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How to talk 'Brum' - Top words in Brum

The Birmingham Mail recently did a feature on popular words a Brummie would use. We were shocked as you wouldn't hear anyone outta road using most of the words they listed. Supatrax decided to take a look at some of the words and interpretate them to how people really talk in the inner city second city. The Birmingham Mail wrote: "Birmingham and the Black Country are well known for their own accents, dialects and expressions." . . .  Well, Supatrax wants to look at some of the words we're supposed to be using in the second largest city in the UK and learn how to talk proppa, or should we say: 'Correctly'.

Birmingham words and phrases
We have listed our words (interpretations) in green under the original words listed in the Birmingham Mail.



1. Bostin(g) is a well-known word meaning amazing, brilliant or excellent. The g is rarely written or pronounced. Bost is (like the similar word bust) slang for broken, and so the word bostin' means the same as 'smashing.'

1a: Propa - I haven't heard no one use the word 'Bostin' . . . "That bud is Bostin!"??? - Nahhhh, "Dat Bud is Propa!"


2. Our kid is a term for a younger brother or sister. It is also used to refer to any sibling (whether older or younger), or for any younger relative and sometimes also to address an unrelated friend or colleague who may be younger. 'Come on our kid, let's get the bus into town.'

2a: 'My Yute' - used when describing a younger (someone younger than you) OR 'Fam' - used to describe someone close to you (not always a family relation).


3. Babby is a local variation of baby, and the shortened form bab is often used as an affectionate term for 'love or dear', as in 'How are you, bab?

3a. 'Child' or 'Pickney' - used to describe a child. Babes is used to explain a person with affection, ie: "Hey babes, you look nice, I got a job ya know, I beg ya yu number."


4. Wench is an affectionate term for a girl or young woman.

4a 'Gash' - is a term for a woman. A more affectionate term would be a 'Bum Ting!'


5. 'When you fall over you scrage yourself.' The word scrage means to scratch, scrape or graze the skin.

5a: Would usually say: "Ha ha, u bruck up yu self!"


6. Fittle is a local word for food, and therefore 'bostin' fittle' is a way of saying great food.

6a. Food is called food! For example: "Bruv, I'm going to get a food." Food also has other meanings lol!


7. Going round the Wrekin is a popular local phrase. It means taking a long and rambling route to a destination or taking a long time to get to the point of a story.

7a. 'Long ting!'

8. "It’s a bit black over Bill’s mother’s" This means that the sky is dark with rain. It's been claimed that Bill is a reference to William Shakespeare, with his mother being Mary Arden of Stratford and the rainstorm usually approaching from the south-westerly direction (one of the main directions for incoming winds and storms to sweep into the UK from the Atlantic).

8a. "Looks like it's gonna p**down!" - What they doin wid Billy's mother has no concern with me!


9. Yampy is a well-known Midlands word - it is used to describe someone who is daft, mad or losing the plot.

9a: 'Dickhead', 'Prick', 'Nob' 'eeeeeeediot!' - The list is endless.


10. A piece is a local word for a slice of bread and butter, and sometimes also for a sandwich.

10a. A piece is another word for a gun or it's a word that explain a woman's weave. 


11. 'Never in a reign (rain?) of pigs pudding' means ‘it will never happen.'

11a: 'Gassin' - For example: "My man said his got the new Jordans, but he don't wannna wear them out in case they get dirty - GASSIN"


12. Popping down 'the outdoor' means going to the off-licence.

12a: 'Winelord' - If you know about drinks, it's the only place to go - They sell everythin!


13. The word noggy means old-fashioned or outdated.

13a 'Ol Skool'


14. A cob is the local word for a bread roll, supposedly because the small round loaves look like street cobbles.

14a: 'Bun'. Bun can also mean to hurt some one, ie: "Mi a guh give him bun, cus he slept with mi friend."


15. To bawl is to cry loudly, such as the noisy wailing and sobbing of an upset child.

15a: We'd agree!


16. The phrase 'go and play up your own end' is shouted at children who are being a nuisance in the street, telling them to go away and play outside their own homes instead.

16a: "Come from roun here."


17. Pop means any fizzy soft drink such as lemonade.

17a: We agree


18. Lamp means to hit or beat up as 'I'm going to lamp you if you carry on', 'He gave him a right lamping.'

18a: 'Box' - ie: "Watch me box up this dickhead."


19. 'Birmingham folk call a forward roll a gambol'

19a: Is it jus a Birmingham ting?? I thought it was an international word??? #shock


20. Snap is a word for food or a meal - "I'm off to get my snap" is what someone might say when they are going to get their dinner.

20a: Never heard the word Snap. Another word for food (not used commonly) is 'Grub'.


21. The West Midlands has an extensive canal network and Birmingham is said to have more miles of canal than Venice. Locally, residents refer to a canal as 'the cut' such as saying they are going 'up the cut' - meaning they are heading along the canal towpath to get somewhere.

21a: 'From round the cut', an old term used to mean 'From the ends (area)'.


22. Back of Rackhams - this phrase had its origins in the red-light spot once at the back of Rackhams department store (now House of Fraser) in Birmingham city centre. 'She'll be round the back o'Rackhams' might be said of someone accused of being promiscuous. 'I'll end up round the back o'Rackhams' might be heard if a woman jokingly felt she would be forced into prostitution to pay all the household expenses. A Birmingham brewery named a real ale Bhacker Ackhams after the infamous location.

22a: 'Dutty narstie Sket' or 'Skettel' or 'Dutty B**ch'.


23. If someone is accused of being cack-handed or caggy-handed, they are usually doing something in a clumsy or fumbling way. The phrase also describes someone who is left-handed.

23a: 'Clumsy Muthaf**a'



24. Hard sweets are often known as rocks.

24a: 'Rocks' is crack.


25. Someone who is half-soaked is stupid or slow-witted.

25a: 'Retard'.


26. A bob-owler is a West Midlands name for a large moth.

26a: 'Bat' - for example: "Yoooooooo! Don, dat ting wasn't no insect, that was a f***in BAT blud!"


27. The fizzog is a word for the face and you could tell someone to stop sulking and change their down-in-the-mouth expression by saying ‘Put yer fizzog straight.’ It comes from the word physiognomy meaning the facial features and the art of judging personality from them.

27a 'Fix ya marnin' or 'Fix ya face'.


28. Ta-ra a bit is a Midlands phrase meaning 'Goodbye for now, see you later.'

28a: 'Laters' or 'gone'.


29. Oil tot is a phrase for when someone feels satisfied and happy as in "I’m in my oil tot." It dates from the days when working men would have a tot of olive oil before drinking beer, in the belief that it would line their stomachs and stop them getting very drunk.

29a: 'Fully Gassed'.


30. Wagging it or wagging school means a child is playing truant.

30a: 'Bunkin' - For example: "Ya wan bunk off school?"


31. Keep out th’oss road is a Black Country expression for ‘mind how you go.’

31a: 'Hol it down'.


32. Any road up - means anyway or anyhow.

32a: 'Whatever'


33. Ackers is a word used in the Midlands to mean money.

33a: 'Dough' or 'Pee'


34. Barmy means mad or insane as in 'He was driving me barmy.'

34a: 'Doin my hed in'.


35. You'll 'ave it dark is a phrase accusing someone of being too slow in doing something, meaning it will be night by the time they have finished a task.

35a 'Long'.


36. A face as long as Livery Street means someone looks miserable.

36a: "W'happen to you!"


37. If someone talks about a couple or three, they just mean two or more, a few but not very many.

37a: ***This one confused us! Haven't got a clue what they on about . . . Some one tell us what they mean!????***


38. 'Well, go to the foot of our stairs!' is a local exclamation of shock or surprise.

38a: 'Raaaarse!'


39. Blarting is a word meaning crying or sobbing.

39a: We agree.



40. An island is what we call a traffic roundabout in the West Midlands.

40a: We agree


41. If you are told to deaf it, this means forget it, ignore it, don’t bother with it, walk away from it - it's similar to 'turning a deaf ear' to something.

41a: 'Allow it' or 'lowe it'.


42. When someone is said to have 'got a bob on himself/herself', it means they think they are better than others.

42a: 'Think ya tooo nice.'


43. Your donnies are your hands. 'Give us your donnie' is what a parent might say to a child, meaning 'Hold my hand.'

43a: Ya 'Donnies' are ya friends., ie: "Yo Don, I beg ya pass that."


44. If you hear someone say 'This ain’t gettin the babby a frock and pinny' it means 'this is getting us nowhere, we’re wasting time'.

45a: "Bun dat fam, it's pointless'


45. Chobbling is a word for chomping or munching loudly, and youngsters crunching on sweets might well be told to 'stop chobbling yer rocks.'

45a: "Slobbering' - For example Mom would say: "Sloobber again while your eating and watch me slap the food out ya mouth!"


46. Clarting about is a local phrase for messing around.

46a: Clarting means a beating, for example a child may be told: "Yu gonna ketch one piece a clarting if carry on."


47. Riling describes the action of fidgeting or rolling about, usually directed at restless children clambering around on the furniture or play-fighting. They may be told to 'stop your roaming and riling', meaning 'sit still.'

47a: 'Settle yu self'.


48. Slummocking is standing, moving or walking in a slouching or slovenly way. It can also refer to lolling around while sitting or lying down.

48a: 'Straigthen up' or 'Fix up yuself' - This term can also mean that the person needs to do better for themselves, ie: "Man needs to fix up!".


49. Got a cob on means to be in a foul mood. 'He's got a right cob on this morning.'

49a: 'Vex', or 'Screwin'



50. A pikelet is what people in the West Midlands call a crumpet - a small, thick pancake with holes in the top, usually toasted and eaten with butter.

50a: 'Crumpet'.


Let us know if you think we're wrong. Send your 'Brum chat' to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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