The British Royal Family continues to fascinate and intrigue people. We know how to dress like a royal, but to really act the part, you’ll have to choose your words wisely. As social anthropologist Kate Fox explains in her book Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior, if you want to fit in with the Firm—or any other member of the Upper Crust, for that matter—here are 10 words you should avoid.
A lot of Brits refer to their evening meal as tea. It’s easy to get confused—they drink so much of the hot brewed stuff, you may find yourself wondering which tea they mean. Referring to your last meal of the day as tea is a pretty working class phrase though, and members of the upper class would not use that word. They call the meal eaten between 5 and 7 p.m. dinner or supper.
The not-so-slight rivalry between the English and French aristocracy dates back over a thousand years, so unsurprisingly, the Royal Family doesn't use this word of French descent. Instead of toilet, they’d refer to that particular room as the lavatory or loo.
British folks usually refer to the front room of the house where a family gathers for down time as the living room or lounge. The Royal Family won’t call it that, though: The proper name for this space is the drawing room.
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Refreshments is another no-no in the royal vocabulary. Refreshments are served at working class and middle class events—not to the upper classes. The Royal Family would refer to light snacks as food and drink.
When speaking about an amount of food to consume, members of the Royal Family don't use the word portion, but instead ask for a smaller or larger helping size—another posh turn of phrase.
Speaking of posh: It’s another word the royals don’t use. Which is ironic, really, given that they're one of the poshest families on the planet. The aristocracy and upper classes say smart instead.
Most Brits and Americans refer to the sweet treats after a meal as dessert, whether it’s cake, mousse, pies, or otherwise. The British Royal Family may be partial to this sweet course, but they call it pudding, even if it’s cake.
Perhaps due to centuries of people approaching them for a “royal pardon,” which was historically forgiveness for a heinous crime of some sort, the royals now can’t abide hearing the word pardon when someone is excusing themselves. No pardon me or beg your pardon—just sorry will do.
Most Brits call their paved yard a patio, but this is not a word in the royal vocabulary. The royals have terraces outside their properties.
Whether you’re going to a work function or a social function, be assured that you’ll never attend a royal function in Britain. The royals, like most upper class people, call such events a party.