Showing 1-10 of 12 entries tagged


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Among North American children, ‘cooties’ are an imaginary germ with which a socially undesirable person, or one of the opposite sex, is said to be infected. Our first evidence for this common playground taunt is from 1967, in a children’s novel by Beverly Cleary […]

blues and twos

‘Blues and twos’ is a British slang term referring to the blue flashing lights and two-tone siren of a police car or other emergency vehicle which is […]


Since the mid-1980s, ‘numpty’ has been used as a mild term of abuse in Britain. The earliest evidence […]

something for the weekend

Traditionally, a British man on a visit to his barber might be asked if he wants ‘something for the weekend’; in other words, if he would like to buy a condom in addition to his haircut.


The word ‘def’, meaning ‘excellent; outstanding; “cool”’ is one of the earliest and most prominent terms to come to mainstream slang from […]


If you ask a Scot to point you in the direction of the cludgie, he or she will most likely know exactly where you want to go, but may wince at your use of slang. […]

well in

People have been described as being ‘well in’ (on good or close terms) with another person or group since 1781. But a more recent development, at least in British and Irish colloquial use, is being tracked by the OED, specifically […]

the Trade

In nautical slang, the Submarine Service used to be referred to as ‘the Trade’. The Royal Navy launched its first submarine in 1901, but undersea warfare was not well regarded in all […]

legless (‘drunk’)

The adjective ‘legless’ is used a slang term to describe someone who is extremely drunk, particularly someone who can no longer stand or walk. The earliest example we can find of […]

crap hat

‘Crap hat’ is a derogatory term for the standard (originally khaki, now dark blue) beret worn by regular soldiers in the British Army, in contrast to those worn in the special regiments (typically red or green). The term is also used by […]

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