Hugh Laurie who is most famous for the show ‘House’ in the USA, is possibly more well-known for his comedic roles in the UK. He was part of a comedy duo with Stephen Fry and starred in Ben Elton’s Blackadder; which also stars Rowan Atkinson, pre-Mr Bean.
I’m assuming that Hugh was on the Ellen DeGeneres show to promote House, but the clip below is a segment where they test each other’s knowledge of British and American English. First, read the list of words below. Which are British English and which are American English? What do you think they mean?
Chuffed to bits
Now, watch the clip to find out.
I had not heard any of these American slang words and after quizzing a few Americans, I discovered that I wasn’t alone. They are fairly recent slang words, so perhaps even some younger British people have heard these through social media, songs, and films. On knowing the meaning, I can’t think of a scenario when I would use them so I will swiftly move on to the British words. These two terms have been around and in usage for quite some time. Although not all younger British people would use them, they are likely to be aware of the meaning.
to talk/ chat/ gossip
the chin moves up and down, like an animal’s tail wags to and fro.
I met an old friend from high school and we had a good old chinwag.
(It’s common to use the adjectives ‘good’ and ‘old’ before the noun ‘chinwag’).
I can’t wait to have a chinwag at lunchtime.
Chuffed/ Chuffed to bits
Very pleased/ delighted/ very happy
He was chuffed to bits with his brand-new computer.
‘I’m so chuffed! I passed my driving test.’
‘We are dead chuffed with her exam results.’
(it is common to put the word ‘dead’ to add more emphasis to ‘chuffed’)
Replace the -ed with an -ing and the meaning alters. It is used for mild cursing; replacing ‘bloody’ or the more offensive f-word. It is more commonly used in Northern England and originates from Yorkshire.
Chuffing ‘eck (heck)/ Chuffing nora/ Chuffing ’ell (hell)
A way to add emphasis, like the use of ‘bloody’ in bloody hell.
It can be used in informal situations when the person is happily surprised or annoyed/shocked.
Using this would not cause offense to the listener but it is effective in displaying the speakers shock/surprise. Some British people, and probably some Americans, might find the usage of this term amusing.
‘What the chuffing ‘ell are you doing here? I haven’t seen you in years, how are you?’
‘How much!? Chuffing nora! You must be joking’.
‘Chuffing ‘eck! What are you doing?!’