Strictly British

take the mickey
Tease or ridicule.

  • "I haven't got the heart to take the mickey out of him, even," said Fred, looking over at Ron's crumpled figure. (OP26)

Pretentious nonsense.

  • "We haven't got time to listen to more taradiddles..."
    - Fudge (OP8)

(Not strictly a British term, but in the interests of clarity it's being included here.) A kind of hand-made knotted lace, used particularly for edging or trimming (NSOED) - the kind of lace on Ron's first set of dress robes might have been tatting, for instance.

tea cosy, tea cozy
A cozy made to put over a tea pot for insulation, to help keep it hot.

  • He was wearing a tea cozy for a hat...
    - Harry observing Dobby (GF21)

telephone box
Telephone booth.


  • "Oh, come on, no teacher's going to fall for that," said Ron. "They'd have to be really thick..."
    - Lockhart, anyone? (CS9)

  • "How thick can you get?"
    - Ron, referring to Crabbe and Goyle (CS12).

  • "How thick would Harry have to be, to go looking for a nutter who wants to kill him?"
    - Ron, discussing escaped convict Sirius Black (PA5)

  • "How thick are you, Wormtail?" (OP28)

Someone in his or her third year of school.

  • The third-years had never had so much homework (PA15)

Checked or crossed. "Ticked off" can also mean "annoyed".

  • Harry ticked off another day on the piece of paper
    - counting down the days until school starts (PS6)

Schedule. At Hogwarts, each student is given his or her timetable at the beginning of the year, specifying the times of the various classes the student is taking.

  • Harry and Ron had given up asking her how she was managing to attend several classes at once, but they couldn't restrain themselves when they saw the exam timetable she'd drawn up for herself.


  • They ate stale cornflakes and cold tinned tomatoes for breakfast the next day.
    - at the Railview Hotel in Cokeworth (PS3)

  • The cat-flap rattled and Aunt Petunia's hand appeared, pushing a bowl of tinned soup into the room
    - (CS2)


A worthless, despicable person. This comes from an older sense referring specifically to vagrants, which in turn comes from, well, a person who uses a rag wrapped around the foot instead of a sock. (NSOED).

U.S. readers may have already encountered this one in Douglas Adams' WEBLINK - amazon.comThe Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul as the name of one of the characters (Odin's nasty little sidekick).

  • "Imagine wasting your time and energy persecuting merpeople when there are little toerags like Kreacher on the loose -"
    - Sirius, speaking of Umbridge's record on part-humans (OP14)

A kind of sweet; specifically, caramel.

The best, as in "top-of-the-line".

Nonsense. "The slang tosh is a blend of the words 'trash' and 'bosh.' Bosh comes from the Turkish word for empty. Tosh means 'nonsense' or 'empty, worthless talk.'" (contributed by Sebastian Chen)

Sneaker (shoe).

  • ...the soles of his trainers were peeling away from the uppers
    - Harry's scruffy appearance (OP1)

treacle (as in treacle pudding or treacle tart)
Treacle is a by-product of the sugar refining process and can vary in grade from very light Golden Syrup to Black Treacle (rather like molasses). Treacle Pudding is a plain steamed suet pudding which has warmed treacle poured over it. Treacle tart is a flat pastry case filled with treacle mixed with breadcrumbs and baked. In both dishes, Golden Syrup is usually used, as real treacle is quite strong in taste.

  • Blocks of ice-cream in every flavour you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts... (PS7)

  • ...the bubbling, treacle-thick Potion (CS12)

  • ...Mr. Weasley, now spooning large amounts of treacle onto his porridge (GF6)

  • "Treacle tart, Hermione!" said Ron, deliberately wafting its smell toward her.
    - Ron trying to persuade Hermione to eat (GF11)

  • He felt it was a better use of his time to eat his way steadily through his steak and kidney pie, then a large plateful of his favourite treacle tart.
    - Harry, tuning out Ron and Hermione's bickering (GF11)

Very good or very well. If something "looks a treat" it looks great, i.e., a treat to the eyes. "A treat" is a common phrase in some dialects, and can be used in other contexts, e.g., "I've polished this goblet and it's come up a treat".

  • "Tell yeh what, come with me an' see the Great Hall, looks a treat." (PS12)

A layered dessert of sponge cake soaked in sherry, topped with chopped fruit in jelly (jello), topped with custard, topped, in turn, with whipped cream. The top of that may be decorated with angelica, glace cherries, chocolate flakes or hundreds and thousands (tiny rainbow sugar candy pieces).

The stomach of a cow or ox, eaten as a dish. Yes, it is disgusting. Tripe is also used to mean nonsense as well as the wonderful gliding food.

tuck in
U.S.: chow down, eat heartily.

  • "I have only two words to say to you," he told them, his deep voice echoing around the hall. "Tuck in."
    - Albus Dumbledore (GF12)

A tuft of stringy things (such as blades of grass, threads, or hairs) held together or growing together at a common base. Note that this isn't the same sense of the word as in the nursery rhyme "Little Miss Muffet / sat on a tuffet"; the word can also mean a little hill or mound.

  • They didn't have breath to spare for talking as they began to climb Stoatshead Hill, stumbling occasionally in hidden rabbit holes, slipping on thick black tuffets of grass. (GF6)

turf out
U.S.: throw out.

  • ...casually turfing a first-year out of one of the good armchairs by the fire so that he could sit down. (HBP12)

  • He turfed out half the contents of his trunk before he found it hiding beneath the rolled-up socks in which he was still keeping his bottle of lucky potion, Felix Felicis (HBP18)

Twiddle means to play around with, perhaps uncertainly, and is also a synonym for fiddle or fiddly; e.g. twiddly bits can be read as fiddly bits. Twiddly usually refers to something small - often a control of some sort that can be turned or rotated; e.g., a volume control can be twiddled, a light switch cannot (unless it is a rotary dimmer). Twiddled is usually used in a technical sense, e.g., "He didn't know why the radio wouldn't work, so he twiddled the knobs a bit." (contributed by Pat Gilliland)

  • Fred twiddled the steering wheel (CS3)

  • "Listeners, that brings us to the end of another Potterwatch. We don't know when it will be possible for us to broadcast again, but you can be sure we shall be back. Keep twiddling those dials..." (DH22)

A woven fabric, sometimes used in making clothing, with a surface of diagonal parallel ridges, produced by passing the weft threads over one and under two or more threads of the warp (instead of over and under in regular succession, which is how a lot of fabric is woven). (The warp threads on a weaving loom are those that are strung by the moving part of the loom; the weft are the threads at right angles to the warp.) The word "twill" can also refer to the characteristic appearance of such fabric and the process of making it (NSOED).

Primary editor: Michele L. Worley.
Original page date 28-October-2005; Last page update 4-August-2007 MLW