Sunday, October 9, 2011

Host Country words & phrases

Host Phrases

We’re obviously into discussing words and phrases, because this week we’re highlighting three favourite/favourite words from our host country:-


Cor Blimey!  Three words or phrases I’ve picked up from my host country?  Gordon Bennet, that’s a tall order, innit, and bugger if I can come up with anything.  I’ve been sitting here for ten minutes and, so far, I’ve got sweet FA.

Yeah, to be honest, limiting it to three is the hard part.  The British language is so full of brilliant words and phrases that it’s difficult to not pick them up.  When I visit the States these days, people have a hard time figuring out what I’m on about.

So for my three:

Penultimate: I love this one because no one knows what it means.  In America, we just say “next to the last” or, more likely, don’t mention it at all.  I mean, if it isn’t the ultimate, it simply doesn’t matter.

Fortnight is a good one, too.  People know immediately what it means, but when you say something like, “We’ll be holidaying there for a fortnight,” they think you’re talking like a Jane Austin novel.

Bollocks, however, is my favorite.  It’s such a handy pejorative – “bollocks!” – or can be used to describe a telling-off (“Clive toddled home from the Dog and Bacon at half three last night and she-indoors* gave him a proper bollocking, poor sod.”)

Really, how can you not like these words?

*She-Indoors = wife


(I thought it was “her indoors”, or “’er indoors”, but never mind.)

If this were a competition, Mike’s “bollocks” would win hands down, so to speak. There just isn’t really a word anywhere on the planet, I venture, that has quite the impact. However, there are a few Americanisms that I have grown fond of over the years.

Snooze, you lose” – used in our house on a daily basis and covers everything from me asking what the kids want for Christmas, (I usually give them ten seconds to list their “wants”), to justification for nicking the last piece of pizza. 

Copasetic” – I have never actually plucked up the courage to say this. It would be like an American saying “bollocks” – somehow fake-sounding and just plain wrong. However, it’s another one of those words that can cover a lot of bases (ooh, there’s another American phrase), and it means “perfectly satisfactory”. Doesn’t it have a much more scientific sound though? I think it should mean something to do with the left frontal lobe. Or something. (See why I’ve never used it.)

Behoove” – I’m not so much fond of this word as amazed by it. Yes, it means the same as “behove” but talk about sounding stupid. The word is used a little more in the States than I remember it in the UK, especially in the southern states. The first time I heard someone saying “It would behove you to…” I honestly thought it was a joke. Be-what? Talk about taking a perfectly good British (Middle English, actually) word and spoiling it like that.

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  1. Actually, it is her indoors. My bad.

  2. Im rather fond of 'bloody hell' and 'oi' Both just rock my world.

  3. MY dad used to say, *Hell's teeth* when things went wrong and if he was cut up by a car on a busy road (no motorways then) he would say, *That cars really baulked me.*
    My mother was always telling me not to myther her ....... meaning to bother her. (Not even sure how to spell it.)

    I say *Spit* when things go wrong.... I suppose its better than *Shit*.
    I'd better stop before I bore everyone to death. I really do think the English language is colourfully descriptive, though.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  4. I LOVE the word "Oi" and say it all the time. Trouble is, here in Chicago, where I have a lot of Jewish friends, they think I'm saying "Oy".

  5. Yob springs to mind as a well used one, as is Chav, and locally here, it would be "fit like"

  6. We also have 'on your feet, lose your seat' which doesn't really encourage my children to get their arses (love the word arse) out of the sofa and get their own drinks.

    But nothing beats bollocks. Such a good word.

  7. Bollocks is a fantastic word.

    My American friends laugh at me for my use of 'bloody'. There isn't really an equivalent here. And I still haven't got over that they talk about 'curse words', not swearing.

  8. Oh, and 'sodding' as well. No-one here has heard of sodding (apart from sodding your lawn, that is).

  9. Or the fact they they say "shag" without flinching. When the Austin Powers films were coming out, even the news anchors would say "shagadelic" without having a clue!

  10. Shag? that's a type of carpet, right? After reading Toni's bit, it occurs to me I have never head anyone say, "Behoove" or "Copasetic" over here; I'll have to find a way to work them into a conversation.

  11. I love the word 'bollocks', however it just plain doesn't work in any American accent.

  12. The main difference is that we so ENJOY bad language in the UK, you can bet your bollocks we do, whereas in the US they are shocked by it, thus missing out on one of life's chief pleasures. Why pay for therapy, when there's a whole lexicon of foul language at your disposal for a great big bollocking venting session, which will be just as effective and much cheaper?

    My kids are so prudish about language that it makes me laugh (inwardly, of course).

  13. I love the British phrase of "go on then".

    ME: Would you like a cup of tea?

    BRITISH PERSON: I shouldn't, I really must be going.

    ME: Are you sure? Just one quick cuppa?

    BRITISH PERSON: Oh, go on then.

  14. Ha ha Moe. I'd never even thought of that, but yes, it's very fitting when you've had your arm bent!
    The other one we used to say as kids, which my brother re-introduced a while ago is "Hard to bear". Instead of saying "Oh what a shame" or "Oh, bad luck", you say it.

  15. You have to remember that bollocks is multi use word and can be used in many contexts:

    " I asked my next door neighbour to fix the light switch but he made a complete bollocks of it and fused the whole system"
    " Vote for him...would I bollocks"
    " I love these shoes I got yesterday...they're the absolute bollocks (or the dog's bollocks)"
    "I can't understand this tax form, it's all bollocks to me"
    " Yeah Frank's a nice bloke...but he talks such bollocks".
    Finally, during the Suez Crisis of 1956, the forces decided to call upon their reservists to assist in the invasion. They received countless of the recall notices back with the single word " bollocks" scrawled across them.

  16. My sister says I am not allowed to say "Cheers" because I sound ridiculous. I did it when we were getting out of a taxi at my flat and she laid down the law "never again"

  17. What? There's nothing wrong with "Cheers".

    I looked 'copacetic'(correct spelling) up in the dictionary. It said American informal for 'in excellent order'. Not sure I like it though.

    Do you have 'Arse over tit' in the US? I love that phrase.

  18. Mrs. Baum: We don't say "Arse over tit" in the US because we don't say "Arse" and no one over there can say "tit" without giggling ;) We do have the saying "Ass over tea kettle," though. Or, at least my mom did.

    And I cannot bring myself to say "cheers" -- it just does not sound right to me, but "bloody hell" is quite a different matter. ;)

  19. Mrs Baum - can't remember which dictionary I looked copasetic up in, but it gave both spellings!

  20. I'll let you off then Expat! ;-) didn't seem to have your spelling, and nor did my Oxford Dictionary, but that doesn't mean a US dictionary doesn't.

  21. I keep saying 'cheers' to people over here - I try to stop, but it's like some weird compulsion.

    My favourite Americanism is 'ouster', which was used all the time when the crises were on the Middle East, and I don't think is ever used in British English - you would say 'the ousting of Mubarak' etc. Like 'behoves'/'behooves' it sounds marvellously old-fashioned.


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