12 British phrases you need to know when studying in the UK


International students, this one’s for you!

To help you battle British slang, we’ve translated 12 common phrases you’ll hear a LOT during your time at uni in the UK.


1. Hammered


Brits often add ‘-red’ at the end of any word to describe someone after one too many beers.

Example: “John got hammered at the pub last night.”


2. Burn

A cigarette.

Refers to the burning end of a cigarette.

Example: “I’m going outside for a burn.”


3. Aggy

An abbreviated term for aggravated or irritated.

Example: “Sarah got so aggy earlier when I told her I used up the milk.”


4. Bog-standard

Describes something that is basic and simple in its function.

Example: “I didn’t do anything fancy for my presentation; it’s pretty bog standard.”


5. Brolly

An abbreviated term for umbrella.

Example: “Ugh, look at the rain. I’ll grab my brolly.”



6. Cost a bomb


This phrase is often used when something is surprisingly pricey.

Example: “That new text-book cost me a bomb!”


7. Spilling the tea

Revealing gossip.

‘Tea’ originates from drag culture and can be used on its own to mean gossip or news.

Example: “OMG, I need to spill the tea about last night!”


8. Have a gander

Take a look.

Gander means stretching your neck to see and is thought to refer to the long neck of a goose.

Brits will say this when they’re checking something out.

Example: “I need an outfit for tonight so I’m gonna have a gander in Primark.”


9. Blimey

This is an exclamation.

You might hear fellow students say this to express their surprise or alarm about something.

Example: “Blimey! My lecture starts soon, I better get going!”


10. Sods law

This phrase sums up the idea that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong (eventually).

Example: “I was going to submit my essay but the WiFi is down! Sods law, I guess.”


11. The chippy

Any ‘Fish and Chips’ shop.

Your local chippy will sell a range of food other than chips (or fries), and it’s definitely worth a visit while you’re in the UK!

Example: “I’m gonna pop to the chippy, do you want anything?”


12. Glass of squash

A flavoured syrup or cordial that you dilute with water.

Very popular among British students, it’s similar to Kool Aid in America.

Example: “I fancy a nice glass of squash with my dinner.”


And there we have it – a handful of phrases to add to your vocabulary, and use at uni with your pals!

For more help with baffling British phrases, read our international student’s guide to British slang.