Not a natural-born Brummie, getting my head around some of the lingo has been a bit of a headache. What on earth is a ‘gambol’? And I thought a bread roll was a ‘cob’, but then what does, ‘She’s got a right cob on today,’ mean? In an attempt to put this all straight, I’ve researched and put together this (not quite) complete guide to Birmingham slang and beyond. Just so I know what you’re all talking about! Hopefully, it can help some others too…
Ackee 1-2-3: a game of hide and seek with a Brummie twist, where fs spotted you have to race back to a ‘safe zone’.
Bab: a term of affection.
Babby: a child.
Benny: tantrum, strop.
Black over Bill’s mother’s: a black, stormy sky, specifically in the direction of Stratford-upon-Avon. Bill is William Shakespeare, his mother, Mary Arden, also lived in the market town.
Bobowler: a large moth.
Bonce: a head.
Bostin’: Coming from ‘Bost’, it literally means ‘smashing’, but as in amazing, brilliant, great.
Cack-handed: clumsily doing something.
Chobble: chew loudly.
Clarting: messing around.
Cob: a bread roll.
Deaf it/off: Neglect, forget or ignore something
Gambol: a forward roll.
Got a cob on: in a mood.
Gully: the alleyway between houses, either down the side of a house, or round the back of houses – also called a ‘ginnel’.
Island: a roundabout.
Munch: a cuddle
Nause: someone who makes a mess.
Oil tot: satisfied and happy.
Outdoor: the off-licence.
Pikelet: a West Midlands-style crumpet
Pop: sometimes squash, sometimes fizzy drinks – which is sometimes differentiated with ‘fizzy pop’.
Round the Wrekin: taking the long way, named after Wrekin Hills in Shropshire.
Scrage: a scrape, a graze, a scratch, but so much worse!
Slummock: slouch around.
Tara-a-bit: goodbye, see you later.
The cut: the canals, often said ‘going up the cut’, as in following the towpath.
Tip top: a long frozen lolly, an ice pop.
Tot: alcoholic drink.