Strictly British

sack, sacked, sacking
To be sacked is to be dismissed from one's job; in the U.S. we'd say "fired". To sack someone is to fire that person.
The sacking of Mr. Banks in Walt Disney's film adaptation of WEB LINKMary Poppins is recommended.

  • "...and Mr. Crouch! He knows she didn't do it and he's still going to sack her!"
    - Hermione on elf rights (GF9)

  • "Or he might have been sacked!"
    - this works better when the person isn't standing right behind you (CS5)

  • It was breakfast time, two days after the sacking of Professor Trelawney, and Parvati was curling her eyelashes around her wand and examining the effect in the back of her spoon. They were to have their first lesson with Firenze that morning.
    - (OP27)

  • "I was sacked three days ago!" (HBP1)

  • "The Sacking of Severus Snape" (DH30)

A variety of tangerine with a sharp taste, originally from Japan (NSOED).

  • ...Harry found himself shunted aside by a witch with a satsuma jammed up her left nostril.
    - St Mungo's reception area at Christmastime (OP23)

  • "Mphf?" said Mr. Weasley, whose head had been nodding over the satsuma he was peeling (HBP16)

To run away. This may be an example of rhyming slang in which the rhyming word is no longer used (scarper = "Scapa (Flow)"), although it is also attributed to the Italian word scappare, "escape, get away" (NSOED)

scrubbed wood table
scrubbed wood table by Hawley's Fine Woodworking
An aged, well-used wooden table. Scott Hawley, of WEB LINKHawley's Fine Woodworking, sent this description:

The term "scrubbed wood" or "scrubbed pine" is actually just...what happens to the wood over time. The of a table that was once painted and over many years of hard use and scrubbing down to clean over and over, the paint has been worn off leaving only certain areas of the old paint left in marks and dings the wood has also acquired over time. This leaves a smooth top surface with an abundance of character and color variation.

Scott's scrubbed wood tables are actually beautifully hand-crafted replicas of farmhouse scrubbed-wood tables, of course. As I (SVA) look at the pictures, I'm starting to think I should have had Scott make me one for my new desk...

  • ...Hagrid, moving a half-plucked rooster off his scrubbed table and setting down the teapot

A child in his or her second year of school.

  • ...the door of their old dormitory, which now had a sign on it saying 'second-years' (CS5)

  • The following day, two more girls asked him, a second-year and (to his horror) a fifth-year who looked as though she might knock him out if he refused.

Sellotape (British edition only)
Cellophane tape. In the U.S., we'd say "Scotch tape". The name of the wizarding equivalent, Spellotape, is a play on this, a pun that is lost in translation for U.S. readers.

  • He wore round glasses held together with a lot of Sellotape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose (PS2).

  • Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day, where he was already laughed at for his baggy clothes and Sellotaped glasses (PS2)

Someone in his or her seventh year of school.

  • some of them seventh-years and considerably larger than he was (OP19)

sherbet lemon
A hard lemon-flavoured candy shell filled with effervescent sherbet powder. Also known as sherbet lemons. Not the same thing as Lemonheads or lemon drops! Sherbet powder is not the same thing as an iced sherbet.

  • "Would you care for a sherbet lemon?"
    "A what?"
    "A sherbet lemon. They're a kind of Muggle sweet I'm rather fond of."
    - Dumbledore and McGonagall (PS1)

a look

  • "Perhaps we ought to let Mad-Eye have a shifty at it..." (OP6)

Annoyed; angry. Probably from "to get someone's shirt out," to annoy, or "to keep one's shirt on," to keep from being annoyed. (NSOED)

To put on a short list.

U.S.: a look. This word can be used as either a noun or a verb; it was originally military slang, derived from the Arabic for "have you seen"? (NSOED).

  • "When we come face-to-face with one down a dark alley, we're going to be having a shufti to see if it's solid, aren't we, we're not going to be asking, "Excuse me, are you the imprint of a departed soul?"
    - Ron (HBP21)

shut it
Shut up.

Someone in his or her sixth year of school.

  • He was a tall and burly sixth-year and, at the moment, his eyes were gleaming with a mad enthusiasm.
    - referring to Oliver Wood (CS7)

skip (British edition only)
U.S.: Dumpster.

skirting board
U.S.: baseboard. A board placed parallel to the floor at the base of an interior wall, serving as edging.

  • Harry heard something scuttling behind the skirting board (OP4)

skive, skiving
To avoid doing one's task or duty; to "skive off" is to skip, as in skipping classes at school.

Lockhart, © 2001 by Edgar Torné

Originally meant to smear (especially in the sense of slicking down with something like hair cream or oil) (NSOED), but now is used mostly in the sense of behaving in an oily way - that is, with a lot of overdone flattery and deference. In the U.S. we'd say "suck up" rather than "smarm up".

Self-satisfied, conceited; ingratiating in an oily way.

snog, snogging
To kiss passionately.

  • "Kreacher wasn't quite as devoted to him as to my mother, but I still caught him snogging a pair of my father's old trousers last week."
    - Sirius Black (OP6)

  • "One minute we were getting on fine, next minute she was telling me that Roger Davies asked her out, and how she used to go and snog Cedric in that stupid tea shop - how was I supposed to feel about that?"
    - Harry asking for a translation of mad things girls do (OP26)

  • "If you went out and got a bit of snogging done yourself, you wouldn't mind so much that everyone else does it!"
    - Ginny to an overzealous older brother (HBP14)

spare, going spare
A colloquial phrase, meaning either going crazy with worry or getting really agitated/angry.

  • "Hermione was going spare, she kept saying you'd do something stupid..."
    - Ron to Harry (OP4)
    In this context I think a mixture of the two meanings was meant - a sort of aggravated fretting (ranting). - Neil Ward

spotted dick
A suet pudding made with currants or raisins (NSOED). The name is thought to come from a corruption of the word "pudding".

Spotted dick: a long pudding, or dick, spotted with currants. When you've said that, you've said it all. I mean, if people are going to laugh about something like this, we'd never get through a mealtime. - from WEB LINKNanny Ogg's Cookbook by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs, Tina Hannan, and Paul Kidby, Corgi edition © 2001 All rights reserved

Stark naked.

More generally, tacking -ers or -er onto the ends of shortened forms of words to make slang equivalents was originally school slang at Rugby, and in the fullness of time Oxford as the students who spoke such slang got older and went to university, then later seeped into the general public. The word 'soccer' is an example of one such slang word that seeped into general use (NSOED).

  • "I'll go starkers before I put that on" (GF10)

steak and kidney pie
These two ingredients represent a popular British filling for a pie (normally encased in pastry). Steak and kidney pies are often served with chips and appear on the menu of most British fish and chip shops.

  • Ron had a piece of steak-and-kidney pie halfway to his mouth, but he'd forgotten all about it (PS9).

U.S.: Streetlight.

  • Moody was standing on the top step releasing the balls of light the Put-Outer had stolen from the streetlamps (OP4)

stoat sandwiches
Definitely not a British delicacy. JKR made this up. A stoat is a small mammal similar to a weasel which is found in Britain and Ireland. It is not usually eaten by humans, in sandwiches or any other form. [WEB LINKThe Mammal Society]

swot, swotty
As a verb, "swot" means to study hard; as a noun, "swot" refers to somebody who does this. Hermione and Percy could both be called swots.

Covered or otherwise sweetened with sugar. For the "covered in sugar" sense, in the U.S. we'd say "glazed"

  • "On top of the fridge stood tonight's pudding: a huge mound of whipped cream and sugared violets" (CS1)

  • "Aunt Petunia's masterpiece of a pudding, the mountain of cream and sugared violets, was floating up near the ceiling" (CS2)

sugar tongs
Long-handled grips used to pick up cube sugar. In Britain, sugar is available granulated or in moulded lumps or small cubes. Cube sugar would be considered posh by someone like Petunia Dursley, but it's arguably exactly the opposite.



U.S.: Candy store.

Primary editor: Michele L. Worley.
original artwork of Gilderoy Lockhart © 2001 by Edgar Torné, used by permission
Original page date 28-October-2005; Last page update 4-August-2007 MLW