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Famous British expressions explained

It is quite possible that you might not understand what locals are saying, even if you are well-versed in English. Welcome to the fascinating world of British expressions.

It is well-known that English is a delightful language. But there is a world of difference between American English and British English. Even if you are familiar with both English, it is quite possible that you are sitting amongst a group of Britishers and not understand even a word of what they are saying. Many expressions would make absolutely no sense to you at all. So, instead of feeling like an outcast, we are here to help you by explaining some of the famous British expressions.

I haven’t seen that thing in donkey’s years.

This expression is based on the belief that donkeys live for a long time and also have very long ears. So, donkey’s years literally translates to a really long time. And the term donkey’s years sounds like “donkey’s ears”, that is where the long-time expression comes from.

They lost the plot.

We might think this means that someone and something is lost. But this expression actually meanswhen someone is just losing their cool. The expression is generally used during a football match when a coach or player does a terrible thing during the game or gets in a fight.

Do you want to have a chinwag?

This expression is quite self-explanatory, chinwag or chin-wag means indulging in a bit of gossip or even a brief chat. The reason why it is called so? The way your chin wags up and down while speaking, and we guess that chin wags quite fast when you are gossiping.

That lesson was an absolute doodle to do.

Doodle is an activity, task or work that is quite simple or easy. So, if anything is a doodle, it means it is easy. The origin of this expression is not known, but all we know is that it goes back to the 1930s and is used quite commonly.

Please don’t throw a spanner in the works.

Putting or throwing a spanner in the works means ruining a plan. Yes, you can use that expression on a friend who keeps ruining that trip to Goa. Spanner is known as wench in England, so you can also use the expression throwing a wrench in the works.

So, do you know of any other British expressions that we have missed?

Priyadarshini Kaul

Priyadarshini Kaul Mishra has two Master’s Degrees in English Literature and History. She is actively following her passion for the language by being a content creator since many years now. Besides this, Priyadarshini is a true bookworm at heart and tries to be an avid reader despite being a full-time mother now. She is also a professionally certified baker and puts on the oven mitts every now and then.
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