Tag Archives: Britishism

Glosso’s advent calendar: Baubles of Britishisms – Dec 6


Day 6 of Glosso’s popular evergreen advent calendar, “Baubles of Britishisms”. Each day, leading up to the quintessential British day of rest and relaxation (“Boxing Day”), you’ll open a window to the world of quirky Brit-speak.


To send someone to Coventry.

“He also had to learn to stop saying things like ‘barth’ instead of ‘bath’. “There’s no bloody R in it, yer poncy bugger,” her dad would say. I’ve since looked it up, and he was right. It’s just one giant melting pot round by us now, and nobody bats an eyeball these days if you say you’re going out with somebody from Small Heath. But in those days it was voodoo, and anybody that broke the rules could face being ostrichised or, worse still, sent to Coventry, which apparently is even further south than Birmingham.” — “Lazy Cow” Doreen tells her story in the Birmingham Mail, 16 Nov 2014

To refuse to associate with or speak to someone: a very British way of ostracizing and ignoring someone. Wikipedia offers an explanation: “The origins of this phrase are unknown, although it is quite probable that events in Coventry in the English Civil War in the 1640s play a part. One hypothesis as to its origin is based upon The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, by Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. In this work, Hyde recounts how Royalist troops that were captured in Birmingham were taken as prisoners to Coventry, which was a Parliamentarian stronghold. These troops were often not received warmly by the locals.”

Glosso’s advent calendar: Baubles of Britishisms – Dec 4


Day 4 of Glosso’s popular evergreen advent calendar, “Baubles of Britishisms”. Each day, leading up to the quintessential British day of rest and relaxation (“Boxing Day”), you’ll open a window to the world of quirky Brit-speak.


To do a runner.

“Paternal intervention can be summarised by Francis’s classic interjection: ‘Oh, Humphrey, do stop being a bore. You’re being a f***ing nuisance. F*** off.’ The only rule, says Edmund, was not being allowed to lose the TV remote. Francis’s childhood was not dissimilar. He recalls that, when his governess appealed for disciplinary aid, ‘There’d be a pause, then the front door would slam as Dad did a runner.'” — Radio Times, 28 Oct 2104

“Carla told him the police were on their way and confirmed she had told the police he had confessed to murdering Tina. ‘You betrayed me. I begged you for another chance!’ Rob wailed. ‘And I really wanted to give it to you,’ insisted Carla. ‘No matter what happens, you’ll always be my brother.’ Biologically, this was hard to argue with. Rob did the only sensible thing left open to him – he did a runner.” — a Coronation Street plot summary in the Daily Mail, 31 Oct 2014

To leave hastily, especially to avoid paying for something or to escape from a difficult place or situation. To get the hell out of dodge.

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Glosso’s advent: Baubles of Britishisms – Dec 23


Day 23

The full monty.

“What Our Travel Pros Suggest: Hobica recommends springing for the full monty: an upgrade to business or first class — but only under certain circumstances.” — Popsugar, 12 Nov, 2014

“The Alpine Lounge in the Castle’s hotel complex has practically been my second home every winter since I was about ten years-old, so I was on very familiar territory when I sat at my table and ordered the full monty afternoon tea recently.” — Galloway Gazette, 9 Nov 2014

“Ten Ways a U.S. ‘Full Monty’ Plan Can Defeat ISIS. … Max Boot, a military historian and the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick national security senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, has just outlined a comprehensive plan for defeating ISIS that goes well beyond the commitments of Obama and U.S. allies. It might best be described as the “Full Monty” when contrasted with the administration’s more limited approach.” — Fiscal Times, 18 Nov 2014

The full amount expected, desired, or possible. The full shebang. According to World Wide Words, someone in the dictionaries department at Oxford University Press, who wrote the entry for this expression, found 16 different theories — ranging from gamblers’ jargon to the British tailor Montague Burton …

Glosso’s advent: Baubles of Britishisms – Dec 22


Day 22

Well blow me down (with a feather).

“’Well, blow me down,’ he says, ‘I was unlocking the door the other night when I heard a faint thud in the garden.’ — Mike Madden of Honley on finding a ‘meteorite’ in his garden. Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 31 Oct 2014

“Stonehenge was circular? Well, blow me down.” — The Guardian, 1 Sep 2014

An expression of astonishment. As World Wide Words explains, the expression “can be traced to Britain near the end of the eighteenth century. There seem to have been at least two strands to its creation, in both cases the verb being in the sense of the wind blowing. One was a sailor’s oath, blow me down!, roughly meaning “may a gale strike me!” … The other early form was blow me tight! which might suggest inflating a balloon to the point of explosion, but which could be related to an older sense of blow for speaking loudly or angrily or uttering boastful language.”


I’ll be blowed: “Imagine that eh, well I’ll be blowed, over paid 2nd rate actors playing a childish game, that needs to have it’s profile lifted. Any advertisement is good I suppose. What better way than to involve a law suit or 2. But the chocolateer has done the right thing to save his bacon.” — comment on an article  about a chocolatier who refused to write a boy’s first name on a chocolate Easter egg for fear of Wayne Rooney suing for breach of copyright (sic) on Yahoo Sport, 15 April 2014

Well I’m blowed: “This week I found out he is quitting the chat show, saying he felt it was time to move on and he had some exciting new projects ahead. Well, I’m blowed. 
I’m minded not to 
book that ticket 
for Madame Tussaud’s, to add a touch of my Guerlain lippie to the Titchmarsh, after all.” — Lynne Mortimer interviewing Alan Titchmarsh, East Anglian Daily Times, 26 March 2014

Glosso’s advent: Baubles of Britishisms – Dec 21


Day 21

How’s your father.

“Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham are still technically going steady, despite neither of them wanting to stay together, purely down to the fact that they once had some ‘how’s your father’.” — Digital Spy, Nov 3, 2014

“Office-induced stress, high blood pressure, heavy drinking brought on by the aforementioned stress, being handbagged by the wife for indulging in a bit of workplace-based how’s-yer-father, the list goes on.” — Lancashire Evening Post, Oct 22, 2014

A jocular term for copulation. World Wide Words traces it back to the fertile imagination of the music-hall comedian Harry Tate, whose catchphrase was picked up by servicemen in the First World War.


Shag: “Married men and women who try to pass off a one night stand as an ‘opportunistic shag‘ are often in denial about the state of their primary relationship.” — Huffington Post UK, Nov 12, 2014

Roger. From the mid 17th to the late 19th centuries, roger was slang for penis, probably because the name’s origin involved fame with a spear. Subsequently “to roger” became a slang verb form meaning “to have sex with”.

Glosso’s advent: Baubles of Britishisms – Dec 20



Day 20

To live at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

“News that notorious police killer Harry Roberts could be released from prison within days could make for a more shocking ending. Roberts is to walk free after 48 years living at Her Majesty’s pleasure, despite being told by a judge he should never be released.” — Burton Mail, 23 Oct 2014

To do time. In jail (or gaol, as some Brits still prefer to call it). To be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure (or at His Majesty’s pleasure, if the reigning monarch is a king) officially refers to the indeterminate length of service of certain appointed officials or the indeterminate sentences of some prisoners.


Doing porridge: “Toff’s guide to doing porridge. Prison is dangerous for toffs, writes Yvonne Ridley. Here are a few survival rules for high society criminals.” — The Observer, 5 June 1999