‘Don’t get your knickers in a twist’, voted favourite British phrase

Researchers polled 2,000 adults to find out the most popular dialect sayings with ‘Don’t get your knickers in a twist’ topping the list.

Other beloved phrases include ‘a curtain twitcher’ – ‘a nosey person’, ‘it’s a dreich day’ – ‘a miserable day’ and ‘having a blether’ – ‘a chat’ or ‘a gossip’.

But there are fears these utterings, along with the likes of ‘gert lush’ – very nice, and ‘ar yer orrite bor?’ – ‘hello’ or ‘how are you?’ – might soon be thing of the past.

More than half believe regional dialects are declining in the UK – with some Brits more familiar with words and phrases from Europe such as ‘bon appétit’, ‘déjà-vu’ and ‘adiós’.

However, Trainline, which commissioned the research, hopes to change this and has partnered with the British Library to launch an interactive online quiz created using a sound archive featuring audio recordings of thousands of dialect words and phrases.

The quiz aims to equip travellers with local lingo as they journey around Britain and Northern Ireland over the summer – and to celebrate UK dialects.

Says Jonnie Robinson, lead curator of spoken English, The British Library:

“It’s been great fun working with Trainline to build a collection of dialect phrases for the online quiz.

“Our sound archive preserves thousands of spoken word recordings of UK accents and dialects for anyone to hear.

“The quiz is a fantastic way to celebrate them and connect them with people who may not have come across them before.

“The richness and diversity of dialects featured immediately conjures up a sense of place and community and ultimately makes UK travel so fascinating.”

The study also found Brits are especially enamoured with Scots’ use of words – naming Scottish English as their favourite UK dialect.

And this in part is thanks to phrases and words like ‘collie-buckie’ – ‘a piggy-back ride’, ‘pure barrie’ – ‘utterly wonderful and fantastic’, and ‘wur tearin the tartan’ – ‘engrossed in riveting conversation.’


1.            Don’t get your knickers in a twist

2.            It’s all gone pear-shaped

3.            The bee’s knees

4.            A cock up

5.            Were ya born in a barn?

6.            Gone to pot

7.            A picnic short of a sandwich

8.            Brass monkey

9.            Bright as a button

10.          Where there’s muck there’s brass

11.          A curtain twitcher

12.          You look smashing

13.          I’ll ring you/give you a ring

14.          Having a blether

15.          I quite fancy you

16.          They are fit

17.          It’s a dreich day

18.          You look smart

19.          Lang may yer lum reek

20.          Treacle tart


1.            Chuffed

2.            Cheers

3.            Gutted

4.            Dodgy

5.            Alright?

6.            Hunky-dory

7.            Blimey

8.            Mate

9.            Brilliant!

10.          Cheeky

11.          Chinwag

12.          Miffed

13.          Quid

14.          Rubbish

15.          Bloke

16.          Brolly

17.          Innit?

18.          Ta-ta!

19.          Finicky

20.          Champion

Chris Price