dog’s dinner

A poor job; a mess.

Editor’s note: In one of those moments of delightful synchronicity, shortly after looking up this phrase, I happened to see my colleague Rachel describe something as “a dog’s breakfast”, which turns out to be synonymous.

For some reason I am really charmed by these two phrases, especially since no one says “a dog’s lunch”. I’m adding these to the list of things to start saying — maybe they’ll catch on in the US?

The occupant looks to be in his early thirties, has a gelled mullet, an off-the-peg suit from a mid-range high-street outfitter, and is making a dog’s dinner of wrapping a big box of Scalextric.

Definition from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved. (via Wordnik)

barney

  • A noisy argument.
  • A minor physical fight.

[Britain, Australia, Cockney rhyming slang] 

Etymology: Cockney Rhyming slang: “Barney Rubble” → “trouble”. From the character Barney Rubble on The Flintstones.

Dad went to bed. He’s sleeping in the spare room at the moment, ‘cause of his back, though Mum told me it’s ‘cause he tosses and turns so much. It’s probably both. They had a right barney this evening, actually over the dinner table.

Definition from Wiktionary

mug

[CHIEFLY BRITISH SLANG] A victim or dupe.

You might want to stay where you grew up for sentimental reasons and your mates being around and so on but unless it’s a really, really great place that’s really, seriously going to add something to your life, you’re kind of being a mug, know what I mean?

Definition from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition (via Wordnik)

plonk

[CHIEFLY BRITISH SLANG] Cheap or inferior wine.

Mum sips her wine. “This wine is divine, Hugo.”

“Divine’s the word for Montrachet seventy-eight,” says Dad. “You shouldn’t be spending your money on us, Hugo. Really.”

“I budget carefully, Dad. The office-drone work I do at the solicitor’s adds up. And after everything you’ve done for me down the years, I ought to be able to stand you a bottle of decent plonk.”

Definition from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition (via Wordnik)

codswallop

[CHIEFLY BRITISH SLANG] Nonsense; rubbish.

Fine quotes many of the world’s most respected psychiatrists and neuroscientists, such as Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, peddling such codswallop as: ‘The female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy. The male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems.’

Definition from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition (via Wordnik)