Finding America

Me and Tarah

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We've all been there; a friend rattles off a political statement you know to be woefully inaccurate. A work colleague calls in sick... for the third Friday in a row. A dog stands next to a pile of poop in the kitchen and insists with a single look that it wasn't him. 

For instances like these, Americans—and to some extent, the British—like to employ one particular exclamatory phrase that fell into usage during World War I: bullshit, or its variants, bull, bull crap, or horse shit.

However, and I like to think that this showcases the tried and tested British quality of being able to detect lies and deception, British slang is home to multiple synonyms for bullshit that range quite dramatically in severity.

Below are four such words along with examples of how a British person would use them in a sentence.
1. Bollocks - The word bollocks is relatively well known to Americans, especially given its employment in the name of the Sex Pistols album, Never Mind the Bollocks, as well as its usage within a Newcastle Brown Ale ad stateside. Indeed, as was previously pointed out on this blog, it is one of several swear words that has started to creep into the American vernacular.  e.g. "The idea that you can see the Great Wall of China from space is complete bollocks."

2. Codswallop - Fans of the Harry Potter series, and in particular the character of Rubeus Hagrid, might be familiar with this word. The half-man/half-giant utters codswallop on multiple occasions throughout—and probably not because J.K. Rowling couldn't get the word bullshit past her editors. The word, much like many of the themes in the Harry Potter series, speaks to a time gone by and is, by and large, archaic nowadays. e.g. "Well, some say he died. Codswallop in my opinion. Nope, I reckon he's still out there, too tired to carry on."

3. Tosh - It's short, snappy, and to the point. The word tosh is one of those slang words that just rolls off the tongue and is always so much more effective when preceded by an intensifying word such as complete or utter. e.g. "The wind changing will not make your face stay that way. Such utter tosh."

4. Rubbish - Like bollocks, the word rubbish is relatively well known (and sometimes used) in the United States, chiefly as an alternative to trash. However, in Britain it is used just as widely in place of bullshit—just as Americans might replace the latter with garbage. e.g. Not all British people have bad teeth. You're talking rubbish.  

What other British slang words are there for bullshit? Are there any American equivalents? Let us know in the comments below. 

Laurence Brown is a British man documenting his life in the truly bizarre and beautiful world of America. Before the end of the decade, he plans to achieve his goal of visiting all 50 United States - highlighting each one in Lost in the Pond's Finding America web series. To help fund this exciting project, consider becoming a patron. Your contribution would be incr


  1. I use "bollocks" on a far-too-regular basis . . . :-O

  2. Number 1 and number 4 perhaps, but I've never said the other two before and neither has any other Brit I know.


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