Manchester Slang

Manchester Slang

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Famed for our nonchalant swagger and rich musical heritage, there are many things people might think they know of Manchester and its people. But while there is the odd Noel, Liam or even Frank Gallagher walking the streets of this fair city, there are other unique Mancunian-isms, like Manchester Slang, that may take visitors by surprise.

"You're Twisting My Melon Man!"

Made famous in the opening bars to the Happy Mondays Step On, this is a phrase which has been speculated upon since the golden age of 'Madchester' from whence it came. While some believe it to be an expression of confusion, others say it relates to a state of irritation or even approval. Norman Jewison, director of The Cincinatti Kid, once attributed it to Hollywood actor Steve McQueen as an example of how "he talked so hip'. However, when delivered by the rasping genius that is the Mondays' Shaun Ryder - it's pure Mancunian poetry.

Brutal Honesty

Mancs aren't scared to let you know if your appearance isn't to their liking. But with so many words up here for ugly and a penchant for brutal honesty, you'll need to try not to be too offended if we say you've got "an 'angin napper." This gentle recommendation to seek plastic surgery might also come out as "she needs to sort her fizzer out," or even "he looked like he had one eye goin' to the shop and the other comin' back with the change."

Friendly-ish Rivalry

Whether we're 'Bitter Blues' or 'Dirty Reds', one key thing separates us Mancunians - the footballing churches we devote ourselves to. We Man City fans regularly berate Man United supporters for having a ground clearly within the parish of Salford, while ignoring jibes about how we haven't won a trophy since 1976. But one thing's for sure, with City's new found riches and United's new found debt; the war between the 'Bitters' and the 'Rags' has never been more interesting.

Our Kid

According to one of our most famous sons, Liam Gallagher, "Everyone knows that if you've got a brother, you're gonna fight." While this might be true, as a term of endearment, 'our kid' shows just how important siblings can be to the Manc family dynamic. As one of two brothers, I know that after 'me mam', the most important person is 'our kid.' The fact I'm a Bitter and he's a Rag just gives us another reason to have the odd scrap before making up over a pint.

Madchester - Still Ravin' On

Despite the fact Manchester has a thriving cultural community to rival any other major city; we locals do have a tendency to revel in past glories. Whether it's our experience watching The Stone Roses play Spike Island back in the summer of 1990 or witnessing the spectacular rise and fall of Factory Records - we love our Hacienda heroes. With a brand new club, The Factory, unabashedly celebrating this era on a weekly basis, it'll be a while yet until we stop 'ravin' on'.

Getting Your Scran On

There's no shortage of great places to get decent food - or 'scran' - in Manchester. In many, you'll also be able to quaff some top quality - or 'mint' - drinks. Situated halfway up the 171-metre behemoth that is Beetham Tower, Cloud 23's offers both, as well as a rich scarlet and walnut interior matched only by the breathtaking panoramic view of the city. But take my word for it, if you too many Shakermaker cocktails steer clear of the glass floor looking 23 floors straight down - it'll proper twist your melon man.

The 'Mad For It' Myth

Although there was a time you could barely walk down one of our city streets without hearing it, the simple fact is no-one in Manchester says 'mad for it'. The phrase, which emerged during the Oasis-obsessed mid 90s, is now as much of a dated northern cliche as flat caps and whippets. Want to express your excitement at spending the evening out on the town? Then 'ave it!' will do just fine.

Dustin Hoffman

The Academy Award-winning actor has played everything from an impressionable young graduate to a career-conscious transvestite. However, it seems unlikely he's aware of the strange association his name has in some suburbs of Greater Manchester. Derived from the verb to 'dust' (which means run), this is a phrase that has evolved into 'I'm Dustin' - meaning 'I have to leave'. Naturally, since then, announcing you are 'Dustin Hoffman', 'Hoffman' or 'on my Hoffmans' is just one way to inform your friends that you cannot stay - as is getting 'on yer toes'.


As the arch nemesis of Top Cat, Officer Dibble was the long arm of the law who kept the eponymous anti-hero and his felonious felines under control. However, in Manchester, his name lends itself to all members of the Police force - whether on their own or as a collective. As a youngster bunking off school, we would regularly flee to the panicking cry of "Dibble! Dust!!" when the member of our group charged with the task of 'keeping dog' raised the alarm.

Planning an Escape Route

In a recent conversation with my non-Manc friend, I came to realize I'd used one particular Manchester slang so heavily throughout life that I'd forgotten all alternatives for it. After repeating the word 'ginnel' at increasing volume as many times as it takes to make a girl from the Midlands scream, it became clear a non-local might prefer the term 'passage' or 'alley'. So, if you ever need to get on yer toes to escape the dibble - why not head for the nearest ginnel?
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