Brits reveal their favourite uniquely British words and phrases in fun survey

In a survey of 2,000, Brits have revealed their favourite uniquely British words and phrases – including 'It's all gone pear-shaped', 'Don't get your knickers in a twist', and 'the bee's knees'.

Popular dialect sayings included 'Were ya born in a barn?' and 'gone to pot, while other beloved phrases were 'curtain twitcher' – a nosey person – and 'it's a dreich day', which means a miserable day.

However, there are fears that these one-of-a-kind quotes could soon become a thing of the past.

More than half of those surveyed believe that regional dialects are declining in the UK, with some more familiar with words and phrases from Europe such as ‘bon appétit’, ‘déjà-vu’ and ‘adiós’.

But Trainline, which commissioned the research, hopes to change this.

The popular train booking company has partnered with the British Library to launch an interactive online quiz, which uses a sound archive with audio recordings of thousands of dialect words and phrases.

The quiz aims to get travellers clued up on local lingo as they journey around Britain and Northern Ireland over the summer – and to celebrate UK dialects.

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Jonnie Robinson, lead curator of spoken English at The British Library, said: “It’s been great fun working with Trainline to build a collection of dialect phrases for the online quiz.

"Our sound archive preserves thousands of spoken word recordings of UK accents and dialects for anyone to hear.

"The quiz is a fantastic way to celebrate them and connect them with people who may not have come across them before.

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"The richness and diversity of dialects featured immediately conjures up a sense of place and community and ultimately makes UK travel so fascinating.”

The study also found Brits are especially fond of Scots’ use of words, who said that Scottish English is their favourite dialect in the UK.

This is thanks to words and phrases like ‘collie-buckie’, a piggy-back ride, and 'pure barrie', which means utterly wonderful and fantastic.

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Scottish English was also named as the most difficult for people to understand.

Not that those polled appear to mind, as 72 per cent enjoy hearing different UK dialects even if they don’t always understand them.

Conducted through OnePoll, the survey identified some lesser known British phrases such as 'pastydiddy?' which means 'did you pass him on your travels?'

46 per cent of people surveyed admitted they'd like to have a better understanding of UK phrases and dialects than they currently do.

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Compared to this time last year, the train operator has seen a 921 per cent increase in the number of people travelling by rail for short UK breaks.

Tim Dunn, travel editor at Trainline, said: “Our fun and educational guide to local dialects mean British tourists can enjoy the cultural richness of their holiday destination, even if they’re not travelling abroad this year.”


  1. Don’t get your knickers in a twist

  2. It’s all gone pear-shaped

  3. The bee’s knees

  4. A cock up

  5. Were ya born in a barn?

  6. Gone to pot

  7. A picnic short of a sandwich

  8. Brass monkey

  9. Bright as a button

  10. Where there’s muck there’s brass

  11. A curtain twitcher

  12. You look smashing

  13. I’ll ring you/give you a ring

  14. Having a blether

  15. I quite fancy you

  16. They are fit

  17. It’s a dreich day

  18. You look smart

  19. Lang may yer lum reek

  20. Treacle tart


  1. Chuffed

  2. Cheers

  3. Gutted

  4. Dodgy

  5. Alright?

  6. Hunky-dory

  7. Blimey

  8. Mate

  9. Brilliant!

  10. Cheeky

  11. Chinwag

  12. Miffed

  13. Quid

  14. Rubbish

  15. Bloke

  16. Brolly

  17. Innit?

  18. Ta-ta!

  19. Finicky

  20. Champion

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