No matter your trade, you may share a fond sense of camaraderie with those who work in the same profession. After all, who understands more than anyone else, the pride, sweat and tears you pour into your work? Some of us have even crafted slang words for our peers, specifically due to this reason. And the phenomenon of tradesman-specific slang isn’t exclusive to the UK, however. Tradesmen brothers (and sisters) from around the world are using their own slang with work mates as well.
Let’s dive into our very own Tradesman International Dictionary (TID) and see if you can pick up some new words to add to your vocabulary.
Australian tradesman slang
Australian tradesmen have their own fully developed dictionary, and it’s no surprise that even the word tradesman has a slang equivalent, “tradie”, which sounds like a cross between the words tradesman and trendy.
Trady – a tradesman
Example: “Why don’t we have the other tradies over, and have a shrimp on the barbie this weekend?!”
Sparky – an electrician
Example: “Oye mate, why don’t we just hire another sparky, as we’re getting a lot of business these days?”
Bricky – a bricklayer / builder
Example: “G’day mate, it’s finally good to see the bricky done. We can begin foundations before going off to the beach to play some volleyball.”
And yes, as you may have noticed, a lot of the words end in the y-syllable which makes the profession-related slang seem cool in typical Australian fashion.
American tradesman slang
American tradesman slang is intended to be light-hearted, it appears, with words like labrador meaning labourer, and let’s not forget swamper, who is a contractor who works on pipeline and related works.
Carptrician – a Carpenter who also does electrical work.
Example: “By the time I finish this electrician’s course, you can darn well call me a carptrician!”
French Fry – an electrician apprentice who forgets to ground themselves.
Example: “Gee, golly, I suggest you ground yourself before you begin work. You don’t want to end up a french fry!”
Muckers – a labourer working as part of the concrete team.
Example: “Let’s lay down the wiring as soon as the muckers are done with their work.”
British tradesman slang
As inventors of the English language, the British are constantly finding new ways to keep the language fresh and exciting, and tradesmen in our country are no exception to this rule.
Aggregate – A pile of sand-like material, such as building sand, coarse sand etc.
Example: “Can you sweep the aggregate over after you’re done with the cuppa?”
Soldier course – Bricks that are laid vertically rather than horizontally.
Example: “Lay the bricks at soldier’s course until you’ve reached the 2 metre mark.”
Skim – Final layer of plaster
Example: “Once you’re done with the skim, we can finally begin the paint job.”
Japanese tradesman slang
Granted, some of these slang words aren’t specific to tradesman, simply because we don’t have a translator to decipher Japanese websites, just yet. That said, you may find some of these slang words useful in stressful situations:
Muzui – rather difficult. Add chou for greater effect.
Example: “I’m sorry to say this, but with a budget like this, what you’re asking for is Muzui-chou.”
Zurai – sneaky or unfair.
Example: “I swear by my honour, I would never even think of using zurai tactics when selling building supplies. My prices are always reasonable.”
Bimyou – not very good. Used when referring to food.
Example: “This bag of chips is rather bimyou. I think we should go back to the regular fish and chip shop.”
Irish tradesman slang
The Irish have a long history of slang, and historians have suggested that much of what consists of Cork slang, otherwise known as béarlagair, was coined by builders and stonemasons centuries ago.
Caw-heke– To put a jinx on something, or have negative supernatural repercussions as a result of something.
Example: “You might want to knock-on-wood after saying that, laddie, you don’t want to caw -heke the whole operation.”
Balm out – Laying on the ground.
Example: “We were balm out after doing 15 hours worth of foundation work. I have to thank my lucky clover we’re still alive.”
Bar of gold – Youngest, or spoiled child in the family.
Example: “You were always a bar of gold, brother, but I hope you’re ready for some hard work.”
So, there you have it – actual tradesman slang from around the world that you can use with your mates.
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