What is “Wotcher”?


Idris Elba as “Luther”

My husband and I have been watching the compelling but brutal English detective show “Luther,” on Netflix. We recently noticed people greeting each other with the one word, “Wotcher.” I had to look up what it means. Apparently, it’s more common in the south of England and was used frequently in the Harry Potter books. I read and loved all of them (well, Book 5 was a little tedious), but I have no recollection of coming across any wotchers. Certainly, Voldemort never greeted anyone that way.

The explanations I found were that it’s a compression of any common greeting that begins with “What are”: What are you up to? What are you doing? In other words, or word, Wotcher up to? Wotcher doing? —except the Brits leave off the ends of the questions.

Another theory is that it comes from 17th century British slang that meant “What cheer?” another way to say “What’s up?”

Now I know.



Filed under All things having to do with the English language

2 responses to “What is “Wotcher”?

  1. Keith Bessant

    My grandfather always used to say ‘Wotcher’ in the 1960s and I thought the word had died out. But I just heard the ITV political commentator Robert Peston use it to greet his TV audience at the start of his show so it clearly still has its place.


  2. Hi, Keith. Thanks for writing. I’m wondering if your grandfather was British. I’ve never heard anyone in the US use that phrase.


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