What’s the crack? I heard you tried to pull last night by telling her you were minted? You muppet! That’s just asking to get rinsed…
Read on for clues about what this all means and then use when speaking English with caution!
I hope since my first blog post last week, you have already ‘lightened your lingo’. In this second post on slang I’m introducing another handful of colloquialisms which are frequently used in the UK. If you get a chance to use these, just remember: don’t expect Americans to understand you! These phrases are for British ears only. Another top tip when lightening your lingo with these phrases is to remember they aren’t necessarily for your families’ ears, so use them with caution!
crack (noun and verb)
‘What’s the crack?’ means, ‘What’s going on?’ It’s especially popular in Northern Ireland, where it’s sometimes spelled the Gaelic way: craic. When used by itself, the word ‘crack’ in most parts of the UK and in English-speaking countries most often refers to cocaine. But if a Northern Irish person tells you the party last night was ‘a real crack’, don’t assume they’re into drugs: it just means they had a good time. You may also hear crack used as a phrasal verb: ‘to crack on with’ a project means that you’re working on it. And finally, ‘get cracking’ is a friendly instruction to start work or a project.
Example: Let’s get cracking with this car; I’ve got two others to repair by the end of today.
Calling someone ‘a muppet’ is an insult, but an affectionate one. It means they’re a fool, which is why it’s used in situations where someone has failed to do something very simple. If several of these failures occur at the same time, you can call the general situation ‘muppetry’. The word comes from the 1970s children’s television show, ‘The Muppets’, where all the characters are marionette-style puppets with big eyes and even bigger mouths.
Example: First she forgot her car key, and then her mobile phone. She’s such a muppet!
Like ‘muppet’, ‘numpty’ is an affectionate insult for someone who’s done something foolish or ineffective. It comes from Scotland, and was originally short for ‘numb-skull’.
Example: If you wear a woollen hat in summer, you’re going to look like a right numpty.
‘Pull’ is similar to the American term ‘hook-up’: it generally means to kiss, but it can also mean relations progress a lot further than just kissing.
Example: Did you know Lucy and Adam are on the pull? They got together at last Saturday’s party…a lot of people managed to pull that night.
The Queen is someone who’s ‘minted’. The word means ‘rich’ and it comes from the name of the industrial process for making coins: minting. ‘Mint’ means roughly the same thing. Both ‘minted’ and ‘mint’ can be used in a variety of contexts besides talking about money. It can mean something is really good: a sports car or very nice house could be called ‘mint’, as can a nice pair of shoes.
Example: Wow! That car is mint. To own a Ferrari, she must be minted
Making fun of someone or something is ‘rinsing it’. The classic meaning of ‘rinse’ is ‘pour water over something to clean it’, so the idea is that you’re soaking somebody to point out how stupid they are. If the ‘rinsing’ is not verbal – for example, a practical joke – people will often shout ‘rinsed!’ to make sure the victim of the joke knows how ridiculous they look.
Example: Telling everyone you know that you’re scared of the dark is just asking for a rinsing.
Usually this means the opposite of dangerous e.g. ‘You live in a safe part of London, there is not much crime in that area’. But, in England it is also used as a synonym for ‘cool’ when describing a person or thing that you like.
- I just bought a new car.
- Safe. Nice one mate’
Well ‘Brit It’ readers, I hope you feel I have refreshed your language and you could now enter any University town or pub in the UK and hold a conversation which makes you sound safe! You can find out more about the ‘Word on the Street’ in the UK through our British Council and BBC Website.