| | | | |

Brummie Slang Words, Phrases, Accent, and their Meanings (a Local’s Guide)

affiliate disclosure policy

Want to know all about the Brummie Slang Words of Brum, aka Birmingham?

The Brummie dialect, otherwise known as the Birmingham dialect, is spoken by the residents of the second-largest city in the United Kingdom, Birmingham, famous for its world-class curry houses and rich industrial heritage.

The term Brummie is also the name of the inhabitants of this city, while the term Brum is the name of the city itself.

As a Birmingham resident myself and being born near the city, I am all too familiar with the sound of the Brummie accent. Growing up listening to the slang daily, and using the dialect when texting family and friends, you could say I’m an expert on the Brummie dialect.

Our unique Brummie accent sounds strange not only to foreign visitors from abroad, but also to British people in neighboring towns and counties too!

Planning your trip? Use my favorite resources!

🏨 Accommodation: I recommend Booking.com
✈️ Flights: for the cheapest flights, I use Skyscanner
🚗 Rental Car: I recommend Discover Cars
🛡️ Travel Insurance: for the best deals I rely on SafetyWing

Did you know: Historically, Birmingham was originally known as Beormingaham, after the Anglo-Saxon tribe that settled in the region in 600 AD. It was recorded in the Domesday Book as Bermingeham in the 11th century, and over time, the name changed slightly to Brummagem or Bromwhichham, which is still in use many centuries later.

For more fun facts about the city, here’s my collection of 41 Interesting Facts about Birmingham

In this post I’ve put together a detailed guide of the most commonly used Brummie slang words and phrases, their meanings, and how they are used in conversation (and yes I still use many of these words when I’m home and around family).

Plus, there’s a list of some hilariously rude terms and their meanings near the end of this post you really can’t miss.

👉 Short on time? Here are the most popular Brummie slang words:

Cob – Bread roll
Bab – Baby
Bostin’ – Brilliant/Excellent
Ar – Yes
Pop – Soda/Soft drink
Blartin’ – Crying

Bawlin’ – Crying loudly
Wench – Woman (affectionate term)
Gambol – Play/Fool around
ENT – Is not / Isn’t (also “Ain’t”)
Yampy – Crazy/Silly
Ta-ra – Goodbye

Brummie Slang Meaning Words and Phrases (by a local)

The ultimate, local’s guide to the popular yam yam slang words, Brummie words and phrases, and more.

Brummie meaning: Definitions and brief history of the Dialect

Since Birmingham has been known as Brummagem to the locals for several centuries, it gave rise to the terms Brum (short for Brummagem), and Brummie which is the collective name of the city’s inhabitants, their accent and dialect.

The term Brummie is often mistakenly used to refer to all accents and peoples of the West Midlands region, though the people of the Black Country, which sits adjacent to Birmingham, are a proud people with their own dialect, a different accent, and even their own flag, and thus, they do not identify as Brummies.

As such, the two should not be confused with one another.

canals at Gas Street Basin in Birmingham city centre, England

👉 What’s the difference between a Brummie and Black Country?

A Brummie refers strictly to the residents of the city of Birmingham, while the Black Country is the industrial region that surrounds Birmingham to the north and west, that consists of Walsall, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Dudley. The people of the Black Country are known as ‘yam yams.’

There are similarities between the accents of the Brummies and yam yams, but they are not the same, and both have their own dialects.

The Origins of Brummie Slang

📍The Brummie slang and dialect has its origins in the industrial growth of Birmingham in the 18th and 19th centuries. As workers migrated to work in factories, the local accent and lingo evolved.

📍Influences likely include Romany gypsies and immigrant groups who came for industrial jobs. Words like “mom” (mother) have Romani origins.

The Evolution of Brummie Slang

📍As Birmingham expanded into an industrial hub, more people came from across Britain, influencing the accent over generations. Regional words dropped out of use while new terms were coined.

📍Post war immigration from Asia and the Caribbean also impacted Brummie slang. Words like “raaa” for example, come from South Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities.

Birmingham Slang: Current Status

📍Many traditional Brummie words are still used today locally, passed down through families. TV shows like Peaky Blinders have also popularized Brummie slang nationally.

📍However some slang is dying out as younger generations embrace more mainstream English. New modern slang continues to emerge within youth culture.

📍Brummie slang is still seen as much a part of the identity of Birmingham. Locals wear the dialect with pride even if it’s ridiculed by outsiders at times. Preserving and celebrating the lingo remains important.

Commonly used Slang Words

What are Brummie words? Here’s a collection of the most commonly used dialect and phrases still in use by today’s Brummie population:

  • Ain’t – it is not.
  • Ar – yes, or to agree with something.
  • Ark at that – listen to that!
  • Ackee – the popular playground game known as tag.
  • Bab – endearing term, like dear or love.
  • Bawlin– to shout and scream at someone- “bawlin and shoutin”
  • Big tyma – same as ‘big timer’, a person who is known and respected, knows what he’s talking about, and always makes big moves in life.
  • Bonce – a head.
  • Bost – it’s broken.
  • Buzz – the bus.
  • Brumting – an object that has connotations of Birmingham
  • Cack-handed – doing something in a clumsy way.
  • Deff off – to not do something.
  • Ee-yar – here you are.
  • Ent – it is not.
  • Entry – the alley between terraced houses.
  • Garage – a petrol or gas station.
  • Island – a traffic roundabout.
  • It’s raining in – rain is getting inside the house, close the window.
  • Leg it – run away.
  • Mither/Myther – pestering someone.
  • Mom – mother. Unlike the rest of the UK, Brummies call their mothers “mom” instead of “mum”. While the word “mom” is commonly used all over the USA and elsewhere in the world, it has its origins in the Midlands region of England, first written in 1867.
  • Mooch – have a look around.
  • Munch – to hug/cuddle.
  • Outdoor – the off licence / newsagents. Example: “I’m just poppin’ down the outdoor” means going to the off licence.
  • Rezza – the reservoir, most likely Edgbaston.
  • Going round the Wrekin – a popular local phrase. It means taking the long way round to a destination, or taking a long time to get to the point of a story. The Wrekin is also a hill in Shropshire.
  • Ta-ra a bit – Goodbye for now / see you later.
  • Tea – dinner, around 6/7pm.
  • The cut – the canal.
  • The Bull – a bronze statue outside the Bullring, and a general meeting place in town.
  • Tip top – a long, fruit flavoured ice lolly.
  • Tot – an alcoholic drink.
  • Town – Birmingham city centre.
  • Wench – an affectionate term for a young woman.
  • Wicked – something that is cool, great, fun, awesome etc.

In the Brummie Urban Dictionary algorithm, the top 5 slang words for “Birmingham” are: Brummie, Brum, Birmz, Lozells, and Bostin.

Digbeth street art mural in Birmingham, England
The Digbeth area of the city is packed with impressive graffiti art.

I never forget when my grandad told me stories of when he first moved to Brum as a young lad to work in the Austin car factory in the 1960s. He used to talk about the riotous laughter that would erupt in the workshops whenever anyone used a quirky Brummie turn of phrase that confused the out-of-towners.

Popular Post: 143 Best Travel Captions for Instagram

A-Z of Brummie Slang Words & Phrases

Below is a compilation of more Brummie dialect and phrases still in use in Brum today:

Ackers – a word used in Brum meaning money.

Aggin’ – complaining or moaning.

Any road up – anyway or anyhow.

Ar kid – a phrase for a younger brother or sister. Can also refer to any younger relative, friend or colleague. “Come on ar kid, let’s get the bus into town.”

Barmy – mad or insane. Example: “He was driving me barmy.”

Bawl – cry loudly, such as the noisy wailing and sobbing of an upset child.

Black over Bill ’s mother’s – meaning the sky is dark and black clouds are coming. Bill is William Shakespeare, and his mother Mary Arden of Stratford. It means the rain clouds are coming from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Blarting – crying or sobbing.

Bobowler – a West Midlands name for a large moth.

Bockle – bottle (eg. a bockle of milk)

Chobbling – a word for chomping or munching loudly. Youngsters crunching on sweets and candies might well be told to “stop chobbling yer rocks.”

Clarting about – a local word for messing around.

Cob – the word for a bread roll, supposedly because the small round loaves resemble street cobbles.

A couple or three – when a person talks about “a couple or three”, they just mean two or more, a few but not many.

Donnies – a way of saying hands. Example: “Give us your donnies” is what a mom might say to a child, meaning “Hold my hand.”

Face as long as Livery Street – a person who looks miserable. Livery Street is a very long street in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.

Fittle – a local term for food, and therefore ‘bostin’ fittle‘ is a way of saying great food. It’s also the name of a restaurant in Dudley.

‘Go and play up your own end‘ – a phrase shouted at children who are being a nuisance in the street, telling them to go away and play outside their own homes instead.

‘Got a bob on himself/herself’ – when someone is said to have “got a bob on himself” it means they think they are better than others.

‘Well go to the foot of our stairs!’ – often used as an exclamation of shock or surprise.

Gambol – a forward roll.

Gully – an alleyway, or space round the back of houses.

Having a Benny – to throw a strop.

Lamp – to hit or beat someone up. Example: “I’m going to lamp you if you carry on”, or “He gave him a right lamping.”

Nause – a person who makes a mess of something.

‘Never in a rain of pigs pudding‘ – an expression meaning that something will never happen.

Noggy – meaning old-fashioned or outdated.

Oil tot – an old saying for when someone feels satisfied and happy, as in “I’m in my oil tot”. It’s from the days when working men would have a tot of olive oil before drinking beer, believing that it would line their stomachs and stop them getting very drunk.

One bomb – to knock someone out with one punch.

Peaky blinder – a flat cap worn by the Birmingham gang in the 1900s.

Piece – meaning a slice of bread and butter, sometimes also describes a sandwich.

Pop – any fizzy soft drink, such as a lemonade or a Coke.

Rocks – hard sweets/candies

Scrage – to scratch, scrape or graze the skin.

Snap – means food, or a meal. Example: “I’m off to get my snap” is what a Brummie might say when they are going to get their dinner.

This ain’t getting’ the babby a frock and pinny – the phrase means “this is getting us nowhere, we’re wasting our time.”

Tuff brush – tooth brush

Half-soaked – a person who is stupid or slow-witted.

Wagging it – (or wagging school) when a child plays truant, or skips a class on purpose.

Wooden hills – old expression for stairs.

Yampy – a well-known Midlands word used to describe someone who is daft, mad, or losing the plot.

You’ll ‘ave it dark – a phrase accusing someone of being too slow in doing something, suggesting that it will be night by the time they’ve finished the task.

0121 – used to tell someone to get lost. Example: “0121 do one”. (0121 is the dialling code for Birmingham).

👉 What does Bostin mean?

One of the most popular and iconic words in the Brummie Slang dictionary is the word “Bostin”. It’s a well-known term that means amazing, awesome, brilliant, or excellent. The shorter word “Bost” (similar to the word bust), is slang for broken, so you could use the word bostin to describe something that’s smashing.

This word is also popular in the Black Country Dialect.

Funny Brummie phrases and conversations:

“Orright bab! Ow am ya?”
(Hello my friend! How are you?)

“Ow bist? Not too bad ar kid, just gerrin the buzz into town to meet the wenches. We’m off down the outdoor first tho, gotta get some pops n rocks for laters. Going up the wooden hills to get changed out these clarty clothes then it’s taxi time! What you up to?”
(How are you? I’m not too bad my friend, just getting the bus into town to meet the girls. We’re stopping at the off-license first though, need to pick up some soda and candies for later. Going upstairs to get changed out of these dirty clothes then catching a taxi into town! What are your plans?)

“Haha yow likkle gambol! Mite catch ya laters if you’m hitting Broad Street? Got a works do at Second Cup but it’ll be boring as so will see if owt good is going dahn in Brums afterward. Have a bost night! Tara a bit”
(Haha you little joker/fool! I might see you later if you’re partying on Broad Street. I’ve got a work event at Second Cup but it’ll be boring so will see if there’s anything fun happening in Birmingham city centre afterwards. Have an excellent night! Goodbye for now!”

Being a Brummie lad, I can understand the entire conversation above between friends organizing a big Birmingham night out. But I can just imagine someone not from the Midlands overhearing this and wondering what on earth are they talking about.

That’s the joy of local dialects though isn’t it – it bonds those from the region but confuses everyone else!

👉 Read more: Famous & Funny Quotes about England

Weird, Rude and Funny Terms, Euphemisms and Phrases

Naturally, the Brummie dialect would be incomplete without its share of imaginative rude words, phrases and euphemisms.

I’ve compiled a mini urban dictionary below of the most commonly used Brummie insults and outrageous definitions (*warning: some of these are quite vulgar*).

Ameson – a common type of prostitute that hangs around Birmingham, known for their anal sex.

Back of Rackhams – mainly used as an insult, this wretched hive of scum and villainy makes Mos Eisley look like Moseley. The phrase had its origins in the red-light spot once at the back of Rackhams department store (now House of Fraser) in Birmingham town centre. “She’ll be round the back o’ Rackhams” may be said of someone accused of being promiscuous.

Birmingasm – the sensation of going to Birmingham, or when something good happens to you while in the city (ie: to meet friends, go shopping, or party on Broad Street)

Chaventry – slang word for the nearby city of Coventry

Chawittabu – used to describe someone who is masturbating in the toilets at Birmingham University

Dirty Curtis – a curry, usually of dubious quality, eaten in the early hours of the morning in a backstreet emporium, after a long night of partying and large alcohol consumption. Named after Curtis Davies, a sportsman who has been spotted around Birmingham enjoying this kind of meal.

Etap – a cheap hotel in the city, used for a quick ‘bang’

Knob scratcher – a barber/hairdresser

Lozzells – a ghetto area of Birmingham, home to gangs and crime

Merry Hell – slang for Merry Hill, a town in the neighboring Black Country region

Northern monkey – anyone north of Brum who walks like they’re the toughest creature on the planet

Poppybrown – originating from Selly Oak, slang for a woman who sleeps with numerous men and ives for one-night stands.

Raaa – meaning ‘wow’ or ‘oh my god’, commonly used by young Black and Asian minority people from the Handsworth area of Brum

Weasel – meaning male or female genital parts, commonly referred to the vagina.

looking up at the birmingham central library, England
Birmingham Central Library

My guide on Birmingham Maps has a collection of free and useful downloadable PDF maps of Birmingham, from rail and bus network maps, to landmarks, shopping malls, restaurants and cafes.

👉 The word pop has several definitions: on its own, it means squash (ie: orange squash, Ribena). Although some use it to mean fizzy drinks also. Fizzy pop means soda / fizzy drinks (ie: lemonade, Coke). And Council pop just means tap water. ‘Council’ implies a person is too poor/broke to afford normal pop, stereotypically associated with people who live on Council estates.

The Brummie Accent

The so-called ‘British accent’ is recognized all around the world due to hit TV dramas and blockbuster movies, often prevalent among protagonist/villain characters in Hollywood.

However, what many don’t realize is, there is actually no such thing as a British accent!

What people outside the UK are hearing is technically known as Received Pronunciation (RP) – the accent of the elite, also known as the King’s English.

Whats more, there are actually many different regional accents all over the UK, some of which are specific to individual cities even.

And believe it or not, these accents sound very different from each other – some are soft, melodious, and easy on the ear. Others are cheery and optimistic-sounding, like the Liverpudlian accent.

aerial view of junction 6 on the M6 motorway, also known as the spaghetti junction, outside of birmingham, uk
The Spaghetti Junction next to Birmingham city centre.

The Brummie accent, spoken by natives of Birmingham (like myself), is perhaps the most ridiculed of all the regional accents in Britain. Why this is, I’m not sure. But to my ears, this accent reminds me of home, and friendly people.

How do you talk like a Brummie?

The Brummie accent is unique from most regional accents due to the downward intonation at the end of each spoken sentence, meaning the voice lowers in pitch and the sound of the last word fades away slowly.

By contrast – accents like the Scouse (Liverpool accent) and the Northern Irish, have an upward intonation, and thus, an increase in pitch during talking, making those accents sound vibrant and cheerful.

Child: “I want me tay!” (I want my tea)
Mom: “Yow cor av ya tay, it tay tay toime!” (You can’t have your tea, it isn’t tea time)

As such, the Brummie accent is rather monotone, usually hitting a single, low note, and staying with it no matter what. This may be the reason why it has a negative reputation in the UK.

Moreover, when a Brummie is portrayed on TV, they come across as dull, unimaginative, and idiotic. Hopefully this unfair stereotype will change, following the worldwide success of the gangster TV series Peaky Blinders.

Pronunciation and Accent Features

The Brummie accent stands out from other British accents for its unique vowels sounds (especially the ‘a’ sound in words like ‘bath’), its downward intonation at the end of sentences, and dropping of letters like H and G. For example, “how are you” becomes “ow am ya?”

Outsiders often struggle to accurately replicate features like replacing “th” with “f” sounds, saying “gerrin” instead of “getting”, and pronouncing “I” like the vowel sound in “fight”. But Brummies find their home accent as comfortable as an old pair of shoes!

👉 Acob’ refers simply to a bread roll, ‘got a cob on’ means to be in a foul mood. Example: “He’s got a right cob on this morning.”

YouTube video: Birmingham Dialect and Accent

Check out this bostin’ clip of Korean Billy giving Brummie slang sayings and definitions – listen to it all in a Brummie accent!

Grammar Quirks

You can easily identify a Brummie by distinctive grammar like:

☑️ Using “am” instead of “are” (e.g. “how am ya?”)
☑️ Double negatives like “that ent never gonna happen.”
☑️ Tags on sentence ends like “…inna bab” meaning “…isn’t it mate.”

These reveal how English grammar gets moulded by the local dialect over generations. Sentences seem perfectly logical to Brummies but words like “amn’t” or “givum” seem utterly alien to outsiders!

Cultural Attitudes

The relaxed Brummie personality – making time for balti and banter with friends down the pub – manifests in local turns of phrase. Complaints are ‘aggy’ not angry. Rain clouds come specifically from Stratford according to some poetic license!

Idioms like “going round the Wrekin” reference the Black Country landscape. And the resilience of Brummies trying to shake off a reputation as simple folk shows through in proud, affectionate use of their unique lingo. 

Even fatigue is indicated by “have it dark!” – implying it’ll be night by the time some daft apeth gets a task finished!

Peaky Blinders wall mural near Birmingham New Street Station
Peaky Blinders wall mural near Birmingham New Street Station

Dialect Usage

While the Birmingham dialect may sound blunt or dismissive to outsiders, Brummies pepper their everyday talk with regional vocabulary out of familiarity and belonging, not ignorance.

Younger generations mix slang like “bostin'” and “bab” freely with friends, but use broader English in professional contexts indicating dialect fluency has faded over decades even as pride remains.

So the Brummie tongue encompasses much more than just quirky slang! Distinct pronunciation, grammar eccentricities and proud cultural identity all combine to create this much loved and misunderstood Midlands mosaic of English expression.

Map of Birmingham and the West Midlands (Black Country) Region

Below is an interactive map of the West Midlands (in red outline), also known as the Black Country, with Birmingham city in the middle, where the Brummie accent is spoken.

General Information about Birmingham

  • Area: 267.8km squared
  • Weather: 8C (winter), 24C (summer)
  • Population: 1.1 million (2nd in UK)
  • Founded: 600AD
  • International Airport: Birmingham (BHX)
  • Famous Residents: Ozzy Osbourne, Led Zeppelin & UB40 (musicians), David Edgar (poet), Benjamin Zephaniah (poet)

Brummie Slang FAQs:

Below are some of the most commonly-asked questions about Brummie Slang words and phrases:

How do you say goodbye in Brummie?

The most common Brummie way to say goodbye is “ta-ra”, which is believed to come from “tarrah a bit” meaning “see you in a while”. It’s used both for brief goodbyes and when parting for longer periods.

What is the urban slang for Birmingham?

Brum or Brummagem are nicknames for Birmingham used informally. Brummies are people from the city. The local dialect and slang phrases used are described as Brummie or Yam Yam.

How do Brummies greet each other?

Common greetings used by Brummies include “alright?”, “ow are ya?”, “ow bist?” and “ow am ya?” showing the accent’s strong W and dropping of H’s. Response would be “not bad” or “bostin'”.

What does yam yam mean in Birmingham?

Yam yam is thought to imitate the accented “you am” sound of “you are” in the West Midlands dialect. It became a label for people from the Black Country region near Birmingham.

What is a yam yam slang?

Yam yam refers to the Black Country dialect with phrases like “ow bist?” and “ar kid” (friend). Words like wench (woman), mommet (idiot), babby (baby) are yam yam slang popularized outside the area by TV shows.

What does Bab mean in Brummie?

Bab is Brummie slang shorthand for “baby”. For example, someone might say: “aww bless the little bab” when seeing an infant.

Why do they say mom in Birmingham?

Mom is used in Birmingham to mean a fool or idiot. It may have links to Romany gypsy language curses. Examples: “don’t be a mom” or “stop moming about”.

Download your FREE 6-page, useful phrases cheatsheets PDF below:

Want to learn how to say popular phrases in different languages? This free PDF download has useful phrases for travelers in 12 different languages – including Italian, German, Mandarin Chinese, French, Spanish, Hindi, Polish, Greek, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese, and Korean!



    Thank you for reading my post: Brummie Slang Words, Phrases & Accent (a Local’s Guide)

    I hope you enjoyed this post and learned some cool new slang, and that it inspires you to visit my hometown someday!

    Further Reading: UK Travel

    You might also like: 

    If you enjoyed this post, share it on Pinterest so your followers can enjoy it too!

    Brummie Slang