Anyone familiar with Manchester slang?

I am researching a new book, and one of the main characters is a man who would have been in his teens in 1980s Manchester. A Mancusian, right? Anyway, I am looking for help with language that would be specific to that region. All English slang is welcome, of course, just hoping to recreate the sound of a Manchester conversation. Would also love names of bands from Manchester in the 80s, names of clubs where he would have perhaps seen these bands, names of streets and pubs, nearby towns, etc.

Any detail or item will be greatly appreciated.

I’m pretty sure The Smiths were from Manchester and they were big in the 80s. I was a bit young for clubs back then so I can’t help you with that, unfortunately.

As for slang, most of the words/phrases in this link look pretty old and would have been around in the 80s except “pants” and “sorted”, which would have been more 90s. “Mad for it” would be a good one too, but I think that is 90s.

In Manchester they say things like “our kid” instead of “my brother” too. As in, "Our kid said that… " instead of “My brother said that…”. Not sure if it is limited to brothers.

We have a few posters on here from Manchester. Ivan Astikov and Chowder are Mancs, I think.

Disclaimer: All my knowledge of the subject is based on being a Manchester United fan and expanding that to just wanting to know about the city/area. I’ve never been there, and have met just one Manc in my life.

I believe it’s “Mancunian,” not “Mancusian” (unless both are acceptable). Early 80s, I believe The Smiths and New Order were of the two biggest bands, and both have Manchester roots. The movie “24 Hour Party People” could help you out. From what I remember, it’s almost completely about the Manchester music scene (Hacienda- famous club; Factory Records- famous label; Tony Wilson- famous person) from right before Joy Division formed through the late 80s / early 90s when The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays were huge (Madchester scene).

Others on the board can surely help you more.

Yep, it’s Mancunian, our kid. :wink:

I second “24 Hour Party People”.

Watch Coronation Street, if you can stand it.

Racer1, thanks for the link. I knew about “chuffed” and “suss” but the rest are great, you know it! Thanks to all for band and club names. I don’t know if there is such a thing as “posh Manchester speak”, but that’s not what I’m going for. The guy in my book looks tough, talks tough, rides a motor bike and loves local music. I was going to make a trip over to Manchester and see the sights myself, but since money is tight I’ll rely on your knowledge for my research. (plus I’m not sure it’s a terribly safe place for a woman travelling alone). Keep em coming…

Also, listen to the brothers Gallagher from Oasis.

Paging chowder. Though he wasn’t a teen in the 1980s, he lives near Manchester, if not actually in it.

Both the BBC series’ Life on Mars and Shameless are/were based in Manchester. One can barely understand the dialogue on Shameless if you’re not paying close attention. IIRC they use a lot of slang, being that their background is lower-middle class. It also takes place in the present time, as opposed to Life On Mars which takes place in 1973.

I don’t know why, but I can understand then when they are singing but not when they are talking. Maybe it’s the alcohol (mine or their’s) screwing with my brain.

You think the family in Shameless are lower middle class? They’re about one rung up from the gutter, way below the poverty line.

Lower middle class is practically royalty in relation to the protagonists in Shameless.

I grew up in London so can’t really help you with Manc speak. I can however vouch for getting sorted being a major preoccupation in 80s Britain(elaboration available on request).

Dammit, beaten to it. Posting anyway.

If you want to get a good feel for real Mancunian street slang of the 80’s to the 90’s, listen to any backstage footage of a Happy Mondays gig. There hasn’t been many bands more representative of the times they lived in than that mob.


I’ve come across just about all of these expressions, including the “our kid” thing, in Scouse too, mostly in the context of reading stuff about the Beatles if anyone cares. Therefore I have to ask, is there any difference at all between Scouse and Mancunian dialect?

I dont know if you have access to a Brit Soap called Coronation Street but that is set in Manchester.

I’m a southerner myself but I think that Scouse and Mancunian are different.

There are differences, but a lot of the same slang is used all over the UK. It is the accent that changes. Manchester is only 30-40 miles from Liverpool, don’t forget.

Of course, I’m just a southerner like Lust4Life

I was born in 1970 and grew up in Manchester, so I guess that’s me then? One caveat - the ‘alternative’ music scene was thriving in Manchester in my teens, so my perspective is firmly there.

Clubs: quintessential was the Ritz ballroom, but only on a Monday night reallly. Otherwise there was 42nd Street, Jilly’s/Rockworld and the Boardwalk. To see bands he would have gone to the Boardwalk if they were new bands, or the Apollo if they were more established. The Apollo was in Ardwick Green, very slightly out of the city centre and rough as you like. Before the clubs your man should have gone to the Salisbury, fabulous pub under the arches of Oxford Road station. (Genuine local colour you can borrow if you like: there was a man with a rolled up rug under his arm who drank every Saturday in the Salisbury.)

Shopping: the Arndale for mainstream stuff, but the best options were Affleck’s Palace, round the back of Piccadilly.

City centre streets: Oxford Road, Piccadilly (railway Station and Gardens), King Street, Cross Street.

Manchester is NOT Liverpool and the rivalry is often fierce. Scousers are chirpy and say ‘la’ and ‘ed’, Mancs are dour and sharper, more cynical. I’m racking my brain for some slang and struggling, I must say. ‘Our kid’ has been mentioned, for proper Mancs your mother is your ‘mam’, if you are going into town you might ask if I want to ‘come with’. We use ‘dead’ (meaning very) all the time. The Happy Mondays are a good source, as mentioned, or New Order, or even the Royle Family, if you can get a hold of it. The Royles are slightly more Salford, though, a distinction which might be important to your boy - Salford and Manchester are adjoining cities. Salford people will tell you that Manchester stole their land :).

Others have mentioned some of the bands, I’d also add James, the Inspiral Carpets, the Charlatans. The Madchester thing was huge in 89 and onwards, if that’s your time period your boy would not be able to escape it. Always summarised to me by my favourite t-shirt range (bought from Affleck’s Palace, natch) ‘And on the 6th day, God created Manchester’, swiftly followed by ‘On the 7th day the clubs closed, but God stayed cool’.

Bad bits of the city: Hume, Longsight, Moss Side (got worse later), Ancoats. Bad things in the city: weed (although almost always resin - I never saw grass until I left Manchester) and speed were the illegals of choice, at least until Madchester in the very late 80s.

I could do this for ever, so feel free to ask if there’s anything specific you need. You’d be absolutely safe on your own by the way. It’s a great place, but then home should be, shouldn’t it? :slight_smile:

I speak as one who worked in the heart of Manchester for a couple of years (1994-96), in an office on Chorlton Street, opposite the bus station, but lived in Heaton Chapel, which is in the adjacent borough of Stockport.

Beware of Coronation Street: only some of the accents are proper Manc. Jack Duckworth’s is a traditional one, and most of the Websters are fairly typical of a modern Manc accent, particularly our Sophie. Many others are from places like Oldham and Rochdale, which are closer to the Lancashire accent - currently Janice Battersby is a good example of that. And some are from absolutely nowhere: heaven alone knows where Audrey Roberts is supposed to be from (the actress who plays her, Sue Nicholls, was actually born in Walsall but is from a very posh family - her father was Sir Harmar Nicholls, was a Conservative MP and was later made a Baronet).

You rang?

Now then where do I begin?

First, I was late 30s in 1980, married and as such under the thumb;) my pre-marriage jaunts to clubs/pubs and the like were severly restricted but I’ll do my best to help.

Bands have already been mentioned but Elvis Costello is a Mancunian.


Golden Garter at Wythenshawe Civic Centre
The Embassy Club, owned by the Late Bernard Manning was a fave haunt of many.
Talk of the North, there were about 3 named thus but the best was on the main road from Manchester Centre to Oldham.
Rembrandts (Gay club)


‘ecky thump lad, now yer askin’

here goes…

Swan with Two Necks
The Old Shambles
Tommy Ducks (had millions of pairs of bras and knickers on the ceiling)
Sinclairs Oyster Bar
The Shakespeare
The Union (Gay pub) on Canal Street. Some wag scratched out the “C” and the “S” giving you “Anal Treet”.

All the above were in Manchester Centre.

As for towns around Manchester, you’d be better Googling, there are dozens of 'em