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Tradesman Slang From Around The World

Rhino Trade Insurance 13 June 2022

There are certain unwritten rules when it comes to working in the trades. You'll most likely eat a full English at least a couple of times a week, take pride in your work, have jokes and banter on-site, and ultimately, come across a variety of characters, especially ones with different colloquialisms! 

It could be whilst setting out a plan for the day, instructing your apprentice, talking about past experiences or telling a funny story. Every trade from across the globe has its own way of speaking, and most are absolutely fantastic to hear in action!  

Let's take you on a slightly different geography trip and share some of our favourite tradesmen and women lingo from around the world. 

Have a Butchers at this UK Slang

Us Brits love to come up with a new saying. Whether it's from the latest TV shows, movies or stealing it from other parts of the world. We love to shoehorn a new phrase into our vocab. But what do some of the most popular trade slang words mean? 

Skim: A word you will hear builders, plasterers and dry lining professionals saying. After the plasterboard is on the walls, the plasterer puts a thin 'skim' layer coat over the wall to finish it off, essentially making sure it is smooth and finished. 

"After we skim the surface, the decorators and sparky can get in and finish the job".

Shoddy: A word heard among various trades in the UK. It simply means work that isn't up to scratch. Maybe not cowboy level, but someone who hasn't perfected the job at hand. 

"That's a shoddy bit of work, they haven't made sure the wall is perfectly plumb". 

Trades Mate: A popular name for anyone working with a qualified tradesperson. They will usually know bits and pieces of the trade but aren't qualified and will just help the pro do the work. 

"I'm just finishing up some electric work in the morning, I'll send my trades mate round first to prep everything so we are ready to go when I arrive". 

Is it Lit, or is it Lame - US Slang.

Our friends over the pond love a bit of slang as well. And in typical US-style, their words are always bigger and *supposedly* better. Take the words in the title, for example, lit and lame have grown in popularity and show that you are 'down with the kids. But what about trade words? Some of these have already made their way over to sites in the UK. 

Gaffer: Another word for the boss, the leader of the pack, the one who holds all this together. A term that has become synonymous for any manager on a site.

"We better get this mix on and ready for the bricklayers or the gaffer will be fuming".

Aggregate: A material often bought by various tradesmen and women: builders, grounds people and construction workers. Made up of sand, ballast and cement-like bits and pieces. 

"Can you level that aggregate we’ve just laid and then we'll get off for dinner". 

Girder: An American word for steel lintel. Typically used by tradespeople to ensure a building or extension is sound and strong. 

"We'll rip out that wall, put up some supports and install the girder". 

A Tinny and some Tucker after hard Yakka - Aussie Slang

The Australians have plenty of slang words which we know and love in the UK. Who can forget the Fosters adverts? Anyway, these are our favourite bits of trade slang from tradesmen and women on-site down under. 

Dunny: Australian slang for the toilet. So if you are ever working on a site and an Aussie is installing the electricity or working on the plumbing. You will know what they are talking about. 

"Alright lads, I'll get this all wired up but I just need to pop to the dunny". 

Trady: A similar word is creeping over to the UK but written 'tradie'. Sadly we aren't a fan of this term; however, trady is a shortened word for, as you guessed, tradesperson. 

"What the plumber hasn't turned up to the site? I know just the trady, let me give him a bell". 

Gyprock: An Australian slang word for plasterboard. This is because it is an Australian brand of plaster materials, and you'll hear plenty of Aussie tradespeople saying it. 

"That brickwork is lovely, mate. I'll get me gear out the van and get the Gyprock on the walls before sundown". 

Shika Katan (Nothing can beat) - Japanese Slang

In the UK, we don't usually think of other cultures' slang and banter on site, but when it comes to the Japanese, it would seem like they have a similar style as us Brits. Very self-deprecating and jokey.  

Pien: If you ever come across a Japanese tradesperson saying this, it's because you've most likely taken the mick out of them, and they don't have a comeback. It's become a popular slang term for saying 'crying' but in a joking way. 

"Mate I have nothing I can say back, only pien". 

Wan Chan: This is the Japanese slang term which essentially is the same as us saying 'YOLO' - You only live once. 

"Lads, we've smashed through this work today, it's a sunny day should we all go for a pint? Wan Chan." 

Oshi: This is a slang word for saying or showing support for someone. It essentially means you are a fan. Most tradespeople these days are showing significant support for one another online by sharing their work, so that's a perfect example. 

"I really enjoy their online photos and videos, the timelapses of them fitting a boiler are great. I'm an oshi."

Some Cracking Craic on-site in Ireland - Irish Slang

Bang On: The easiest way to describe this is that it means 'absolutely spot on. As tradespeople are generally happy when they finish their work, you will most likely hear this often. 

"Honestly, this is bang on if I do say so myself. Look at how perfect that patio looks compared to the old one". 

Brutal: For anyone who doesn't spend time online or know the latest words, brutal means 'absolutely terrible'. 

"Who fit the plugs in this place? The wiring is absolutely brutal". 

Dosser: A word many will have heard Tyson Fury shouting at his boxing opponents. You might also hear this on an Irish building site or from any tradesperson working in your house. It essentially means lazy and not working hard enough.

"See him, he's a dosser. He's left that bag of MOT on the drive all day without bringing it round the back". 

Why choose Rhino Trade Insurance?

Our tradesman insurance is universal regardless of where you are from in the UK or whether you are plying your trade here and speak slang from another glorious part of the world. Our tailored trade policies speak your language and can be taken out in less than a minute. 

Our excellent team is based in Leicester and is ready to help you if you need assistance. We are trade insurance experts and can have you insured and back on the tools in no time.

Give us call us today on 0116 243 7904 or get a quick quote online now. 


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