The 250 most useful British abbreviations

Summary: Short forms which are often used in the UK and to describe British life.

By:|Audience: Teachers |Category:Learning English

This is a list of short versions of names of TV programmes, dogs, organisations, food, clothes, hobbies, products, people, places, etc that often come up in discussions in or about the UK. There is also a similar list of UK acronyms available on this site. 

  1. AbFab – Absolutely Fabulous (a popular comedy series)
  2. adult ed – adult education
  3. Advertising Standards – The Advertising Standards Authority
  4. aggro – aggression (meaning violence)
  5. Airedale – Airedale Terrier
  6. alkie/ alky – (an) alcoholic
  7. am dram – amateur dramatics
  8. aristo – aristocrat
  9. baccy – tobacco
  10. Bake Off – The Great British Bake Off (a reality TV show)
  11. bants – banter
  12. Baz/ Bazza – Barry
  13. beans – baked beans
  14. Becks – Rebecca/ David Beckham
  15. the Beeb – BBC
  16. Berks – Berkshire
  17. bevy/ bevvy – (alcoholic) beverage
  18. B'ham/ Brum – Birmingham
  19. biccie/ bikkie – biscuit
  20. bookie – bookmaker
  21. Boro – Middlesbrough/ Middlesbrough FC
  22. brekkie – breakfast
  23. Brexit – British exit (from the EU)
  24. brickie – bricklayer
  25. brill – brilliant (= wonderful)
  26. Brookie – Brookside (a former soap opera)
  27. Bucks – Buckinghamshire
  28. budgie – budgerigar
  29. bull – bull's-eye (in darts)
  30. (greasy) caff – a traditional British café (like an American diner)
  31. car boot – car boot sale (a kind of flea market)
  32. cardie/ cardy – cardigan
  33. cas/ caz – casual
  34. champers – champagne
  35. Chancellor – Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British minister of finance)
  36. The Channel – The English Channel
  37. Chaz – Charles
  38. cheese and onion – cheese and onion crisps
  39. chippy – (fish and) chip shop
  40. Chrimbo – Christmas
  41. ciggie – cigarette
  42. The City – The City of London (the financial district, also known as the Square Mile)
  43. Co. – County (as in Co. Antrim)
  44. co-ed – co-educational (the opposite of single sex)
  45. The Commons – The House of Commons
  46. comp – comprehensive school
  47. Con. – Conservative (written abbreviation)
  48. Co-op/ The Co-op – The Co-operative Group (most famously a supermarket)
  49. Corrie – Coronation Street (a popular and long-running soap opera)
  50. crackers – Christmas crackers
  51. (a) cuppa – a cup of tea
  52. daffs – daffodils
  53. day return – day return ticket (= two way tickets travelling both directions on one day)
  54. Dazza – Darren
  55. deb – debutant
  56. deffo/ defo – definitely
  57. dip – diploma
  58. Docs/ Doc Martens – Doctor Martens/ Doctor Marten boots
  59. doner – doner kebab
  60. double decker – double decker bus
  61. Downton – Downton Abbey (a popular historical drama)
  62. dryer – tumble dryer
  63. E Sussex – East Sussex (written abbreviation)
  64. eff off/ F off – a slightly more polite way of saying “f**k off”
  65. estate – council estate/ housing estate/ estate car
  66. exhaust – exhaust pipe (= tailpipe)
  67. The Express – the Daily Express (newspaper)
  68. felt tip – felt tip pen
  69. fish’n’chips – fish and chips
  70. footie/ soccer – (association) football
  71. full fat – full fat milk
  72. G – ground floor (written abbreviation used on lift buttons etc)
  73. gas – natural gas
  74. Gatwick – London Gatwick/ Gatwick Airport
  75. Gaz/ Gazza – Gary/ Paul Gascoigne (former England footballer)
  76. gent – gentleman
  77. (the) gents – the gentlemen’s toilet
  78. glam – glamorous/ glam rock
  79. Glos. – Gloucestershire
  80. goalie/ keeper – goalkeeper
  81. guide – girl guide (= girl scouts)
  82. guv/ guv’nor – governor (a way of addressing people)
  83. ha’penny – an old fashioned expression for half a penny
  84. a half – half a pint (usually of beer)
  85. halls – halls of residence/ student halls (= student dorms)
  86. (The) Hammers – West Ham FC
  87. hankie – handkerchief
  88. Hants – Hampshire
  89. hash – hash sign/ hash button
  90. head – head teacher/ headmaster/ headmistress
  91. Heathrow – London Heathrow/ Heathrow Airport
  92. Herts – Hertfordshire
  93. Hibs – Hibernian (football club)
  94. high rise – high rise building/ high rise flats
  95. high vis (jacket) – high visibility (jacket)
  96. the Highlands – the Scottish Highlands
  97. hockey – field hockey (not usually used for ice hockey in the UK)
  98. (summer) hols – (summer) holiday (= vacation)
  99. Home Ec – home economics (a school subject mainly consisting of cooking)
  100. Hons – (degree with) honours
  101. hostel – youth hostel
  102. house – house music
  103. hubby – husband
  104. Hull – Kingston upon Hull (the short form is more common)
  105. hyper – hyperactive (similar meaning to ADHD)
  106. Imperial – Imperial College London
  107. indie – independent rock music
  108. Jack Russell – Jack Russell Terrier
  109. jaffas – jaffa cakes
  110. Jag – Jaguar (cars)
  111. jammies / jimjams/ PJs –pyjamas
  112. Jez/ Jezza - Jeremy
  113. King James – King James bible
  114. King’s – King’s College London
  115. kit – sports kit (= sports uniform)
  116. Lab./ Labour – the Labour Party
  117. the ladies – the ladies’ toilet
  118. Lancs. – Lancashire
  119. lav – lavatory
  120. Led Zep – Led Zeppelin (a classic rock group)
  121. (The) Lib Dems – The Liberal Democrats
  122. the lights – traffic lights (= traffic signals/ stoplights)
  123. lino – linoleum (a kind of floor covering)
  124. lipo – liposuction (a kind plastic surgery)
  125. lippy – lipstick
  126. lolly – lollipop
  127. London Met – London Metropolitan University
  128. Lords – House of Lords
  129. L-plate – learner plate (put on a car when the driver doesn’t have a full driving license)
  130. Ltd – limited (liability) company
  131. The Mail – The Daily Mail (newspaper)
  132. m’way – motorway (mainly a written abbreviations, but sometimes pronounced “em way”)
  133. M1/ M25 etc – motorway (used in the name of the road)
  134. mac – mackintosh (raincoat)
  135. Macca – common nickname for people whose family name starts with “Mc” or “Mac”/ Paul McCartney (former Beatle)
  136. mag – magazine
  137. Maggie – Margaret/ Margaret Thatcher
  138. Man U – Manchester United
  139. Manc – Mancunian (= from Manchester)
  140. (bangers and/ pie and) mash – (sausages and/ meat pie and) mashed potato
  141. mason – freemason/ stonemason
  142. maths – mathematics
  143. The Met – The Metropolitan Police
  144. (The) Met Office – formerly the Meteorological Office (the agency in charge of weather forecasts)
  145. mobile – mobile phone
  146. mod cons – modern conveniences (meaning a fridge, iron, etc)
  147. morning – good morning
  148. mouth to mouth – mouth to mouth resuscitation
  149. mpg – miles per gallon (still used, despite decimalisation)
  150. mph – miles per hour (still used, despite decimalisation)
  151. NatWest – National Westminster Bank
  152. navvy – navigator
  153. Newkie Brown – Newcastle Brown (a kind of beer)
  154. nightie – nightdress
  155. Northants – Northamptonshire
  156. Notts – Nottinghamshire
  157. Number 10 – Number 10 Downing Street (the Prime Minister’s house)
  158. Ofcom – Office of Communications (the regulator for TV etc)
  159. offie – off license (= liquor store)
  160. Ofgem – The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets
  161. Ofqual – Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation
  162. Ofsted – Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (the regulator for schools etc)
  163. Oxbridge – Oxford University and Cambridge University
  164. Oxfam – originally the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief
  165. p – penny/ pence
  166. panto – pantomime
  167. pants – underpants
  168. para – paratrooper
  169. peg – clothes peg
  170. pen. – penalty (written abbreviation)
  171. a pepper – green pepper/ red pepper/ etc (= bell peppers, not black pepper, which would be just “pepper” with “a”)
  172. phone box – telephone box (= phone booth)
  173. pitbull – pitbull terrier
  174. a plaster – a sticky plaster
  175. pleb – plebeian (an insulting term for working class people)
  176. (ex) poly – former polytechnic (a kind of lower ranking university)
  177. Pool/ The Pool – Liverpool/ Liverpool FC
  178. pot – teapot
  179. pram – formerly called a perambulator (= a baby carriage)
  180. prep school – preparatory school
  181. Pret – Pret a Manger (a chain of sandwich shops)
  182. prezzie – present
  183. Pride – London Pride (beer)
  184. Proficiency – Cambridge Proficiency (in English) (also known as CPE)
  185. prole – proletariat
  186. the prom – promenade (meaning a place to walk along the seaside, similar to an esplanade)
  187. provos – the Provisional Irish Republican Army (usually known as the IRA)
  188. The Pru – Prudential PLC (insurance company)
  189. pt – (imperial) pint (different from a US pint)
  190. pub – public house (= a kind of bar)
  191. pud – pudding (= dessert/ sweet)
  192. quad – quadrangle (a courtyard, most famously in colleges)
  193. r./ R. – reigned (from… to…)
  194. ready salted – ready salted crisps
  195. rec – recreation ground
  196. ref – referee
  197. return – return ticket (= round trip)
  198. a roast – roast dinner/ Sunday roast
  199. Rolls/ Roller – Rolls-Royce
  200. Rt. Hon. – Right Honourable (a title for important politicians)
  201. rugger – rugby
  202. rules and regs – rules and regulations
  203. sage and onion – sage and onion stuffing (put into a chicken or turkey before roasting)
  204. salt and vinegar – salt and vinegar crisps
  205. sarnie – sandwich
  206. Scottie – Scottish Terrier
  207. Scunny – Scunthorpe
  208. semi – semi-detached house
  209. semi skimmed – semi-skimmed milk (= low fat milk)
  210. semis – semi finals
  211. Sgt – sergeant
  212. Shazza – Sharon
  213. Shrops – Shropshire
  214. sickie – sick day
  215. Sid – Sidney
  216. single – single ticket (= one-way trip)
  217. skin – skinhead (haircut or person)
  218. Soton – Southampton/ Southampton FC
  219. spag bol – spaghetti bolognese
  220. special ed – special education
  221. sprouts – Brussels sprouts
  222. Spurs/ Tottenham – Tottenham Hotspur (football team)
  223. st – stone (= 14 pounds)
  224. St Paul's – St Paul’s cathedral
  225. Staff – Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  226. Staffs – Staffordshire
  227. Stella – Stella Artois
  228. Stoke – Stoke upon Trent
  229. the Stones – the Rolling Stones
  230. Strictly – Strictly Come Dancing (a reality TV show)
  231. studio – studio flat
  232. telly/ TV – television
  233. the Tower – the Tower of London
  234. tie – necktie (the long version is rarely used in the UK)
  235. tip – rubbish tip (= rubbish dump/ landfill)
  236. totes – totally
  237. tracky bottoms – tracksuit bottoms
  238. Trinity – Trinity College
  239. TWTWTW/ TW3 – That Was the Week That Was (a famous satirical TV programme)
  240. (meat and two) veg – vegetables
  241. veggie – vegetable/ vegetarian
  242. W Sussex – West Sussex
  243. Wednesday – Sheffield Wednesday FC
  244. wellies – wellington boots (= rubber boots/ galoshes)
  245. West Brom – West Bromwich (town and football team)
  246. Winnie – Winston Churchill
  247. Yank – Yankee
  248. Yorkie – Yorkshire Terrier
  249. Yorks – Yorkshire
  250. Yorkshire pud – Yorkshire pudding 

 

Copyright © 2017

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com

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