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  • Oscar Wilde famously described Britain and the US

  • as two nations divided by a common language.

  • Now, there are many different words

  • that Britons use and Americans don’t.

  • For example fortnight, caravan, petrol and so on.

  • But there are also many phrases and idioms

  • that are common in the UK but unheard of in the US.

  • And here are some of my favourites.

  • Hi, I’m Siobhan Thompson

  • and this is Anglophenia.

  • Now, if I were to say to you

  • Brian used to know his onions

  • but then he lost a plot,

  • he made a right roll kock-up,

  • and now he’s living at Her Majesty’s pleasure

  • If youre American

  • this might not make the blindest bit of sense to you.

  • But all of these phrases

  • are used pretty ubiquitously in the UK.

  • Enough, that when I first used them in the States,

  • I was shocked

  • when people had no idea what I was talking about.

  • So, here are some pretty common examples

  • of British phrases.

  • The etymology of them is a little bit hazy

  • since they are colloquialisms.

  • But when they are known, I will tell you.

  • [AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES]

  • This means that somebody is daydreaming,

  • or in sort of out of touch with reality.

  • It doesn’t actually mean

  • that they've run away with actual fairies.

  • Fairies don’t exist.

  • Sorry, Tinkerbell.

  • So, as an example:

  • Oh my goodness! Sorry, I was away with the fairies.’

  • OrDon’t mind Daisy, she’s away with the fairies.’

  • It does come from all of those terrifying stories about children

  • being kidnapped by fairies.

  • But it also indicates somebody who lives

  • in their own fantastical imagination.

  • The closest in American English is probablyspace cadet

  • but it’s not exactly the same.

  • [SWINGS AND ROUNDABOUTS]

  • This means that everything evens out in the end.

  • Sort of like

  • six of one and half a dozen of the other.

  • So swings and roundabouts

  • always end up in the same place eventually.

  • So you don’t have to worry about

  • where they are right now.

  • The Manhattan Bridge is closer than the Brooklyn Bridge

  • but there’s more traffic,

  • so it’s swings and roundabouts, really.

  • This phrase probably came about

  • at the end of the 19th century

  • when fairgrounds became wide spread throughout Britain.

  • [HORSES FOR COURSES]

  • This means that

  • different people are good at different things.

  • Just like some horses are better at racing

  • and some at jumping.

  • You have to pick the right horse

  • for the right course.

  • - Why wasn’t George Clooney cast as Harry Potter?

  • Well, it’s horses for courses, isn’t it?

  • [THE DAWN CHORUS]

  • This refers to the swell of birds

  • the one that happens

  • right as the sun comes up.

  • As in

  • Ah, I was trying to lie in this morning

  • but I got woken up by the dawn chorus.’

  • All of you city dwellers

  • might not know that this is a thing.

  • It is!

  • Also,

  • did you know that

  • there are birds that aren’t pigeons?

  • Yeah, true story.

  • [BOB’S YOUR UNCLE]

  • This is a way of saying

  • And there we go

  • orAnd right away.’

  • It indicates that something is done very quickly and efficiently.

  • So, throw a tea-bag in a cup,

  • pour on some boiling water,

  • and Bob’s your uncle,

  • a cup of tea.

  • Sometimes people honestly think

  • that a Robert is your mother’s brother,

  • or a Robert is your father’s closest male relative.

  • Seriously, this is a thing that people do.

  • [CHIN-WAG]

  • This means gossiping and chatting.

  • Having a nice chin-wag

  • is just having a little catch up with your friends.

  • So, I’m just gonna go put the kettle on

  • and then we have a nice chin-wag

  • about that George Clooney being cast as Harry Potter.

  • [DONKEY'S YEARS]

  • This means ‘a really long time’, like

  • Oh, I haven’t seen you in donkey’s years.’

  • The closes American vocable into this isOh, I haven’t seen you in an age.’

  • This comes from two different roots.

  • Firstly,

  • the Cockney rhyming slang foryearsisdonkey’s ears’.

  • And secondly, donkeys live for a really long time.

  • Yeah, were learning a lot of things today.

  • [TO HAVE A BUTCHER'S]

  • This meansto have a look at’.

  • Oh, you got engaged?

  • Let’s have a butcher’s at that ring, then.

  • It’s another one that comes from Cockney rhyming slang,

  • butcher’s hook meaninglook’.

  • And it spread around the country

  • after the advent of radio and television.

  • If you watch the showCall the Midwife’,

  • youll hear it said about 800 times every episode.

  • [IT'S MONKEY'S]

  • This meansit’s very cold.’

  • It comes from the nautical slang,

  • It’s cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey.’

  • Meaning cannon balls,

  • not the balls you are thinking about.

  • The brass monkey was the name of the stand.

  • If it got too cold

  • the metal would whop

  • and all of the cannon balls would roll off.

  • Of course, this never happened in Britain,

  • where it is a rainy 12 degrees centigrade

  • every day of the year.

  • [UP THE WOODEN HILL TO BEDFORDSHIRE]

  • This meansto go to bed.’

  • Just think about it for a second.

  • Got it?

  • Good.

  • [UP THE DUFF]

  • This is kind of a funny way to say that somebody is pregnant.

  • It probably comes from about the same place

  • ashaving a bun in the oven’.

  • Plum duff is and other name for Christmas pudding.

  • Nurse, I think I’m up the duff.

  • Come and have a butcher’s.

  • Go! Wake up! What?

  • Are you away with the fairies?

  • It’s monkey’s, ain’t it?

  • Can’t you turn the heating up?’

  • So, there we go.

  • Do you have a favourite British phrase?

  • Let us know in the comments.

  • Don’t forget to subscribe

  • and watch some of the other videos.

  • Oh yeah, click down one,

  • is really interesting.

  • No, really is!

  • Go on!

  • Click, click, click.

Oscar Wilde famously described Britain and the US

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How To Speak British Anglophenia Ep 7

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