+44 (0)20 7605 4123 Student Login

Dodgy, cheeky, dizzy and flaky!

I was having an after dinner drink with a friend from abroad when she told me that she wished there were a few words she’d learnt before coming to live in the UK. These were words which we use all the time but which are rarely found in course books and which are a little tricky to find direct translations for. They’re not slang but they are mainly used in informal contexts. These week I'll present four of them to you - they're all adjectives that you can use to describe certain types of people. Once you get your head round them they’ll really help you to understand spoken British English!


This describes being disrespectful to someone but in a way which is amusing.  So children are sometimes cheeky to their parents and, of course, students are sometimes cheeky to their teachers.  In fact, one of my students the other day told me about a time at school when he had his head on the desk and the teacher told him to wake up.  My student replied ‘But I’m already awake!’  I thought that was quite cheeky of him!


This means something or someone that is a bit dirty or dangerous, possibly even illegal, basically anything that you can’t trust. Do you kinow the verb ‘to dodge’?  It means 'to avoid', so you can see that ‘dodgy’ means ‘something or someone which it is best to avoid’.  So for example ‘I don’t fancy going to that restaurant – the food looks a bit dodgy’, or ‘That guy over there looks really dodgy'.


You might have learnt the word dizzy to describe the strange way you feel after going on a rollercoaster.  But when we use it to describe a person the meaning is that they are disorganised and illogical.  It’s usually used to describe women, especially ‘dizzy blondes’ but if you want to be a little more enlightened than that you should resist such sexist and stereotyped usage!  Men can be dizzy too!


This one’s easy to describe because it basically means the same as dizzy.  It’s a little more negative though, as dizzy people can be frustrating but fun, whereas flaky people are just really unreliable.

If you’re surrounded by these types of people, it can really do your head in – by the way, that’s another expression my friend wishes she’d known before moving to Britain!

By Laura


to fancy (v.) - to feel like doing/want to do

enlightened (adj.) - well-informed, rational and tolerant

whereas (conj.) - used to show the constrast between two things

to do someone's head in (exp.) - to make someone stressed, angry or annoyed

All articles Next article

Post your questions and comments:

Why study at The London School of English?

  • Rated “Excellent” in over 450 independent client reviews
    Over 100 years’ experience
    Tailored training delivers clear results
    Memorable experiences in London, Canterbury or online
Find out more