All She Wrote: A Southerner’s Guide to the British invasion


David: Did you see that Tom Hiddleston is playing Hank Williams in the biopic?

Me: Really? You know that a chunk of the cast on “Nashville” was British. Ugh. We don’t produce many actors in the US anymore do we? Just celebrities.

David: It makes sense though — the language link.

Me: Yep. But sometimes it suffers in translation.

The British are coming! The British are coming! And to a cinema or streaming channel near you. Actually, they are already here and they are a talented and well-trained lot. And lest you already knew their Royal Shakespeare roots or Oxbridge origins you’ll be gall-danged to discover that these Malcolms of the movies, these Simons of the silver screen, these Harriets of hulu, these Nigellas of Netflix are from across the pond. So in case you encounter one of these cultural invaders on the tele touting their latest triumph and have trouble understanding them, I’ve devised a simple lexicon to assist you.

Anti-clockwise: This is not your mother’s Scots-Irish sister from eastern North Carolina nor is it an aversion to dressing to the left.  It simply means counter-clockwise.

Baccy: This is not that Eye-talian backyard game that’s a cross between a fancy game of horseshoes and corn hole. It’s the term for loose tobacco — the sort you use to roll your own. And you should know that if you are from baccy country.

Bugger: Sounds like an English chigger but it’s a lot more invasive. It’s also not a synonym for entomology.

Cheeky: Not a Native American tribe of the Southeast. More of an impish act or person. A synonym for “giving lip.”

Daft: Often used in the textile-rich South as a shortened euphemism for “Damn NAFTA” but really means stupid.

Fancy: Not a song by Reba McIntyre. A verb that means to like.

Gutted: Meaning to be devastated and Southern hunters get it viscerally.

How’s your father?: Not what your kin and every person you know at the bank says to you when you are in line. A polite Brit euphemism for sex.

John Thomas: Not that guy from “The Waltons” with the distracting mole (that was Richard Thomas anyway). It’s another word for a bloke’s willy.

Knock up: Not what happened to your cousin during the family reunion. It means to wake up, and derives from the practice of knocking door to door to awaken workers.

Mate: Not what you do to all of critters on the farm. It means a friend, a pal — a mate.

Nancy boy: This does not mean you were born in Nance County and are a male. This refers to an effeminate man.

Off your trolly: Many Southern cities have gone back to using trollies in their downtown and/or historic districts. This does not refer to those that have refused to offer this form of public transportation. It means you have gone mad.

Pants: Means that something is crap — which is often associated with pants when something goes horribly wrong.

Roger: In the South this means that “you get it”and comes from WW II military communication. In English it means to copulate.

Sack: Not where you keep your potatoes and onions. A verb meaning to fire.

Shag: Same as bonk but slightly less polite.  In the South it means to shuffle to beach music wearing preppy clothing.

Sod: Not a chunk of lawn. Short for sodomy.

Ta: Not what you order sweetened or un. It is short for thanks.

Taking the biscuit: This does not mean robbing Biscuitville or Bojangles. It’s akin to “taking the cake” — meaning an action that is over the top.

Welly: Does not mean your child with a lisp asking for jam. Means leaning in and trying harder or “giving it the boot.” Probably related to Wellington boots.

Zed: Not the name of your farm hand. The last letter of the alphabet.