring chicken Rose" means young.

03:02 PM Jan 12 2009 |

collage girl


i'll be back to read the rest

06:56 AM Aug 21 2008 |




if u feel problem dont worry contact me i m a english school teacher.

09:52 AM Mar 01 2008 |




that is very fine and good thought so i will appricuate it

but saloma from egypt find it difficult so dont worry wen u become used too it will be easy

09:49 AM Mar 01 2008 |



Sri Lanka

The funny thing is that these lessons on British English have helped me get a grip on some American English words. For example, here in Sri Lanka we usually say "pelmet", and not "window valence". And of a Shrimp Cocktail is indeed a Shrimp Cocktail, and not a Prawn Cocktail …. uggh 

07:02 AM Feb 19 2008 |




thanks but thats tooooo long to study!isnt it?



11:28 AM Jan 29 2008 |

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