We present a short lexicon of modern British street slang, so that the unwary traveler does not get their peng mixed up with their YOLO and find themselves chirpsing with someone who is jokes.
A most undesirable state of affairs, I trust you’ll agree.
Oh my days!
It may sound like the sort of expletive you’d hear from a maiden aunt who finds other curse-avoidant curses like cheese and crackers or for crying out loud to be a bit risque, but Oh my days! is a genuine youthspeak phenomenon in the U.K. right now and has been for a while. Teenagers seem to marvel at everything they come across, finding it either appalling or terrific, and whichever the case may be, Oh my days! is the perfect way to commence a loud emotional reaction. Consider it a modern day Whoa! for people who enjoy speaking in words.
How to use it: “Oh my days! I can’t even. That is so random.”
Thanks partly to overuse on the scripted reality TV show The Only Way Is Essex, jel and well jel went from an interesting linguistic diversion to a verbal onslaught in a remarkable short time, which isn’t bad going considering it’s just a contraction of the word jealous. And because it is popular, it’s been utilized for commercial gain with unseemly haste, as these stars of the show were quick to prove:
That said, it’s not just a spin-off from a TV show. Jel has achieved the kind of saturation that means it’s being used by people that never saw a single episode, as it’s a useful, cheery, slangy way to respond to a friend’s good news posts on social media.
How to use it: “Oh! Is that photo from your holiday? I’m well jel hun.”
You may think you know what jokes are, but that’s only if you’re using the word as the plural of joke. When things are unsatisfactory, when you are outraged at the poor quality of service on offer, when you need an adjective to describe the situation, the word you’ll need is jokes. It means laughably bad. A poor quality burger is jokes. A cancelled train ticket is jokes. Officious bureaucracy or heavy-handed figures of authority are jokes. Some of Russell Brand’s jokes are jokes, and the others are jokes. See?
How to use it: “You can’t seriously be expecting a tip after you spilled my soup in my lap. That is jokes.”
The most important thing to remember about the word dench is that it was invented and popularized by one man, the grime MC Lethal Bizzle. Technically, it can’t count as freshly minted street slang if it came from just one fellow jumping up and down and saying it over and over again in an attempt to get a meme off the ground. There again, he must have done that a lot because it genuinely has taken off. Which means it can count after all. Dench means the very best of the best, and it can be applied to anything from a pizza to a future life partner.
It’s not clear if Lethal had Dame Judi Dench in mind when the term was first coined, but he certainly does not object to the connection, especially if it helps him sell his dench merchandise (which is, of course, extremely dench).
And she loves it too. And if you think I made that up, watch this:
How to use it: “New sneakers? Man those are well dench.”
The dance of love is a complicated one, with many forbidding rhythms and awkward shifts in time signature. And that would be more than enough to deal with if the young people didn’t keep changing what key elements of the dance are called as well. What used to be called sharking—the act of going out and flirting with people with whom you fancy a snog—has gained a new and less easily understood name, for a new and less easily understood generation. And that name is chirpsing.
So when a young man (or woman) sees a young woman (or man) that s/he thinks is peng (exceptionally attractive), what he needs to do is get his swag on, head on over and commence chirpsing like there is no tomorrow.
How to use it: “Where’s Nigel? Last time I saw him he was in the corner chirpsing with Felicity.”
Now go forth and spread the word(s).
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