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10 weird and wonderful British expressions you need to know before you start your internship in London

Prepare yourself for some weird phrases that you might hear whilst interning in the UK


There may be many things that you encounter during your internship that take you by surprise. But don’t let these strange, but hilarious British expressions throw you off.  Memorize some of these funny expressions and keep up with the conversations, or even impress your colleagues.

  1. Bob’s your uncle
    This is an expression that means everything will be fine. The term originated when Arthur Balfour was unexpectedly promoted to Chief Secretary for Ireland by the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, in 1900. Salisbury was Balfour's uncle, and his first name was Robert.

  2. Dressed to the nines
    Dressed to the nines is an English idiom which means to be dressed to the highest degree or to be dressed really elegantly.

  3. Beat around the bush
    If you are beating around the bush, you are reluctant to talk about something that is difficult or unpleasant to discuss, so you try to avoid saying anything.

  4. Wet your whistle
    This means to have a drink! Perhaps something your co-workers will say to you on Friday.

  5. Not enough room to swing a cat
    You might be more familiar with this expression than you are aware of, if you feel like you don’t have a lot of space in your London accommodation, then you might say you don’t have enough room to swing a cat, which means that you don’t have a lot of space and that you feel cramped.

  6. Knackered
    Knackered means that you are exhausted or really tired. The term comes from the profession of a person who slaughtered worn out horses, for their meat and hoofs, in the 19th and 20th centuries – a knacker. In London, you may also hear the cockney rhyming slang to this phrase which is cream crackered.

  7. Botch job
    You might hear this phrase if a repair job is completed in a hurry and is likely to fall apart in a result of the lack of care given to it.

  8. Having a chinwag
    If your manager tells you to stop having a chinwag, then he/she wants you to stop chatting away or gossiping with someone. The phrase is thought to have come from when you are talking and your chin moves up and down – in a wagging action, like a dog’s tail would do.

  9. Costs a bomb/ costs an arm and a leg
    If something costs a bomb, or it costs an arm and a leg, then this means that something is expensive or very costly.

  10. Skive
    To skive is to purposely avoid/not attend something i.e. school or work, usually the person skiving will pretend they are ill so they don’t have to go. The term is derived from the French ‘esquiver’, which means ‘to slink away’.