Bare – What does “Bare” mean in British slang?

Hello and Welcome back to Slang with me Louisa May Adams. This show will give you the chance to hear, understand the origins and meanings of new slang and to use it immediately! So let’s get started…

While arriving in my class yesterday I apologized to my students for being late. I told my students this was because there were bare people outside. They all suddenly rushed to the window and stared out of it. One of my students said “I don’t see any naked people! They all have their clothes on!”.

I explained to my students that within slang bare doesn’t actually have anything to do with nudity as they thought, so let’s clear this up.

In formal english bare B-A-R-E is an adjective meaning not clothed or covered. However in slang the meaning is reversed and used as an adjective meaning “a lot of”, or “very much”. For example “there are bare people here today”, meaning there are lots of people here.

You can find this reversal with other slang words such as wicked and cool. Due to this deliberate inaccuracy bare is one of a number of slang terms which was recently banned by a London school. These negative connotations stem back Victorian criminals who did the same with reversing words, this is called back slang, for example the word boy B-O-Y was changed to Y-O-B, a word still used today.

It has been suggested that the use of the word “bare” as slang comes from Jamaica. It’s popularity has grown with the widespread of Grime music and the diversity of London.
Furthermore, it can also be used as an adverb used as an intensifier to replace very or really. For example, “I can’t come to your party, I’ve got bare work to do.” Meaning I have too much work to do and therefore I cant come. Or If you are bare hungry, then you are really hungry.

So start using it today! Think about what is “bare” around you whether it be people, work or new english slang!

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Let’s catch up soon to explore our next slang word.