Essential British English Expressions

Inspired by the series of videos by Linguaspectrum. Please see credits at the bottom of the page.


at the drop of a hat

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[ət ðə drɒp əv ə hæt]

внезапно, на ровном месте

In a war, soldiers will kill other solders at the drop of a hat simply because they’re the enemy.
Most doctors prescribe drugs at the drop of a hat because their patients expect them to.

the lion’s share

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[ðə ˈlaɪənz ʃeə]

львиная доля

She was beginning to regret marrying a man with such a hairy chest, the way he used the lion’s share of the sun cream.
His attempts to persuade his wife that it was only natural that she did the lion’s share of the housework seemed to fall on deaf ears.


Illustration / Иллюстрация

[ˌtʃɒk ə ˈblɒk]


Sometimes the bridge is so chock-a-block with pedestrians that it’s difficult to get to work.
It was impossible to find anywhere to park as the car park was chock-a-block with cars.


Illustration / Иллюстрация



Faggots are traditionally enjoyed with peas, potatoes and gravy.
If you’re not up to making faggots yourself, you can buy them ready-made.

spotted dick

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[ˈspɒ.tɪd dɪk]

пудинг с изюмом

Clarissa can’t get enough spotted dick.
It’s such a British favourite that they even make a tinned version of spotted dick.


Illustration / Иллюстрация


две недели

I estimate the journey will take around two weeks, so I’ll need supplies to last a fortnight.
The only way off the island is the fortnightly flight to the mainland

stomach bug, tummy bug

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[ˈstʌ.mək ˈtʌ.mi bʌɡ]

диарея, понос

Travellers are warned they might pick up a stomach bug in foreign countries.
You might pick up a tummy bug if you travel to an exotic country.


Illustration / Иллюстрация



Salads! Healthy? These perishing greens will be the death of me.
The dashed train’s late again! What a perishing nuisance!


Illustration / Иллюстрация



Greedy bankers had created a shambles of the world’s economy by 2008.
Whenever she cooks, she leaves the kitchen in a complete shambles.


Illustration / Иллюстрация



Skivvy? Me? Not on your life! I wouldn’t know one end of a duster from the other.
I’m not much more than a skivvy really, but at least it’s a job.


Illustration / Иллюстрация


целоваться и обниматься

The newly married couple were often seen snogging in public.
The Americans make out, but the British snog.

sod off

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[sɒd ɒf]


They’re smiling, but they really want to tell this salesman to sod off and leave them in peace.
Why don’t you just sod off and leave me alone! You know I don’t fancy you!

Sod’s Law

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[sɒdɪz lɔː]

закон подлости

Of course I missed from ten feet away. It’s Sod’s law!
Any IT professional will tell you that Sod’s law is the order of the day with servers.

as long as your arm

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[əz ˈlɒŋ əz jər ɑːm]

длинный (список дел)

As far as these British English expressions are concerned, I have a list of videos to make as long as your arm.
Let’s get on with it, then. We’ve got a list of things to do as long as your arm.

middle of nowhere

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[ˈmɪd.l̩ əv ˈnəʊ.weə]


There’s this old, rundown shack in the middle of nowhere. It’s hard to believe that anyone ever lived here.
I found a beautiful old castle just sitting there in the middle of nowhere.

big girl’s blouse

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[bɪɡ ɡɜːlz blaʊz]

ныть как баба

Stop acting like a big girl’s blouse. It’s a flesh wound!
There are plenty more fish in the sea so stop being such a big girl’s blouse.

go pear shaped

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[ɡəʊ peə ʃeɪpt]

пойти наперекосяк

I was cleaning the bathroom with some strange chemical and it all went pear shaped.
You could see it was going to go pear shaped before he even began.

get your knickers in

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[ˈɡet jə ˈnɪkəz ɪn]


So, it’s not a diamond ring, but don’t get your knickers in a twist over it.
You’re always getting your knickers in a twist over some little thing. You need to relax more.

bodge job

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[bɒdʒ dʒɒb]


Whoever put this roof on did a real bodge job, I’m afraid. It’ll all have to come off.
There’s a reason for using experts and the reason is avoiding bodge jobs.

a bunch of fives

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[ə bʌntʃ əv faɪvz]

заехать по физиономии

My brother can be a bit of a plonker, but that’s no reason to give him a bunch of fives, especially on holiday.
He was supposed to have fixed this! I’ve a good mind to give him a bunch of fives when I next see him.

all ears

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[ɔːl ɪəz]

весь во внимании

Tell me more about this business idea of yours. I’m all ears.
The boss is all ears wanting to know why you hired so many cranes when we’re only building a shed.

fell off the back of

Illustration / Иллюстрация

[fel ɒf ðə ˈbæk ɒv]

приобретен незаконно

I know they’re not cheap, but at this price, well, you can be sure they didn’t fall off the back of a lorry.
Designer handbags at what price? Well, they must have fallen off the back of a lorry.



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