The British Guide, or ‘How To Talk Like Harry Potter’

The British Guide, or 'How To Talk Like Harry Potter'

I began writing this as an instruction notecard for an online roleplay game set in the world of Harry Potter. It was intended as a guide for players who want to learn how to sound more authentically British in the things they say. However, it struck me that a list like this may be interesting and/or useful to a much wider audience; especially if they are of a stateside alliegance (If I’m wrong in this, bugger off).


This is written especially with American, European or other wordly players in mind! Here are some suggestions for improving the way your character speaks 🙂

You should have worked out by now where your character is from within the British Isles, or Ireland. Where you are from makes a big difference to how your character will speak, beyond the accent. You might find it interesting to explore local slang information on the internet – the less understandable, the better!

That said there are a few general things you will want to include in your character’s vocabulary.

Swearing, Insults and Expressing Disappointment In Less Offensive Ways

Because we Brits have a plethora of wonderful ones, believe me.

Don’t say…

  1. ‘Bummer’, as in ‘That’s a bummer’. It means something completely different in Britain.
  2. ‘Lame’, as in ‘This class is so lame’.
  3. ‘Douche’ as in ‘You’re such a douchebag’.
  4. ‘Dork’, as in ‘That Slytherin’s such a dork’.
  5. ‘Jerk’, as in ‘He’s a jerk’.
  6. ‘Fanny’. This is a British one, but it’s another word which means something incredibly rude.

DO say…

  1. ‘Bugger’. An all purpose word used in a variety of ways. ‘Bugger this for a game of soldiers’, ‘Oh bugger’, ‘Bugger it’, ‘Bugger off’, ‘You silly bugger’. Do not say any of these in front of a professor.
  2. ‘Bloody’. Another good one, used by Ron Weasley in the films. ‘Bloody hell!’, ‘Bloody nora’, ‘That bloody owl keeps screeching in my ear’.
  3. ‘Blooming’. A more polite version of ‘bloody’.
  4. ‘Toss’. ‘I don’t give a toss’. Also an insult – ‘Look at that Gryffindor. What a tosser’.
  5. ‘Arse’. Not ass, but means the same thing. ‘Arse!’, ‘That stupid arse’, ‘Smart arse!’.
  6. ‘Naff’. Generally means ‘rubbish’. ‘That cloak looks naff’.
  7. ‘Pants’. Very similar to ‘naff’.
  8. ‘Daft’. An adjective to refer to anyone or anything which is acting silly or not working as it should. ‘My knee’s going daft’ (older person), ‘I thought Ravenclaws weren’t meant to be daft’, ‘This homework we’ve been set is just daft’.
  9. ‘Dodgy’. For a person, it means they are shifty and not to be trusted. For a thing, it means it is likely to break or is of dubious quality. ‘I wouldn’t eat that/stand on that, it looks a bit dodgy’, ‘Here, who’s that dodgy guy over there?’.

And moving on to some really good insults.

  1. ‘Prat’. Also an unfortunate surname with two Ts. ‘What is that Hufflepuff doing? She looks like a total prat!’, ‘You stupid prat, you left your toad in my bed!’.
  2. ‘Twit’. A friendly insult. ‘You silly twit, you have frogspawn on your face.’
  3. ‘Twat’. Believe it or not, a much ruder version of ‘twit’.
  4. ‘Berk’. A very unfriendly insult, and not to be used in front of a professor. ‘You stupid berk!’.
  5. ‘Git’. A tame insult, with a hint of anger attached to it and usually aimed at males. ‘Stupid git, what did you have to go and do that for?!’.
  6. ‘Muppet’. Quite a tame one, which insinuates stupidity. ‘Listen to what that muppet’s done now’.
  7. ‘Ponce’. Refers to someone who is posh, acts posh or shows off a lot. ‘Look at that ponce, lording it over everyone else’.
  8. ‘Nancy’. Similar in useage to ‘sissy’. It means a boy who is acting feminine or behaving in a cowardly manner. ‘Nancy boy!’.
  9. ‘Sissy’. See above, although this one can refer to girls too.
  10. ‘Pillock’. This is a common favourite among Brits. I’m not entirely sure what it means myself, but it does seem to have a cattle-like nuance to it, and generally is similar to ‘muppet’ in meaning.
  11. ‘Plonker’. Fans of Only Fools and Horses will be familiar with this. Similar to ‘Pillock’.
  12. ‘Numpty’. Similar again to the above two.
  13. ‘Dope’. Or ‘dopey’. We love words which mean ‘stupid person’ here.
  14. ‘Wally’. A name in some parts of the world, but in Britain it means you’re making a fool of yourself.
  15. ‘Trollop’. A not very nice word to use for a girl who is a little too easy, or perhaps dresses as if she was. Don’t use this in front of a professor. Younger kids would not have heard this one.
  16. ‘Codger’. A very good word to use in reference to a professor you don’t like. ‘Professor Smith? Oh, that daft old codger.’
  17. ‘Blighter’. A little old-fashioned or upper class in usage, refers to something little and annoying. Perhaps a house elf, or a pet. ‘That nasty little blighter’.
  18. ‘Nutter’. A word to use when you think someone is seriously insane, or for someone who did something extremely dangerous without thinking. ‘What the hell is he doing? That nutter sent the bludger straight at my face!’.

Alternative Words For Common Objects

Pretty much self-explanatory. Every day names for concepts and objects you would use if you were British.

Buddy ====> Mate (quite masculine, or northern in useage).
Vacation ====> Holiday, ‘hols’.
Principal ====> Headmaster, headmistress.
Janitor ====> Caretaker.
Pants ====> Trousers.
Knickers ====> Pants.
Sneakers ====> Trainers.
Suspenders ====> Braces. We do use the word suspenders, but for something else.
Rubbers, rainboots ====> Wellies.
Rain coat ====> Mac. Not to be confused with the computer.
Bathroom, restroom ====> Toilet. Loo is more polite. Bathroom means there’s a bath in it.
Closet ====> Cupboard.
Faucet ====> Tap.
Trash can ====> Bin.
Guy ====> Bloke.
Mom ====> Mum. Or if you’re Irish or from Northern parts, Mam.
Liquor ====> Alcohol, booze.
Soccer ====> Football. Although interestingly, Soccer was an English word.
Baseball ====> Rounders, a children’s game which is very similar.
Fall (season) ====> Autumn.
Dollar, buck ====> Pound, quid.
Candy ====> Sweets.
Chips ====> Crisps.
Fries ====> Chips.
Jelly ====> Jam.
Jell-o ====> Jelly.
Popsicle ====> Lolly, lollipop.
Cookie ====> Biscuit.
Molasses ====> Treacle, specifically the black kind.

In the interests of completion, feel free to suggest your own!

Additional. Perhaps WordPress needs to read this post. When I’d published it, I got a lovely little message telling me how stupid I was for having posted in the first place?

“This is your 110th post. Dope! This post has 1,027 words.”

3 Comments on “The British Guide, or ‘How To Talk Like Harry Potter’”

  1. I’ll probably stick with “blithering idiots”. Seems to cross all cultures… 😉

  2. Marie says:

    Addition to the list:
    ‘Sod’. An all-purpose expression of dislike. ‘Sod it’, ‘sod you’, ‘sod off you evil sod’.

  3. Brianna says:

    I am in louisiana how do i talk like them…lol

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