Hey, can I bum a smoke off you?

Egoexpress

Senior Member
Hungary, Hungarian
Hello there,

Hope you had less tiring day than I had, ahmm I was wondering if I said "hey, can I bum a smoke off you?", how would that sound?

Ok I know it's not formal language at all, anyway do you use at all? If so, who would you ask in this way, and what else could you say to get the same meaning?

Thanks again,
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hello there,

    Hope you had less tiring day than I had, ahmm I was wondering if I said "hey, can I bum a smoke off you?", how would that sound?

    Ok I know it's not formal language at all, anyway do you use at all? If so, who would you ask in this way, and what else could you say to get the same meaning?

    Thanks again,

    That would sound completely natural to me. I must caution, however... in Canada, at least, at the price of cigarettes, having someone ask if they can "bum" a smoke leaves a very negative impression - the reaction is that the asker is, in fact, a bum. Even good buddies don't "bum" smokes off each other. The polite way (if you have change in your pocket) is to ask to buy a smoke. If you have no money, a polite "May I have a cigarette, please? I'll pay you back next time I see you." If you know you'll never see them again, an even more polite "I'd really appreciate a cigarette, if you don't mind" would be appropriate.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hello Ego. I'd advise EXTREME CAUTION when using this phrase in the UK ~ misuse of it could get you into hot water, as the verb bum means something altogether different here (often).
    Having said that, I'm well-acquainted with the phrase, and occasionally use it myself, mostly for comic effect.
    More common in BE would be:
    Can I scrounge a fag off you?
    But I'd advise EXTREME CAUTION using that one in the USA.
    There are other BE alternatives, but I can't think of any of them at present.
     

    JazzByChas

    Senior Member
    American English
    Wow, ewie: looks like one could be in hot water on either side of the pond...one shudders to think of what might be interpreted to the wrong ear at the wrong time...:eek: ;)

    Just proves, yet again, that the cultural setting makes a difference. Although I've (very occaisionally) heard a cigarrette called a "fag."

    Hello Ego. I'd advise EXTREME CAUTION when using this phrase in the UK ~ misuse of it could get you into hot water, as the verb bum means something altogether different here (often).
    Having said that, I'm well-acquainted with the phrase, and occasionally use it myself, mostly for comic effect.
    More common in BE would be:
    Can I scrounge a fag off you?
    But I'd advise EXTREME CAUTION using that one in the USA.
     

    audiolaik

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Hello,

    Once, having a drinking bout (as a student, of course) I witnessed a situtation in which a heavy smoker (Brit) used the word fag. Unfortunately, the person he was talking to was a guy from Washington (D.C):). Luckily enough, the latter was too drunk to pick a fight. But it was close:)!
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Can I scrounge a fag off you?

    In my experience it is not even necessary to scrounge a fag off the British as I was offered one without asking each time one of my friends wanted to smoke (well yes, they were friends and not foreigners - Londoners, by the way - and they didn't lit one for themselves before offering everyone in our round a fag).
     
    More common in BE would be:
    Can I scrounge a fag?

    ...is also something I would definitely say in the UK. Bum sounds distinctly American to me (in this meaning, of course).

    Or, if you wanted to be ladylike Can I scrounge a cigarette/cig?

    BTW offering to buy one I think would be appropriate with strangers or semi-strangers (eg people working for the same company you have not met before, or people that share the huddle smoke space outside a pub, or somebody at a bus stop); but I would personally consider a person actually requesting money (all right mate, it'll be 50p :) for one to be incredibly rude.

    The correct procedure is to offer to pay, possibly even extend a hand with an appropriately high amount - eg 50p, which is about a double cost of 1 cigarette @ around £5/packet - and for the other person to give you the fag, wave their hand dismissively and say no, no, that's all right.

    Natives, please correct if needed.
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    ...is also something I would definitely say in the UK. Bum sounds distinctly American to me (in this meaning, of course).

    Or, if you wanted to be ladylike Can I scrounge a cigarette/cig?

    BTW offering to buy one I think would be appropriate with strangers or semi-strangers (eg people working for the same company you have not met before, or people that share the huddle smoke space outside a pub, or somebody at a bus stop); but I would personally consider a person actually requesting money (all right mate, it'll be 50p :) for one to be incredibly rude.

    The correct procedure is to offer to pay, possibly even extend a hand with an appropriately high amount - eg 50p, which is about a double cost of 1 cigarette @ around £5/packet - and for the other person to give you the fag, wave their hand dismissively and say no, no, that's all right.

    Natives, please correct if needed.

    That is absolutely right. Another way of asking for a fag is: "Excuse me, but have you got a spare cigarette [at all]? The "at all" has the effect of softening the request, but may be regional.
     

    marget

    Senior Member
    Why would one have to be more polite in asking for a cigarette than asking for money? In the US, I don't think we have to stand on ceremony when asking for a smoke from a stranger. Maybe it's a cultural difference, but then I'm no expert since no one has ever asked me for a cigarette or vice versa.
     
    Asking for a cigarette is completely different from asking for money in this country.

    Yes. Only beggars (or somebody completely, totally desperate and risking being taken for/treated as a beggar) would ask a stranger (even a semi-stranger) for money. Almost anybopdy, as long as there is even a very tenuous link, can ask for a cigarette.

    If you ask for money (eg change for the cofee machine or something), you ALWAYS ask to borrow it, and you have to ask somebody that you have a reasonable chance of seeing again, even if you are asking for 5p.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    It hardly ever happens any more (don't know why) but if I'm wandering down the street with a fag in my mouth:D and someone asks me for one without offering money, I do a quick appraisal:
    if he/she looks like he/she could flatten me:
    No, sorry, this is my last one;
    if he/she doesn't look he/she could flatten me (usually under about 10 years of age):
    What do you think I am ~ made of money?
     

    Egoexpress

    Senior Member
    Hungary, Hungarian
    This thread is getting funny:)

    As far as I'm concerned if I was asked for a smoke, I would not hesitate to give. I think it's all about the manner. money? I would not ask for money, only If I was in a deep trouble.things can happen,right?

    Anyways,

    Thanks for the contribution!
     
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