The Harry Potter Lexicon Link to Main page of the Harry Potter Lexicon.

Strictly British

pants
U.S.: Briefs, underwear, underpants. In the U.K. the term "trousers" is used to refer to the outer garments covering the legs (a term that is also used in the U.S. but is less common there).

pastille
A kind of hard candy; can also be used to refer to something like a cough drop.

pasty
A sort of pie with a crimped, thick short pastry crust, full of chopped and seasoned meat and potatoes. The idea originated in Cornwall (hence, Cornish Pasties), where wives of miners would fill the pastry case and make the crust into a handle that could be held in dirty hands, whilst eating. Often, one end of the pie would be filled with fruit, to serve as a dessert. The word 'pasty' is derived from paste/pasta = paste. Not to be confused with skimpy breast coverings!

peaky
Peaked, sickly-looking.

peckish
Hungry.

penny-farthing

penny-farthing
An early form of bicycle with a very large front wheel and a small rear wheel (NSOED).
If this form of bicycle is completely unfamiliar to you, we recommend DVDs of the U.K. television series WEB LINKThe Prisoner - a stylized penny-farthing appeared on the badge of every inhabitant of the Village. Be seeing you -

pepper pot
U.S: pepper shaker.

pillock
A stupid person or a fool (NSOED).

pitch
U.S.: playing field.

plaster
"Plaster" used in this sense is roughly equivalent to a bandage or band-aid, often with some sort of medicine in/on it.

plus-fours
A type of long, wide knickerbockers popular among modern golfers.

popkin
Affectionate term used for a small child, from "poppet," which is a kind of a puppet or doll.

porridge
Scottish breakfast dish of oatmeal mixed with water and simmered until it is creamy. Can be served with sugar, honey, or salt, according to preference. Eaten throughout Britain.

post
Mail.

pot plant (British edition only)
Potted plant, a plant grown in a pot as opposed to in the ground. (Note: although in the U.S. this would refer to a marijuana plant, that's not what it means here.)

pouffe
A low, soft, stuffed seat (possibly in the form of a beanbag, ottoman, or couch).

prat
Slang term for a fool; also for a person's backside.

prefect
Some of the older pupils (students) in many secondary (12-18) schools are given duties supervising the younger children and assisting the teachers in maintaining discipline. Prefects are usually the most outstanding or best behaved students, but in some schools all the upper year pupils share prefect duties.

Prime Minister
The head of the executive branch of government of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (NSOED). The Prime Minister's official residence is number ten, Downing Street in London.

pub
Short for "public house"; an establishment where alcohol is sold and drunk. U.S.: a bar.

public school (British edition only)
What in the U.S. would be termed a private school; it's "public" in the sense that the kids are attending a school rather than having a private tutor at home. See also comprehensive.

pudding
The dessert course of a meal.

punt
(noun) A long, narrow, flat-bottomed boat used on inland waterways (like the Isis river that flows through Oxford). It's a kind of pole-boat. As a verb, "to punt" means to push a boat along by a long pole; the punter pushes the pole against the bottom of the river to move the boat.

For those who indicated confusion about what "punt" meant in this context, we recommend the works of the British mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers, specifically the Lord Peter Wimsey novel WEB LINKGaudy Night. One of the major scenes of the book features Lord Peter punting on the Isis river with Harriet Vane.

Harry Potter Lexicon logoAbout Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Copyright | ©2000 - 2014 The Harry Potter Lexicon.
NO PART OF THIS PAGE MAY BE REPRODUCED IN ANY MANNER WITHOUT PERMISSION.
HARRY POTTER, characters, names, and all related indicia are trademarks of Warner Bros. ©2001-2014.

Page layout by Lisa Waite Bunker and Steve Vander Ark, banner graphics by Camilla Engelby © 2007.

Primary editor: Michele L. Worley.
Original page date 28-October-2005; Last page update 5-August-2007 MLW