I studied neuroscience and am fascinated by the wide range of regional dialects, accents and speech patterns found in the UK.
London slang: appearance
There are many descriptive adjectives used by the youth in London; most are relatively easy to use and understand, but there are subtle differences between words.
Buff - attractive, used to describe a male or female. This word is usually earnest and said in awe, from girls to other girls ("you're so buff"), but it is also casual and not too flattering. In other words, you could tell someone that they were "buff" without seeming like you were putting them on a pedestal.
Dench - presumably derived from "hench", this word is used to describe attractive, muscular males.
Peng - "peng" is where the complimentary slang words get a bit more serious. This word is only ever used to describe girls, while most London slang is mainly ambiguous. It is the most sexually-connotating slang word heard in London, comparable to "sexy". It is commonly used by fairly unattractive guys in a desperate manner, which has lead to it also carrying an air of "you're way out of my league". This is why it should only really be used platonically, by females to other females.
Piff - this word comes straight from Jamaican patois, and describes potent, strong-smelling weed. When used in London, this word is highly complimentary (male and female), and is rarely said without emphasis. It isn't a casual complimentary word, but instead a statement, and is more suited to flattering a girl's appearance or clothes. e.g. Lucy you're looking absolutely piff.
Clapped - this word is only ever used as an insult, meaning that someone or something is very ugly looking. It isn't vulgar, but is so offensive that it is rarely even used as a joke between friends. It can be used to describe rough-looking items, such as bags and clothing, but is mainly said genuinely, in anger-inducing situations. e.g. "my ex is dating some clapped guy".
Wavey - when someone is looking very fashionable, following London trends.
Greetings And Sounds
Wha gwan/wag1/what's gwarning? - what's going on/how are you? This comes directly from patois
What you saying/wys? - what are you doing? e.g. "wys tonight?"
Rah - this is the most common sound of approval in London, and is pretty much void of any tangible meaning. It is often commented on profile pictures, when someone wants to allude to the idea of a compliment without directly giving one. It could be translated to "nice", "cool", "sick" etc. It can also be used to indicate emotion/frustration/excitement. e.g. "rah, that test was hard!" or "rah, my mum's leaving tomorrow so the house is free!"
Skrr - This amusing little word describes the sound that a car's wheels make when it swiftly drives away. "Skrr" can be commented under pictures to indicate some sort of urban approval, like "rah", but has a slightly different meaning in the sense that it is often said out loud too, and normally following the rule of three. e.g. "skrr skrr skrr, let's go clubbing tonight!". Can also be used like "skrr, France is gonna be great!".
Oi - a sound of emphasis or excitement, e.g. "oi, look at that girl".
Safe! - okay/thanks!
Bombaclart/bloodclart- a very rude Jamaican insult
Wasteman - someone extremely annoying and rude
Thirsty - used to describe someone desperate for attention
Gimp- a fool
Paigon - pronounced "pagan", this word describes someone who is unlikable, annoying and sneaky.
Pigs - a derogatory term for the police
Snake - an untrustworthy person who gossips
Flake - an unreliable person that "flakes" on any agreed plans.
Scrape - someone who "scrapes" into social situations where they're not welcome
2 - an ugly person, a 2/10.
Sket - a short version of the patois word "skettel", it refers to a trashy, promiscuous girl. It is not too vulgar so can be used jokingly and fondly, especially between girls. e.g. "Katie, you sket!".
Beg - a desperate girl who is always on the look out for males' attention.
Rude boi - a guy who has been hardened by the road
Rents - parents
Next man - some irrelevant guy, said dismissively
Mandem - collective term for group of guys
Gyaldem - group of girls
Wifey - girlfriend
Man - me. This is important to understand - a lot of London slang revolves around this strange idea of referring to yourself, whether you're male or female, as "man", and then conjugating any following verbs in third person. e.g. "man don't care", "man's coming tonight!".
Them man - when it is clear that "man" is being used to describe someone other than yourself, it is used to refer to a group of people, despite being a singular concept. Hence, London man - men of London.
Fam - friend, e.g. "hello fam!"
Mate - casual friend
M9 - used online and never said out loud, "m9" takes the meaning of being "even better than m8". It's a comical way to let someone know that you consider them a good friend.
Gyal/gal - girl (frm Jamaican patois)
Brudda/bredrin - patois for "brother", used between males.
My Size - a strange phrase used by males when describing girls that seem ideal to them, in terms of attractiveness, and hence their "size". e.g. "oi, you're my size".
10 - a beautiful girl, 10/10 on the scale of attractiveness.
Peng ting - a girl who is "peng" (very hot).
G - short for "gangster", g is used all around London, and is complimentary of status. e.g. "Ben's a real g".
Roadman - a popular guy who wears brands like Supreme, Adidas and Palace.
Lad - a well-liked male
Donny - a fond term for "guy" e.g. "that donny lent me £50"
Carni - Notting Hill Carnival
Lash - a wild but small party that will usually consist of drinking vodka in someone's garden
Filthy drum and bass - DnB with a heavy-sounding bassline
Wobbly bassline music - house music that has an erratic, "wobbly" bassline
Motive - a larger party, e.g. "birthday emotive"
Free yard - yard means "house". This phrase is used by teenagers to announce that their house currently has no parents in it.
Gath - short for "gathering", this word describes a general drinking event that isn't someone's birthday or a special event. These casual nights take place in parks and houses, and rarely consist of more than 15 people.
Mad1/Wavey1 - a fun party that is "mad" or "wavey"
Gaff - relating to a house, e.g. "a gaff motive" (a house party).
Squat - a squat rave, where EDM genres like jump-up drum and bass are played all night
Bev - alcohol
Green/dank/herb/ganja/tree/broccoli- the herb
Thai, Dutch, Cheese, Lemon, Ammy (short for "amnesia") - all different strains of strong herb
Loud/Haze - indica/sativa
Draw - any amount of herb
Dizz - MDMA crystals
Preme - short for "Supreme", this describes a popular clothing brand associated with skating and roadmen culture. It is popularly worn by teenagers who hang out in the Southbank skate park, and suburban Kent kids who want to be "road".
Verbs and Actions
Beef - to be rude/hostile to someone
To finesse - to take advantage of someone in a skilled way, nearly aways to get money, OR to steal something. e.g. "I'm gonna finesse him outta that cash tonight" or "he finessed my girl!".
To chat shit - to talk rubbish or to gossip rudely. e.g. "Don't chat shit, that is not their house!" or "she's always chatting shit about people".
To ping - to take ecstasy
Get bevvied - to get very drunk
Skanking/cutting shapes - the act of dancing energetically to drum and bass music
Whining/Daggering - words used to describe intense Jamaican dance moves done by females, to genres like dancehall and jungle. This is seen at the Notting Hill Carnival every year.
Doing bits - traditionally when someone is doing well in life or succeeding, but can also be used to describe an event that went well. e.g. "Reading festival did bits!".
Pop off - when a party is a great success, e.g. "last night popped off!".
Bait someone out - to expose someone socially, usually used comically. e.g. "if you don't tell her yourself, I'll bait you out".
Making gains - to be building muscle, e.g. "he's making gains".
Chirpsing - flirting with someone
To gas someone - when someone compliments someone else in an intense way, but without any undertones of flirtation. e.g. "you gas me so much, I love you!". This stems from the slang term "gassed", which means "excited". Essentially, you're flattering someone so much that they're extremely happy.
Airing someone - to be ignoring someone's messages or snapchats online.
To be "on the chirpse" - to be talking to someone online in a flirtatious manner, for a long period of time.
Roll through - to attend an event. e.g. "are you rolling through tonight?".
Ratting out - to expose someone's illegal behaviour in a sneaky way. e.g. "don't rat him out for selling those films".
Bricking it - to be absolutely terrified. e.g. "I was bricking it when my mum phoned me".
Flipping - selling/dealing, anything from CDs to narcotics
Trapping - dealing drugs
Pranging out/bugging out - to have a bad experience on drugs and have a "freak out". e.g. "I saw him at Wireless, he was pranging out!".
Other Descriptive Words
Jarring - annoying, in a persistent way. e.g. "she was so jarring last night because she had 5 beers"
Leary - suspicious (totally moves away from the real meaning of the word). e.g. "my parents are getting bare leary, I keep coming in at 4am man".
Boom - great, cool e.g. "that party was a boom ting!"
Bare - a lot of (very, very common!). "I've got bare homework", "you chat bare shit".
Shook - scared/nervous, e.g. "he left me so shook"
Wicked - great/cool
Ends - the area in which you live/hang around e.g. "my ends"
Lean/faded/baked - high on marijuana
Pinged/pinging - high on ecstasy
Mad/a madness - when something is either great, crazy or unacceptable. When used to describe the appearance of something, it is always a compliment, e.g. "your top is mad". When used to describe someone's behaviour or a situation, "mad" usually takes a negative meaning, e.g. "it's mad that your school's doing that". Can also mean wild and hedonistic, e.g. "Dan's party was a complete madness".
Gassed - the state of being very enthusiastic or excited, e.g. "I was gassed when I saw her".
Vexed - generally annoyed, e.g. "she was vexed that I told you."
Aggy - aggressively angry
Irked - annoyed, similar to "irked" but less commonly used
Long - tedious and boring
Peak - used 24/7 by youth in London, this word means conveys a general negative meaning and can take the meaning of "bad", "annoying", "sad". e.g. "You're so peak to me", "it was peak, her dog died". It can also be used alone to mean "ugh, annoying!".
Deep - similar to "peak", but more serious. It is normally used to describe someone's cruel behaviour or a really bad situation, e.g. "don't be deep to him, his mum died!", or "deep, he actually hates me!".
Bait - when someone is being really obvious and clumsy (e.g. "don't be bait or my dad will hear us!") or when someone is dressed in a really cliche, obvious way (e.g. "he's so bait, he's head-to-toe in Adidas").
Sick - great
Cotch - comfy and nice, e.g. "it's so cotch on this sofa".
Trippy - when something is crazy and hard to understand, e.g. "it's trippy, one second she hates me and the next she's claiming I'm her only close friend".
Safe - when someone is nice and trustable. "Those guys are so safe, let's invite them with us tonight".
Sound - very similar to "safe" but is slightly more positive, e.g. "John is a sound guy". Mainly used in Northern-England, but increasingly heard in East London.
Calm - "calm" can either mean "really nice" (e.g. "it was so calm, we had the flat to ourselves") or "okay/fine" (e.g. "it's calm, I didn't like him anyway").
Live - really fun or positive, e.g. "live party" or "I got some live new clothes".
Jokes - funny and/or unexpected, e.g. "isn't it jokes that she's dating her now?"
Common London Phrases
On a level - emphatic. "On a level, I want to move out" = "I really want to move out". "She's annoying on a level" = "she's very annoying".
Best believe - it means "trust me". e.g. "best believe I won't tolerate that shit", or "best believe I'm revising the second I get home".
It's not that deep! - this is used incredibly often amongst youngsters in London. Following the meaning of the word "deep" (very unfortunate, sad, inconvenient or serious), the phrase means "it's not that serious/that much of a big deal". For example, you might hear some say "I failed the test, it's not that deep though because I can resit it". Alternatively, it can be used to calm someone down in a rude way: "Lucy it's not that deep, shut up and stop blaming me!". This strange, very common phrase is quintessential to London slang, and a good example of how London teenagers develop slang to fit niche social scenarios. I cannot think of a formal way to convey the tone that this phrase conveys!
As if... - this is quite subtle and you might not notice it, but it's used a lot throughout London. It's an example of a genuine English phrase that has been warped slightly in its usage. You would say "as if I just ate 3 packs of Oreos!". That phrase alone would be a comical way of saying "I ate 3 packs of oreos guys!". It can also be used in an exasperated way (and this is more frequently seen). A girl might angrily say "as if my boyfriend just told me he's about to go on holiday for 8 weeks", meaning "I'm pissed because he's going away without me".
Big man ting - big guy (friendly)
Is it? - really? (Very common)
2s me - share something with me (often a cigarette)
Allow it - stop it
Allow me - let me do this/stop telling me off
From ends - someone from the area who know's what's going on
You down? - Are you up for this?
A wah do dem? - what are they doing? (usually used aggressively)
Dem ones - said to indicate that a situation is relatable and common, e.g. "my parents grounded me!" "poor you, dem ones!".
Link me - meet up with me
Hook me up - get me something
Mi haffi - I need to (Jamaican)
Man don't do dem tings - I don't do that
North/South of the river - North/South of the Thames, which cuts London in half. e.g. "I need some friends North of the river".
It's lock arf - it's locked-off/inaccessible (e.g. "today central is lock arf, it's too crowded!")
© 2016 Lucy
no on November 10, 2020:
bc im bored innit
Bree on November 02, 2020:
Im going to londonn to visit my girlfrend haha
Ranga on October 18, 2020:
From Australia - came up in a search I was doing relating to some slang in song lyrics. It is funny because most of this I would understand if I heard it spoken (but certainly not all of it!)
Whacker on September 27, 2020:
So I could use them to annoy my 15 yr old son
Ur mum on September 01, 2020:
I’m from Manchester and I knew quite a few I just got bored and decided to check them out
liss on April 24, 2020:
from newcastle, use allof tis slang the usual
B Seilunlal Jacob on April 18, 2020:
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on May 28, 2019:
Thanks for commenting - I'm glad you enjoyed!
Sourav Rana on May 28, 2019:
I am really amazed to know these slang words. Even after Speaking, reading and writing this language for a decade I was completely unaware of such words used in country of origin of English. The most funny word that I found in your hub was "Pigs" the slang used in my language for the same is "Maternal Uncles"
Lucy (author) from Leeds, UK on August 02, 2018:
Do you mean "brrrat" (a sound from gang culture, mimicking a gun firing) or "brrrr" (meant to be the sound of a phone ringing in the trap house)?
Both are common in South London. The first, "brrrat",is actually a common Bloods gang call but can be heard a lot in in the UK due to rap music.
Debra on August 02, 2018:
What about “br”? I’m hearing this a lot in S London
skengs on November 23, 2017:
Got some friends around here speakin this stuff and all that