In this blog post we continue looking at British expressions and slang. Master them, and you will be sounding like a native English speaker in a flash!

  1. Barmy is an expression that is used to say that someone is crazy. The etymology is interesting as the phrase is based on the word for the foam found on top of fermenting liquor. Liquor can drive people barmy, so the connection is easy to see! “Those Arsenal fans were barmy last night after losing to Manchester!”
  2. Chinwag is a great way to say that you are having an informal or light conversation with someone. It’s such an expressive phrase and you can almost imagine chins bobbing as people have an animated chat. This expression is derived from Welsh and moved from ‘your glass is empty’ to chatting over drinks in the pub. “Sarah and I had a great chinwag yesterday, gossiping about all the neighbours”.
  3. Knackered is an expression you’re bound to find handy, as you make the most of our social programme. This expression is used to say that you are exhausted or very tired. It comes from ‘the knacker’s yard’, where old horses where sent when they were too old to work anymore. “I’m so knackered today after staying up late to learn for my grammar test”.
  4. Gobsmacked is another wonderful expression meaning that someone is amazed or awe-struck by something. The origin is quite simple and is a combination of gob, which is another word for mouth and smacked, which is self-explanatory. Most people are surprised when smacked in the mouth so there you have the meaning. “I was gobsmacked at how cosmopolitan Oxford is as a city”.

Enjoy practising these fantastic expressions and be sure to read our next instalment with some more pearlers!