A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The 20 best Brummie and Black Country words and phrases

It wasn't until I went to university in Liverpool that I realised just how many words and phrases us lot from Birmingham and the Black Country say, that the rest of the country doesn't understand in the slightest. I found myself having to explain certain phrases time and time again, and it was like a lovely big warm hug when I moved back to the West Midlands just over two years ago - the land where people understood what I meant! 

I personally love our little words and phrases and a huge part of me enjoys that people from outside the area don't understand them, it's like our own little language and it makes me feel instantly connected to others. So, I have asked fellow Brum bloggers and some of my favourite people from the West Midlands what their favourite phrase is! This is in no order at all - I would be here for months attempting to arrange them into my favourite ones. But we all know number one is BAB anyway! 


When I asked the question, the majority came back with their favourite local word being Bab. It is hard not to use it, and is the perfect word to call someone you love, as well as someone you barely know. It's not baby and it is no way soppy. It's just Bab - and we love it. I guess if you don't like Bab, you can use the normal 'love' or 'darling', but that is a bit boring isn't it. 

"You alright, bab?" 


Following on from Bab, we have Babby. A lot of us around these ends refer to a baby as 'the babby'. 

"Hannah is coming round with the babby"

Yampy - suggested by Fashion Mommy
Emma from Fashion Mommy loves Yampy, which is of course the phrase for when someone is a bit mad. 

"He's a bit yampy isn't he!"

Tarra a Bit - suggested by Laura, Head of Communications at Birmingham Hippodrome
Tarra a Bit is also a local favourite, with many of us choosing to say that rather than bye or see you later! 

"I'm finished so I'm going to make a move, tarra a bit bab"

Got a Cob On 

This is definitely a personal favourite of mine! Someone who has 'got a cob on' is someone in a vile mood with major negative vibes. 

"You've got a right cob on today"

Ay and Day

We are all guilty of using these words from time to time - or on a daily basis like me. Instead of saying 'I didn't do that' it would be 'I ay done that' and 'I didn't go there' would be 'I day go there'. It sounds more complicated than it is, but we understand it and that's all that matters right?!

"I day go down that road"

Mom - suggested by A Brummie Home and Abroad 

I've got my knickers in a right twist about this on numerous occasions, and Emmalene from A Brummie Home and Abroad agrees. Mother's Day is a bit of a nightmare for us locals, seeing as we don't call our mother's mum. They are Mom! As this is seen as an American term outside of the Midlands, it is difficult to find any card shops that sell cards for Mom's, not Mum's. 

"I'm going round to my mom's for dinner"


Before I went to university, I honestly believed that the whole country referred to roundabouts as islands - but they don't! I've heard from several people that they call smaller roundabouts islands, but others call all roundabouts islands. Why do we do it? I have no idea. But can someone inform the SatNav?!

"I'm just approaching the island"

The Cob/Bap Debate 

This debate is the best kind of argument to have. Is a small round bread roll a cob or a bap? Well, for me, it's always a cob. There is also the argument that a cob is crispy, and a bap is soft, but that conversation is for another time...

"I'll have two ham cobs please"

Tuthbrush - suggested by Momma Mack 

Another one I didn't realise I said 'incorrectly' until a Northerner informed me. A lot of us round these ends call a toothbrush a 'tuthbrush'. Lucy from Mamma Mack agreed and told me how her nieces and nephews who live near London always laugh at her for saying it, but that it sounds odd being said the other way. 

"Have you seen my tuthbrush?"

Black Over Bill's Mothers 

A personal favourite of mine, Black Over Bill's Mothers means that the sky is really dark and that it is about to rain. For a history reference, Bill is actually a reference to William Shakespeare, whose mother was Mary Arden of Stratford. It is said that locals say that it is Black Over Bill's Mothers because the rain usually approaches from the south-west of the region. 

"It's black over Bill's mothers, look at the sky over there!"


Chobbling is the local word for eating really loudly. 

"That bloke is proper chobbling his dinner"

Gambol - suggested by Charlotte Ruff 

Gambol or Gambowl, however you want to spell it, means a forward roll. We could just say forward roll, but that seems really boring doesn't it. Charlotte Ruff agrees, and told me that her partner from up north looks at her like she's speaking a different language when she uses it!

"Our kid is good at gambowls"

Buz - suggested by Ed James

Unsure of what a buz is? It's just a bus. But we prefer to call it a buz round here! 

"I've gotta go and catch the buz"

Bostin - suggested by Rainbows and Roses

It's a classic and we all love it - BOSTIN! Suggested by Sarah from Rainbows and Roses, Bostin means amazing, fantastic, brilliant etc. 

"That pub was bostin!"

The Cut 

Did you know that Birmingham has more canals than Venice? Of course you did! Us lot round these ends often refer to the canal network as 'The Cut' which means that we are walking somewhere that will require walking alongside the canal. 

"I've gotta go up the cut to get to work"


Another personal favourite, Bawl means crying really loudly, like proper sobbing. 

"She was absolutely bawling her eyes out"

Get That Down Ya Wazzin! - suggested by Nikkipedia 

Nikki from Nikkipedia loves the phrase 'Get that down ya wazzin", and it is a Black Country classic. Wazzin means throat, so instead of saying 'get the down your throat or gob', us lot say 'get that down ya wazzin'. 

"Get that tea down ya wazzin it'll go cold"

Round The Wrekin - suggested by Full to the Brum 

Going round the Wrekin is a popular phrase in the West Midlands, and Laura from Full to the Brum loves it. It basically means a journey is taking a long time or you're going a long way to get somewhere. What is the Wrekin? Well, it's actually a hill in Shropshire. 

"This journey is taking me round the Wrekin!"

0121 Do One - suggested by Tara Tomes 

Tara loves the retro '0121 Do One!' phrase we have round here. It is a classic come back which includes the dialing tone for the Birmingham area; 0121.

"0121 DO ONE!"

Do you have any more Brummie or Black Country slang favourites? Let me know! 

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