railway: n railroad. Can’t think of anything witty.
randy: adj horny. One way of ensuring that Brits laugh at American sitcoms is to put someone in the program called Randy. Sentences such as “Hello, I’m Randy” have us doubled up on the sofa.
rat-arsed: adj exceedingly drunk. Also abbreviated as simply ratted. Possibly derived from a time when dead rats would be dangled in cider vats to give them extra flavour. At least, according to the person who told me that.
rawl plug: n moly bolt. If you don’t know what either of these things is, rest assured that your life may continue.
razz: v vomit: Well, yeah, we were having a great time until Phil razzed down the back of the sofa and they made us all go home.
reckon: adv believe to be true. It’s still perfectly acceptable in the U.K. to say “I reckon” this, that or the other: We’re going to get a taxi to the airport but Dan reckons we’re still not going to make it. The term is still used in the Southern U.S. but regarded with disdain by snobby northerners who believe it can only be uttered whilst chewing a piece of straw and leaning on a gate.
recovery lorry: tow truck. The vehicle that comes to collect you when you have either legitimately broken down or are too boneheaded to change a tyre. It’s really not that hard. There are instructions in the glove box. And I mean you too, girls.
redundant: n laid off. Make redundant lay off: Unless things start picking up pretty soon we’re going to have to start making people redundant.
registration: n licence plate. While Americans can have anything they fancy on theirs, and they bear little pictures of sunny beaches and legends like “Ohio - The Flour Biscuit State” and such, the Brits have slightly more plain affairs and less choice about what goes on them. Well, no choice at all, in point of fact. As the government changed their systems of number/letter combinations a good few times, however, there is a lively secondary market in plates that look like they say something.
return ticket: adj round-trip ticket. As you probably know, it just means that you’re planning on coming home again.
reverse charges: n, v call collect. Nothing to do with cars or batteries.
revise: v study: I can’t go out tonight, my mum says I’ve got to stay home revising. All the other meanings of the word remain the same.
ride: v screw (in a sexual sense): Jim’s not coming out tonight, I think he’s staying at home riding that fat bird from the pub.
ring: n, v call (as in telephone): You coming out later? / Dunno... give me a ring. A relic from the days when telephones actually rang and didn’t bleep, vibrate or send you e-mail.
rocket: n arugula.
rodger: v hump. Rodgering is, well, shagging, and tends to also imply shagging of the arse variety. And I know it’s a name, but then so’s Randy. I used to work with a gentleman named Roger Tallboys.
romp: v the loving act of procreation. It’s a bit rough-and-ready - you would be much more likely to have a romp with your secretary on top of the photocopier than you would with your wife of thirty years in the marital bed. Not you personally, these are just examples.
ropey: adj iffy; something which isn’t in as good as state as it might be. It might be you with a hangover; your ex-girlfriend or the car you bought from someone in the pub last week: I can’t come into work today - I’m feeling a bit ropey or: We took a look over the plans but to be honest they looked a bit ropey.
roundabout: n traffic circle; rotary. The device put into the road as a snare for learner drivers and foreigners. Everyone has to drive around in a circle until they see their selected exit road, at which point they must fight through the other traffic on the roundabout in a valiant attempt to leave it. Roundabouts do exist in the U.S. (predominantly in Massachusetts) but in the U.K. they’re all over the place - there is no such thing as a four-way-stop.
row: n pron. like “cow,” rather than “sew” an argument. More likely a domestic argument than a fight outside a pub. Unless you have an unusually vicious spouse or a girly pub.
rozzer: n policeman. Even more esoteric than the good old English “bobby,” most British people will never have heard of this term. It may come from a P. G. Wodehouse book, and is certainly mentioned in the Paul McCartney song “London Town.”
rubber: n eraser. Be very, very careful. Limeys visiting the United States are urged by the government to write this translation on the back of their hands and not to wash until they leave.
rubbish: n trash; garbage. Everyday waste.
rucksack: n backpack. One of those bags you wear over your shoulder on two straps (or one, if you want to look misguidedly fashionable). The word is used in the U.S. armed forces specifically to mean a framed pack, but in the U.K. it means any sort of backpack.
rugger bugger: n Jock. A somewhat affluent youth who makes up for his lack of academic achievement by scoring on the playing field and in bed with young ladies.