Monday, 29 March 2010


Ace - If something is ace it is brilliant. I used to hear it a lot in Liverpool. Kids thought all cool stuff was ace, or brill.
Aggro - Short for aggravation, it's the sort of thing you might expect at a football match. In other words - trouble! There is sometimes aggro in the cities after the pubs shut!
All right? - This is used a lot around London and the south to mean, "Hello, how are you"? You would say it to a complete stranger or someone you knew. The normal response would be for them to say "All right"? back to you. It is said as a question. Sometimes it might get expanded to "all right mate"? Mostly used by blue collar workers but also common among younger people.
Anti-clockwise - The first time I said that something had gone anti-clockwise to someone in Texas I got this very funny look. It simply means counter-clockwise but must sound really strange to you chaps! I think he thought I had something against clocks!
Any road - Up north (where they talk funny!!) instead of saying anyway, they say "any road"! Weird huh?
Arse - This is a word that doesn't seem to exist in America. It basically means the same as ass, but is much ruder. It is used in phrases like "pain in the arse" (a nuisance) or I "can't be arsed" (I can't be bothered) or you might hear something was "a half arsed attempt" meaning that it was not done properly.
Arse about face - This means you are doing something back to front.
Arse over elbow - This is another way of saying head over heels but is a little more descriptive. Usually happens after 11pm on a Saturday night and too many lagers! Some Americans say ass over teakettle apparently!
Arse over tit - Another version of arse over elbow, but a bit more graphic!
Arsehole - Asshole to you. Not a nice word in either language.
Arseholed - Drunk! Usually in the advanced stages of drunken stupor, someone would be considered "completely arseholed". Never me, of course!
As well - You chaps say also when we would say "too" or "as well". For instance if my friend ordered a Miller Lite, I would say "I'll have one as well". I often heard people saying something like "I'll have one also". Of course in England you wouldn't say it at all for fear of embarrassment! You'd order a pint of lager instead!
Ass - Your backside, but mostly a donkey!
Au fait - Another one of those French expressions that have slipped into the English language. This one means to be familiar with something. I'd say at the end of reading all this you'd be au fait with the differences between American and English!
Baccy - Tobacco. The sort you use to roll your own.
Bang - Nothing to do with your hair - this is a rather unattractive way of describing having sex. Always gets a smile from Brits in American hair dressers when they are asked about their bangs.
Barmy - If someone tells you that you're barmy they mean you have gone mad or crazy. For example you'd have to be barmy to visit England without trying black pudding!
Beastly - You would call something or somebody beastly if they were really nasty or unpleasant. Most people would consider you a snob or an upper class git if you used this word. People like Fergie can get away with it though.
Bees Knees - This is the polite version of the dog's bollocks. So if you are in polite company and want to say that something was fabulous, this phrase might come in handy.
Belt up - For some reason I heard this quite a lot as a kid. It's the British for shut up.
Bender - I used to go out on a bender quite frequently when I was at university. Luckily bender doesn't only mean a gay man, it also means a pub crawl or a heavy drinking session. The sort of bender I went out on was the second kind. Obviously!
Bespoke - We say something is bespoke if it has been created especially for someone, in the same way that you say custom. For example a computer program might be bespoken for a client, or you may order a bespoke holiday, where the travel agent creates an itinerary around your exact requirements.
Best of British - If someone says "The best of British to you" when you are visiting the UK, it simply means good luck. It is short for "best of British luck".
Biggie - This is unusual. A biggie is what a child calls his poo! Hence the reason Wendy's Hamburgers has never really taken off in England - who would buy "biggie fries"? Yuck - I'm sure you wouldn't buy poo fries! The other meaning of Biggie is erection. It just gets worse!
Bite your arm off - This is not aggressive behaviour that a football fan might engage in. In fact it just means that someone is over excited to get something. For instance you might say that kids would bite your arm off for an ice cream on a sunny day.
Bladdered - This rather ugly expression is another way of saying you are drunk. The link is fairly apparent I feel!
Blast - An exclamation of surprise. You may also hear someone shout "blast it", or even "bugger and blast"!
Blatant - We use this word a lot to mean something is really obvious.
Bleeding - An alternative to the word bloody. You'll hear people say "bleeding hell" or "not bleeding likely" for example.
Blimey - Another exclamation of surprise. My Dad used to say "Gawd Blimey" or "Gor Blimey" or even "Cor Blimey". It is all a corruption of the oath God Blind Me.
Blinding - If something is a blinding success - it does not mean that any eyes were poked out with sharp sticks - it means it was fantastic.
Blinkered - Someone who is blinkered is narrow minded or narrow sighted - they only see one view on a subject. It comes from when horses that pulled carriages wore blinkers to stop them seeing to the side or behind them which stopped them from being startled and only let them see where they were going.
Bloody - One of the most useful swear words in English. Mostly used as an exclamation of surprise i.e. "bloody hell" or "bloody nora". Something may be "bloody marvellous" or "bloody awful". It is also used to emphasise almost anything, "you're bloody mad", "not bloody likely" and can also be used in the middle of other words to emphasise them. E.g. "Abso-bloody-lutely"! Americans should avoid saying "bloody" as they sound silly.
Blooming - Another alternative to the word bloody. You might hear someone say "not blooming likely" so that they don't have to swear.
Blow me - When an English colleague of mine exclaimed "Blow Me" in front of a large American audience, he brought the house down. It is simply an exclamation of surprise, short for "Blow me down", meaning something like I am so surprised you could knock me over just by blowing. Similar to "Well knock me down with a feather". It is not a request for services to be performed.
Blow off - Who blew off? Means who farted? Constant source of amusement to us Brits when you guys talk about blowing people off. Conjours up all sort of bizarre images!
Blunt - If a saw or a knife is not sharp we say it is blunt. It is also the way most of us speak! In America the knife would be dull.
Bob's your uncle - This is a well used phrase. It is added to the end of sentences a bit like and that's it! For example if you are telling someone how to make that fabulous banoffee pie you just served them, you would tell them to boil the condensed milk for three hours, spread it onto a basic cheesecake base, slice bananas on top, add some whipped double cream, another layer of banana and Bob's your uncle!
Bodge - We bodge things all the time here. I'm sure you do too! To do a bodge job means to do a quick and dirty. Make it look good for the next day or two and if it falls down after that - hey well we only bodged it! Applies to building, DIY, programming and most other things.
Bogey - Booger. Any variety, crusty dragons included!
Bollocks - This is a great English word with many excellent uses. Technically speaking it means testicles but is typically used to describe something that is no good (that's bollocks) or that someone is talking rubbish (he's talking bollocks). Surprisingly it is also used in a positive manner to describe something that is the best, in which case you would describe it as being "the dog's bollocks". Englishmen who live in America take great delight in ordering specialised registration plates for their cars using the letters B.O.L.L.O.X. Good eh?
Bomb - If something costs a bomb it means that it is really expensive. We say it when we see the price of insurance in the US, you could try saying it when you see how much jeans or petrol cost over here!
Bomb - If something goes like a bomb it means it is going really well or really fast. Or you could say an event went down like a bomb and it would mean that the people really enjoyed it. In the US the meaning would be almost exactly the reverse.
Bonk - Same meaning as shag. Means to have sex. E.g. "Did you bonk him/her?".
Botch - There are two expressions here - to botch something up or to do a botch job. They both mean that the work done was not of a high standard or was a clumsy patch. My Dad used to always tell me that workmen had botched it up and that he should have done the work properly himself.
Bottle - Something you have after twenty pints of lager and the curry. A lotta bottle! This means courage. If you have a lotta bottle you have no fear.
Box your ears - Many young chaps heard their dads threaten to box their ears when I was a littlun. Generally meant a slap around the head for misbehaving. Probably illegal these days!!
Brassed off - If you are brassed off with something or someone, you are fed up. Pissed off perhaps.
Brill - Short for "brilliant". Used by kids to mean cool.
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.
Bugger - This is another fairly unique word with no real American equivalent. Like bloody it has many uses apart from the obvious dictionary one pertaining to rather unusual sexual habits. My father was always shouting "bugger" when he was working in the garage or garden. Usually when he hit his thumb or dropped a nail or lost something. Today we might use the sh** or the f*** words but bugger is still as common. The fuller version of this would be "bugger it". It can also be used to tell someone to get lost (bugger off), or to admit defeat (we're buggered) or if you were tired or exhausted you would be buggered. You can also call someone a bugger. When I won £10 on the lottery my mate called me a "lucky bugger".
Bugger all - If something costs bugger all, it means that it costs nothing. Meaning it is cheap. If you have bugger all, it means you have nothing.
Bum - This is the part of your body you sit on. Your ass! It might also be someone who is down and out, like a tramp. You might also bum around, if you are doing nothing in particular, just hanging out. Finally to bum something means to scrounge it from someone.
Bung - To bung something means 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".
Bung - A bung is also a bribe.
Butchers - To have a butchers at something is to have a look. This is a cockney rhyming slang word that has become common. The reason "butchers" means a look even though it doesn't rhyme is because it is short for "butchers hook" and "hook" of course, does rhyme.
C of E - The Church of England. Our official protestant church - of which the Queen is the head.
Camp - Someone who displays effeminate or gay behaviour is somewhat camp. And to "camp it up" would be to dress in drag.
Chat up - To chat someone up is to try and pick them up. If you spotted a scrummy girly in a bar you might try to chat her up. Or a girl might try and chat up a chap!
Cheeky - "Eee you cheeky monkey" was what my mother said to me all the time when I was a kid. Cheeky means you are flippant, have too much lip or are a bit of a smart arse! Generally you are considered to be a bit cheeky if you have an answer for everything and always have the last word. My licence plate on my MX5 (Miata in American) was CHEEKY, which most Texans thought was something to do with bottoms - wrong!!
Cheerio - Not a breakfast cereal. Just a friendly way of saying goodbye. Or in the north "tara" which is pronounced sort of like "churar".
Cheers - This word is obviously used when drinking with friends. However, it also has other colloquial meanings. For example when saying goodbye you could say "cheers", or "cheers then". It also means thank you. Americans could use it in English pubs, but should avoid the other situations as it sounds wrong with an American accent. Sorry!
Cheesed off - This is a polite way of saying you are pissed off with something.
Chin Wag - This is another word for a Chat. You can probably tell why!
Chinese Whispers - This a good one. It refers to the way a story gets changed as is passes from one person to the next so that the end result may be completely different from what was originally said. Sound familiar?
Chivvy along - When I'm standing patiently in the checkout queue at Tesco I like to chivvy along the old ladies in front of me. If only they would stop fannying around and hurry up!
Chuffed - You would be chuffed to bits if you were really pleased about something.
Clear off! - This expression brings back memories of being a kid and stealing apples from people's gardens. Sometimes we would get caught and some old bloke would come out and shout "oi clear off you lot". It basically means get lost.
Cobblers - I have heard people say "what a load of cobblers" more than once. Maybe that's because I talk so much rubbish. An equivalent would be what a load of bollocks. It means you are talking out of your butt and has nothing to do with any kind of dessert! Derived from the cockney rhyming slang where Cobblers Awls = Balls!
Cock up - A cock up means you have made a mistake. It has nothing to do with parts of the male body.
Cockney rhyming slang - There are lots of words that make up cockney rhyming slang. These are basically rhyming words like "butchers hook" which means "look". If you are in London and you hear someone talk about a Septic they are probably talking about you - because it's short for "Septic tank" which equals "yank", which is our word for an American. How do you like that!
Codswallop - Another one I heard a lot as a kid - usually when I was making up excuses for how the window got broken or why my dinner was found behind the sofa. My Dad would tell me I was talking a load of codswallop. American kids might be talking baloney under the same circumstances.
Cor - You'll often hear a Brit say "cor"! It is another one of those expressions of surprise that we seem to have so many of. It will sometimes be lengthened to "cor blimey" or "cor love a duck", depending on where you are. "Cor blimey" is a variation of "Gawd Blimey" or "Gor Blimey". They are all a corruption of the oath "God Blind Me".
Cracking - If something is cracking, it means it is the best. Usually said without pronouncing the last "G". If a girl is cracking it means she is stunning.
Cram - Before a big exam you would be expected to cram. This simply means to study hard in the period running up to the exam.
Crap - The same word in both countries - but less rude here. I loved watching Brits being interviewed on US chat shows and embarrassing the interviewer when they said something was "total crap".
Crikey - Another exclamation of surprise. Some people say "Crikey Moses".
Crusty dragon - A booger. One of the really crispy ones.
Daft - My Dad used to call me a daft 'apeth which is short for a daft half penny (in old money). It basically means stupid.
Dekko - To have a look at something.
Dear - If something is dear it means it is expensive. I thought Texan insurance was dear.
Dicky - Dicky rhymes with sicky 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!
Dim - A dim person is stupid or thick or a dimwit. Dimwit - Someone a bit on the dim side.
Dishy - If someone is a bit of a dish or a bit dishy it means they are attractive or good looking.
DIY - This is short for do it yourself and applies not just to the DIY stores but also to anything that you need to do yourself. For example, if we get really bad service in a restaurant (oh, you noticed!) then we might ask the waiter if it is a DIY restaurant - just to wind them up.
Do - A party. You would go to a do if you were going to a party in the UK.
Do - If you go into a shop and say "do you do batteries?" it means "do you sell batteries".
Do - If you drive along a motorway in the wrong lane the police will do you. You could then tell your friends that you have been done by the police. Prosecute is another word for it!
Doddle - Something that is a doddle is a cinch, it's easy. Unlike ordering water in Texas with an English accent, which is definitely not a doddle!
Dodgy - If someone or something is a bit dodgy, it is not to be trusted. Dodgy food should be thrown away at home, or sent back in a restaurant. Dodgy people are best avoided. You never know what they are up to. Dodgy goods may have been nicked. When visiting Miami I was advised by some English chums that certain areas were a bit dodgy and should be avoided!
Dog's bollocks - You would say that something really fantastic was the dog's bollocks. Comes from the fact that a dog's bollocks are so fantastic that he can't stop licking them! Nice huh? Often shortened to just "The dog's".
Dog's dinner - If you make a real mess of something it might be described as a real dog's dinner. A bit like some joint Anglo-American approaches to Eastern Europe for example!
Donkey's years - Someone said to me the other day that they hadn't seen me for donkey's years. It means they hadn't seen me for ages.
Drop a clanger - When I asked a large lady on the tube if she would like my seat since she was so obviously pregnant, she took the seat then told me she was fat, not pregnant! Boy did I drop a clanger. You might make a gaffe. Either way it was horrendously embarrassing, especially as half the people on the tube had heard me!
Duck - In and around Leeds you will find older people might call you "duck" in the same way that they might call you "love" or "dear" in other places. Usually pronounced more like "dook", which rhymes with "book".
Duff - Anything that is duff is useless, junk, trash. It usually means that the object doesn't do the job it was intended for. Our last Prime Minister was pretty duff!
Duffer - Any person that is duff could be referred to as a duffer. The Prime Minister was a duffer.
Dull - You would say something that was no longer sharp was dull. We would say blunt. To us something is dull if it is boring. It can apply to things - like a film could be dull. It also applies to people - I can think of several people who are dull!
Easy Peasy - A childish term for something very easy. You might say it's a snap.
Engaged - When you ring someone and they are already on the phone you will get the engaged tone. In other words, they will be engaged. You would say you get the busy signal or the line is busy.
Excuse me - This is a great one! It's what kids are taught to say when they belch in public. We are also taught to say "pardon me" if we fart out loud. Unfortunately in American "excuse me" means you are encroaching in someone's personal space and you say "pardon me" when you don't hear someone properly. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that actually Americans are not belching and farting all the time.
Faff - To faff is to dither or to fanny around. If we procrastinated when getting ready for bed, as kids, our Dad use tell us we were faffing around.
Fagged - If you are too lazy or tired to do something you could say "I can't be fagged". It means you can't be Bothered.
Fagging - Fagging is the practice of making new boys at boarding schools into slaves for the older boys. If you are fagging for an older boy you might find yourself running his bath, cleaning his shoes or performing more undesirable tasks.
Fancy - If you fancy something then it means you desire it. There are two basic forms in common use - food and people. If you fancy a cake for example it means you like the look of it and you want to eat it. If you see someone of (hopefully) the opposite sex then you might fancy them if you liked the look of them and wanted to get to know them a little better!!!
Fanny - This is the word for a woman's front bits! One doesn't normally talk about anyone's fanny as it is a bit rude. You certainly don't have a fanny pack, or smack people on their fannys - you would get arrested for that! Careful use of this word in the UK is advised!
Fanny around - I'm always telling people to stop fannying around and get on with it. It means to procrastinate. Drives me mad!
Fiddle sticks - I have an old Aunt who is much too well mannered to swear. So when the need arises for a swear word, she will substitute "fiddle sticks".
Filch - To filch is to steal or pilfer. The origin is apparently unknown.
Fit - Fit is a word that I have heard a lot recently - it seems to be making a comeback. A fit bird means a girl who is pretty good looking or tasty! A fit bloke would be the male equivalent.
Flog - To Flog something is to sell it. It also means to beat something with a whip, but when your wife tells you she flogged the old TV it is more likely she has sold it than beaten it (hopefully!).
Fluke - If something great happened to you by chance that would be a fluke. When I was a kid my Mum lost her engagement ring on the beach and only realised half way home. We went back to the spot and she found it in the sand. That was a fluke.
Flutter - I like to have a flutter on the horses. It means to have a bet, usually a small one by someone who is not a serious gambler.
Fortnight - Two weeks. Comes from an abbreviation of "fourteen nights". Hence terms like "I'm off for a fortnights holiday" meaning "I am going on a two week vacation".
Fruity - If someone is feeling fruity then they are feeling frisky. Watch out!
Full monty - Since the movie has come out of the same name I have heard some odd Texan descriptions of what the full monty means. It really has nothing to do with taking your clothes off. It just means the whole thing or going the whole way. That's it. Clearly when applied to stripping it means not stopping at your underwear! The origins of the expression are still under discussion. There are many theories but no conclusive evidence at the moment.
Full of beans - This means to have loads of energy. It is a polite way of saying that a child is a maniac. I was often described as being full of beans as a kid and now it is my wife's way of telling me to keep still when she is trying to get to sleep. Strangely the same expression in some parts of the US means that you are exaggerating or talking bollocks!
Gagging - Desperate, in a fat slaggy kind of a way. Not nice.
Gallivanting - The dictionary says "to gad about", which probably doesn't help much! It means fooling around or horseplay.
Gander - When I was a kid, my Dad often used to go off for a gander when we were visiting a new town or village. It means to look around.
Gen - Gen means information. If you have the gen then you know what is going on.
Gen up - To research a subject or to get some information.
Get lost! - Politely translated as go away, this is really a mild way of telling someone to f*** off!
Get stuffed! - Even politer way to tell someone to get lost is to tell them to get stuffed. However, this is still not a nice thing to say to someone.
Getting off - This seems to be the objective of most teenagers on a big night out. Getting off with someone means making out or snoggingh them.
Give us a bell - This simply means call me. You often hear people use the word "us" to mean "me".
Gobsmacked - Amazed. Your gob is your mouth and if you smack your gob, it would be out of amazement.
Good value - This is short for good value for money. It means something is a good deal.
Goolies - If you have been kicked in the goolies, your eyes would be watering and you would be clutching your balls!
Gormless - A gormless person is someone who has absolutely no clue. You would say clueless. It is also shortened so you could say someone is a total gorm or completely gormy.
Grem - The form of gob meaning to spit something out. e.g. Did you see him grem? Yuck. Usually associated with that ghastly noise as the content of the lungs are coughed into the mouth before gremming can take place. Grem is also the word that describes the green lump that is created in the process. You might call it hacking up a hacker.
Grub - Food. Similar to nosh. I remember my Dad calling "grub's up", when dinner was ready as a kid. A grub is also an insect larva. Not usually eaten in England. Actually is available in some Australian restaurants!

Gutted - If someone is really upset by something they might say that they were gutted. Like when you are told that you have just failed your driving test!
Haggle - To haggle is to argue or negotiate over a price. Most people that wangle stuff are usually quite good at haggling. I just learnt that in the USA you dicker over a price, particularly for used cars!
Hanky panky - Hanky panky - or "slap and tickle" as some older folks call it - would be making out in America.
Hard - After your 20 pints of lager, the curry or the doner, your average 20 year old feels hard. Since his male organ has no chance of working at this stage, hard clearly refers to something else - it means he is ready to fight anything or anybody or to take on any bet. This is the time to make fun of drunken lads by betting them they can't jump off the end of the pier, hang on to the back of a bus etc.
Hard lines - This is another way of saying hard luck or bad luck.
Hash - The thing you call a pound sign! Before you ask, yes it is also something you smoke - see wacky backy. Also to make a real hash of something means you really screwed it up.
Have - This one used to wind me up a treat in Texas. When we were in restaurants with friends, they would say to the waiter something like "Can I get a refill". And the waiter would go and get them a refill. No no no - that's completely wrong. It's "Can I HAVE a refill". Not GET! If you say "Can I GET a refill" in the UK, the waiter will give you a funny look and tell you where to go and GET it - yourself!
Healthy - Healthful. I'm not really sure if this is slang or whether the American use of healthful is the real alternative to the English "healthy". We talk about a healthy lifestyle and about healthy food. I never heard anyone say smoking was "unhealthful" in the US but I suppose that must exist too!
Her Majesty's pleasure - When visiting England, try to avoid being detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. This means being put in prison with no release date!
Hiya - Short for hi there, this is a friendly way of saying hello.
Honking - Honking is being sick or throwing up. Presumably this is a problem in New York where there are signs on the streets that say "No Honking".
Horses for courses - This is a common saying that means each to his own. What suits one person might be horrible for someone else. If my Dad was trying to understand why my brother had wanted to get his ear pierced he might say "Oh well, it's horses for courses I suppose"!
How's your father? - This is a very old term for sex which plays on our apparent British sensitivity. Rather than saying the actual "sex" word you could refer to having a bit of How's your Father, instead - nudge, nudge, wink, wink. The sort of old fashioned saying dragged up by Austin Powers.
Hump - If you have got the hump it means you are in a mood. If you are having a hump, it means you are having sex. Care is advised when you try using these words for the first time. It could be embarrassing!
Hunky-dory - My English dictionary tells me that hunky-dory means excellent. We would generally use it to mean that everything is cool and groovy, on plan, no worries and generally going well.
I'm easy - This expression means I don't care or it's all the same to me. Not to be confused with how easy it is to lure the person into bed!
Irony/sarcasm - The cornerstones of British humour. This is one of the biggest differences between the nations. The sense of humour simply doesn't translate too well.
Jammy - If you are really lucky or flukey, you are also very jammy. It would be quite acceptable to call your friend a jammy b****rd if they won the lottery.
Jimmy - Actually short for Jimmy Riddle. i.e. I'm off for a Jimmy Riddle. This is Cockney rhyming slang for piddle!
John Thomas - Yet another word for a blokes willy! I always felt a bit sorry for people who were actually called John Thomas. What were their parents thinking?
Jolly - You hear people use this in all sorts of ways, but basically it means very. So "jolly good" would mean very good. A common exception is where you hear people say "I should jolly well think so!" which is more to emphasise the point.
Keep your pecker up - This is one way of saying keep your chin up. Use with caution as in some places your pecker is also your willy!
Khazi - Another word for the toilet. Our version of your bathroom.
Kip - A short sleep, forty winks, or a snooze. You have a kip in front of the telly on a Sunday afternoon.
Knackered - The morning after twenty pints and the curry, you'd probably feel knackered. Another way to describe it is to say you feel shagged. Basically worn out, good for nothing, tired out, knackered.
Knees up - If you're having a knees up, you're going to a dance or party.
Knob - Yet another word for your willy.
Knock off - To knock something off is to steal it, not to copy it!
Knock up - This means to wake someone up. Although it seems to have an altogether different meaning in the USA! At one time, in England, a chap was employed to go round the streets to wake the workers up in time to get to work. He knew where everyone lived and tapped on the bedroom windows with a long stick, and was known as a "knocker up". He also turned off the gas street lights on his rounds. Another meaning of this phrase, that is more common these days, is to make something out of odds and ends. For example my Dad knocked up a tree house for us from some planks of wood he had in the garage, or you might knock up a meal from whatever you have hanging around in the fridge.
Knockers - Another word for breasts.
Knuckle sandwich - If somebody offers you a knuckle sandwich you'd be best to decline the offer and leave at the next convenient moment. It isn't some British culinary delight - they're about to thump you in the face.
Leg it - This is a way of saying run or run for it. Usually said by kids having just been caught doing something naughty. Well it was when I was a kid!
Left, right and centre - If you have been looking left, right and centre, it means you have been searching all over.
Love bite - You call them hickies - the things you do to yourself as a youngster with the vacuum cleaner attachment to make it look like someone fancies you!
Lurgy - If you have the lurgy it means you are ill, you have the Flu. Don't go near people with the lurgy in case you get it!
Luvvly-jubbly - Clearly another way of saying lovely. Made famous by the TV show Only Fools and Horses.
-ly - These are two letters that seem to be left off words in America. I never heard anyone say something was "really nice" or "really cool", they would say real nice and real cool. We would be sent to the back of the class for grammar like that!
Mate - Most chaps like to go to the pub with their mates. Mate means friend or chum.
Momentarily - As you come into land at an American airport and the announcement says that you will be landing momentarily, look around to see if anyone is sniggering. That will be the Brits! I never did figure out why they say this. Momentarily to us means that something will only happen for an instant - a very short space of time. So if the plane lands momentarily will there be enough time for anyone to get off? Weird!
Morish - Also spelt "moreish", this word is used to describe desserts in my house, when a single helping is simply not enough. You need more! It applies to anything - not just desserts.
Mufti - An old army term for your "civvies". Civilian clothes that is, rather than your uniform.
Mug - If someone is a bit of a mug, it means they are gullible. Most used car salesmen rely on a mug to show up so they can sell something!
Mush - Rhymes with "push". Slang word for your mouth as in "shut your mush". Also means mate as in "Alright mush?. Which means "Hi"!
Mutt's nuts - If something is described as being "the Mutt's" then you'll know it is fantastic or excellent. "The Mutt's" is short for "The Mutt's nuts" which is clearly another way of saying the "Dog's Bollocks"! All clear now?
Naff - If something is naff, it is basically uncool. Anoraks are naff, salad cream is also naff. You could also use it to tell someone to naff off, which is a politer way of telling them to f*** off!
Nancy boy - If someone is being pathetic you would call them a nancy or a nancy boy. It is the opposite of being hard. For example in cold weather a nancy boy would dress up in a coat, hat, gloves and scarf and a hard guy would wear a t-shirt. It's also another word for a gay man.
Nark - If someone is in a nark, it means they are in a bad mood, or being grumpy. It's also the word for a spy or informant. For example a coppers nark is someone who is a police informant - which you might call a stoolie or stool-pigeon. The origin is from the Romany word, nak, meaning "nose".
Narked - In the UK you would say that someone looked narked if you thought they were in a bad mood. In the US you might say that someone was pissed. We definitely would not say that, as it would mean they were drunk!
Nesh - My Dad used to call me a nesh wimp when I was a kid and I wanted him to take me places in his car because it was too cold to go on my bike. He meant I was being pathetic or a bit of a nancy boy. He might have had a point!
Nice one! - If someone does something particularly impressive you might say "nice one"! to them. It is close the Texan good job that you hear all the time.
Nick - To nick is to steal. If you nick something you might well get nicked.
Nicked - Something that has been stolen has been nicked. Also, when a copper catches a burglar red handed he might say "you've been nicked"!
Nitwit - See twit.
Nookie - Nookie is the same as hanky panky. Something you do with your bird!
Nosh - Food. You would refer to food as nosh or you might be going out for a good nosh up, or meal! Either way if someone has just cooked you some nosh you might want to call it something else as it is not the nicest word to describe it.
Not my cup of tea - This is a common saying that means something is not to your liking. For example if someone asked you if you would like to go to an all night rave, they would know exactly what you meant if you told them it was not exactly your cup of tea!
Nowt - This is Yorkshire for nothing. Similarly owt is Yorkshire for anything. Hence the expression "you don't get owt for nowt". Roughly translated as "you never get anything for nothing" or "there's no such thing as a free lunch".
Nut - To nut someone is to head butt them. Nutting is particularly useful when at a football match.
Off colour - If someone said you were off colour they would mean that you look pale and ill! Not quite the same as something being off colour in the US!
Off your trolley - If someone tells you that you're off your trolley, it means you have gone raving bonkers, crazy, mad!
On about - What are you on about? That's something you may well hear when visiting the UK. It means what are you talking about?
On the job - If you are on the job, it could mean that you are hard at work, or having sex. Usually the context helps you decide which it is!
On the piss - If you are out on the piss, it means you are out to get drunk, or to get pissed.
On your bike - A very polite way of telling someone to f*** off.
One off - A one off is a special or a one time event that is never to be repeated. Like writing this book!
Owt - This is Yorkshire for anything. Similarly nowt is Yorkshire for nothing. Hence the expression "you don't get owt for nowt". Roughly translated as "you never get anything for nothing" or "there's no such thing as a free lunch".
Pants - This is quite a new expression - I have no idea where it came from. Anyway, it is now quite trendy to say that something which is total crap is "pants". For instance you could say the last episode of a TV show was "total pants".
Pardon me - This is very amusing for Brits in America. Most kids are taught to say "pardon me" if they fart in public or at the table etc. In America it has other meanings which take us Brits a while to figure out. I thought I was surrounded by people with flatulence problems!

Parky - Either short for Michael Parkinson, a famous chat show host, or more likely a word to describe the weather as being rather cold!
Pass - This means I don't know and comes from the old TV show, Mastermind, where contestants were made to say "pass" if they did not know the answer to the question.
Pavement pizza - Well here the pavement is the sidewalk and a pavement pizza is a descriptive way of saying vomit. Often found outside Indian restaurants early on a Sunday morning.
Peanuts - I hated one of my summer jobs as a kid because it paid peanuts. The full expression is that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. It is a fairly derogatory way of saying that manual labour doesn't need to be bright and doesn't need a lot of pay. Typically these days peanuts means something is cheap. For example we would say the petrol in the USA is peanuts or costs peanuts. Compared to our prices it is.
Pear shaped - If something has gone pear shaped it means it has become a disaster. It might be preparing a dinner party or arranging a meeting, any of these things can go completely pear shaped.
Piece of cake - I remember saying it's a piece of cake in front of one of my American friends, who then started looking around for the cake! It means it's a cinch!
Pinch - This means to steal something. Though when you say "steal" it is a bit more serious than pinch. A kid might pinch a cake from the kitchen. A thief would steal something during a burglary.
Pip pip - Another out-dated expression meaning goodbye. Not used any more.
Piss poor - If something is described as being "piss poor" it means it is an extremely poor attempt at something.
Piss up - A piss up is a drinking session. A visit to the pub. There is an English expression to describe someone as disorganised which says that he/she could not organise a piss up in a brewery!
Pissed - This is a great one for misunderstanding. Most people go to the pub to get pissed. In fact the object of a stag night is to get as pissed as possible. Getting pissed means getting drunk. It does not mean getting angry. That would be getting pissed off!
Pissing around - Fooling about, in the sense of messing around or making fun or just being silly. Not terribly polite.
Plastered - Another word for loaded. In other words you have had rather too much to drink down your local. It has nothing to do with being covered with plaster though anything is possible when you are plastered.
Porkies - More cockney rhyming slang. Short for "porky pies", meaning "pork pies". Rhymes with lies. My Mum always used to tell me I was telling porkies! And she was right!
Porridge - Doing porridge means to serve time in prison. There was also a comedy TV series called Porridge about a prisoner starring Ronnie Barker of The Two Ronnies fame.
Posh - Roughly translates as high class, though if you look at Posh Spice there are clearly exceptions to the rule! Comes from the cabins used by the upper class on early voyages from England to India. The coolest (and most expensive cabins) were Port side on the way Out and Starboard on the way Home.
Potty - This isn't just the thing you sit a toddler on - if you are potty it means you are a little crazy, a bit of a looney, one card short of a full deck.
Pound sign - Ever wondered why Brits flounder when voicemail messages say to press the pound sign? What on earth is the British currency doing on a phone anyway? Well, it isn't. To a Brit, the pound sign is the wiggly thing we use to denote the UK pound (or quid), in the same way you have a dollar sign.
Prat - Yet another mildly insulting name for someone. In fact, this one is a bit ruder than pillock so you probably wouldn't say it in front of Grandma.
PTO - This is an abbreviation for "please turn over". You will see it on forms in the UK where you would see the single word over in the USA.
Puff - If a Brit starts giggling in your local drugstore - it may be because they have just found a box of Puffs. To some of us Brits a Puff is another word for a fart. Stems from the cockney rhyming slang, to "Puff a dart".
Puke - To puke is to vomit or to be sick. You may also hear someone say "you make me puke" - though I hope not! That would mean "you make me sick".
Pukka - This term has been revived recently by one of our popular young TV chefs. It means super or smashing, which of course is how he describes all his food.
Pull - Me and the lads used to go to the disco when we were on the pull. It means looking for birds. Of course, it works the other way round too. The ladies may also be on the pull, though probably a bit more subtly than the chaps!
Pussy - This is what we call our cat, as in "pussy cat", or in the fairytale, Puss in Boots. So if you have a Brit neighbour who asks if you have seen their pussy - try to keep a straight face and think back the last time you saw their cat!
Put a sock in it - This is one way of telling someone to shut up. Clearly the sock needs to be put in their loud mouth!
Put paid to - This is an expression which means to put an end to something. For example you could say that rain put paid to the cricket match, meaning it stopped play.
Queer - Apart from the obvious gay link, this word used to be used a lot to mean someone looked ill. As in "You look queer". Of course you might not say that these days in case you get either picked up, or thumped!
Quid - A pound in money is called a quid. It is the equivalent to the buck or clam in America. A five pound note is called a fiver and a ten pound note is called a tenner.
Quite - When used alone, this word means the same as absolutely!
Rat arsed - Yet another term for drunk, sloshed or plastered. You might say loaded. In the UK, loaded is a men's magazine that covers sex and football.
Read - If someone asks you what you read at university, they mean what was your major at school.
Really - This is one of those words where you say almost the same thing as us, but just can't be fagged to finish it off. The word is "really", not real. You say things like it's real hot, something's real cool, a baby is real cute. If we said that we would be sent to the back of the class for our grammar - or lack of it!
Redundancy - If you are made redundant it means you are laid off.
Reverse the charges - When you want to ring someone up and you have no money you can call the operator and ask to reverse the charges in the UK. In the US you would call collect.
Right - I'm feeling right knackered. That would mean you were feeling very tired.
Ring - You would ring someone on the phone not call them, in the UK. Try saying "give me a ring" to the next Brit you meet. This does not work well in reverse. I asked someone in a shop to ring me up and he dragged me to the till and pulled my head across the scanner!

Roger - Same kind of problem that Randy has here, except we have people called Roger and no Randys. You will see a strange smile on the face of a Brit every time "Roger the Rabbit" is mentioned!! To roger means to have your wicked way with a lady. My Oxford English Dictionary says to copulate. You might say screw.
Round - When you hear the words "your round" in the pub, it means it is your turn to buy the drinks for everyone in the group - nothing to do with the size of your tummy! Since beers are more and more expensive these days, the art of buying the rounds has developed into ensuring you buy the first one before everyone has arrived, without being obvious!
Row - Rhymes with "cow" this means an argument. You might hear your Mum having a row with your Dad, or your neighbours might be rowing so loud you can hear them!
Rubbish - The stuff we put in the bin. Trash or garbage to you. You might also accuse someone of talking rubbish.
Rugger - This is short for "rugby". It is a contact sport similar to your football but played in muddy fields during winter and rain. Not only that, but the players wear almost no protection!
Rumpy pumpy - Another word for hanky panky, or a bit of nookie! Something two consenting adults get up to in private! Theoretically!
Sack/sacked - If someone gets the sack it means they are fired. Then they have been sacked. I can think of a few people I'd like to sack!
Sad - This is a common word, with the same meaning as naff. Used in expressions like "you sad b***ard".
Scrummy - This is a word that would be used to describe either some food that was particularly good (and probably sweet and fattening).
Scrumping - To go stealing - usually apples from someone elses trees!
Send-up - To send someone up is to make fun of them. Or if something is described as being a send-up it is equivalent to your take-off. Like Robin Williams does a take-off on the British accent - quite well actually!
Shag - Same as bonk but slightly less polite. At seventies parties watch the look of surprise on the Englishman's face when an American girl asks him if he would like to shag. Best way to get a Brit to dance that I know! You can even go to shagging classes!
Shagged - Past tense of shag, but also see knackered.
Shambles - If something is a shambles it is chaotic or a real mess. It's also a very old name for a slaughterhouse. So if you ever visit The Shambles in York, then the name does not refer to the somewhat shambolic nature of the buildings; it's a reference to the site it's built on - an old slaughterhouse!
Shambolic - In a state of chaos. Generally heard on the news when the government is being discussed!
Shirty - "Don't get shirty with me young man" was what my Dad used to tell me when I was little. He was referring to my response to his telling off for doing some terrible little boy thing. Like tying my brother to the back of Mum's car or putting my shoes in the toilet. It meant I was getting bad tempered.
Shite - This is just another way of saying shit. It is useful for times when you don't want to be overly rude as it doesn't sound quite as bad!
Shitfaced - If you hear someone saying that they got totally shitfaced it means they were out on the town and got steaming drunk. Normally attributed to stag nights or other silly events.
Shufti - Pronounced shooftee, this means to take a look at something, to take a butchers! It's an old Arabic word, picked up by British soldiers during World War II, in North Africa.
Sixes and sevens - If something is all at sixes and sevens then it is in a mess, topsy turvy or somewhat haywire!
Skew-whiff - This is what you would call crooked. Like when you put a shelf up and it isn't straight we would say it is all skew-whiff.
Skive - To skive is to evade something. When I was a kid we used to skive off school on Wednesdays instead of doing sports. We always got caught of course, presumably because the teachers used to do the same when they were fourteen!
Slag - To slag someone off, is to bad mouth them in a nasty way. Usually to their face.
Slapper - A slapper is a female who is a bit loose. A bit like a slag or a tart. Probably also translates into tramp in American.
Slash - Something a lager lout might be seen doing in the street after his curry - having a slash. Other expressions used to describe this bodily function include; siphon the python, shake the snake, wee, pee, piss, piddle and having a jimmy.
Sloshed - Yet another way to describe being drunk. Clearly we need a lot of ways to describe it since getting plastered is a national pastime.
Smarmy - Another word for a smoothy, someone who has a way with the ladies for example. Usually coupled with "git" - as in "what a smarmy git". Not meant to be a nice expression, of course.
Smart - When we say someone is smart, we are talking about the way they are dressed - you might say they look sharp. When you say someone is smart you are talking about how intelligent or clever they are.
Smashing - If something is smashing, it means it is terrific.
Smeg - This is a rather disgusting word, popularised by the TV show, Red Dwarf. Short for smegma, the dictionary definition says it is a "sebaceous secretion from under the foreskin". Now you know why it has taken me 3 years to add it in here. Not nice! Rather worryingly smeg is also the name of a company that makes ovens!!!
Snap - This is the name of a card game where the players turn cards at the same time and shout "snap" when they match. People also say "snap" when something someone else says has happened to them too. For example when I told somebody that my wallet was stolen on holiday, they said "snap", meaning that theirs had too!
Snog - If you are out on the pull you will know you are succeeding if you end up snogging someone of the opposite sex (or same sex for that matter!). It would probably be referred to as making out in American, or serious kissing!
Snookered - If you are snookered it means you are up the famous creek without a paddle. It comes from the game of snooker where you are unable to hit the ball because the shot is blocked by your opponent's ball.
Sod - This word has many uses. My father always used to say "Oh Sod!" or "Sod it!" if something went wrong and he didn't want to swear too badly in front of the children. If someone is a sod or an "old sod" then it means they are a bit of a bastard or an old git. "Sod off" is like saying "piss off" or "get lost" & "sod you" means something like "f*** off". It also means a chunk of lawn of course. You can usually tell the difference!
Sod all - If you are a waiter in America and you serve a family of Brits, the tip is likely to be sod all or as you would call it - nothing. Because we don't know about tipping.
Sod's law - This is another name for Murphy's law - whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
Sorted - When you have fixed a problem and someone asks how it is going you might say "sorted". It's also popular these days to say "get it sorted" when you are telling someone to get on with the job.
Speciality - This is another one where you chaps drop your "I". when I first saw specialty written down in the US I thought it was a mistake. But no! We love our I's!
Spend a penny - To spend a penny is to go to the bathroom. It is a very old fashioned expression that still exists today. It comes from the fact that in ladies loos you used to operate the door by inserting an old penny.

Splash out - If you splash out on something - it means you throw your senses out the window, get out your credit card and spend far too much money. You might splash out on a new car or even on a good meal.
Squidgy - A chocolate cream cake would be squidgey. It means to be soft and, well, squidgey!
Squiffy - This means you are feeling a little drunk. Some people also use it to mean that something has gone wrong.
Starkers - Avoid being seen starkers when visiting England. It means stark naked.
Stiffy - Yet another word for erection.
Stone the crows - This is an old expression with the same meaning as "cor blimey".
Stonker - This means something is huge. Looking at the burger you might say "blimey what a stonker". It is also used to refer to an erection! Clearly English modesty is a myth!
Stonking - This weird word means huge. You might say "what a stonking great burger" if you were in an American burger joint.
Strop - If someone is sulking or being particularly miserable you would say they are being stroppy or that they have a strop on. I heard an old man on the train tell his wife to stop being a stroppy cow.
Stuff - A recent headline in the New Statesman read "stuff the millennium". Using stuff in this context is a polite way of saying "f*** the millennium". Who cares! Stuff it! You can also say "stuff him" or "stuff her" meaning they can sod off.
Suss - If you heard someone saying they had you sussed they would mean that they had you figured out! If you were going to suss out something it would mean the same thing.
Sweet fanny adams - This means nothing or sod all. It is a substitute for "sweet f*** all". It is also shortened further to "sweet F A".
Swotting - Swotting means to study hard, the same as cram does. Before exams we used to swot, not that it made any difference to some of us. If you swotted all the time, you would be called a swot - which is not a term of endearment!
Ta - We said "ta" as kids in Liverpool for years before we even knew it was short for thanks.
Table - We use this word in exactly the opposite way. To us a motion is tabled when it is brought to the table, or suggested for consideration. You table a motion when it is left for a later date.
Taking the biscuit - If something really takes the biscuit, it means it out-does everything else and cannot be bettered. Some places in America they said takes the cake.
Taking the mickey - See taking the piss. Variations include "taking the mick" and "taking the Michael".
Taking the piss - One of the things Americans find hardest about the Brits is our sense of humour. It is obviously different and is mainly based on irony, sarcasm and an in-built desire to "take the piss". This has nothing to do with urine, but simply means making fun of someone.
Talent - Talent is the same as totty. Checking out the talent means looking for the sexy young girls (or boys I suppose).
Tara - Pronounced "churar", this is another word for cheerio or goodbye. Cilla Black, a scouse TV presenter has probably done most to promote the use of this word as she says it all the time on her programmes.
Throw a spanner in the works - This is an expression that means to wreck something.
Tickety-boo - If something is going well with no problems we would say it is tickety-boo.
Tidy - Apart from the obvious meaning of neat, tidy also means that a woman is a looker, attractive or sexy.
To - We go to school from ages 5 to 18. You might go to school from ages 5 thru 18. We don't say thru in that context at all. If we did though, we would say "through"!
Todger - As if we don't have enough of them already, this is yet another word for your willy, or penis.
Toodle pip - This is an old expression meaning goodbye. However, I only hear it when Americans are doing impressions of Brits as it has fallen into disuse, along with steam trains and gas lights.
Tool - Yet another word for your willy or penis. You'd think we were obsessed.
Tosser - This is another word for wanker and has exactly the same meaning and shares the same hand signal. Unfortunately my house in Texas was in Tossa Lane, which was a problem when telling older members of the family where to write to me!
Totty - If a chap is out looking for totty, he is looking for a nice girl to chat up. There is an Italian football player called Totti - which is pronounced the same. It's really funny hearing the commentators when he gets the ball saying "it's Totty for Italy". It sounds like some beautiful Italian girlies have invaded the pitch.
TTFN - Short for "ta ta for now". Which in turn means goodbye! Said by older folks and one Radio Two DJ in particular.
Twat - Another word used to insult someone who has upset you. Also means the same as fanny but is less acceptable in front of your grandmother, as this refers to parts of the female anatomy. Another use for the same word is to twat something, which would be to hit it hard. Get it right or I'll twat you over the head!
Twee - Twee is a word you would generally hear older people say. It means dainty or quaint. A bit like the way you chaps think of England I suppose.
Twit - You twit! Not so rude as calling someone an idiot but it amounts to the same thing. Remember Monty Python's "Twit of the Year" competition? Other versions include "nitwit".
Two finger salute - When you see a Brit stick up two fingers at you in a V shape, he may be ordering two of something (if his palms are toward you). The other way around and it's an insult along the lines of your one finger salute. Which, by the way, is very popular here now too!
U - A letter used far more in British. It is in words like colour, favour, labour etc. I think this is why UK keyboards have 102 characters on them instead of your 101, or is it because they have a pound sign on them?
Uni - Short for university, we would say we went to uni like you would say you went to school. School here is just for kids.
Wacky backy - This is the stuff in a joint, otherwise known as pot or marijuana!
Waffle - To waffle means to talk on and on about nothing. It is not something you eat. Americans often think that Brits waffle on about the weather. The truth of course is that our news reports last 60-120 seconds and the weather man is not hyped up to be some kind of superstar as he is on the TV in the US. If you want to see an example of real waffle watch the weather channel in Texas where there is nothing to talk about other than it is hot and will remain so for the next 6 months. Another example is the ladies who waffle on about anything on the Home Shopping Network. They would probably be classed as professional wafflers!
Wangle - Some people have all the luck. I know some people that can wangle anything; upgrades on planes, better rooms in hotels. You know what I mean.
Wank - This is the verb to describe the action a wanker participates in.
Wanker - This is a derogatory term used to describe someone who is a bit of a jerk. It actually means someone who masturbates and also has a hand signal that can be done with one hand at people that cannot see you shouting "wanker" at them. This is particularly useful when driving.
Watcha - Simply means Hi. Also short for "what do you" as in "watcha think of that"?
Waz - On average, it seems that for every pint of lager you need to go for a waz twice! A complete waste of time in a serious drinking session. It means wee or pee.
Well - Well can be used to accentuate other words. for example someone might be "well hard" to mean he is a real man, as opposed to just "hard". Something really good might be "well good". Or if you were really really pleased with something you might be "well chuffed". Grammatically it's appalling but people say it anyway.
Welly - If you "give it welly", it means you are trying harder or giving it the boot. An example would be when accelerating away from lights, you would give it welly to beat the guy in the mustang convertible in the lane next to you. Welly is also short for wellington boots, which are like your galoshes.
Whinge - Whingers are not popular in any circumstance. To whinge is to whine. We all know someone who likes to whinge about everything.
Willy - Another word for penis. It is the word many young boys are taught as it is a nicer word than most of the alternatives. Some people also use it for girls as there are no nice alternatives. Hence "woman's willy". Also used by grown ups who don't wish to offend (this word is safe to use with elderly Grandparents).
Wind up - This has a couple of meanings. If something you do is a "wind up" it means you are making fun of someone. However it you are "wound up" it means you are annoyed.
Wobbler - To "throw a wobbly" or to "throw a wobbler" means to have a tantrum. Normally happens when you tell your kids they can't have an ice cream or that it's time for bed.
Wonky - If something is shaky or unstable you might say it is wonky. For example I changed my chair in a restaurant recently because I had a wonky one.
Write to - When visiting the US one can't help noticing that you write each other. You don't "write to" each other. Here it would be grammatically incorrect to say "write me" and you would be made to write it out 100 times until you got it right.
Yakking - This means talking incessantly - not that I know anyone who does that now!
Yonks - "Blimey, I haven't heard from you for yonks". If you heard someone say that it would mean that they had not seen you for ages!
Zed - The last letter of the alphabet. The English hate saying zee and only relent with names such as ZZ Top (Zed Zed Top does sound a bit stupid!).
Zonked - If someone is zonked or "zonked out" it means they are totally knackered or you might say exhausted. When a baby has drunk so much milk, his eyes roll into the back of his head, it would be fair to say he was zonked!


The invading Germanic tribes spoke similar languages, which in Britain developed into what we now call Old English. Old English did not sound or look like English today. Native English speakers now would have great difficulty understanding Old English. Nevertheless, about half of the most commonly used words in Modern English have Old English roots. The words be, strong and water, for example, derive from Old English. Old English was spoken until around 1100.
Middle English (1100-1500)
An example of Middle English by Chaucer.In 1066 William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy (part of modern France), invaded and conquered England. The new conquerors (called the Normans) brought with them a kind of French, which became the language of the Royal Court, and the ruling and business classes. For a period there was a kind of linguistic class division, where the lower classes spoke English and the upper classes spoke French. In the 14th century English became dominant in Britain again, but with many French words added. This language is called Middle English. It was the language of the great poet Chaucer (c1340-1400), but it would still be difficult for native English speakers to understand today.
Modern English
Early Modern English (1500-1800)
Hamlet's famous "To be, or not to be" lines, written in Early Modern English by Shakespeare.
Towards the end of Middle English, a sudden and distinct change in pronunciation (the Great Vowel Shift) started, with vowels being pronounced shorter and shorter. From the 16th century the British had contact with many peoples from around the world. This, and the Renaissance of Classical learning, meant that many new words and phrases entered the language. The invention of printing also meant that there was now a common language in print. Books became cheaper and more people learned to read. Printing also brought standardization to English. Spelling and grammar became fixed, and the dialect of London, where most publishing houses were, became the standard. In 1604 the first English dictionary was published.
Late Modern English (1800-Present)
The main difference between Early Modern English and Late Modern English is vocabulary. Late Modern English has many more words, arising from two principal factors: firstly, the Industrial Revolution and technology created a need for new words; secondly, the British Empire at its height covered one quarter of the earth's surface, and the English language adopted foreign words from many countries.
Varieties of English
From around 1600, the English colonization of North America resulted in the creation of a distinct American variety of English. Some English pronunciations and words "froze" when they reached America. In some ways, American English is more like the English of Shakespeare than modern British English is. Some expressions that the British call "Americanisms" are in fact original British expressions that were preserved in the colonies while lost for a time in Britain (for example trash for rubbish, loan as a verb instead of lend, and fall for autumn; another example, frame-up, was re-imported into Britain through Hollywood gangster movies). Spanish also had an influence on American English (and subsequently British English), with words like canyon, ranch, stampede and vigilante being examples of Spanish words that entered English through the settlement of the American West. French words (through Louisiana) and West African words (through the slave trade) also influenced American English (and so, to an extent, British English).
Today, American English is particularly influential, due to the USA's dominance of cinema, television, popular music, trade and technology (including the Internet). But there are many other varieties of English around the world, including for example Australian English, New Zealand English, Canadian English, South African English, Indian English and Caribbean English.
The Germanic Family of LanguagesEnglish is a member of the Germanic family of languages.Germanic is a branch of the Indo-European language family.
A brief chronology of English
BC 55
Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar.
Local inhabitants speak Celtish
BC 43
Roman invasion and occupation. Beginning of Roman rule of Britain.
Roman withdrawal from Britain complete.
Settlement of Britain by Germanic invaders begins
Earliest known Old English inscriptions.
Old English
William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invades and conquers England.
Earliest surviving manuscripts in Middle English.
Middle English
English replaces Latin as the language of instruction in most schools.
English replaces French as the language of law. English is used in Parliament for the first time.
Chaucer starts writing The Canterbury Tales.
The Great Vowel Shift begins.
William Caxton establishes the first English printing press.
Early Modern English
Shakespeare is born.
Table Alphabeticall, the first English dictionary, is published.
The first permanent English settlement in the New World (Jamestown) is established.
Shakespeare dies.
Shakespeare's First Folio is published
The first daily English-language newspaper, The Daily Courant, is published in London.
Samuel Johnson publishes his English dictionary.
Thomas Jefferson writes the American Declaration of Independence.
Britain abandons its American colonies.
Webster publishes his American English dictionary.
Late Modern English
The British Broadcasting Corporation is founded.
The Oxford English Dictionary is published.


OF COURSE HENRY MILLER remains the forbidden writer of American fiction. Where once he was forbidden for the right reasons, he is now forbidden for the wrong, where once he was forbidden by conservatives and moralists he is now forbidden by liberals and the culturally correct--though what originally made him forbidden hasn't really changed at all. He is forbidden because he speaks from the dark heart of some place beyond ideology or the refinements of civilization, he is not progressive or regressive but the literary
inhabitant of a place in the psyche where human experience recognizes no forward or backward, where the shadows of the soul know no time. I'm not here to make excuses for him now. I'm certainly not here to make excuses for myself or for the way, as when I heard Ray Charles for the first time, Henry Miller rearranged the furniture in my head, where the sofa of "aesthetics" had been placed just so, against the window, and the reclining chair of "taste" had been moved ever so carefully before the fireplace, and everything was where I and all my teachers and all the other writers I had read assumed they were supposed to be. Miller swept through and left everything in turmoil and in the process said, to paraphrase the notorious opening declaration of Tropic of Cancer, here is a gob of spit in the face of excuses. So I won't make excuses for him; he would hate it and I would hate myself. Clearly much of what he wrote about women is infantile when it isn't appalling, as further demonstrated, for whomever needs the demonstration, by the evidence of his own biography, ever younger women populating an ever aging life, until all you could do was be embarrassed for him. That he was first and foremost a romantic cannot excuse some of these attitudes, since a romantic man can be as destructive to women as the stalker hiding around the corner at midnight; in his own mind, of course, the stalker is a romantic himself. It was Miller's own emotional limitations that prevented him from transcending the botched and bleeding love affair he had with his second wife, that made him unable to really write about her at all until it was too late, at which point love had ebbed away leaving only wounds. That he could not change the way he loved left him a man who, for periods of his life, apparently could not love at all in any way that coul d fulfill himself, let alone a woman. It excuses nothing to point out that all of his gorgeous spleen is part and parcel of an assault on the artifices of human dignity as democratic as it is gleeful. One sometimes wishes of course that he had confined this assaultive gusto to those who could afford it most, such as the powerful and the social elite, and spared those who could afford it least, particularly in the thirties when scapegoating would be raised first to political art, then to governmental institution, ultimately to millennial nightmare. The truth was that Miller's feelings about Jews, for instance, were nearly as complicated as those about women, anchored as they were by his deepest disgust of all, which was for the Aryan, which is to say himself, since Miller openly hated everything about his German heritage and strove to reinvent himself free of it, perpetuating the self-image of a carefree bohemian living in happy and willful squalor when it has been duly recorded he was the most teutonic of housekeepers, the tidiest of domestic managers, the most compulsive and anal antithesis of the joyful anarchist in Tropic of Cancer who watches the lice leap to and fro on the bed mattress with great amusement and jauntily chucks extra francs and centimes out the taxi window just because they get in the way of his lower finances. This may be where I come in. I am not German but I am half Scandinavian, which is altogether close enough to being German, sharing that pathological German orderliness and, as Miller did, so detesting it that once, years ago, I begged an old girlfriend to go into my apartment and completely disorganize all my books and records beyond recognition, while I waited outside. Naturally, as soon as she finished I cried out in anguish, "My God, what have I done?" and rushed back into the apartment and frantically put everything back in its place. So for me the heroism of Henry Miller is the way that he--or, to be more precise, his literary incarnation--disrupted the order of my head beyond repair; after I read Tropic of Cancer as an aspiring young novelist of twenty-one there was no putting everything back where it was. Art was not about rules or formalism or structure or "dramatic unity" or what the literature teacher could diagram on the blackboard, it was about passion and imagination and courage, and when it wasn't about those things in at least some measure, there was no point to it at all and it was just a waste of everyone's time. And for all the many things that Miller was wrong about in his work, he was right about that; one of his best books, called The Books of My Life, so renews its reader with the exhilaration of reading that by the time the reader has finished, it has become one of the books of his or her life. He wrote only one truly great novel, his first published and still his most famous. Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn and The Cosmological Eye fill out the story and almost constitute the Miller bible that Lawrence Durrell encouraged his mentor to write; but Tropic of Cancer remains the great hurled gauntlet of early twentieth-century fiction, a book that more persuasively and passionately than any other says to art and history and all their mavens: I truly do not give a fuck. On one level this is pure nihilism; beneath that is the level of pure outrage; but beneath that there is the brave Moment in which, when everything else seems shallow and fleeting, all of us sooner or later aspire to live, and end up wondering why we cannot. The narrator of Tropic of Cancer is another literary American henry pushed through the glass darkly, the Henry James who lived in America but was haunted by Europe now returned to the heart of Europe only to be haunted by America, and in the process returning with a voice and heart stripped of all continental sensibilities, an American voice stripped of every reassurance but Whit man's electric song and the Ginsberg howl to come, in rapacious pursuit of one sensual interest above everything else. That interest, of course, is eating. There is a misconception, largely among those who have never read Tropic of Cancer, that the book is about sex. In fact Miller's interest in sex in Tropic of Cancer is only intermittent, which was the truly shocking thing about the book when it first appeared, that it talks about sex not heatedly but casually, and no differently than it talks about survival in general. What Miller really cares about in Cancer is scoring a good meal. He constantly puts his genius to the matter of getting fed with a determination he only rarely applies to getting laid, devising an elaborate plan that finally commits seven different friends to each inviting him to dinner one night a week. Though it is the book I have read more often than any other--I suppose a half dozen times, but out of respect to Miller's anarchy I've tried not to keep track--I would certainly not want a whole literature of Tropic of Cancers. A literature of Tropic of Cancers just becomes cranky and self-indulgent in an obvious and cheap way; it is one of the very greatest American novels, but only in the context of an American literature that also includes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Light in August and Invisible Man and Appointment in Samarra and The Member of the Wedding and The Long Goodbye and Moby Dick and Native Son and The Sheltering Sky and Tender Is the Night and A Lost Lady and Red Harvest and Cane and The Deer Park and The Postman Always Rings Twice and The Violent Bear It Away and Go Tell it on the Mountain and The Killer Inside Me and The Names and Blood Meridian and Gravity's Rainbow and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer and Ozma of Oz. You can't always live among overturned furniture. Whether the reclining chair is before the fireplace or not, sooner or later you want to sit on it. But though you might not approve of it, though you might reproach the book, remove Tropic of Cancer from the above canon and, if you're honest, you will acknowledge that everything about fiction in the twentieth century changes, and it changes for the worse. Everything about twentieth-century fiction becomes less vital, less alive and of course less free; it is startling to note how recently and publicly Miller has been dismissed by writers whose very right to sensational provocation was won in the battles Miller fought for them. That's all right, though, because Miller's true importance is not as a pioneer of free expression but as an exhibitionist of the soul, and lies in the triumph of one man over chaos that is achieved in an ironic collusion with chaos. The great passion of Henry Miller and Tropic of Cancer is nothing less than life-sized, or maybe even cosmos-sized, the relentless raging juxtaposition of the gutter with the heavens, of the beastly with the transcendent, never judging one above the other, loving not the harmony of it all but the disharmony, delirious at the prospect of the great pending Crack-Up of mankind. This is a writer beyond the reach of your reproach, because he has so completely obliterated the value of that reproach; his is the long love-riddled guffaw of failure that is too mad to be fearful and too sane to survive unscarred.


Tropic of Cancer by American writer Henry Miller was first published in Paris in 1934 by Obelisk Press and its subsequent release in the U.S. by Grove Press in 1961drew much public attention as its explicit sexual narrative led to an obscenity trial, one of many that caused discussion and interest in American laws on pornography.
Henry Miller was an American novelist and painter born on December 26, 1891 in New York, New York. During his first year of life, Miller's family moved to Brooklyn, where the whole of his childhood was spent. He is known in the literature world for creating a different style of novel-writing which was a combination of novel, autobiography, social criticism, philosophical reflection, surrealist free association and mysticism.
In 1909, Miller graduated from high school and entered City College of New York where he stayed for only two months because he was not able to bear the academic routine. He soon went to work in a variety of jobs which included being a cab driver and a librarian.
His first work, Clipped Wings, came about after taking a job with Western Union telegraph service in 1920 where he first started writing. He realized the piece was a failure but was motivated to learn about writing. His second wife, June Edith Smith Mansfield who worked as a taxi driver, supported him and saved enough money for the two of them to travel to Europe in 1928 where he continued to work full time as a writer of more than 36 creative and analytical works.
While in Paris, Miller also befriended a woman who was to be a long time lover and occasional benefactor, Anais Nin. Their friendship is documented by Nin and her diaries and these stories were made famous in the 1992 feature film, Henry and June.
Miller's debut as a writer began with Tropic of Cancer, which still remains as Miller's most famous work. This novel is a fictional autobiography of Miller’s early years in Paris in the 1930s. It describes how an artist survives on the good will of others as he writes disturbing literature. Sex, misery and thoughtful observations are narrated with his daily routines.
Tropic of Cancer was included in Time magazine’s TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. His other works, including Black Spring (1936) and Tropic of Capricorn (1939), were smuggled into the U.S. and helped him build an underground reputation. His books opened doors to free discussion of sexual subjects in American writing from both legal and social restrictions. He also wrote travel memoirs and essays of literary criticism and analysis.
Tropic of Cancer was both originally published in France by Jack Kahane at Obelisk Press in the mid-thirties. When the works were brought to the U.S., they sparked a thirty year censorship debate that was eventually won by Miller.
The novels were published by Grove Press through the efforts of Barney Rosset. Miller’s lover and fellow writer Anais Nin, who wrote Tropic of Cancer ‘s preface, also helped by distributing the book at her Gotham Book Mart in defiance of censorship pressure.
Miller's other works were published in the U.S. soon after the publishing of Tropic of Cancer and were soon best sellers. Tropic of Cancer sold over two and a half million copies in the first two years of publication. During this time, the writer was “a legendary character, a kind of folk hero, the Paul Bunyan of literature, larger than life as exile, bohemian, and rebel, the great champion of freedom of expression and other lost causes" (Wickes 1974:170-192).

Tropic of Cancer is described as “totally incoherent; the page-long sentences unwinding like the ramblings of some drunken poet, wandering from meal to meal, drink to drink, from one sexual adventure to the next through the streets of Paris and Brooklyn” by Ewan Morrison, author of Ménage, the story of a modern ménage à trois inspired by Henry Miller and his wife June and Anais Nin.
He continued to say that the book’s surrealist stream-of-consciousness style, impossible mixture of social commentary and autobiographical rantings did not provide the tools required from so-called pornography. What came across was not the graphic sex or the experimental prose, but the spirit of an author who had made a total mess of his life and somehow from it, created an even bigger mess of a book.
Rambling, rambunctious, aimless, vain, flawed, with no methodology, a diary of a living catastrophe, it had more heart and vulnerability than any book read since, he said.


American writer whose autobiographical novels had a liberating influence on mid-20th century literature. Because of the frank portrayals of sexuality, Miller's major novels have been banned in several countries. In the 1960s Miller became one of the most widely read US authors. In his autobiographical works Miller created a myth out of his own life, about a free-spirited, penniless American writer who has a number of affairs and spends his time between New York and Paris.
"The bulk of my readers, I have often observed, fall into two distinct groups: in the one group those who claim to be repelled or disgusted by the liberal dosage of sex, and in the other those who are delighted to find that this element form such a large ingredient." (from The World of Sex, 1965)
Henry Valentine Miller was born in New York, N.Y, the first child of German-American working-class parents. Miller had also a younger sister, Lauretta Anna, who was mentally handicapped and whom he often had to defend from the other kids who would make fun of her. Miller's father, Heinrich Miller, was a tailor. Louise (Nieting) Miller, his mother, never showed much affection toward her son - she used to hit her children, also Miller's sister.
At school Miller was a very good pupil. At the age of seventeen Miller visited a brothel for the first time, and contracted gonorrhea. He attended the college of the City of New York and left after two months. In STAND STILL LIKE THE HUMMINGBIRD (1962) the author explained that it was Spenser's Faerie Queene which decided the issue for him. "To think that this huge epic is still considered indispensable reading in any college curriculum! Only the other day I dipped into it again, to reassure myself that I had not made a grave error of judgment. Let me confess that today it seems even more insane to me than when I was a lad of eighteen. I am talking, be it understood, of "the poets' poet," as the English call him. What a poor second to Pindar!" Miller had been a voluminous reader from his childhood. At that time his favorites were Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, and Elie Faure, whose study, History of Art, had been translated into English by one of his father's customers. Miller worked briefly for a cement company, took then odd jobs, and started in 1909 an affair with Pauline Chouteau, who was 37-years old. He travelled throughout South West USA and Alaska with money, which was intended to finance him through Cornell. In 1913 he went to work at his father's tailor's shop. Heinrich Miller's drinking had increased. In 1917 Miller married Beatrice Sylvas Wickens, a amateur pianist, and became a father. He had also a brief affair with his mother-in-law.
From 1920 to 1924 Miller worked at the Western Union Telegraph Company, but then left his family and lived a with June Mansfield Smith, a Broadway dancer, who encouraged Miller in his writing aspirations. The relationship inspired Miller's early novels MOLOCH and CRAZY COCK (the latter published in 1991 posthumously). Later Miller returned to this period in the trilogy THE ROSY CRUCIFIXION. Miller did not seriously begin to write until he was 40, although he had published essays and short stories in a magazine in the late 1910s. CLIPPED WINGS, which he wrote in 1922, was rejected my the publishing company Macmillan. June worked occasionally as a waiter, but her restless life style, which first had fascinated Miller, made him miserable. In 1930 he moved to France. In Paris he become a familiar sight with his olive-green overcoat, wide-brimmed grey felt hat, and protruding bottom lip. Miller was penniless, but he met Alfred Perlés, an Austrian writer, who paid his rent and his cafe bills. Also Anaïs Nin, who entered his life in 1931, supported him. In the fall of his second year in Paris Miller wrote: "I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive." Miller's early books were published almost exclusively by the Obelisk Press, founded by Jack Kahane, who wrote erotic novels under the pseudonyms of Cecil Barr and Basil Carr. After living two years at Clichy, Miller moved in autumn to the Villa Seurat in the 14th arrondissement of Paris.
With his friend Gilberte Brassaï, born Gyula Halász, who gained fame as a photographer, Miller shared love of the city at night. "I have found my counterpart in dear Halász," he said to his literary agent, Frank Dobo, "a "wanderer" like me, who sets out on an exploration with no other aim but continual investigation." Miller also wrote an article on Brassaï, 'The Eye of Paris', stating: "Perhaps the difference which I observe between the work of Brassaï and that of other photographers lies in this - that Brassaï seems overwhelmed by the fullness of life."
"If it [Sexus] was no good, it was true; if it was not artistic, it was sincere; if it was in bad taste, it was on the side of life."
During this time Miller came under the influence of surrealism, Céline, and the literary circle, which included Lawrence Durrell and Anaïs Nin. He created sensation with his classic first works, TROPIC OF CANCER (1934) and TROPIC OF CAPRICORN (1936), which offered a vivid picture of bohemian life in Paris and New York. The books were banned for nearly three decades in the U.S., before decision by the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their literary value. The triangular relationship between Miller, June and Nin formed the basis for several of Nin's journals and the film Henry and June (1990). When the English writer George Orwell travelled to Spain to report on the Civil War, he stopped in Paris. He met Miller, who told him that he was a pacifist. Miller's major works from this period include BLACK SPRING (1936), based on his childhood's experiences in Brooklyn, and THE COLOSSUS OF MAROUSSI (1941), inspired by his visit to Greece in 1939.
With the outbreak of World War II Miller returned to the USA. At the age of 48 he still felt that he had failed as a writer. At John Steinbeck's birthday in Monterrey he made love to one of the guests on the lawn. In 1942 he moved to California and lived from 1947 in Big Sur on California coast. "It is my belief that the immature artist seldom thrives in idyllic surroundings," wrote Miller in BIG SUR AND THE ORANGES OF HIERONYMUS BOSCH (1957). "If an art colony is established here it will go the way all the others. Artists never thrive in colonies. Ants do. What the budding artists needs is the privilege of wrestling with his problems in solitude - and now and then a piece of red meat." In 1944 Miller married Janina Martha Lepska, a young philosophy student, who was over 30 years his junior. Their marriage ended after seven years. "I live all alone like a monk, a celibate, an exile," Miller wrote to his old friend Brassaï. (Brassaï's archives contain 168 letters from Miller.) However, Miller found soon a new companion, Eve McClure, an artist, whom he married in 1953.
In 1957 Miller was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He wrote prolifically, revisited Europe numerous times and painted water colors. Miller had began to paint in the 1920s and continued to produce watercolors until the final days of his life. Grove Press published Tropic of Cancer in 1961 and the book gained a huge popularity. Miller was not enthusiastic about his imago, when his readers hailed him as the grand old man of sex. At that time he did not see himself as an "outlaw writer" and in interviews he tried to direct the discussion from sex to other subjects, without much success. In the early 1960s Miller had affair with Renate Gerhardt, a German translator. When she founded a publishing company, Miller helped her financially. Most of his life Miller had lived without regular income, but when his books started sell, he bought a house on Ocampo Drive 444 in the Pacific Palisades, which looked like it belonged to a movie star. He also had to hire accountants and lawyers to plan taxes. In 1969 the feminist writer Kate Millet attacked Miller in his book Sexual Politics, and two years later Norman Mailer defended him in The Prisoner of Sex. Miller died in Pacific Palisades on June 7, 1980. He was married five times. In 1967 he married a young Japanese cabaret singer, Hiroko "Hoki" Tokuda, who refused to have sex with the old writer. They divorced in 1977. She later ran a Tokyo night-club called 'Tropic of Cancer'.
"Henry was so enthralled by women that he sought to demystify their mysterious parts through the violent verbal magic of his books. The violence is rooted in a sense of self-abnegation and humiliation before them. He is, as the Freudians would say, counterphobic.'' (Erica Jong in The Devil at Large, 1993)
Miller's later books include THE AIR-CONDITIONED NIGHTMARE (1945), a critical view of the United States, QUIET DAYS IN CLICHY (1956), depicting his life as a penniless writer in Paris, and THE ROSY CRUCIFIXION trilogy (1965), which traced the crucial years of the narrator-hero in the United States during which he struggles to became a writer. "I'm a desperado of love, a scalper, a slayer. I'm insatiable," Miller wrote in the first part, Sexus. "I eat hair, dirty wax, dry blood clots, anything and everything you call yours. Show me your father, with his kites, his race horses, his free passes for the opera: I will eat them all, swallow them alive." In 1952 appeared Miller's study of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose rebelliousness attracted him. Miller's works helped to push back the boundaries of censorship in the 1950s with D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover and William Burroughs's The Naked Lunch. He also influenced the Beat Movement writers. Miller's last love was Brenda Venus, an actress; his letters to her were published in 1986.
For further reading: Happy Rock, ed. by B. Porter (1945); Art and Outrage by L. Durrell and A. Perlès (1959); Henry Miller by A.K. Baxter (1961); Henry Miller and the Critics, ed. by G. Wickers (1963); Henry Miller by K. Widmer (1963); Henry Miller by G. Wickers (1966); Henry Miller: Colossus of One by K.C. Dick (1967); The Mind and Art of Henry Miller by W.A. Gordon (1967); The Literature of Silence by I. Hassan (1968); Form and Image in the Fiction of Henry Miller by J.A. Nelson (1970); Henry Miller grandeur nature by Brassaï (1975); Genius and Lust by Norman Mailer (1976); Orpheus in Brooklyn by B. Mathieu (1976); Always Merry and Bright: The Life of Henry Miller by J. Martin (1978); Henry Miller rocher heureux by Brassaï (1978); Henry Miller Bibliography with Discography by Michael Hargraves (1980); Henry Miller - A Life by Robert Ferguson (1991); The Happiest Man Alive - a Biography of Henry Miller by Mary V. Dearborn (1991); The Devil at Large by Erica Jong (1993); Conversations With Henry Miller, ed. by Frank L. Kersnowski, Alice Hughes (1994) - Note: Film Henry and June (1990), dir. by Philip Kaufman, starring Fred Ward and Uma Thurman, Maria de Medeiros. - Suom.: Muita Millerin suomeksi käännettyjä teoksia ovat mm. Opus pistorum ja Yksityinen kirjeenvaiht sekä kokoelma Engström, Saarikoski, Ilmari (trans.) Durrell, Lawrence - Miller, Henry - Perlés, Alfred: Kirjeitä, 1968
TROPIC OF CANCER, 1934 - Kravun kääntöpiiri (suom. Pentti Saarikoski, 1962) - film 1970, prod. Tropic Productions, dir. Joseph Strick, starring Rip Torn, James T. Callahan, Ellen Burstyn, David Baur
BLACK SPRING, 1936 - Musta kevät (suom. Risto Lehmusoksa, 1968)
THE COSMOLOGICAL EYE, 1939 - Kosmologinen silmä (teoksista The cosmological eye, The wisdom of the heart, Remember to remember, suom. Kalle Varila, 2001)
HAMLET, 1939 (with Michael Fraenkel)
TROPIC OF CAPRICORN, 1939 - Kauriin kääntöpiiri (suom. Risto Lehmusoksa, 1967)
THE WISDOM OF THE HEART, 1941 - Kosmologinen silmä (teoksista The cosmological eye, The wisdom of the heart, Remember to remember, suom. Kalle Varila, 2001)
THE COLOSSUS OF MAROUSSI, 1941 - Marussin kolossi (suom. Pentti Saarikoski, 1962)
THE AIR-CONDITIONED NIGHTMARE, 1945 - Ilmastoitu painajainen (suom. Pentti Saarikoski, 1964; Petri Leppänen, 2007)
REMEMBER TO REMEMBER, 1947 - Kosmologinen silmä (teoksista The cosmological eye, The wisdom of the heart, Remember to remember, suom. Kalle Varila, 2001)
THE SMILE AT THE ROOT OF THE LADDER, 1948 - Hymy tikkaiden juurella (suom. A. K. M. Taipale, 1960)
SEXUS, 1949 - Ruusuinen ristiinnaulitseminen: Sexus (suom. Risto Lehmusoksa, 1970)
PLEXUS, 1952 - Ruusuinen ristiinnaulitseminen: Plexus (suom. Risto Lehmusoksa, 1971)
THE TIME OF THE ASSASSINS, 1956 - Salamurhaajien aika: proosallinen tutkielma Rimbaud’sta (suom. Einari Aaltonen ja Seppo Lahtinen, 2000)
QUIET DAYS IN CLICHY, 1956 - Hiljaiseloa Clichyssa (suom. Seppo Loponen, 1968) - films: Stille dage i Clichy, dir. Jens Jørgen Thorsen, starring Paul Valjean, Wayne Rodda, Ulla Koppel, Avi Sagild, Susanne Krage; 1989, Jours tranquilles à Clichy, dir. Claude Chabrol, starring Andrew McCarthy, Nigel Havers, Barbara De Rossi, Stéphanie Cotta (an elderly American writer recalls the sexual encounters of his youth)
THE HENRY MILLER READER, 1959 (ed. by L. Durrell)
NEXUS, 1960 - Ruusuinen ristiinnaulitseminen: Nexus (suom. Risto Lehmusoksa, 1972)
A PRIVATE CORRESPONDENCE, 1963 - Yksityinen kirjeenvaihto (suom. Matti Rossi, 1964)
GREECE, 1964
ROSY CRUSIFIXION, 1965 (trilogy Sexus, Plexus, Nexus, U.S. edition published as whole)
OUR AMERICA, 1976 (with A. Rattner)
SEXTET, 1977
JOEY, 1979
HENRY MILLER READER, 1983 (ed. by J. Calder)
DEAR, DEAR BRENDA, 1986 (with Brenda Venus) - Rakas, rakas Brenda (suom. Margit Salmenoja, 1987)
CRAZY COCK, 1991 (foreword by Erica Jong) - Hullu kukko (suom. Heikki Salojärvi, 1992)
OCTET, 1991
MOLOCH, 1992 - Molok eli Tämä pakanallinen maailma (suom. Heikki Salojärvi, 1993)