If you would like to know more about the Englisch Language, Culture and 'Landeskunde' (area studies), I would recommend the following dictionary:

amazon.de Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture
Addison Wesley Longman


double income no kids yet


This refers to a growing practice of the mistress or partner of a celebrity who publishes (usu. in the tabloid press) an account of the relationship, in the expectation of financial rewards

Joe Bloggs

Name used to indicate some indeterminate Briton, like the German 'Mustermann'

Joe Public

The average member of the general public, eg. Joe Public would like to see his money go if he had any say in the matter.

Jekyll and Hyde

Refers to two contrasting sides (good and evil), of a single mind or split personality. The allusion is to the novel by R.L. Stevenson "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1886)

Jack the Ripper

Name given to the person who murdered and mutilated at least five prostitutes in East London in 1888. His identity has never been established.

Home Counties

The counties which surround London and provide the place of residence for many who work in the capital (usu. Conservatives)

Kitchen sink drama

A term for drama in which domestic life among the working class is portrayed (swearing, highly casual clothes, unwashed pots, broken furniture etc.).

The Irish Question

Relates to the political issue of the 19th century concerning the granting of Home Rule to Ireland. PM Gladstone advocated for Irish self-government.


The national dish of the Scots, made of vegetable stew cooked in the stomach of a sheep.

Kilroy was here

A funny, but meaningless formula which often appears as graffito on walls. Its meaning, however, is uncertain.It might have originated from the name of an American inspector who used to chalk his name on objects in the docks where he was working in World War II.

Friday-afternoon car Equivalent to 'Montagsauto'
Fortnum & Mason's Prestigious store selling groceries in Jermyn Street, Piccadilly.
Estuary English

Designation refers to the English spoken in London and in its commuter areas on both sides of the Thames estuary in Essex and Kent. A mixture of standard English and Cockney. Pronunciation of voiceless th asf (eg. yoof for youth) and voiced th as v (eg. bovver for bother) and constant use of the phrases "y'know", or "Know wo' I mean?"


By general consent, England's premier public school, besides Harrow etc. School fees start from 12.000 pounds per year.

Downing Street

No. 10 Downing Street is the official residence of the Prime Minister and No. 11 that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Dennis the Menace

Figure from Beano's famous comic: epitimises boys who get into all types of mischief.

Cucumber sandwiches

Sandwiches served at elegant, slightly refined parties, such as a vicarage tea-party. Cucumber should be thin sliced. Mentioned in the opening scene of Wilde's 'The Importance of Being Earnest'.

Corner shop

Small general grocer's store (Tante-Emma-Laden)

Coronation Street

An ITV television serial set in a working-class area of an industrial town in the north of England. Has been running successfully and uninterruptedly since 1960.

Christmas cracker

Christmas gift made of coloured paper: when pulled and opened, smaller gifts are revealed like paper hats or slips of paper bearing weak jokes, eg. 'Why did the teacher wear dark glasses?' - 'Because she had very bright pupils."

Say cheese!

Classic phrase used by photographers to get their subjects to smile (by pronouncing the word 'cheese')

Champaigne socialist

Said of a committed Labour MP or trade-union official who is seduced by London high life or by perks of the business world.

Bloody Sunday There have been several of them, but the one which is mostly remembered is Jan. 30, 1972 when British troops dispersed demonstrators in the Bogside of Londonderry, killing 13 people.
Bow Bells

The bells of the church of St Mary in the district of Bow in London.To count as a true Cockney one must be born within hearing distance of these bells.

Guy Fawkes

Catholic conspirator who prepared the Gun Powder Plot of Nov. 5, 1605 designed to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I.The avoidance of a disaster is celebrated each year as Guy Fawkes Day and the guy (rough figure of rags etc.) is burned by children.

Bloomsbury Group

Group of writers, artists and intellectuals who lived in the Boomsbury area of central London and exchanged ideas from about 1906 to the 1930s (eg. Virginia Woolf and J.M. Keynes).

auld lang syne (=long ago)

The best known words of a song which the Scot poet Robert Burns (18th c.) adapted from a traditional version. Sung on New Year's Eve or whenever bigger events break up.

The Athens of the North

is Edinburgh


Name traditionally entered in the list of members of a sporting team when the place has still to be filled.

Angry Young Man

A phenomenon appearing in the 1950s, i.e. a young rebel who reacted against conventions and stereotypes of the post-war British establishment (eg. John Osborne's Look Back in Anger).


Residents of Aberdeen. Aberdonians are said to be the meanest (die geizigsten) among Scots.


Residents of Liverpool


Residents of Manchester


Residents of Glasgow

Lady Godiva

She was the wife of the 11th century Earl Leofric. According to legend, he wanted to levy tax on the inhabitants of Coventry, but following her protest on their behalf, Leofric agreed to drop the tax if she agreed to ride naked through the streets of Coventry at noon. She did so, every citizen of C. stayed behind closed doors with their windows shuttered. The only person to look at her was struck blind. This was Peeping Tom, a tailor.

Land of Hope and Glory

A much-loved song; music from Edward Elgar (1902). Despite its strongly imperialistic sentiments it is still commonly sung, esp. at the Night of the Proms

New Age

A general movement promoting an alternative approach to society is characterized by interest in spirituality, the environment, the natural world, holistic medicine etc.

The Naughty Nineties

Like the Roaring Twenties and the Swinging Sixties a time of moral laxity and hedonistic pleasure-seeking. The freedom of the theatre, to which the British aristocracy was much addicted, helped produce that impression.


Acronym for 'Not In My Back Yard'. Relates to somebody's attitude who may be generally in favour of new industrial developments, but vigorously opposes them when the industrial site is planned close to his own property.

November 5th

The date of the traditional celebration with bonfires, burning of the guy and fireworks. See Guy Fawkes

The Old Boy Network

Some loose organisation between people of common background (i.e. from public schools or Oxbridge universities) which operates to provide jobs or favours for its members.

The Oval and Lords

Names of two traditional major cricket grounds in London. The Oval is home of Surrey County Cricket Club.

Page three

A regular feature of the tabloid, The Sun,is the apperance of topless young females. She is meant to enjoy the hearts of millions of readers, although feminist activists have staged many protests against the paper.


A theatrical entertainment staged before and after Christmas. Strongly traditional and popular among young and old. Typical actors are the Principal Boy (played by a girl), the Dame, a comic elderly female played by a man with false breasts or the Bad Baron. Other components in a pantomime are the pantomime horse, song-sheets for the audience, explosions of purple smoke or the transformation scene.

Ploughman's lunch

Standard item on lunchtime pub menus. It typically consists of a hunk of bread, a chunk of cheese, some butter and pickled onions. Assumed to be eaten by ploughmmen when working in the fields.

Pom or Pommie

Used by Australians and New Zealanders to refer to a British person.

Poppy Day

Name for Remembrance Sunday or Armistice Day on November 11th. Red artificial poppies are sold nationwide and worn on people's coats and jackets.The poppis recall the fields of Flanders, and the money raised are used for the benefit of war-wounded servicemen or war widows.

The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain

Phrase used by Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady (1956), the musical version of the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, in order to help Eliza Doolittle learn the correct pronunciation of the vowel sound recurring in five of the words.


Term used collectively to universities founded in the late 19th and 20th centuries (Birmingham, Bristol etc.). They stand in contrast to Oxbridge (sometimes called bluebrick universities).


One of the major nationwide chains of food supermarkets besides Tesco's, Asda or Safeway.

Sloane Ranger

Term denoting a wealthy young man or woman, usually from the upper classes. He or she is conventional, but aims to be stylish and trendy. Resides in London, originally in or near Sloane Square.

The three Rs

The three basic skills which are considered indispensable for children's education (Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic)

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