Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Marjorie Wolfe
by Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe

Note: This advice was given by the owner of the Jezebel Restaurant in SoHo, New York.

Olympic fever has hit the Big Apple.
Everyone here is talking about Mitt Romney’s gaffe. The Brits are calling him “worse than Sarah Palin” and a “total car crash” after he suggested London was unprepared to host the Olympic Games.

He created a diplomatic blunder. David Cameron replied, “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities in the world. Of course, it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

Here on Long Island Rabbi Anchelle Perl of Mineola, notes with sadness that the opening Olympics “comes with the dark memory of 40 years ago in Munich, when 11 Israeli athletes and a policeman were killed by terrorists.” The victims’ families have requested a moment of silence at the opening ceremonies. As of today, the Olympic Committee continues to reject this request.

Yes, Millions of Americans will be watching the 2012 Olympics, and more than 300 languages will be spoken during the 3-week period in England’s capital.

Shown below is a list of essential British words/terms/expressions. The Yiddish terms are also included.

“bloke” = A man whose name is either not known or not important. It implies that he is ordinary. (In Yiddish, the word for ordinary is “geveyntlekh.”)

“boondash” = Hungarian version of French toast

“brassed off” = Fed up with someone. Pissed perhaps.

“brill” = Short for brilliant. Used by kids to mean cool. (The Yiddish word for brilliant is “brilyant.”)

“budge up” = If you want to sit down and someone is taking up too much space, you’d ask them to budge up - move and make some space. (Think, “Nu, shoyn! Move, already!)

“bung” = To throw it. For example, a street trader might bung something in for free if you pay cash right now. Or you could say ‘bung my car keys over, mate.” A “bung” is also a bribe. (The Yiddish word meaning to bribe is “unterkoyfn.”)

“butchers” = To have a butchers at something is to have a look. (In Yiddish, to have a look is “gib a kik.”)

C of E = The Church of England

Chat up = To chat someone up is to try and pick them up

“cheerio” = Not a breakfast cereal. Just a friendly way of saying goodbye. (In Yiddish, goodbye is “zay(t) gezunt.”)

“chin wag” = another word for a chat. (In Yiddish, to chat means “shmuesn.”)

“cockup” = You have made a mistake. It has nothing to do with parts of the male body. (In Yiddish, the word for mistake is “toes.”)

“Cutting” = A newspaper clipping. (The Yiddish word for newspaper is “tsaytung.”)

“daft” = Short for a daft half penny (in old money). It basically means stupid. (In Yiddish, a stupid person is a “dumkop.”

“dicky’ = Dicky rhymes with sick and means you feel sick.

“diddle” = To rip someone off or to con someone is to diddle them. When you visit England, check your change to make sure you haven’t been diddled! And never buy a Rolex from someone who is out of breath!

“dishy” = Someone who is attractive or good looking.

“Dogsbody” = A person who will do the odd job that nobody else wants to do.

“fag” = A cigarette (The Yiddish word for cigarette is “papiros.”)

“fancy” (verb) To want to do or have something; to be sexually attracted to someone. Ex. Do you fancy going to the cinema on Friday; I fancy the new guy in my office.

“fit bird” = a girl who is pretty good looking or tasty. A fit bloke would be the male equivalent. (In Yiddish, a “sheyn meydl” is a pretty girl and a handsome man is called “sheyn.”)

“flutter” = To have a bet, usually a small one by someone who is not a serious gambler. (In Yiddish, the words meaning to bet are “vetn zikh.”)

“full of beans” = loads of energy It’s a polite way of saying that a child is a maniac.

“full monty” = It has nothing to do with taking your clothes off. It just means the whole thing or going the whole way.

“Gen” = Information. If you have the gen then you know what is going on. (The Yiddish word for information is “informatsye.”)

“Gutted” = If someone is really upset by something they might say that they were gutted. Ex. You feel “gutted” when you just failed your driving test! (In Yiddish the word meaning to upset is “iberkern”)

“Hanky panky” = “slap and tickle” as some older folks call it. (In the U. S. it would be making out!)

“Haggle” = To argue or negotiate over a price. (In the U. S. it’s like you dicker over the price of a car.) (The Yiddish word meaning negotiation is “farhandlung”; the word meaning negotiable is “farkoyflekh.”

“Hairgrips” = bobby pins

“Hoover” = synonym. To vacuum; vacuum cleaner. Hoover is a company that makes vacuum cleaners. The company is so well known that the brand name is often used instead of vacuum cleaner. (In Yiddish, a vacuum cleaner is a “shtoybzoyger.”)

“Khazi” = Toilet/bathroom (In Yiddish a toilet is a “klozet.”

“Kip” = A short sleep, forty winks, or a snooze. (In Yiddish, to nap/doze is “dreml.”)

“Knees up” = If you’re having a knees up, you’re going to a dance or party.

“Layabout’ = Hobo or bum.

“Lido” = A public swimming pool

“Luvvly”/“Jubbly” = Another way of saying lovely.

“Mate” = It simply means friend. (In Yiddish, a friend is a"fraynd” or “khaver.”)

“nappy” = a diaper

“Nice one!” = Close to the term “good job.”

“Not my cup of tea” = Not to your liking.

“Off your trolley” = You’re crazy, mad. (The Yiddish word meaning crazy is “meshuge.”)

“Off colour” = You look pale and ill. (The Yiddish word for pale is “blas.” The Yiddish word for ill is “krank.”)

“Pillar box” = Mailbox

“Pint” = beer. In British bars and pubs pints of beer (or half-pints) are served. They use pint to mean a beer in a pub. Ex. “Do you want to go for a pint after work?” (The Yiddish word for beer is “bir.”)

“Put a sock in it” = Telling someone to shut up. (Think: “Sha! Shveig!”)

“Quid” = Just as Americans use the slang word “buck” for a dollar, British people use quid to mean a British pound.

“Read” = If someone asks you what you read at the university, they mean what was your major at school.

“Reckon” = To think; to suppose. Ex. I reckon it will rain tomorrow. (The Yiddish word meaning to suppose is “meshaer zayn.”)

“Redundancy” = It means you’re laid off.

“Rubbish” = Garbage, trash, waste, low quality, untrue. Ex. “Did you read that article in the newspaper? What a load of rubbish! I don’t believe it!” (The Yiddish word meaning garbage is “opfal.”)

“Rugger” = Short for “rugby”

“Scrummy” = Used to describe some food that is particularly good (and probably sweet and fattening). Think Halvah.

“Slag” = To bad mouth someone in a nasty way. (Usually to the face.)

“Spend a penny” = To go to the bathroom. (The Yiddish word for bathroom is “vashtsimer.”)

“Splash out” = Get out your credit card and spend far too much money. You might splash out on a new car.

“Stonker” = Huge. Looking at a burger, you might say, “blimey, what a stonker.”

“Tidy” = An attractive or sexy woman.

“turn-ups” = Trouser cuffs (The Yiddish word for trousers is “hoyzn.”)

“Waffle” = To talk on and on about nothing.

“Wicked” = syn. for cool, great, excellent. Ex. “Look at that jacket. It’s wicked. I’m going to buy it.”


Marjorie Wolfe’s favorite quote from The New York Times, Editorial, July 31, 1981: “The Chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, Robert Burchfield, said that in 200 years or so, Americans and Britons would be unintelligible to one another and not be able to converse without a translator.”

Marjorie Wolfe
  Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe