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Strictly British

bad job
waste of time, futile task

A woolly covering for the head and neck. The name comes from the site of a battle in the Crimean War; soldiers wore this kind of gear (NSOED).

U.S.: bow-legged.

barking, barking mad
wacky, nuts, insane

Crazy, but suggests a silly rather than a dangerous kind of craziness. The word's older sense is "frothy"; "barm" is actually the froth on top of fermenting malt liquor.

Bath buns
sweet bread rolls with crunchy sugar on top

U.S.: swimsuit; bathing suit.

the 'teeth' shaped parts on top of a castle

A Christmas tree ornament shaped like a ball and made of coloured glass or similar material.

bedside cabinet
a little chest of drawers for next to the bed
U.S.: nightstand

A cord inside a house which, when pulled, causes a bell to ring in another part of the house to get someone else's attention.

Idiot, objectionable person. The word is actually derived from a very crude and offensive bit of rhyming slang, but in this form is considered to be inoffensive.

A woman or girl, but this term is derogatory (though it can be used in a joking way). When used like this, it often appears in a phrase such as "old besom" (for an older woman) or "little besom" (for a young woman or girl). The word is also an old word for broom.

bin (binned, bin bag)
A bin is a trashcan, so if something is "binned" it is thrown away in the trash. A "bin bag" is a trash bag.

A cookie.

bit keen, bit rich
See keen, rich.

black pudding
A sausage-shaped dish made with blood and suet (animal fat) enclosed in a wrapper made from floury batter (NSOED).

A stupid, unpleasant, or contemptible person or thing (NSOED).

an annoying thing or person

A term of exclamation, a bit like "wow". It's actually a contraction of "God blind me!" (hence variations: "Cor Blimey!" or "Gawd Blimey!")

It's very much a slang term; someone trying to sound sophisticated/well-educated wouldn't use it (at least, if they knew what they were doing). It would sound very unusual for Percy, Hermione, or McGonagall to use it, and it's difficult to imagine Snape ever saying it.

U.S.: guy, man. In the U.K., one sense of "guy" is that of a scarecrow-like effigy burnt on Bonfire Night, so saying that someone "looks [like] a guy" carries a different meaning than in the U.S.

A flat-topped, hardened straw hat, with a brim. Often worn as part of the uniform of public schools. The name derives from the fact that the hats were worn by some University scholars, who would go boating on the river, but they became more widely popular as adult headgear in Edwardian times.

bogey, bogies
boogers, snot

Common, ordinary, with no frills.

Bonfire Night
a.k.a. Guy Fawkes Night.
On 5th November every year, Britain commemorates the Gunpowder Plot, in which Guy (Guido) Fawkes and other extremist Catholics plotted (but failed) to blow up James I and his Parliament. People have firework parties or attend organized displays, and effigies of Guy Fawkes (known as "the guy") are burned on bonfires. The term bonfire is derived from 'bone fire' because, originally, bones were the primary material burnt.

(referring to part of an automobile) hood (U.S.); can also mean a hat

boot (British edition only)
(referring to part of an automobile) trunk (U.S.)

bored of
U.S.: bored with

Coming in last place in a competition (i.e., last in a tabular listing of the entries).

bowler, bowler hat
a small hat with a round top, used to be popular business wear in London (accompanied by umbrella)

Note that this is not strictly British usage.

Boxing Day
The first weekday after Christmas day, so called because it used to be traditional to give Christmas-boxes (small presents or tips) on that day to people such as employees of firms providing regular services. (In modern usage the first day rather than the first weekday after Christmas Day is often referred to as Boxing Day instead.)

brew ("do me a brew")
Tea; make and serve a cup of tea.

budge up
Move up, move over.

budgie, budgerigar
A small parrot-like bird kept as a pet, which in the U.S. is called a parakeet. See also WEB LINKBudgerigar Society.

Throw or give.

bunk, do a
To run away, flee.

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Original page date 28-October-2005; Last page update June 25, 2012 SVA