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DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AMERICAN
AND BRITISH WORDS
I am indebted to Dr. Beren S. Ewen for providing a
lot more words which are different in the U.K. and America - the comments in green are my own.
Contributed by Chris Johnson
* Nik Shearer
advises this is known as a "dummy tit" in Scotland and Newfoundland
In the US, tights and
pantyhose are different things: pantyhose are sheer, whereas tights
All the above contributed by Elma Pavlikova
Sent in by Thomas Highden - thanks
||trailer or motor home
|mac or mackintosh
|no true counterpart
A garden is
specifically the part with a lot of plants, whereas a yard could be
|pram (short for perambulator)
|pub (short for Public House)
A pub serves food,
whereas a bar might or might not. (I would say a pub is a type of
bar in US English.)
|to be made redundant
||laid off, lose your job
|sacked/ get your P45
||get fired, get a pink slip or become unemployed
|refectory (not used much these
days - canteen is usually used especially in workplace)
|sideboards (this has really come
about due our poor pronunciation as a "sideboard" is a piece of furniture
usually found in the dining room of a house)
|sleeping policeman (I say
||billiards or more commonly pool (I
am not sure I agree with this one as in the U.K. these are three entirely different games.
Pool and billiards
are also different games in the US: in pool you try to get the balls
into holes, whereas in billiards there are no holes. I've never
heard of snooker in the US.
Hitch advises that general public tend to call them lawyers but they call themselves
(here again I am not sure about this one and in the
U.K. solicitiors, lawyers and barristers have different roles)
||raisins (in the U.K. we have
sultanas, raisins and currants)
|sitting in a tailback
||stuck in a traffic jam. A tailback is a position
in a US football team (Now that could cause a raised eyebrow!)
||fatter, thicker version of a sausage
In the UK we also use the term "old banger" when
talking about a clapped out car.
We also say
"Saran wrap" as well as "plastic wrap."
||catsup or ketchup
||gravy (in the U.K. gravy is
usually brown as it originated from meat juices whilst cooking).|
subject has created a great deal of interest and input from visitors.
For ease of use these have been split into several different pages
Differences between Australian,
British and American English.
a chart listing some of the
differences between the more commonly used
British/American words and phrases,
some of the more common British and American
words and phrases.
Then there are all the
suggestions of language differences (2,
3 and 4) which have been sent in by visitors which
are shown on three more pages.
After compiling these
pages it became very obvious that not only are there differences between
continents but also between regions within the same country.
Polly Campbell, who assumed Hints and Things was an American based
site, has sent in her observations on the subject:-
Elastoplast – we
don’t call it this (it sounds American to me, but presumably isn’t), we call
it a plaster.
Mac / Mackintosh – this is always on lists but Mackintosh is really
old fashioned, we might say mac, but really we just call everything a coat
Marrow – this is not a squash. A marrow is a specific vegetable – a
big corgette (Zuccini to you). Squash is a family including pumpkin,
butternut squash etc. I think this is the same in the US? But maybe you call
the green stripy one a squash and that’s why it’s on your list?)
Post code – it’s always post code or postcode not postal. The Royal
Mail writes it as one word
Power point – we don’t call it that, that’s the Microsoft programme
only. It’s plug socket or just socket (this is the bit in the wall, the bit
that goes in is the plug – is that the same in the US?)
You’re right about refectory, no-one says that and most of us
wouldn’t know about it (the only time I heard it used was at my very old
university). Similarly no one says smalls or sleeping policeman.
For underwear we usually specify what underpants (boy), knickers
(girl) or pants for both; bra etc. You can just say underwear for all.
For speed bump we say speed bump
I agree with you snooker, pool and billiards are 3 different games. I think
they are everywhere but pool is more common in US and snooker here – don’t
think billiards is common anywhere anymore.
Same with sultanas and solicitor. If you’re not being specific about what
kind then we’d say lawyer, but mostly we deal with solicitors.
We’d say “I’m going to the doctor’s” rather than surgery. It is the doctor’s
surgery but we always miss off saying surgery.
White sauce is a specific sauce – would you really call it gravy? I think
you might call it Béchamel?
Hope it’s useful – it’s fascinating what random words are different!!
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