Strike an informal tone in your speech or writing by studying English colloquialism examples. You'll see how these words and phrases add personality and a casual feeling to any kind of communication, as well as how they vary from region to region. Like idioms, these words and colloquial phrases can be difficult for a non-native speaker to understand.
Great Britain has some unique colloquialisms and regional expressions that can lend a region-specific and less formal touch to any piece of writing. These are a few notable ones, including many British slang words:
Ace - word to describe something excellent
Anorak - someone who is a little bit of a geek with expertise usually in an obscure niche
Blimey - exclamation of surprise
Bloke - a regular man or "guy"
Boot - the trunk of a car
Brilliant - something that's really great
Brolly - an umbrella
Cheeky - to be overly familiar or bold, sometimes in an endearing way
Cheers - thank you
Chinwag - a chat
Chockablock - something that is completely filled
Chuffed - proud or excited
Codswallop - something made-up or not true
Dodgy - something less than safe or secure
Dog's dinner - a big mess, often used to describe a situation
Gobsmacked - completely surprised
Gutted - horribly disappointed
Knackered - totally exhausted
Lurgy - an illness with symptoms like a cold or flu
Pea souper - a very foggy day
Poppycock - something ridiculous and possibly untrue
Posh - something or someone that is very fancy
Rubbish - an exclamation meaning something is untrue or of poor quality
Skive - to skip work or school
Smarmy - smug or snobby with a false earnestness
Strop - a bad mood or sulk
Swot - a very serious, possibly geeky, student
Tosh - something that's untrue
Whinge - to whine and complain
Americans have a few unique words and phrases of their own, especially when it comes to casual conversation. Add these colloquialisms and American slang expressions to your writing or speech if you want to sound less formal:
Ballpark - used to describe something that is close to accurate
Bomb - to do terribly on a test
Cattywampus - a crooked thing
Flake - a person who cancels plans regularly or the act of regularly cancelling plans
Lemon - a purchase that is unreliable and has many problems
Podunk - used to describe a small town
Raincheck - a promise to reschedule plans that had to be cancelled
Ride shotgun - to sit in the front passenger seat of a car
Score - to get what you want
Trash - to destroy something
Canadians also have expressions that are unique, and there's quite a bit of variation in Canadian slang by region. If you want to sound casual, try these words and phrases:
Chirping - making fun of or taunting someone
Click - a kilometer
Eh or Hey - used at the end of a sentence to signal a check for agreement
Gong show - an event that gets out of control
Keener - someone who tries too hard to win favor
Kerfuffle - a difference of opinion that causes a fuss
Pencil crayons - colored pencils
Serviette - a napkin
Skid - a kid from a poor family
Toque - a warm cap or beanie, rhymes with "duke"
You'll also find many English colloquialisms in use in Australia. While some are shared with other English-speaking countries, some are unique to this area:
Arvo - afternoon
Bottle-o - a liquor store
Bludger - a lazy person
Cobber - a good friend
Deadset - something that is true
Flat out - extremely busy
Furphy - unlikely stories or rumors
Mongrel - a person who is unkind or troublesome
Rapt - really pleased
Swag - a sleeping bag
Woop woop - a town in the middle of nowhere
Colloquialisms are region-specific words and phrases that add color and a casual tone to your writing or speech, but they aren't the only way to accomplish this goal. You can also learn about other similar terms that can make your writing more interesting. Several of these overlap with colloquialisms.
Slang - Slang is informal speech, but it isn't necessarily used by everyone in an area. For instance, young people may use slang that their grandparents don't understand.
Idiom - An idiom is a phrase that has meaning only understood by people who know the language and culture well. It can be a colloquialism, but it's often more involved. English idiom examples include "hold your horses" or "let the cat out of the bag."
Jargon - Jargon words tend to be more formal and not used by common people. They are often associated with specific industries or areas of expertise. For example, there are many types of political jargon or corporate buzzwords that are only understood by people in those fields.
Aphorism - Like colloquialisms, aphorisms are used by common people. However, they tend to be a truism or piece of wisdom, rather than a region-specific method of expression. "Actions speak louder than words" is a common example.
Colloquial sentence examples can help you learn the difference between American and British English. Understanding colloquialisms can also give you more tools to choose the right words for any type of writing, from formal papers to casual letters to friends.