Cambridge Urban Dictionary

Cambridge is a weird place, so we’ve come up with some new words to help you describe the madness that is C-town.

essay Fresher girton Life Mahal porters pulling stress urban dictionary Van of Death

 It’s that age-old problem: the English language and its limitations. Sometimes standard English just doesn’t stretch far enough to cover Cambridge goings on. So we’ve come up with some of our own vocab to help you out, in terms we can all understand: curry and bums.

Freshers’ Peak

The point in Michaelmas at which new students reach their limits in terms of physical health, pulling capacity and ability to make good chat. Soon after Fresher’s Peak, students begin a long and slippery descent into phlegmy sickness, genital complaint and stale conversation.

‘I thought she was fit in Week 3 but I think that could have been her Freshers’ Peak; now that she’s run out of Pantene and only eating part-baked rolls she’s lost the shiny allure she had when she was fresh out of Kent.’

Guessay

A page or three of garbled tripe, hurriedly knocked together at the eleventh hour under the delusion that your supervisor will have no idea it’s just a Wiki summary botch-job and you only understand 40% of the words in the question.

‘Just boshed out a guessay, gonna neck a few Jaegers, and then head out to Life to get me some gash. Lad.’

Lola

In Cambridge Rhyming Slang, ‘Lola Lo’: ‘great big ho’.

‘Oh, Isabella? Mate, utter Lola.’ 

Mahell

Spicy warfare played out in Cambridge’s very own Inferno: a swap of epic proportions (and ironically deficient portions), leaving participants quaking shells of the people they had been at 6pm that evening, vomming liberally and slathered in dupiaza.

‘Last night was Mahell: I lost three teeth and ended up eating mango chutney out of Chris’ shoe.’ 

Painsbury’s

Every Cambridge student’s favourite shopping hole becomes a box of pain and sadness when experienced through the prism of a stonking hangover. Shouty self-checkouts, piles of angry pineapples, needy yellow-labelled reductions just begging to be impulse-bought, wolfed down in Green Street, and promptly regurgitated: the supermarket is a world of woe to the hanging man.

‘Worst Painsbury’s shop of the year. Bought 12 custard slices. Cried in the bread aisle.’ 

Perton:

A rock-hard behind honed to perfection by the mammoth daily cycle from Girton to town and back again.

‘Shit me, what a cracking perton! Like a marble statue.’

Porn

No, not the filthy stuff in your browser history. It’s the look of disgust that meets students stumbling through the plodge clutching a traffic cone and nursing two bloody knees at 9.15pm on a Tuesday evening: Porters’ scorn.

‘I’m gutted – I used to love Dave, but the intensity of his porn last night… it’s going to be a long time before I can look him in the eye again when I collect my post, that’s all I’m saying.’ 

Punt

Describes a straight-up arsehole in the kind of picture postcard terms your granny would be proud to stick on the fridge, and your mum would let you hurl at your little brother across the kitchen table. It’s a swear smuggled in a Cambridge gown, so it’s legit.

‘Barman was being a total punt. Glassed him. Run.’ 

Stressay

The kind of academic exercise that bursts capillaries in your eyeballs and haunts you in your sleep.

‘I’d stay away from Thomas – he’s gone apeshit with a stressay and keeps trying to stab people with his mechanical pencil.’ 

Swots

Blemishes on the skin caused by working too hard, sleeping too little and eating that weird white shit they call ‘cheese’ at the Van of Death.

‘Ew, seen Janet’s forehead recently? Swotty or what?’

Illustrations by Claudia Stocker