Learn the local lingo!

Want to become a true Coventrian during your time at the University? Here’s our guide to unCOVering the local lingo!

So you’ve made the best decision of your life so far (obviously!) – to study at Coventry. But did you know, back in the day being ‘sent to Coventry’ was a bad thing?

Although the origins of the phrase aren’t known for sure, a popular story is that Oliver Cromwell ordered Royalist soldiers to be locked up in prisons throughout Coventry during the Civil War. At that time Coventry locals were parliamentary supporters (anti-royalist) so they ignored the prisoners and refused to speak to them.  Nowadays, to be ‘sent to Coventry’ means to be ignored or shunned, and people across the country still use this saying to this day (ask your grandparents!)

But, now you’re in Coventry – what do the people of Coventry have to say? The Coventry accent is mild and rarely heard, but our expressions are used by everyone who lives here,  so let’s get to grips with what to say and how to say it!

Where on earth?!

The very first thing you may have noticed about Coventry speak is that local people have a tendency to call places by their former names just to confuse everybody– so let us crack the code!

  •  The favoured nightclub, Kasbah, is affectionately still referred to as the Colly because if you look at the roof really closely, you can still see the Colosseum website painted on it, sssh!
  • And the infamous Campbell that people talk about is none other than the student pub, the Phoenix.
  • Want to catch a bus or train to somewhere nearby? Make sure to use proper terminology to fit right in: Beduff (Bedworth), Treacle Town (Nuneaton, which used to have a jam factory) and Brum (Birmingham).

Asking for directions:

  • Want to get from A to B in Coventry? Even though Coventry is a city, the bit with the shops in (also known as the city centre) is called ‘town’.
  • And when you’re walking around residential areas, you might hear someone talking about their entry or jetty… otherwise known as the path between 2 houses!
  • If you haven’t guessed by now, people from Coventry really like to put ‘the’ in front of everything – and we mean everything! Whether it’s a street or landmark, they are all labelled: The Burges, The Butts, The Holyhead Road, The Ricoh – we think you’ve got the point!

Food talk:

  • Got a grumble in your stomach? Pop to a nearby café and order a batch – but ‘a batch of what?’ we hear you ask! You might call it a bread roll, bap or cob but we’re afraid that won’t get you far in Coventry. Sausage batch, bacon batch, cheese batch, ham batch – whatever your order, we’ve got you covered.
  • Equally if you go to your new, local chippy (chip shop) you might not get what you’re expecting when you order scallops… They’re not shellfish here! You’ll get a bag of fried potatoes instead – known as potato cakes in other places across the country. Feeling thirsty afterwards? Just head to the offie! (Off-licence)
  • And remember to pick up some chuddy to keep your breath minty fresh for when you’re moving around campus – you never know when you’ll need some chewing gum!

What did you say…?

We think you’ve got the basics of how to get around Coventry’s nightlife and how to feed yourself (two vital life skills for students), so now it’s time to see if you can blend in with the locals with their very own sayings…

  • Make friends by using either ‘me bab’ or ‘me duck’. While it may sound like you’re calling after a cute animal, they’re actually terms of endearment used in the West Midlands.
  • And don’t forget that the best friendships are built on listening and asking for people’s opinions, so drop in the local phrase ‘whaddya reckon?’ which means ‘what do you think about that?’ to start chatting all night.
  • If you’re feeling sick and unable to go to lectures, you can say you’re ‘on the box’ which is an expression for being off sick.
  • Now we know none of our CU students would do such a thing but do you know what we call playing truant in Coventry? You don’t want to be caught waggin’ it before any important deadline days…


Our final lesson is going to clear up some famous Coventry names and legends that you might hear bantered around local haunts.

  • Unless you’ve never listened to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, you should’ve heard of Lady Godiva; she rode through Coventry naked to defy her husband and abolish his raised taxes – now that’s what we call girl power!
  • But have you heard of Peeping Tom? He was the only man to spy on our Lady Godiva as she rode naked and you can spot them both on the Broadgate clock. The phrase Peeping Tom is now commonly used to refer to a voyeur.
  • You will definitely hear 1987 being discussed heavily by football fans in the city but we’re not actually stuck in a time warp. 1987 was in fact the year the Sky Blues won the FA Cup and we’ve been waiting for that day to come ever since!

Do you now feel like you can talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk, Coventry style?
We hope our guide helps you out around the city, and now you can make conversation with the locals when you’re next out shopping, or ‘down the pub’.

Have you heard anything distinctly Coventry since joining the University?
Let us know in the comments!

Guest post written by Emma