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What do you think wonky, dodgy and jiffy mean in English? They’re all English slang terms. Slang is a type of language that native speakers use when they’re talking informally. They use it when they’re chatting to friends in the pub, at home or in the street.
It’s important to learn English slang because native English speakers use it a lot. So, it’ll help you follow conversations, and avoid any embarrassing situations. But what’s the best way to learn English slang? Unfortunately, there isn’t much about slang in course books. And very often, the words might not even appear in dictionaries. In fact, you’ll probably only hear it in films or TV series, or when you listen to native English speakers.
So, just to help you, here are some popular slang terms. We don’t suggest you use the words, but it’s important to understand the meaning of them so you can follow native English conversations more easily.
1. WONKY. If a piece of furniture (a table, for example) is “wonky”, it’s unstable and keeps moving from side to side. | “Shall we move tables?” “Yeah, this one is really wonky.”
2. DODGY. If someone or something is a bit “dodgy”, you don’t trust it or you think it’s a bit dangerous. | “There’s some leftover chicken on the table if you want.” “No, thanks. It looks a bit dodgy to me.”
3. IN A JIFFY. If you do something “in a jiffy”, you do it very soon – in a short time. | “Have you finished that report yet?” “No, but you’ll have it on your desk in a jiffy.”
4. A MUG. A “mug” is a stupid or naïve person. | “He paid more than £50 for the phone when it’s only worth about £10.” “What a mug!”
5. ALL RIGHT? “All right?” is often used to mean How are you?. | “All right?” “Not bad, thanks.”
6. CHEERS. You can use “cheers” to say thanks. | “I paid some money into your account.” “Cheers. I really appreciate it.”
7. CRAM. If you “cram” things in, you force a lot of them into a small space. | “How did you get to the beach?” “We all crammed into the back of Petra’s van.”
8. NICE ONE. You can use the expression “nice one” to mean “well done”. | “We won all our games in the competition.” “Nice one!”
9. TO FAFF AROUND. If someone is “faffing around”, they’re wasting time. | “Stop faffing around in the bathroom. We’re waiting for you!” “All right! I’m coming!”
10. A SPOT OF. “A spot of” something is a little bit of it. | “What’s up? Can I help?” “No, it’s all right. I was just having a spot of trouble with the car.”
11. TO DISS SOMEONE. If you “diss” someone, you’re rude or disrespectful to them. | “Are you dissing me?” “No, I’d never do that!”
12. TO BUDGE UP. If you ask someone to “budge up” on a bench (for example), you ask them to move a bit and make space so you can sit down too. | “Could you budge up a bit, please?” “Yes, sure.”
13. TO GO PEAR‐SHAPED. If something “goes pear‐shaped”, it goes very badly. | “How are your shares doing?” “They were doing really well, but then last month it all went pear‐shaped and I lost everything.”
14. SOD’S LAW. “Sod’s law” is another version of Murphy’s Law, which states the following: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong! | “The one day this week I didn’t take an umbrella, it poured down with rain.” “Sod’s law!”
15. BOTCH UP. If you “botch something up”, you do it very badly. | “Did you manage to put up the shelves?” “No, I botched it up. As soon as I put a book on one of the shelves, the whole thing fell down.”