We all know that there are quite big differences between American and British English. One major difference is the accent. For example, in British English the second syllable of my name (Tom) is pronounced like ‘om’ as in ‘from’; but in American English it’s pronounced more like ‘arm’ (so, T – arm).
Another difference is in vocabulary. For example, an elevator in America is called a lift in Britain. In America they walk on sidewalks, in Britain it’s pavements. In America many children eat a lot of candy, in Britain they eats weets.
But, what you might not know is that British English also has a lot of idioms which are not used in American English at all. Here are ten examples.
1. it’s not cricket – it’s not fair [não é justo] (cricket is a sport played in England and former British colonies like India and Australia)
It’s just not cricket for a teacher to allow a student to cheat in an exam! [Não é justo um professor permitir que um aluno cole numa prova!]
2. to take the mickey out of/to take the mick out of – to mock/tease [tirar sarro de alguém]
I love taking the mickey out of my friends, and they do it to me too. [Adoro tirar o sarro dos meus amigos, eles tiram de mim também.]
3. to leg it – to run away quickly [ir embora rápido, “vazar”]
The police are here. Let’s leg it! [A polícia está aqui. Vamos embora! ]
4. a big-girl’s blouse – a man or boy who is a wimp or soft [pessoa “mole”, “bundão”, “fresco”]
Stop being such a big-girl’s blouse, it’s not that cold today. [Pára de ser fresco, não está tão frio hoje.]
5. Sod off! / Naff off! – Go away, get lost! [Some! Sai daqui! Sai da minha frente!]
I don’t want to talk to you, just sod off! [Não quero conversar com você, some da minha frente!]
6. to duff up – to beat up [agredir, bater]
My friend got duffed up near the train station last night. That area is really dangerous. [Meu amigo apanhou perto da estação de trem ontem à noite. Aquela região é muito perigosa.]
7. to be as sick as a parrot – to be irritated with or tired of something [estar de saco cheio de algo]
I hate my job, I’m as sick as a parrot. [Odeio meu emprego, estou de saco cheio.]
8. to not give a monkeys / to not give a toss – to consider something unimportant [não dar a mínima para algo]
I didn’t watch the football last night; I don’t give a monkeys about it to be honest. [Não assisti o jogo de futebol ontem à noite; não dou a mínima, para ser honesto.]
9. to have the guts to / to not have the guts to – to be brave enough to do something/not be brave enough to [ter coragem de fazer algo / não ter coragem de fazer algo]
I had the guts to ask Kamila out, but she said ‘no’. [Tive coragem de convidar a Kamila para sair, mas ela recusou.]
10. there’s nowt so queer as folk – ‘there’s nothing as strange as people’ [as pessoas são estranhas] (this is more of a proverb than an idiom)
I don’t understand some people sometimes; there’s nowt so strange as folk. [Não entendo as pessoas às vezes; as pessoas são estranhas.]
About the Author: Thomas Ewens teaches English at KIMEP University in Almaty, Kazakhstan. He also writes about English language teaching and learning.