American versus English words

Hey y’all,

Not your typical travel blog post this time.  As our time in the UK is winding down, we haven’t taken any trips, but have instead been trying to sort out our lives in anticipation of our move back to the States.  This post is a more of a dictionary of American versus English words.  Who ever said that we spoke English is lying – we speak American!

When I first arrived in the UK, a fellow American secondee sent me a spreadsheet of American versus English words.  This friend went back to the States after a couple of months, but I kept up with the spreadsheet and have been adding onto it for the past two years.  Granted, I wasn’t always at my computer in order to input words that I found were different, so I’ve probably forgotten to input a lot of them.  Still, with 183 entries, I think it’s a pretty good start as an American to English dictionary.  Also, this spreadsheet does not take into account words that are simply pronounced differently because that would be too many to keep track of.  At first I was keeping track of the words that are quite different: basil, zebra, turbine, etc., but it got to big more of a hassle than it was worth.  This spreadsheet is simply words that are different, not words that are pronounced differently.  I’ll post the table below and feel free to add any more that you know of in the comments.

Also, I have been sent an interesting article that gives a translation table of the true meaning behind Briton’s seemingly politeness: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10280244/Translation-table-explaining-the-truth-behind-British-politeness-becomes-internet-hit.html  I was shocked to find out that when they say “With the greatest respect” they actually mean “You are an idiot”…

American  English
“come over for dinner” “come round for dinner”
2 weeks fortnight
3 Musketeers (candy bar) Milky Way
airplane aeroplane
alleys (tennis) tram lines (tennis)
aluminum aluminium
American keyboard British keyboard
arugula rocket
asleep (leg is asleep) pins and needles
Attn. (attention) FAO (for attention of)
bachelor party stag do
bachelorette party hen do
baking soda bicarbonate of soda
Band-Aid plaster
bangs fringe
bathroom/restroom toilet
big talk cock a hoop
blow-up raft or float lay-low
bobby pin hair grip
braid (hair) plaits
brights (headlights) full beams
Calendar start of the week Sunday Calendar start of the week Monday
candy sweets
carpool lift share
cat call wolf whistle
chat natter
chips crisps
Christmas Crimbo
Christmas lights fairy lights
cilantro coriander
cleat stud
cling wrap/Saran wrap cling film
close of business (COB) End of play
college university
commercial advert
confectioners’/powdered sugar icing sugar
consignment store thrift shop
cookies biscuits
costume/dress up fancy dress
cot camp bed
cotton candy candy floss
couch sofa
counter-clockwise anticlockwise
crackers savoury biscuits
crib cot
cursive joined up writing
diapers nappies
dinner tea
diploma certificate
divided highway dual carriageway
Do you like it? How do you find ____?
downtown city centre
drapes/curtains curtains
drunk pissed
eggplant aubergine
elevator lift
eraser rubber
exit/on ramp junction
fanny pack bum bag
faucet tap
field pitch
figure out sort
fill up top up
flap jack/pancake pancake
flash light torch
fries chips
gas petrol
get started make a start
girlfriend The Mrs
give it a try give it a go
glue stick Pritt stick
goodbye party leaving do
goose bumps goose pimples
gym PE
gym or tennis shoes/sneakers trainers
hi hiya
highway motorway
hit (tennis) knock around (tennis)
how are you? you ok?
Jell-O jelly
jelly/jam jam
John Doe Joe Bloggs
jumping jacks star jumps
knock on wood touch wood
laundry detergent washing powder
lemonade cloudy lemonade
line queue
mail post
make fun of take the mick out of
mall shopping centre
math maths
Meeting Surgery
Merry Christmas Happy Christmas
middle finger peace sign backwards
Milky Way (candy bar) Mars bar
MM/DD/YYY DD/MM/YYYY
molasses treacle
mom mum
ladies private parts fanny
n/a flapjack
n/a pantomime
napkin serviette
no equivalent I can’t be bothered
no equivalent On invitation, “carriages” mean the time the party is over
north pole grotto
nose bleeds (seats) cheap seats
odds and ends bits and bobs
package parcel
pants trousers
paper towel kitchen roll
parking lot car park
part – “Do your part” bit – “Do your bit”
pass/ no thank you give it a miss
peg (with a ball) hit
period (punctuation) full stop
pickled item pickles
pickles gherkins
piddle paddle faff
pit row pit lane
pot (for money) kitty
potluck/pitch-in fuddle
PTO (paid-time-off) annual leave
purse handbag
push-up press up
quotes inverted commas
rain boots wellies
recess play time
redhead ginger
rental car hire car
Santa Father Christmas
schedule timetable
school education
Scotch tape celotape
semi-truck lorry
sharp cheddar mature cheddar
Sharpie marker pen
shopping cart trolley
short trip jolly
show up turn up
shrimp prawn
sidewalk pavement
silverware cutlery
sled sledge
sleep in lie in
soccer football
soccer cleats football boot
softball rounders
Sprite or similar lemonade
stereoscope binos
sticky tack blue tack
stop light traffic light
stove hob
stroller pram
sun room; enclosed patio conservatory
supply cabinet stationary cupboard
suspenders braces
sweater jumper
take a look have a look
telephone (game) Chinese whispers
the wave (audience) Mexican wave
thrift store charity shop
tired knackered
toilet paper toilet roll
train crossing level crossing
trash can litter bin
trash/garbage rubbish
trunk of a car boot
tube (inflatable) rubber ring
turn signal indicator
turnip swede
underwear pants
vacation/PTO holiday
vacuum hoover
wallet purse
wheat bread brown bread
whole grain whole meal
windshield windscreen
wrench spanner
yard garden
yard sale/garage sale car boot sale
zee zed
zip code post code
zucchini courgette

Again, I would be interested to know if you know some other words with different meanings, so feel free to add them in the comments.

xoxo

Tara

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One thought on “American versus English words

  1. Underwear= Knickers
    As in “Don’t get your knickers in a twist”, meaning don’t get upset.

    Wife-Trouble & Strife
    Left without paying bill=Done a Runner
    John (toilet)=Loo

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