British Slang: Understanding British English Baby Lingo – A Short Dictionary of Terms

British Baby

With the arrival of the Royal Baby – as yet unnamed – it’s understandable if many of my fellow Americans are confused by some of the terms that British newsreaders are using to describe babies and baby care. So, we thought it would be fun to put together a list of British Baby lingo to help you translate.

You can find these words and much more in Anglotopia’s Dictionary of British Slang – available from major bookstores and on eBook.

  • Pram – A fancy baby carriage
  • Pushchair – A step down from a pram for older babies – a stroller.
  • Nappy – What the British call a diaper.
  • Antenatal – What the British call pre-natal healthcare.
  • Bairn – Sometimes how they say baby in Scotland.
  • Little Blighter – Sometimes used to describe a little boy, slightly derogatory.
  • Dummy – A pacifier
  • Cot – A crib
  • Cot death – SIDS
  • Creche – Day care or nursery
  • Fairie Cake – Cupcake
  • Jim-jams – Pajamas
  • Sick – Vomit/Throw-up
  • Stabilisers – Training Wheels on a bike
  • Up the duff – Impolite way to describe someone as pregnant.
  • Yummy Mummy – A young, good looking mum (like Mrs. Anglotopia).
  • Flannel – Baby washcloth
  • Wind – Gas – perfect for describing a gassy baby (like ours unfortunately).
  • Sprog – Another word for baby.
  • Grizzle – A fussy baby.
  • Nipper – A Baby.
  • Moses Basket – A Bassinet
  • Cotton Wools – Cotton Balls
  • Baby Grow Suit – A onesie.
  • Midwife – Someone who delivers a baby, Doctors are rarely used.

Have we left anything off the list? Let us know in the comments.

Read about these words and much more in Anglotopia’s Dictionary of British English: Brit Slang from A to Zed.

Comments

  1. avatarIan McArdell says

    Not sure about ‘Baby Grow Suit’ – we just call it a Babygro normally.
    Despite its proper name as SIDS, it still gets referred to as ‘Cot Death’ in common usage.
    Stroller/Pushchair is pretty much interchangeable… though I suppose strollers are more lightweight.
    A creche is likely to be at someone’s place of work, or somewhere where a child is looked after for a short period of time. Otherwise it’s a nursery (generally for full time care) or a pre-school.
    Midwives… yes, most care is midwife led but a Doctor will get involved if things get complicated and intervention is required. Plenty of babies in the UK are born at home or in midwife led birth centres.

  2. avatarLisa says

    Have to agree with adove, doctors are involved quite a bit in British delivery rooms. In my PCT (primary care trust) the OB on duty checks in on the progress of all mothers delivering on the ward and is available to consult if there are any issues. Most prenatal care is administered by midwives, but mothers with certain risk factors (including anyone with an above average BMI) will have periodic consultations with an OB. OBs definitely aren’t involved neary as much as in the US and midwives are the primary care providers, but they still play an integral role.

    Also, Northumbria and Teesside also use the term bairn, not just limited to Scotland.

    I’ve never heard anyone say “up the duff” ever! It’s much more likely that someone will say a woman is “in the family way”, also women don’t get pregnant they “fall pregnant” which I always find a very funny expression.

    Another little thing addition, a pack n play is called a travel cot.

    You mentioned that “sick” usually refers specifically to vomiting, on the same token instead of saying a child is sick to mean generally unwell, you would say a child is “poorly” something that took me awhile to get used to when I moved here.

    • avatarNicky says

      Up the duff is a bit coarse but it is used, maybe more in the south, whereas I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say “in the family way” since the sixties/seventies! Certainly not in the south anyway. I do think some terms are regional.

  3. avatar says

    Good list! I love it! Here’s a few more…….
    Pacifiers- Also known as dormers, num-nums & plugs! (Yuk!)
    Pregnant- Expecting, With child are fine to use. Knocked up, preggers, up the duff and in the family way usually refer to an unexpected pregnancy, so best avoided!
    Grizzle- Actually means to cry in a whining way! ie ‘He is grizzling because he’s tired’.
    Prams/Strollers – Buggy, baby carriage, Perambulator (Norland Nannies push Perambulators!), Push chair.
    A crib in the UK is usually a Bassinet that is mounted on a frame so that it can gently swing to and fro.
    Overalls-Dungarees, Dungers, bib & braces.
    Baby- Babber, babbie (Gloucestershire especially!)
    Being Sick can mean vomiting or just feeling unwell, the same as poorly, under the weather, mankey, off colour, feeling green, feeling rancid.

    Yes, there is an OB Doctor on the maternity ward, but ,unless severe, unexpected, complications occur, it is the usually, (the often more experienced), Midwife, who actually delivers the baby. I think a Pack and play is a play pen, not a travel cot/crib, isn’t it?
    Rxx

    • avatarLisa says

      No, pack n play is definitely a travel cot. Pack n plays are collapsible cots with mesh sides, usually with a mattress in the bottom. I’ve got an 18 month old and know plenty of moms on both sides of the pond. Play pen is the same for both, but very few mothers use play pens anymore.

  4. avatarWendymm says

    …you covered your self well on comment “◦Yummy Mummy – A young, good looking mum (like Mrs. Anglotopia).”…smart man!….

  5. avatarNicky says

    Grizzle is a verb, you might have a grizzly baby or say you baby has been grizzling all day.

    The term Yummy Mummy often implies wealth, in the media anyway – used to describe wealthy young attractive mothers who reside in places like Notting Hill. It’s not exclusively used like that but very often it is.

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