British mums say the weirdest things, don’t they?!

A few weeks ago, Zac and I were sitting on the sofa, bored beyond belief, as the rain pounded at the windows. We’re fair weather outdoors people.

As we spoke of nothing and everything all at once, the topic came up of things our mums used to say to us. Zac’s parents are from t’North of England and mine are from the South. While many of the sayings were the same, some had different cultural references to them and some were different altogether. 

The further into this conversation we got, the more fun we started having, so I took to Instagram to ask the same question of you lovely lot!

Below is our collective list of top 10 British mum sayings. Enjoy!


1. You’ll get square eyes if you watch any more telly

To this day, my own mum swears sitting too close to the TV is what led me to need glasses. Not the fact that dodgy eyesight is deep-seated into both her and my father’s families. It’s definitely the TV.

2. If (insert friend’s name here) jumped off a cliff, would you?

Obviously not, mother. But this is a day trip to Cardiff to go shopping. I’m not going base jumping.

3. Who’s she? The cat’s mother?

British mums go wild for this phrase. Usually said when referring to someone using a possessive pronoun. Especially so if the person is in the room.

It’s unclear on the reasoning for using this saying, but this blog post gives the best description I’ve found.

4. I’ll wipe that smile off your face in a minute.

In our house, this was usually referring to me smirking away when my sister was getting told off. Somehow, it always ended up being my fault…

5. What part of No don’t you understand? The N or the O?

Hands up if you got this one a lot! 🙋‍♀️ Mum would say this to me when I was not happy with her telling me no, which to be fair was 99% of the time…

FUN FACT: this phrase is relatively new, gaining popularity in the mid-late 1990s after Country artist Lorrie Morgan released a song titled ‘What part of no don’t you understand?’

6. Were you born in a barn?!

Accidentally leave a door open, a cup on your bedside table or a single discarded sock on the floor and you’ll get this classic from British mums.

7. I’ll wash your mouth out with soap if you say that again.

Usually given as a response to swearing. Lucky for me, my mother followed through on her promise and I have in fact been the recipient of a bar of soap in my mouth. 

Ah, the good old days.

8. Will you turn these lights off?! It looks like bloody Blackpool illuminations in ‘ere!

British mums love this one. I got it a lot, almost daily in fact. God forbid you should want to see anything when it’s dark outside! 

9. What’s for tea mum? … Shit with sugar on!

Did anyone else have this almost every night for tea as a kid? It was my mum’s favourite dish to make!

10. I want doesn’t get.

The response to me telling my mother I wanted something. Usually food or an expensive piece of tech.

Jokes on mum now, because it turns out that if you want something as an adult, you can just go out and get it. WE MAKING MOVES OUT HERE.

BONUS PHRASE!

“Stop whining and put a bag of frozen peas on it”

my mother, ca. 2002

The magical, all-healing bag of peas – used by British mums and school nurses all over.

This is an actual thing my mother said to me when my sister slammed my finger in a door and BROKE IT. I never went to the hospital to get it fixed and now the little finger of my right hand causes me endless problems, including hand cramps in the middle of a yoga pose. FUN!


I hope you enjoyed this fun little post. It definitely took Zac and I on a lovely (traumatising) trip down memory lane. Keep an eye out in a few weeks time when I’ll be diving into some classic German mum sayings!

If you’re interested in more Britishness, check out an old post on 10 weird things about the British.

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