What are you on about? And other Excellent Phrases and Words I wish I could use

The following is a small list of English words & phrases that I wish would/could catch on in the States:

(most are probably a mixture of dialect and colloquialisms…which someone of a more linguistic bent could probably distinguish the difference)


  • Rubbish….as in “That is…” or “That is complete…”   – I like the addition of ‘complete’ for emphasis.  I’m all about the emphasis
  • What are you on about? This one reminds me of Monty Python. Whenever I come across it in a book, I hear it in my head as Michael Palin’s voice.
  • I quite like, as in “I quite like the addition of that is at the end of sentence when used to emphasize the subject matter as in ‘that’s a right nice piece of spotted dick, that is’ (and now it’s the Americans sniggling at the use of ‘spotted dick’).”  I think ‘I quite like‘ is doable, however, ‘…that is‘ might be crossing the line towards silly on our part. We’ll just enjoy it from afar. It would be like Brits adopting Gomer Pyle-esque speech patterns.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSpBwt4hFN8
    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSpBwt4hFN8  – in case it’s not working)
  • Have a go. Just a more interesting way to say ‘give it try/take a turn’.  I’m bored with our way of saying it.
  • Bollocks – it’s obvious why this is a winner.
  • Tosser, Prat, Wanker, Sod  – pretty much all of the insult-words are pretty fabbo.
  • Spot on – that’s an addendum – I had forgotten how much I LOVE that expression.

And thank you to those that pointed out that my spelling of “Bollocks” was rubbish – the U is gone… and the O is here!

 So that’s the list to start – let’s see if we can get the ball rolling.  However, please feel free to keep most of the English foods in England. I’m completely baffled by a Yorkshire pudding. It’s not pudding nor  does it seem to even be a dessert.  Same goes for black pudding.  I’ll take the lemon curd, however. Yummmmm

About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
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50 Responses to What are you on about? And other Excellent Phrases and Words I wish I could use

  1. Do not diss the Yorkshire Pudding! It’s the same mix as pancake mix, but is done in muffin tins to make little puddings which are then eaten as part of your roast dinner. The trick is to heat the tins and the fat in the tins to super-hot and then add the mix. Fill with gravy and they taste delicious. *muttermuttergrumblebloodyyanksgrumble* 😉

  2. lolabees says:

    I totally get that. I kind of like posh too. I often find that there are a few words and phrases in Spanish that I want to say. They are just so much better than what we have in English.

  3. I’ve introduced “as well” into my lexicon to make me sound like a refugee from a Graham Greene novel. I am a big anglophile from way back. This post played right into my obsession.

  4. cleo201 says:

    what about “sorted”? As is “Have you got it sorted then?”. i.e, have you done whatever…. pronounced without the “t”. “Sor ed”. But as a South African what would I know? I think you’re talking kak, but that’s no skin off my nose, check the worry in my eyes, bru.

  5. TheLastWord says:

    Right. As in “a right bastard”. Bugger all. As in “he knows bugger all about..” Yonks – as in I haven’t heard some of these in yonks!

  6. Amy Reese says:

    Fun, Denise! I often think Americans must sound really boring to people. Everyone else sounds so animated and cool, and usually more intellectual. I’m with you on the Yorkshire and blood pudding. Uh, no thanks. The Lemon Curd sounds good except for the curd part. 🙂 How’s your research going?

  7. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I use a lot of these too. I need to make a concerted effort to use them more often.

  8. amac says:

    Wanker and bullocks are my faves. So much fun to say.

  9. List of X says:

    I’m still trying to figure out the intricacies of American English, but I’ll take these under advisement. Or, translated into Brithish English, I quite might have a bloody go at it, that is.

  10. limey6 says:

    Add Knackered to the list, but as an expat in good standing, I like to use these words and others like them and NOT be understood, that way my true feelings can often be concealed but still expressed openly.

  11. Carrie Rubin says:

    Oh, yes, these are good ones. I like to toss in an occasional “bloody” too. And I love the Canadian expression “Good on you.” I use it all the time with no guilt whatsoever for pilfering their colloquialism.

  12. We’re reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory right now and I was surprised to see the word ass in it, as in, “Burp, you silly ass, burp!” I quite liked having to explain that to my kids. 🙂

  13. rossmurray1 says:

    “Taking the piss” is another good one, as in “just kidding.” Really confusing in North America.
    British expletives are also so jolly: “Brilliant! Fantastic! Ace!”

  14. Twindaddy says:

    Wanker always makes me laugh.

  15. I use every one of those in my daily vocabulary. Ooh, except that it isn’t ‘bullocks,’ it’s ‘bollocks’ that is more often used. Others that are often used in my little world are:

    ‘You’re talking crap.’ – that’s complete rubbish.
    ‘Shut yer trap.’ – please stop talking, you are annoying me
    ‘I wouldn’t say no to a…’ I would like a…
    ‘Do you fancy a…’ Would you like a…

  16. Love this post! Made me giggle!

  17. El Guapo says:

    I use most of those (except rubbish) in regular conversation. (I drank with a lot of English and Irish during my formative college years.)

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