How to speak like a gentleman

The essential A-Z of speaking like a gentleman

Language is important. Now, perhaps more than ever, we are judged on the words we use. So whether it’s a date or a job interview, make sure you speak with class and clarity. Talk like a gentleman.

A: Ascot

Unless you want to be revealed as a racing novice, learn how to pronounce the racecourse.  ‘Ass-cott’ if you’re in the Grandstand, but ‘Assc’t’ to gentlemen.

B: Black tie 

Is correct, both as a dress code and description of the suit.  It is never ‘Dinner Suit’ or ‘Tuxedo’, wherever or whoever you may be. If you’re going to look sharp, talk sharp.

C: Cheers

Urgh. Can we all agree, right now, to eliminate this vulgar greeting?  It has become a substitute for ‘thank you’ that’s all to often accompanied by the clinking of glasses.  They’re not musical instruments. Stop it, now.

D: Dinner

Learn the rule, gentlemen. You go out for ‘dinner’ in the evening, and only in the evening. Wherever you are, you only eat lunch in the middle of the day.

E: Expire

A person is not a carton of milk – they don’t ‘expire’. They ‘die’.  They do not ‘pass’, ‘pass on’ or ‘pass over’ either. Death is sad already, let’s give it some dignity.

F: Fizz

Unless you make use of the staff discount at Asda, you don’t drink fizz.  It’s Champagne.  Meanwhile, ‘shampoo’ is for washing your hair, ‘bubbly’ is an unattractive character trait and ‘poo’?  Please….

G: Granny

Granny, Grandma or variants thereof are good. But not ‘Nana’. It’s part of a Rihanna song, and not the name for a respectable older lady. Whilst we’re at it, can gentlemen refrain from calling their parents by their Christian names?

H: Horseriding

It’s just ‘riding’.  After all, you’re not a gentleman if you ride anything else…

I: Ill

‘Sick’ was once better than ‘ill’ but times change, and ‘ill’ is now acceptable. Anything’s better than the nauseating ‘poorly’.

J: Janitor 

Yet another American word we have to hear all too often: they’re ‘cleaners’ or ‘dailies’.  The Americans can borrow our language, but we don’t need their suggestions.

K: Knob

Fine for gears, draws & doors. Not for anything else. Let’s grow up.

L: Lounge

You have a sitting room or a drawing room in your house. Trust us – unless you want to be ridiculed you don’t have a ‘lounge’, ‘snug’, ‘den’ or ‘front room’.

M: Moist

It’s just such a horrible word, gentlemen, usually denoting something pretty disgusting. If you must refer to something ‘moist’, use ‘damp’ instead.   When did any of us need this gruesome adjective?

N: Napkin

Correct – it’s never a ‘serviette’, unless you’re in France. And stop with the napkin origami. They’re there to clean up, not sit motionless on a table in the shape of a swan.

O: Oatmeal

You should never have to say this word, because you should never have to order oatmeal. Leave that to horses.

P: Partner

Unless you’re running a business with your other half, he or she is not a ‘partner’. They’re a girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband. If the relationship is more exotic you can make up your own word, just not paaaaaaaartnaaa.

Q: Quid

It’s Pounds. Work hard to get lots of them, but always avoid slang. It ain’t gentlemanly.

R: Rich

And never ‘wealthy’. Better still, don’t talk about money.

S: Setee

This is the nickname for Lord Settrington (the heir to Goodwood), and not somewhere you watch television from.  It’s a ‘sofa’, gentlemen. Don’t even think about ‘couch’…

T: Toilet

Whilst Tatler have declared the use of ‘toilet’ acceptable, we respectfully disagree. Loo or even bog is better. It really makes people shudder in disgust. It might be snobby, but don’t make this mistake.

U: Uni (denoting University)

Gentlemen, we don’t abbreviate. ‘Uni’ is a frightful phrase, revoltingly pronounced ‘Unaaayyy’. It’s probably best to avoid stories of your University days altogether, they’re seldom interesting.

V: Vegetables – and not ‘Greens’. 

Green’s is a wonderful restaurant in St James’ owned by The Duchess of Cornwall’s son and not the collective noun for vegetables.

W: Wine

…comes in either a bottle or a glass, and that’s how you should order it. One never meets someone for ‘a wine’, unless you want to ‘whine’.

X: X

Ok, so t’s not a word. However, gentlemen should date letters correctly by using Roman numerals to denote the month. For example, the 10th October 2016 is written 10.X.16

Y: Yummy

Is there anything worse than hearing a grown gentleman use children’s words? Yummy Mummy, Yummy food, Yummy Lady, Yummy object. Yummy Anything. Grow up, gentlemen, and speak English.

Z: Zipper

No. The access point in your trousers is called a fly. Yes, technically the ‘fly’ is the material covering the buttons or the zip, but a gentlemen always refers to his ‘Flys’ and nothing else.

Further Reading