Breathe Translation Guide

It seems to have come as a surprise to a handful of early readers that Breathe, my sixth book to be written in Northern English, is in fact written in Northern English. In an effort to prevent excessive googling, I have put together a nifty (see below) glossary to assist in vocabulary expansion because everyone should be able to use the word “twerp” in a sentence. Pay close attention, now. There will be a test…


Am I ’eck as like! — No, I’m definitely not.


To bawl.

Bag of shite — Something that is not very good.

Bagsy — Stake a claim on.

Barney (to have a) — Argument.

Bawl — Ugly cry.

Bennies — Benefits payments from the government.

Bloody Nora — Oh my goodness!

Delicious bacon butty

Bonkers — Not terribly sane.

Bollock-all — Very little or none.

Bollocked/Bollocking — Told off/a telling off.

Buggeration — Dagnammit.

Butty — Sandwich.


Collywobbles — State of feeling uneasy or afraid.

Come a cropper — Come to harm/have an accident.


Dab hand – Expert.


Fib/Fibber — Lie/liar, but a gentle untruth, not a big fat dodgy one.


Gawp — Stare in an excessive manner.

Get on my wick — Irritate the tits off me.

Giving me the willies — Disconcerting me to a considerable degree.

Going like the clappers — Going rather fast.

Gormless — As thick as two short planks. Wait, that’s northern. “Dumber than a bag of hammers.” There you go.

Gob/Gobbing Off/Gobby/Gobful/Gobshite — Mouth/Being mouthy/One who is mouthy/a mouthful/a mouthy individual who’s talking crap.


Jiffy (in a) — No time at all.


Knackered — Very tired, e.g. worked a twelve-hour night shift and finished late tired.


Mam/Mum — Seriously? I really need to translate this? I’m not going to. Work it out.

Make a Cock Of — Muck/mess up.

The Manchester bee.

Manchester Bee — This little chap on the right. Symbol of Manchester. See also: 22/05/17.

Manky — Nasty/gruesome/gross. Can also mean rotten or unwashed.

Mard — Needing to man the fuck up.


Nifty —Rather impressive or smart/handy/agile.

Nowt — Nothing.

Nowty — Irritable.


Peg Out — Collapse due to exhaustion.

Nice glass of plonk.

Pinched — Stole (as in robbed, not one of those furry things you put around your neck.)

Plonk — Wine.

Put wood in t’hole! — I say, would you be so kind as to shut the door?


Rigmarole — Goings on/proceedings.


Scarpered — Ran away.

Shitload — Quite a lot.

Shagging around — Having a shitload of sex.

Sod Off — Go away.

A fringe that has most thoroughly been made a cock of.

Sozzled — What you get when you drink a lot of plonk.

Stuffed (as in “we’re stuffed there”) — Stymied. Can also mean excessively full after a meal.

Swanky — Posh.

Summat — Something.


Take the Piss — Make fun of.

Tickled Pink — Very amused or happy.

Tosser/Twat — A veritable arsehole.

Misc. Synonyms

Berk/Pillock/Git/Twerp/Bugger/Sod/Numpty — Mild derogatory term for idiot.

Copper/Plod/Bobby — Police Officer.

Prick/Dick/Knob — Terms used to indicate that a certain chap is in fact a complete penis.

Do feel free to print this guide out and keep it handy!

Breathe will be available 1st September (this very Sunday!) from the Bold Strokes website and 10th September from everywhere else.

About Cari Hunter

Cari Hunter is the author of "Snowbound", "Desolation Point" and "Tumbledown", "Alias", "Breathe", and the Dark Peak series of crime thrillers - "No Good Reason", "Cold to the Touch", and "A Quiet Death" - all published by Bold Strokes Books. Her new novel "Unbreakable" is now available to buy.
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13 Responses to Breathe Translation Guide

  1. lianecarmi says:

    I needed this last week. Will have to re-read now.

  2. Amisha Patel says:


  3. 58chilihed13 says:

    SO marvelous!! Takes me back to my years in the U.K. God I miss it!

    • Cari Hunter says:

      You’ll have to start slipping some of these words and phrases into conversation, for old time’s sake!

      • Fuzz says:

        I grew up in the US with a Scottish Gram and and English Grand (one from Edinburgh the other from Sheffield). I learned how to talk from them. People still look at me weird when I say ‘wee,’ ‘Bollocks,’ ‘Bugger,’ ‘Radge,’ ‘Rubbish bin,’ etc. Good fun.

        • Cari Hunter says:

          I love playing with language and I love regional colloquialisms. There are words and phrases used ten miles down the road where I work that I’d never heard before I started with the ambulance service. I know some readers would prefer me to use standard American grammar, but my characters aren’t standard Americans so why the dickens should they talk like them? And “radge” isn’t a word I’d ever heard before. Took me about three seconds to google it though 😉

  4. Mama Cass says:

    Hey Cari! I just finished reading and reviewing Breathe on my blog and on NetGalley. I am a professional reviewer for the American Library Association but the blog is for the one books I read in my off time. Stop on by!

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