How well do you know English sayings and Idioms?

How well do you know English sayings and Idioms?The English like to speak nicely and have a good reputation throughout the World for doing so.  Indeed, well spoken English is like “nothing on earth!”  However, we also like to speak in a relaxed and informal way and sometimes even use Cockney Rhyming Slang.  For instance, do you know what “apples and pears” mean?”  It is another term for stairs.  How odd is that

 Cockneys used to have their own language and although it was English, it was not easily understood by anyone not born under the sound of Bow Bells.  And if someone was born under the sound of Bow Bells, then they were a real Cockney!  Cockneys are seen to be friend jovial people; full of fun and have a Pearly King and Queen as an honorary leader of the Cockney People 

Butchers Hook – shortened to Butchers

Means let me see; take a look; (its because Hook rhymes with look!)

Killing Time

It means wasting time or waiting for something to happen.  I will have to “kill time” until dinner


It used to mean the way you travelled out to places such as India – Port out – Starboard Home (P.O.S.H.) and this meant that you avoided the high midday sun shining into your cabin

Bent as a nine Bob note 

Before decimalisation we used to have a Ten Shilling Note – or the slang used  was Ten Bob Note.  There never was a Nine Bob note – so hence “ bent as a nine bob note!” because they were not legal tender

Belt and Braces

Using both a belt and braces would mean you were overly cautious (about your trousers falling down) and this phrase refers to someone being cautious over anything; most things or even all things.

Give it the Nod

Someone has given you permission to do something. They are nodding their assent to it.

Pardon my French

Its an odd phrase to mean that they are apologising for swearing! 

I should cocoa

Its a modern phrase used when someone doesn’t want something to happen . For example, “you think you are saying out late tonight? I should cocoa!”  meaning you won’t be staying out late.

More front than Brighton

This is usually said to someone who is very confident; enthusiastic and cocky.  They would be told they have more front than Brighton, and if you knew Brighton you would know how much seafront Brighton has.  Having more than Brighton means you are way too confident  and should “ wind your neck in!”

Spend a Penny

It’s an odd little phrase meaning you want to go to the toilet.  You used to have to pay one old penny to use the Public Toilets.  So saying you want to “spend a penny” means you need to go to the Bathroon and it was a more discreet way of telling people this!

Knowing some of these phrases will help you to speak “everyday modern English” but also allow you to understand what people are saying and meaning when they speak to each other with familiar British Idioms.

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