Ten Slang Words to Understand Londoners Better


Samuel Johnson famously stated ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.’ This couldn’t be truer. As you walk through my beautiful city, you hear an incredible cocktail of accents, languages and perpetually changing slang that can sometimes be very difficult to grasp.

Although most of London’s slang has its roots in Jamaican Patois, it is by no means limited to just one ethnic group. London’s melting pot temperament has resulted in people of all colours and ages embracing the unique syntax, which plays a great part in London’s music scene (think Dizzee Rascal).

However, slang has come under fire in recent years due to its connection with crime and gang violence. Whilst this seems like a gross exaggeration, there is truth in the fact that slang is used to facilitate bonding and create a sense of bonding.

So go ahead and use this guide to London slang to find your own mandem (noun – gang)!

KMT (verb)

An abbreviation for ‘kiss my teeth,’ an action which expresses discontent, frustration or disappointment.

‘I got a really low grade, KMT. I worked for hours on that essay!’

Safe (adjective)

1) A way to describe someone as cool. e.g. ‘She’s safe.’

2) An expression of agreement. e.g. ‘Do you want to come to my house?’ ‘Yeah, safe.’

3) To say thank you e.g. ‘Eat as much as you want!’ ‘Safe, Mrs. Smith.’

Wagwan (contraction)

Patois for ‘what’s going on’, used as a greeting. e.g. ‘Wagwan darling?’

Bare (adjective)

1) A large quantity, a lot. e.g. ‘we ate bare chicken.’

2) Extremely. e.g. ‘I was bare disappointed about not getting that job.’

Beef (noun)

A disagreement/fighting. e.g. ‘Bill and Ben had beef last night over some girl.’

Butterz (adjective)

Ugly. e.g. ‘that guy is butterz compared to my boyfriend.’

Gross. e.g. ‘this pasta is butterz.’

Ends (noun)

Neighbourhood, area. e.g. ‘Oh, you live in my grandma’s ends.’

Fam (noun)

1) Abbreviation of ‘family’.e.g. ‘I’m spending Christmas with my fam.’

2) Mate, friend. e.g. ‘Fam, let’s go to Stratford.’

Hench (adjective)

Muscular. e.g. ‘wow, you’ve gotten sooo hench since I last saw you!’

Innit (contraction)

An abbreviation of ‘isn’t it’, but not necessarily seeking confirmation. e.g. ‘She’s 44, innit?’

Throw in the odd slang word here-and-there when you’re talking and you will look like an authentic Londoner.


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