19 Words That Mean Something Totally Different On The London Underground

The London Underground: Where circles aren’t circles.

1. “Bank”

Getty Images / peterspiro

Usually means: A financial intermediary that accepts deposits.
On the Underground: A station with more levels than hell that is larger than some small countries.

2. “Circle”


Usually means: A perfectly round shape.
On the Underground: A definitely NOT round shape.

3. “Angel”

Getty Images / Dan Kitwood

Usually means: A spiritual being.
On the Underground: A station you very much enjoy passing through, mainly so that you can drop the “this station has the longest escalator on the entire Underground” fact on anyone you happen to be with and/or sat near.

4. “Jubilee”

Getty Images / Daniel Berehulak

Usually means: An anniversary of an event or reign — usually the 25th or 50th.
On the Underground: The most futuristic part of the Underground (i.e. it was built in the mid ’70s).

5. “Four minutes”

Getty Images / MarioGuti

Usually means: 240 seconds. No time at all, really.
On the Underground: More time than you can possibly conceive.

6. “Gap”

Getty Images / iStockphoto decisiveimages

Usually means: A space or interval.
On the Underground: Something that we are encouraged from an early age to be terrified of.

7. “Underground”

Getty Images / iStockphoto MarioGuti

Usually means: Under the ground.
On the Underground: Sometimes under the ground.

8. “Oyster”

Getty Images / Dan Kitwood

Usually means: A shellfish thought by many to be an aphrodisiac, even though it looks like something you coughed up.
On the Underground: A piece of plastic that almost certainly isn’t an aphrodisiac but that will take you anywhere you to go (as long as that place is in London).

9. “Smug”

Getty Images / iStockphoto kevin llewellyn

Usually means: Showing excessive pride in one’s achievements.
On the Underground: What you feel when the doors stop EXACTLY where you’re stood on the platform.

10. “Wimbledon”

Getty Images / Al Bello

Usually means: The oldest tennis tournament in the world. Often ultimately disappointing.
On the Underground: One of three western termini on the “throw a 6 to start” District line. In fact you’re probably better off just getting an Uber. Often ultimately disappointing.

11. “Nap”

Usually means: A short sleep, often taken during the day.
On the Underground: A short sleep from which you wake in Morden.

12. “Pregnancy”

Usually means: The process by which a woman develops a child in her uterus.
On the Underground: Something that makes people act so chivalrously that they offer their seats to people who, as it turns out, often aren’t pregnant. Awkward.

13. “Shoulder”

Usually means: The joint that connects your arm to your torso.
On the Underground: A convenient pillow for any sleepy commuters who happen to be sat next to you.

14. “Weekends”

Usually means: Saturday and Sunday. When most people are off work.
On the Underground: LOL, nope.

15. “Eye contact”

Usually means: When two people look directly in one another’s eyes.
On the Underground: LOL, nope.

16. “Fare”

Getty Images / PhenomArtlover

Usually means: The money you pay for a journey on public transport.
On the Underground: Literally all of the money.

17. “Public toilets”

Usually means: Toilets open to the general public.
On the Underground: The holy grail of the late-night tube rider. Existing in a different universe to our own, they never stay in one place for very long and will only present themselves to you when you need them the least.

18. “Air conditioning”

Usually means: A system that controls the temperature of a vehicle or building.
On the Underground: An urban myth created to give sweaty people hope.

19. “Peak”

Getty Images / Scott Barbour

Usually means: The top of a mountain.
On the Underground: A period of time during which you are financially punished for using the Tube. Also, the ONLY time of day you need to use the Tube.

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Robin Edds is editor-at-large at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.
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