naff: adj tacky, ineffectual and generally crap. This could be a part of the reason why the French clothing firm Naf Naf recently pulled out of the U.K. It may derive from the 1960s gay slang language “Polari” in which it was used as an acronym for “Not Available For Fucking.”
named after: adj named for: His mum claims he was named after his paternal grandfather but, between you me, I can’t really see how she’d work out who that was.
nancy: n man who is either extremely effeminate, or homosexual. Or both. A rather derogatory term, and often conjoined into the phrase “nancy-boy.”
nappy: n diaper.
narked: adj a bit annoyed; peeved. Brits do not use the word to refer to the act of reporting someone to the narcotics authorities.
nativity: n crèche. Christian Christmas scene, usually featuring a plasticine baby Jesus lying in some grass. Normally made painstakingly over the course of several evenings by mothers of children who will take it to school and pass it off as their own work.
natter: n engage in idle banter; chatter: I thought she was busy getting ready to go out to dinner, but it turns out she’d spent the whole afternoon nattering to her mates.
natty: adj great; handy; cool: I found this natty little device for stopping cables falling down the back of my desk.
navvy: n manual worker on roads or railways. It comes from the word “navigator,” which was used to refer to people who dug canals, which were once called “navigations.”
nearside: n the side of a car closest to the kerb. The other side is the offside. Don’t bother looking up “offside,” because it’s pretty much a copy-paste of this with one word changed. I’m lazy like that.
ned: n Scottish unruly layabout youth. It is most likely derived from an acronym, “non-educated delinquent.”
nick: v 1 steal. Something you buy from a dodgy bloke over a pint has quite probably been nicked. In a strange paradox, if a person is described as nicked, it means they’ve been arrested and if a person is in the nick, they’re in prison. 2 condition. Commonly used in the phrase “in good nick,” the word nick refers to the sort of state of repair something is in: Think I’ll buy that car; it seems in pretty nice nick.
niggle: n, adj nag; pester. You might hear it in a context like: He seemed okay, but I had a niggling doubt.
nip: 1 v quickly go and do something, very similar to “pop”: I’m just going to nip out for a minute. 2 n chill: There’s a bit of a nip in the air; It’s a bit nippy today. And yes, the Brits do also use it to derogatorily refer to Japanese people, so the Pearl Harbour “nip in the air” jokes have probably been covered already.
nippy: adj 1 irritating and irritable. Very similar to “stroppy.” 2 cold. In a similar sort of a way to the word “chilly.” 3 fast. Particularly in relation to cars. You might test-drive a car and relate back to your chums how nippy it was. Of course, if the salesman was a bit nippy you’d probably not drive it at all, or if it was a convertible and it was nippy outside.
nob: n member of the aristocracy or person of importance. A contraction of “nobility.”
noddy: adj substandard; below par: The hull was pretty solid but to be honest the rest of the thing was a bit noddy.
nonce: n child-molester. The term may originate from when sex offenders were admitted as “non-specified offenders” (thereby “non-specified” and thence “nonce”) in the hope that they might not get the harsh treatment metered out to such convicts. It may also stand for “Not On Normal Courtyard Exercise” (meaning prisoners intended to keep separate from the rest). Either way, it featured prominently in the fine “Brasseye” spoof TV news programme where popular celebrities were duped into wearing T-shirts advocating “nonce-sense.”
nosey parker: n a person who takes a little bit too much interest in other people’s goings on. Presumably “nosey” is related to putting one’s nose in others’ business, but heaven knows where the “parker” part came from.
nosh: 1 n food: Right, the pub’s shut, let’s get some nosh. 2 v perform oral sex: Rumour has it she didn’t answer the phone because she was noshing the vicar at the time.
nought: n pron. “nawt” the digit zero. It’s an Old English word meaning “nothing” still used in northern regional English. Also occasionally used in the U.S., along with its more common American sibling, “aught.”
noughts and crosses: n tic-tac-toe.
nowt: n Northern England nothing.
number plate: n license plate. I already wrote about this under my entry for “registration” and I’ll be damned if I’m writing any more.
numpty: n Scottish idiot, in a friendly sort of a way: You’ve parked in a disabled space, you numpty.
nutter: n someone with a screw loose. This applies to both the “insane” or “reckless” definitions, so a gentleman who scaled the Eiger naked and a chap who ate both of his parents could both validly be “nutters,” albeit in slightly different ways.