There are big variations in colloquialisms across the English speaking world. After all, a colloquialism is a piece of informal language which develops through familiarity, often within a particular region.
Until a hundred years ago that familiarity came, for a large part, from living in the same place. This is often still the case. If you go to the west of Ireland, you will pick up phrases that are not widely used in the west of England.
But English speakers also share colloquialisms across the globe. Here are ten awesome colloquialisms that ESL learners must know!
1) No worries – I understand, it’s fine, I’m ok with that.
- Hey, I’m going to be an hour late so I’ll have to meet you at the protest.
- No worries, we’ll be somewhere near the front.
2) How about? - would you like...? shall we try…? It is a way of suggesting something.
- How about going to Parco Virgiliano this afternoon?
- Sounds great.
3) Awesome – great, impressive, I feel good about this. It is a generic positive word.
- I’ve started volunteering at the homeless shelter.
- That’s awesome.
- Look at this awesome picture I took of the river
4) To put a lid on it – stop it (usually regarding an annoying noise or complaining)
- Put a lid on it, we can hear you from the street!
- Smita was complaining about the food at the canteen again, I wish she’d put a lid on it.
5) A goner - doomed, lost, a thing that cannot be saved
- Did you hear that Richard was caught drinking on the job?
- Yeh, he’s a goner.
6) To be stuffed - eaten enough food
- Would you like another piece of cake?
- Oh I couldn’t! That was delicious, I’m stuffed!
(NB: I’m stuffed is used much less widely to also mean I’m a goner: I lost everything in the financial crash of 2008 – I was stuffed.)
7) To be chuffed – delighted (particularly if something has worked out well).
- I heard you got a First in your IELTS exam, great work!
- I know, I’m really chuffed.
8) To go ballistic – to be extremely angry
- Have you told Sarah that Ruben is dating someone else now?
- Yeh, she went ballistic.
9) To be well up for it – to be positive and enthusiastic about an idea.
- Do you want to go to Meta Beach on Friday?
- Absolutely, I’m well up for it.
(NB: In UK slang, this may be used to mean positive and enthusiastic about fleeting romantic encounters: Whenever Dave goes out, he is always well up for it.)
10) Gonna grab – to get (suggesting a slight interruption in a wider plan).
- I’m gonna grab some food before the concert.