Naomi Adam

Lowdown on the Liverpool Lingo

Flummoxed fresher or fluent in the Scouse tongue? We explore the eccentricities of the Liverpool vernacular to make your next trip into town or conversation with a cabbie that little bit less confusing.

Generally, the accent of the Scouser is viewed favourably by the majority of the British population. Linguistic polls have seen the Liverpool lingo rank second only to Geordie in the approval ratings, with those surveyed citing its friendly cadences and a general good-humouredness. Did they, though, really understand what the locals were saying? After 1-3 years at uni, do you?

The Good…

  1. Boss.

Adjective to describe anything that is great.

Your extremely tasty cheese sandwich at lunch; the football results. If you are let out of work half an hour early on a Friday but still paid for your troubles, you have yourself a boss… erm… boss.

  1. Sound.

See boss, above. Can be paired with the (non-obligatory) succeeding phrase ‘as a pound.’ A phrase making a resurgence from the eighties. Alongside Rick Astley, apparently.

  1. Made Up.

In a state of extreme excitement. As in: ‘She was starving… so she went to the nearest Subway to get a cheese sandwich. She was made up.’

  1. Our.

Used to precede the name of someone (or something) a Liverpudlian loves.

‘I will come, but only if I can bring our Max.’ (Which could be a brother, best friend, or pet poodle, so be careful as it could be referring to anyone!)

  1. Ye lid.

The latter half is originally from rhyming slang- ‘bin lid’ meant our kid. (See above.) Together, it is an expression of great triumph for the speaker. As with: ‘Ye lid, the shop has not run out of cheese sandwiches.’

The Bad…

  1. Jarg.

Counterfeit; inferior to the original.

‘This sandwich is disgusting- I used some jarg low-calorie cheese.’

  1. On yer bill.

Left alone, lonely, not through design.

No-one quite knows why people didn’t like poor William…

  1. Meff.

A poorly presented or dressed person.

… Perhaps he was simply a meff.

  1. Wool, Woollyback.

No, not someone in dire need of a back wax. A person from Liverpool’s surrounding areas: Southport, St. Helen’s, Widnes, Warrington, Birkenhead.

Yep, all wools.

  1. Gegging in.

Stickybeaking. Prying into situations that do not concern you. Being a complete and utter geg. Just no.

And the Ugly.

  1. Eeeeeee.

The Scouse have commandeered the fifth letter of the alphabet. They use it to convey disgust. Preferably at a pitch dangerous to the ears of dogs.

Not a fan? ‘Ooh er’ is another noise serving to indicate mock shock.

  1. Lolly ice.

Hotly contested. To many, Scousers say it backwards; it means ice lolly. Obviously to continue as one of the great debates of modern existence.

  1. Clobber.

Clothes, although it sounds like a variant of G.B.H.. ‘Webs,’ meanwhile, are trainers. Incidentally, though, if someone threatens to ‘web you,’ they are going to beat you up.

  1. Scran.

Not the most appetising of words, but it does denote food. The word ‘Scouse’ itself derives from lobscouse, a dish eaten by sailors in the eighteen-hundreds.

‘I’m starving, fancy some scran?’

  1. Butty.

Again, an offputting way to describe food: a sandwich. Plus it kind of negates the authenticity of all my cheese sandwich examples.

‘I’m starving, fancy a cheese butty?’

Sound! Now you can tell your woollyback from your webs, and will never make the mistake of asking for an ice lolly. Ye lid!

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