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13 Things Brits Say and What They Mean, from the New London City Airport Lingo Guides

As flocks of British tourists (hopefully) prepare to fly to foreign parts to enjoy the sun, surf, øl and vino, London City Airport has come up with a handy guide to understanding what Brits mean when they say the things they say.

Helpful note from LCY: “Brits are renowned for understatement and sarcasm and don’t always speak their mind or ‘tell it how it is’ compared to our plain-speaking continental friends.”

LCY has endeavoured to help Brits make themselves better understood abroad by producing a helpful series of guides to communicating with the continentals.


Declan Collier, CEO of London City Airport, explains:

“The airport is an established hub for business travel, but this summer we’re also seeing a surge in popularity for our new seasonal routes to Bergerac and Alicante and summer leisure travel to destinations such as Faro, Madrid, Ibiza, Berlin and Paris Charles-de-Gaulle. This tongue-in-cheek grid may help arriving visitors navigate the British turn of phrase, while our language guides provide robust tips to overcome the language barrier for travelling English-speakers.”

London City Airport’s guide for international visitors: what Brits say during summer versus what they actually mean (PRNewsFoto/London City Airport)

My personal favourites:

Bookings gone awry.

  • Brits say: “There is a small problem with our flight booking”
  • They mean: “I have forgotten to book our flights.”
  • Others understand: “There is a minor and easily solvable mishap with the flight booking.”
  • Brits say: “When you get a minute, can you book the hire car?”
  • They mean: “Book the hire car right now! Immediately!”
  • Others understand: “I should book the car when it’s convenient for me.”

Nordic Disconnect:

  • Brits say: “I wouldn’t recommend camping”
  • They mean: “DO NOT GO CAMPING!”
  • Others understand: “Camping is not their favoured pursuit.”
  • Nordics nod and think: “Great! More room for our caravans, then.”
  • Brits say: “I’m glad I wasn’t at Glastonbury.”
  • They mean: “I wish I’d gone to Glastonbury.”
  • Others understand: “They are pleased not to have listened to Coldplay in the rain.”
  • Nordics nod and think: “They should have gone to Roskilde.”
  • Brits say: “A BBQ sounds like an interesting idea.”
  • They mean: “A BBQ is definitely a terrible decision.”
  • Others understand: “They are enticed by the premise of a BBQ. Let’s have one!”
  • Nordics grin and think: “That is a ‘good’ fire. Here. Let me help you.”


Yes, Velkommen!

If you’re coming by the fjords, please don’t get into drinking contests on planes.

The Nordic word for “we’re thrilled beyond belief to have you” is “Hej!”–pronounced “Hi!”.

“Hej Hej!” means “Go away you have now overstayed your welcome,” or “Bye!” for short.

(Kidding! Come on over and hygge!)


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