10 British Expressions that Should Come to the States – Compound Edition

I thought I would connect two nouns with a conjunction for today’s round of British expressions that should come Stateside.

1.  Done and Dusted – the state of being completed including the finishing details.  This one is especially good if you live with someone who will move items and not take the opportunity to dust while the opportunity presents itself.  Then you can present the case of making things done and dusted, right, Boffin? (Cough, cough)

2.  As Different as Chalk and Cheese – being superficially alike but radically different underneath.  The idea is that chalk resembles some cheeses as far as it is white and crumbly, but can be abrasive and lacks the appeal that cheese provides.   Donald Trump and his gardener are as different as chalk and cheese.

3.  Bits and Bobs – assorted stuff.  “My mum has bits and bobs around her house.  My dad has bits of Bob around his house.  The police are investigating.”

4.  Arse over Tit – falling or tumbling over – “I was so drunk I fell arse over tit.”  I always wanted an art critic to work this expression into a description of a Picasso painting.  “One can see the ethereal qualities of the milkmaid’s arse over her tit.”  A woman can dream.

5.  At Sixes and Sevens – a state confusion or pandemonium.  Here we go, being discriminatory against two perfectly good numbers.  What is so confusing about being at sixes or sevens?  The sixes and sevens serve nice cups of tea, have a lovely selection of biscuits, and talk about interesting things like books and current events.  I, personally, find it rather befuddling hanging out at the eights, thank you very much.  They smell funny and drone on about this odd connection between global warming and the migrant bat population of Uzbekistan.

6.  Hundreds-and-Thousands – nonpareils, i.e. spherical sprinkles.  They are so called because it is impossible to count them.  According to the Boffin, you would put them on ice cream or on a trifle for a kids’ treat.  Just a few spots of color can make a dessert cheerier.

What's not to love?
What’s not to love? Southampton 6 be damned!!!  “Nonpareils” by deb – originally posted to Flickr as nonpareils from li-lac. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

7.  Twig and Berries – penis and testicles – Heard in an Austin Powers movie, this expression needs to be included to check off the genitalia requirement for top 10 lists.  It also sounds like an adult breakfast cereal.  (Made you hungry, didn’t I?)  There is also a juice line in the United States.  Don’t ask me what’s in it, and I don’t want to find out.

8.  Short and Curlies – pubic hair – You use this one when somebody is in a compromising position.  “He’s got him by the short and curlies.”  I have heard somebody misuse the word literally with this expression.  I could only assume there was manscaping going on.

9.  All Piss and Wind – all talk and no action.  I was going to include the synonymous all mouth and no trousers.  But the Boffin explained that it is a sexist expression stemming back to a time when men made the decisions, hence being without trousers if they were ineffectual.  The men, not the trousers.  Although trousers are not effective, if no one wears them.  But I have no issues with unworn trousers.  They can’t control whether someone puts them on.  The issue is the sexism.  All piss and wind, it is.  Leave the trousers alone.  Unless you want to wear them.   But it’s a moot point anyway, since there are no trousers.

10.  Belt and Braces – being very cautious – Braces in the U.K. are suspenders in the U.S.  So if you are wearing a belt and braces, you are overly cautious.  You probably need new trousers too.  I bet you stole the trousers that the mouthy male chauvinists lost in the expression above.  You should see someone about your issues.  Being fearful while taking other people’s pants is no way to live.

20 thoughts on “10 British Expressions that Should Come to the States – Compound Edition

  1. Someone–I have no idea who–told me that chalk and cheese have to do with parts of the country with lots of dairy cows as opposed to the parts of the UK that have chalky soil. I’d love to make sense of this, since I suspect it does make sense under there somewhere, but I have no idea if the chalky parts of the country are also dairy areas. The phrase always leaves me feeling pucker-mouthed, as if I’d just bitten into a bit of chalk, expecting cheese.

    American phrases everybody should adopt? This one’s from Texas: He’s so dumb he’d piss on his own boots.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I always get a kick out of the fact that there is so much confusion around the origin of the term “…at sixes and sevens..” It isn’t often that a phrase is engulfed in its own definition like this one is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be honest, Rachel, after all these years, I understand and love the English sense of humor. I also can take good-natured national ribbing. But Enterprise missed the mark entirely. When I first saw the commercial on 4oD, I wanted to kick the TV. Dave, the smart Englishman, has to reign in the overly friendly and daft American Brad. Not cool.


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