21 words and phrases that make perfect sense to anyone who grew up in Liverpool

A group of children from Garston, Liverpool enjoy a day out at Sefton Park in the summer holidays. July 20, 1966
-Credit: (Image: Mirrorpix)

There are plenty of words and phrases that might not mean much to many.

But for those who grew up in Liverpool, they make perfect sense. Whether these were said by grandparent, parents, neighbours or friends - or whether we still say them ourselves - they have been part of day to day life in the city for generations.

Some are instantly recognisable, whereas others may have been bound to certain generations or areas of the region. But in some cases, they are not well known outside of Merseyside, or even the North West., the ECHO previously reported.

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The ECHO previously asked readers on social media for their suggestions of sayings only people from Liverpool would understand - and we received some brilliant answers. Here are 21 Liverpool words and phrases that make perfect sense to anyone who grew up in and around the city.

This list isn't intended to be comprehensive, we selected a number of sayings suggested previously by ECHO readers. But if there are any you feel we should have included, let us know in the comments section below.


In Liverpool, people call something 'minty' if it's dirty.

Ashleigh Todd said: "I moved to Liverpool and was working in a pub. A lad said 'eeee the bars minty'. I sniffed it and thought 'I can’t smell toothpaste, what’s he on about'."

Deb Barry added: " I started working in Southport and said ‘sort this store out, it’s minty’ and they all just looked at me.

Bob Bullen said he was born in 1971 and saying 'minty' was common when he was growing up.

Referring to family as 'our' and 'me'

When speaking about family members, Scousers always seem to put 'our' or 'me' before their name.

Lesley Craig said: "Say ' our' for every member of your family, my brother was known as, 'our Phil' to all my friends in America."

Jem Louise agreed, she added: "Saying 'our' before saying someone's name, my boyfriend who's not from Liverpool asked me why I say 'our' and I didn't realise I did haha."

Sara Fitzpatrick commented: "My partner asked me why I always ask my sister ' have you seen me mum?' When it’s her mum too"

Soft lad

Maria Jones said 'soft lad' is her favourite Liverpool phrase. Her comment got more than 300 likes.

Soft lad is used to describe someone who is a bit silly or daft. It's usually a light-hearted way to mock someone.

Lorraine Hobson-Taylor said soft lad was 'usually pronounced soff lad'.

Karen Williams said: "My mother said this even when I fell over a glass milk bottle and had 20 stitches put in me leg."

Marc Wilding said: "Happy memories of my mother-in-law, sadly recently passed, always used to call me soft lad."


Boss is a term to describe something that is good. Lisa Burford said she isn't from Liverpool but her friends who are 'use it a lot'.

Emma Clare said: "Boss confused me when I moved up north."

Lolly ice

In Merseyside people tend to say lolly ice rather than ice lolly. It seems no-one is quite sure why.

Anna Sheard said: "Lolly ice. Everyone thinks I'm having a major issue when I say that" and more than 230 liked her comment in agreement.

Pat Compton was one of those who agreed and said: "Omg. I live down south now and I'm told all the time I'm saying it wrong. They always say Ice lolly."

Glenda Edwards joked: "We all say lolly ice but my daughter calls it an ice lolly and we all call her a snob."

Peter Fraser said: "I moved away from Liverpool a long time ago but still say this. Everyone thinks I'm mad."

Brenda Syvret said: "Of course it's lolly ice - it a lolly made of ice, not ice made of lolly."


Meff is a word used mainly in Liverpool but also in other North-West cities. It means something is scruffy or shabby.

Samantha Lawrie said: "Meff - probably one of my favourite Scouse words."

Martin Magee said: "Meff! The amount of times I've had to explain that."

Jade Naylor added: " I work in Warrington and when ever I've said meff they look like confused dogs, haven't got a clue hahaha."

Ta'ra or Tra

Saying ta'ra instead of goodbye is used commonly in Liverpool.

Suzanne Harle said: "Ta’ra. My young niece from London didn’t believe that’s how we said goodbye."

Caren Price replied: "I say this when I’m on holiday and my husband says they don’t know what ta’ra is."

Bob Hawes said: "Class. I love this sort of stuff."

Brenda Swale Robinson added: "Saying Tra Tra Tra at least 5 times before you put the phone down to family and friends."


Ann Twacky is a phrase used to describe something that is old fashioned or out-of-date.

Jan McKenzie suggested it saying: "My husband always describes out dated furniture etc as Ann Twacky! Apparently a popular Liverpool saying?"

Catherine Sharpe McGovern replied: "Jan Mckenzie it's one word and a mispronunciation of antique - one of my most used words."

Tracy Quayle-Hughes said: "I’ve always used this and never realised mispronunciation. Howling."

Dave Ismay said: "Thanks for the translation that has occasionally bothered me for years!"

Felix Chen joked: "I thought Antwacky was someone's relative when I moved to Liverpool."


Maiden is used in the North as a word to describe a clothes airer.

Sammy said: "I moved to Liverpool from London 16 years ago, there's loads of things that are said differently, 'maiden' instead of clothes airer."

Claire Kerrigan Muncey replied: "hahah I say clothes maiden!! People around me here say clothes horse!"

Wendy Bell said: "In Wales they call it a clothes horse. Well my sisters husband did, and he was from Caerphilly."

Lesley Leyland said: "Clothes horse up in Scotland. When I moved here 30 years ago couldn't get my head around some of the different sayings. Love them all."

Come 'ed

People from Liverpool are known for abbreviations, 'come 'ed' means to come ahead.

Felix Chen said: "I almost got into a fight with a university mate who said cum ed which I thought was offensive."

Gerty Muldoon added: "From Liverpool's maritime history, 'come ahead' is a term the harbour pilot uses in guiding ships into the dock."

Jacob Michael explained: "Basically you'd respond come ed in the sense: 'come ed let's go the shop'"

The baby

Referring to the youngest in the family as 'the baby' no matter how old they are seems to be a Liverpool thing.

Hanneke Krijt said: "'The baby' - can be a child up to 18 years of age. I know it is used elsewhere, but mostly Liverpool-area, in my experience."

Jo Morris added: "Youngest is ALWAYS "The Baby" the age don't matter."

Debbie Lawrence replied: "Your the baby at any age if your the youngest even if you was a 100."

Made up

If someone is described as being 'made up' , it means that they are happy.

Neil Lancaster said: "‘I’m made up’ Loads of people don’t understand."

Hilda Gillett Woods commented: "When we're happy about something we say "I'm made up" it amused my friends down South."

Saying 'alright' or asking 'you alright?'

Some Scousers say alright or ask 'you alright?' as a greeting rather than actually asking whether someone is ok.

Samantha Williams said: "When you walk past someone in the street and you both say "you alright?" and just keep walking, neither ever replies to the question."

Barm cake

It seems that depending on where you're from, everyone has a different word for a barm cake.

Some call is a bun, others a roll or a bap. In Liverpool, people mainly call the soft white bread roll a barm cake.

Victoria Renton said: "Barm cake - never been so disappointed to not receive a cake as expected ha."

Standing there like one of Lewis'

If someone was described as 'standing there like one of Lewis' that means that someone is standing around doing nothing - or being lazy. It originates from when the store had so many staff, they had too many for the customers.

Denise Bermingham Stewart said: "My mum used to say shapes like one of Lewis’s if somebody was incompetent."

Lesley McGuffie said: "He was standing there like one of Lewis'."

Betty Bowers said: "When you’re waiting for someone or if they’re taking ages to do anything for you “hurry up I’m standing here like one o Lewis’s.” I still say it now."

Angela Smith Allan added: "sit down don't stand there like one of Lewis"


The real definition of slummy is something that is 'squalid or unfit for human habitation'. But in Liverpool it means spare change or loose coins.

Gemma Leigh said: "Not so much saying but I said 'I've got some slummy in my pocket' to my fella who's from down south and was like wtf... Had to explain it was change."

Tony Mcculloch replied: "Funny enough I was in B&M bargains in Anglesey last year and said to the checkout girl, "let's see if I've got the slummy" I was amazed when she asked me what it mean."


To those from outside of Liverpool, steaming means something very different.

Outside of Merseyside, steaming means that someone is extremely drunk.

Rich Windsor said: "Steaming" -Which I believe you guys use when you're horny, it means drunk anywhere else in the UK."

Anton Toland added: "Moved to Liverpool and enjoyed my nights out, told all the lads I was steaming last night, apparently it means horny in Liverpool ?"

Stephanie Cullen replied: "I went to my mates in Inverness. She said 'I am steaming tonight' and I said 'why you telling me your dying for sex?' she said it doesn't mean that here means you're getting drunk."


In Liverpool the police are called many things - Bizzies being one of them.

Joy McDermott commented: "The bizzies meaning police makes me laugh. I love the Liverpool accent and Scousers, everybody’s a comedian."

Glen Smikle said: "Are the police still called bizzies in Liverpool got that from Brookside?"

A third Jenni Howard added: "Leg it ers the bizzies quick down the jigger."

Putting 'dead' in front of words

The word dead is used as an adverb. It is used in a similar way to 'very', 'extremely' or 'hugely'.

For example, John Deakin said: "Put Dead, in front of most words, dead nice that, dead clever you are Kid.. Sound."

Lynn Pritchard added: "People laugh here when I say 'it's dead good'"

Alison Riley commented: "So many of these bring back memories... antwacky, standing there like one o’Lewis’s, lolly ice, sun’s crackin’ the flags, dead made up (for really pleased!)"


Arlarse described someone who who is being out of order, sly or mean.

Tracey Guthrie said: "I now live in Aberdeen, they haven't got a clue when I say someone's arlarse."

Colin Thomson replied: "I just had to google that." While Katie Wilson added: "Proper alass."

Cob on

If someone is described as having a 'cob on' they are unhappy to sulking.

Lynne McKillop said: "Love some of these! Cob on, made up, antwacky."

Ian O'Brien added: "He’s gorra cob on” ( he’s not happy )"

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