Americanisms v Britishisms

I’ve been beavering away on my the current edit of my novel, The Range, in particular making my American character’s dialogue sound as authentic as possible. As a result I’ve become quite fascinated by Americanisms and how they translate into UK English.

Most UK folk will probably know the common stuff – side walk for pavement, garbage for rubbish, closet for wardrobe and so on, and I’m delighted to keep discovering new stuff. Some might argue that the UK English language is being eroded by Americanisms but I disagree. I prefer to think of it as a merging of one language separated by two countries then brought back together again.

As with any language regional dialects, certain phrases, euphemisms and pronunciations can vary a great deal even within a relatively small geographical area.

In terms of where my American character hails from, well, he has lived in the UK, but spent some time living in the US, no specific place so I’ve been looking for generic Americanisms rather than specific colloquialisms. So whilst my Yankee Doodle Dandy chap does say “rubbish” instead of “garbage” there’s still a twang of American accent in his voice.

So why is he from the US?

At times I wonder if I’ve made this too difficult for myself, and why isn’t he simply from somewhere I know like Manchester or London? The original concept for the story included a plot bigger than I cared to fit into one novel. As a result the sequel to The Range is called The Survivors, of which I’ve written 45,000 words of an unfinished first draft. And the the final part is called The Retreat, nothing written on that as yet, only notes and basic plot outline.

I wanted this character to be from somewhere else other than the UK. He could come from anywhere but when I came up with the idea it felt easier to write dialogue in English instead of struggling to write with, say, a French, Spanish or Chinese accent. Easier my arse.

Researching the American Accent.

I watch all manner of US TV, Friends, Lost, Desperate Housewives, 24, Flash Forward (tragic) not to mention The Simpsons and Family Guy or indeed movies. The funny thing is that I never really take much notice of accents. The actors speak, the story unfolds, I go along with it. The times when I do notice the American accent is when an English actor joins the cast, like Helen Baxendale in Friends.

A couple of my beta readers told me the American accent didn’t come across. I know why too. I was so intent on moving the story along I didn’t pay much attention to the actual words and phrases he used that should have identified him as American. Before starting on my current draft I paid a great deal of time listening to American accents on TV shows and movies. Reading fiction has helped but it requires that I read everything twice.

I don’t read a book once then start again. Instead I enjoy it as a reader, but at the back of my mind my inner writer is sat on his comfy bean bag taking notes. Sometimes he forgets as he’s enjoying the story as much as I am. So I give him a prod and he gets back to work, picking out those little words, inflections, mannerisms etc.

I hope I’ve made good progress with my American characters dialogue but until actual American readers read the story I can’t be entirely sure. I’m not sure if it’s right to assume an editor of a publishing company will pick up on whether it reads as authentic or not. I’d hope so. Until that day comes I’ll keep rubbing away the sharp edges to get it right.

Keeping track of Americanisms.

As I trawl through the internet I come across sites with lots of Americanisms. I bookmark them for future reference. This is very handy for translating UK English into American English, but after a while it became a chore to constantly look up words. So I designed my own little dictionary instead. And so to the purpose of today’s post, to share some of my findings with you, dear blog reader, so you can check out the differences for yourself.

I’m keen to know if there are any mistakes in this list. Let me know if you spot anything wrong or have any of your own Americanisms that would be useful in helping define my characters dialogue.

UK English

US English

Arse – also known as Bottom, Bum, Backside. Ass – or Glutes if you happen to be in a gym environment.
Biscuits. Cookies.
Boot – back bit of a car. Trunk.
Bonnet – front bit of a car. Hood.
Courgette. Zucchini.
Cinema. Movie House or Movies.
Chips – in the UK these are thicker versions of the French Fry. Fries – I’ve heard that Steak Fries are what Americans have with steak or other meat dishes.
Crisps. Potato Chips.
CV – Curriculum Vitae. Resume – although this is more a condensed version of the CV, which I understand Americans do use but it’s more a detailed thing and can run over more than one page.
Estate Agent. Realtor or Real Estate Agent. Often makes me wonder why it has to be “Real” and where the “Fake” Estate Agents are!
Film. Movie – personally I think the word “Film” to be kinda dated and much prefer “Movie.”
Flat – A residence in a block, all on one level. The UK use of this doesn’t give the same visual reference as the generic American wide open apartment as seen on US sitcoms etc. Apartment – I’ve heard that if you tell an American you live in a flat, they’ll ask: “A flat what?”
Garage – this is often used to describe both a fuel station and a place to park your car at night. Gas Station – not sure what the American version of a place to park a car. Driveway? Parking Space? Car Hole?
Ground Floor – in the UK this means the one at street level. Mostly. First Floor – I’m given to understand that this can also mean Ground Floor. I’m confused.
Head Teacher. Principle.
Holiday. Vacation – Americans use the term “Holiday” to describe a special day, and “Vacation” for a period of happy fun time away from work etc.
Lorry – both of these are used in the UK, though a Lorry is usually for a bigger vehicle with a longer wheel base. Truck.
Loo or Toilet. Also known as Bog, Crapper, Shittter, Pisser. Restroom – Apparently Americans consider a Loo as the actual thing you sit on rather than a room. I personally like “John” and “Head” though I’m not sure if these are regional words.
Minced Beef. Ground Beef.
Parcel. Package.
Pavement. Side walk.
Petrol. Gas – shortened version of Gasoline. Gas in the UK is stored in bottles like Propane.
Postman. Mailman.
Pissed – drunk, hammered, shit-faced, mullered, wankered. Angry – or “Pissed off” but I’m not sure an American would add the word “off.”
Pub. Bar – though in the UK we have both. Pubs are more traditional olde English types and bars are trendy places, sports theme bar for example.
Queue. Line.
Roundabout. Traffic Island – though I get the feeling the US doesn’t have many of these, whereas in the UK they’re everywhere.
Rubbish – in the UK you might also hear the word “Garbage” but not in the same sense: “My printer keeps churning out garbage.” Garbage.
Rubber. Eraser – the UK “Rubber” also means condom as in “Rubber up!”
Shop. Store – Americans tend to shop in stores whereas in the UK we just shop.
Silencer – on a car or motorcycle, or on a gun perhaps. Muffler.
Solicitor. Lawyer/Attorney – in the UK a solicitor can also mean those annoying idiots who try and sell you junk on your doorstep.
Spanner. Wrench.
Sweets – sweeties, confectionery, chocolate etc. Candy – not sure if this describes all sweet tasty treats or just those without chocolate, like Jelly Beans.
Tap. Faucet – I think this is right. I guess Americans would say tap water not faucet water, so it describes the object more than the usage of it.
Trousers. Pants – this is often quite hilarious to UK folk as the English version of this refers to underwear eg: Boxer shorts.

39 thoughts on “Americanisms v Britishisms

  1. Wow, quite interesting & a rather fun project & post!

    My American thoughts:
    What do you call biscuits if biscuits are cookies?
    I generally go to the theater to watch a movie.
    I’ve never actually scene anyone eat steak fries with steak.not sure went we call then that. You generally see then served with more gourmet hamburgers. (at least on the West coast).
    We also call ground beef ”hamburger” even if you are not making a burger with it.
    & yes we get pissed without the off

    Fabulous list Dave! Can’t wait to see your novel! You are such a brilliant writer & it will no doubt be incredible! Best of luck in your continued research!


    1. Interesting stuff there Christina. We do have cookies, which are clearly marked as cookies, but biscuits here are still sweet but kinda dull by comparison. And if we talk about going to the theatre it’s to see a play, not a movie. Yeah, I prefer movie, not film.

      It’s ace to get some feedback from an American! Ty! 😀

      Oh, decent comment made from a phone btw! Top marks!

  2. Being Canadian I don’t even think of a lot of the differences and tend to use both forms without even thinking about it.

    Steak Fries are larger cut fries, they are thicker and can be be served with everything.
    Biscuits int he U.S. are similar to a scone
    Rubber in the U.S. is frequently a slang term for a condom
    Pub has become a more common term in the U.S. and is used to denote British style small bars.
    Faucet – depends what part of the U.S. you are in, some areas call it a faucet, others use tap
    Candy tends to denote all sweets with chocolates as a sub category, though many chocoholics put it in a separate food group

    and I have been meaning to ask….cookies in the U.K. do they refer to what North Americans call cupcakes? – small personal sized mini cakes, not petite fours

    1. Strangely that’s a no to the cookie question, cupcakes are what we’d call fairy cakes in the UK, no idea why. We do have cookies here, although in the “cookie/biscuit” aisle there tends to be more biscuity based snacks, try searching Google for HobNobs, Rich Tea Biscuits and you’ll get the idea.

      The Fries/Chips thing is weird too, we get fries with McDonald’s for example, and some fast food places, but we have Fish n Chip shops where they deep fry large potato wedges in oil. Tasty but not very healthy!

  3. Another American here and I’ve rarely heard the term steak fries though after a couple moments I think I have it figured out that they’re similar to homefries? A few other things that I’m much more sure about..

    We use garages for parking and for car repairs, only few of them offer gas any longer.

    There may be a certain degree of specificity-overload to our form of the language I thought while reading the Lorry/Truck portion. Truck, 18 Wheeler, Semi, Flatbed, Mack Truck, 4×4, Straight Truck, Tanker, Tractor Trailer, Tandem, it goes on and all of it about function and features rather than regions.

    Restroom or Bathroom, also The Can, and when I was in school the teachers called it both and either ‘the basement’ (though I remember them being on other levels too) and ‘lavatory’(maybe because the tiles were the sort we’d play ‘the hot lava game’ on? I dunno).

    Mailman is no more, they’re mail/letter/postal carriers now (or just plain carrier since we’re just too lazy for that many words in one breath)

    Candy is everything, the types like chocolate or jellybeans are just categories of candy.

    We do say faucet water as often as we say tap water, which seeing as we’re so damn word-lazy, isn’t often it’s pretty much just water unless it’s bottled water.

    Funny thing about how we use pants instead of trousers, ‘dropping trou’ is as common a description of butt-flashing as saying mooned (oh yeah that just reminded me, butt is another one for ass).

    1. Hehe, we use the phrase “Oh man, he dropped trou right in front of us!” sort of thing. I like The Can. Excellent! Here a truck can be a 4×4 vehicle with a flat bed at the back but it also describes a large vehicle, like a 6 wheeled base. Lorry is used more for those huge things, 18 wheeler types. We’d also say “petrol tanker” for those big things that deliver to the patrol stations – gas stations.

      So, I’m still wondering what Americans call the thing they park their car in beside their home? Not the driveway. We just call it a garage, we keep lawn mowers, tools, maybe a freezer or other junk in it too.

      Faucet is never used in the UK, though when we talk about water, “tap” is only used when comparing the water to the bottled variety. Otherwise it’s just water.

      This is awesome stuff! So happy to see another American feeding me info on this sort of thing. It might seem kinda sad but I find it fascinating!

      1. That thing were we park our cars is also called a garage. There are also little car ports that are just roofs on posts, but I can’t imagine they would protect from the rain if it got windy and you don’t see many of those, so they probably don’t.

        It is awesome stuff! It’s definitely a much more fun discussion than arguing pop/soda or purse/pockeboot garage sale/tag sale (yeah I’m in the corner of the US who’s regional words the rest of the country doesn’t even believe us about and will insist aren’t real words).

        1. I’ve heard of garage sale before but not tag sale. I see a fair number of yard sale signs in the UK that were never around when I was a kid, and I kinda like them too. They seem friendly and more inviting than the UK version of “jumble sale” as I don’t fancy the idea of poking through someone’s old jumble junk!

  4. It’s always interesting to take note of these little differences. They really do set a British character apart from the rest, and likewise for American characters.

    1. Very true. We see and hear American accents/phrases etc that the subtle differences often go overlooked. I especially like the Cilantro wording for the UK English of Coriander. Weird but cool!

  5. Being Australian (and therefore an alien whose use of language is apparently so obscure that it’s incomprehensible elsewhere and has to be changed for US publication) I’m watching this with fascination. It’s also an unfortunate fact that the majority of books/movies/tv dramas here are imported (small population means home-grown output can’t keep up with voracious appetite for all of the above) and we tend to absorb the isms daily. So I can’t resist throwing in a few questions. (Sorry!)
    For example – soda in America seems to apply to everything fizzy and flavoured, coca-cola to lemonade, so what do Americans call soda water? And what’s root beer? Is it ginger beer?
    If American biscuits roughly equate to British scones, why do you eat them with gravy?
    What is a chain link fence?
    I thought American rubbish/garbage was trash. What’s the difference?
    And here’s a gratuitous nitpick. We call them thongs, you all call them flip flops. We invented them (NZ) so we’re not as quaint as you think. And we also came up with ugg boots – there’s a court case to prove it. (Just thought I’d wave the flag for a minute there!)

    1. In the U.S. there is a lot of variance just between regions You will find different words used between west coast, Texas, midwest states, southern states, and New England states.

      Soda, Pop, Cola, Coke are all used as a generic to refer to every carbonated beverage.

      Soda Water is not as common in the U.S.(but seems to be regaining popularity) and is referred to as Soda Water when mentioned.

      Root beer is essentially a sasparilla (not sure if you have it over there).

      Ginger beer is not common over here, I like English Style Ginger Beer, more people over here seem to be familiar with a Mexican variety which I find very bitter and harsh.

      Chain Link fence is a mesh-wire fence, hard to describe as a comparison. Wikipedia has a decent description

      Rubbish/Garbage/Trash are all the same thing, once again its a regional distinction.

      Thongs/Flip Flops – I knew them as thongs, but once I started traveling I started seeing both terms used in different regions. But in the U.S. most think of thongs as skimpy underwear.

      As for Ugg boots, in my opinion, you can keep them.

      1. Thongs. Hehe. In the UK a thong is a ghostly thin piece of underwear worn by the ladies! Flip Flips are pretty much the same here too, not to be confused with sandles which tend to be more strappy based and leathery. Or indeed the other variety – Mandles, which are sandles with big leather straps which men wear, Man + Sandles = Mandles. I don’t wear them as they look silly!

        I guess we call most fizzy drinks by their names, Coke, Fanta, Sprite etc, though at a push we’d call them all Pop, but I think that depends on your age and where you come from.

        I thought root beer was like Dr Pepper, or a similar taste?

        1. Root beer is a totally different flavor to Dr. Pepper and un caffeinated, I really cannot think of a comparison for it, Its like describing Marmite or Vegemite to Americans (I prefer Marmite), there is no equivalent

  6. Here’s my American two cents on this, sorry if there are repeats, but you’ve had a lot of feedback already, and hey… I’m lazy, so I didn’t get past the first couple of comments:

    I’ve never heard anyone say Movie House, only Movies or Movie Theater

    Steak Fries are not served with any particular type of dish, and are simply a style of “cut”. They tend to be much large and thicker than other fries.

    CV’s are still used here, but mostly in the Higher Education world (Professors especially)

    We park in all of things you suggested: Driveways, Garages, or Parking Spaces

    First Floor and Ground Floor are just as confusing living here. It just depends on what the architects decide to call things, however, usually when the building uses a Ground Floor, the next floor is always the Second Floor.

    In regard to Christina’s comment a calling Ground Beef, Hamburger, this must be a regional thing, as I’ve never heard Ground Beef called Hamburger unless it was being made into a Hamburger.

    We say Restroom or Bathroom (Bathroom is more of a familiar term, while Restroom tends to be more common in professional environments) John and Head are mostly old people terms, though Head can also be Military.

    We say Pissed and Pissed Off, though never to mean Drunk

    We have “Pubs” here as well, but they’re almost always “Irish” (often this is only in name, not in owner or clientele), and I’ve never encountered one that didn’t also serve food, whereas lots of Bars don’t (other than potato chips or popcorn or something).

    I’ve never heard the term Traffic Island. We call them Roundabouts, and they are uncommon, usually only in smaller cities and towns

    We also call Garbage, Trash.

    Candy can refer to anything, though most people will specify chocolate, and chocolate candies are generally called candy bars. More often than not though, we use brands for chocolate (i.e. I want a Snickers).

    You’re correct on your Faucet/Tap thing, however, people simply say Sink more often than Faucet (“Get me some water from the sink”). Generally we say faucet because we have a leaky one.

    Some of my observations may very well be regional. I grew up in NY and have lived in California, Arizona and Colorado. Hope this helps!

    1. Awesome stuff Dungeon Master! Though I still find it weird that a house/building that uses a ground floor as the lowest bit of the building has the next floor called the second floor, not the first. And on that subject do Americans say floor or storey as a general rule or is that a regional thing as well?

      It sure has helped. It’s been very useful to get so much feedback! Awesome sauce!

      1. No problem! We sat Floor when referencing the interior, and Story when referencing the exterior. So I would say “that’s a 12 story building”, but I would sound silly if I said “I live on the second story”

        1. Brilliant! Thanks! That little snippet will prove to be very useful. There’s a small bit of dialogue in my novel where an American chap is talking about throwing an iPod out of the upstairs window but I couldn’t work out if he would say 2nd floor or 2nd story. I guess he could say “upstairs window” but at least you’ve given me a better idea of how it might be referred to.

          1. That’s actually a weird situation. In a scenario like that you could reasonably say “I threw your ipod out the second story window” because in some sense you’re still referencing the exterior of the building. I’m not actually sure which would sound more “correct” or if it even matters. Maybe second floor would still be better… this is messing with my head now.

  7. Since I love language and I’m a hopeless pedant and an American, I have to comment:
    ASS- also means idiot, though there is a connotation of “asshole” to it rather than “jackass”
    BISCUITS- small, dense bread rolls usually served w butter but occasionally w jam
    FLAT- not often used anymore, but refers to multi-level housing units stacked on on top of the other with seperate entrances, such as the famous San Franciscan Victorian units. Apartments share a common entrance, more like a hotel.
    GARAGE- a covered building under or attatched to a building, or standing alone for parking multiple cars. Also an auto repair shop. Individuals park in parking spots, parking spaces, or if uncovered and designed to hold many cars, a parking lot.
    RESTROOM- also called bathroom or men’s room/ladies’ room
    PAVEMENT- we use this, too, but it refers to the actual ground material. A sidewalk is a geographical feature like a street or a driveway.
    PISSED- is always “pissed off”. Just saying pissed is a shortcut, not the whole thing.
    PUB- we have pubs, but they’re always a specific environment with what Americans would considered an English feel. Relaxed, low lighting, not fancy but not derelict (that would be a “dive”) with darts, beer and ale mostly drunk. Usually predominantly male customers. A bar is more generic- can be any drinking establishment, including a corner in a high-end restraunt.
    SHOP- small, generally locally owned, and often specializing in one thing, like candy, cigars, crafting or hobby supplies.
    CANDY- any sweet sugar tidbit, including chocolate pieces, hard candies, licorice- excluding only baked goods. Mostly used in relation to children. Maybe you would say sweets?
    SILENCER- refers to a gun only
    RUBBER- Ive never heard “rubber up” but it could be regional (I’m in Oakland, California) but condones are often referred to as rubbers, especially by younger people.

    Hope this is helpful and/or interesting. Now somebody please tell me what is so bad about the word bloody?! We genuinely don’t get it! It sounds so tame.

    1. Interesting about the shop one. I thought Americans simply used the word “store” to refer to a place that sells stuff. I like that shop is still in use in the US.

  8. Bear in mind, their is a huge difference in regional vocabulary and expressions, even within individual states. Also, level of education/class plays a role, as well.
    For instance, on the west coast we say “soda” but I understand they say “pop” on the east coast (which sounds like something out of the ’50s to me.)
    There are people I speak with regularly that would never say “shop”, but that is because they would never shop in one. They would limit their shopping needs to convenience stores, such as 7/11, or grocery stores, such as Safeway.
    Specialty shops may possibly be higher priced, though not necessarily.

  9. The world “lorry” is so alien to us, we tell our kids in amazement, “Do you know what they call trucks in England?!” It usually provokes a startled laugh.
    I’m not sure why, unless it is that, to our ears, it sounds like a woman’s name.

    1. Never thought of that, I guess it does sound like a woman’s name! Here a truck is something more akin to a large 4×4, where as a lorry relates to something with more than 4 wheels, usually with a container or other obviously large vehicle, transporting goods for example.

      From my experience fizzy drinks are generally called by their brand names, though I tend to use the word pop to describe them all.

      Fascinating stuff when you start thinking about the differences in words.

  10. Great List! However, being an American myself, I noticed a few flaws.
    1. Silencer is normally silencer in American English, or at least that is what I’ve heard most.
    2. Rubbish can be trash as well; the use is often either regional or based on definition.
    3. The term restroom is formal, most call it a bathroom. The actual thing you use is a toilet.
    4. Cinema can be cinema, movie theater, or movies, depending on who you are and where you live.
    5. Garage means the annex of the house that you park in, and driveway is the strip of pavement in front of your house that leads to the road.
    6. The floor leading to the road is called the Lobby, while the first/ground floor is the floor that is, well, on the ground. The Lobby is sometimes the 2-4 floor depending on the building.
    7. Solicitors are people who try to sell you things on your doorstep.
    8.Candy is NOT chocolate. Only some regional dialects use candy meaning chocolate.

    1. Thanks for the tips Aaron! Appreciate it. The one I find most weird is the “restroom” or “bathroom” issue. If say in a restaurant, would Americans ask where the bathroom is? Or toilet? Or indeed restroom? Seems odd as there’s no bath in it. Or does it depend on the etiquette of the establishment? Crapper or bog or can for a low grade slum hole and something more polite if fine dining somewhere posh?

  11. I came across this while surfing the web. I like your list. I think it is interesting how people say different things in different places. Like how the term ain’t and ya’ll is not really used in the western states. The west defaults more to you guys or just guys or dude. I grew up in the western US but have since spent time around the country. There is still a lot of variation between and within different regions of the US though. Some of your interpretations seemed pretty off to me so I thought I would try to define some of these a little better.

    Arse -> Ass – can also be butt, bottom, or tush, ass is usually more vulgar and can be used in reference to an annoying person. “Stop being such an ass.”

    Cinema -> Movies – I have never heard anyone use Movie House however Movie Theater could be used instead.

    Chips -> Fries – Fries is a generic term for fried potato slices that encompasses different cuts, Steak Fries are thick, french fries are thinner and potato wedges can also be referred to as fries

    Crisps -> Potato Chips – This can change depending on the type of chip and age/region, for example tortilla chips are different from potato chips. Typically referred to just as chips

    Garage – Garage – A Gas Station is a fueling station usually along major roadways. A garage can be built into a house or a separate structure near a house. A garage can also be a workshop, storage space, or professional auto repair shop. A driveway is the paved (or not, depending whether the house is rural, or not) path from the road to the house. Cars can be parked on the driveway. A Parking Space is a single place to park a car. Parking lots (single level or parking garages (multi-level) are some long term parking areas.

    Ground Floor – First Floor – This can also be the ground floor, or lobby (i.e. in a hotel). This is usually when there is more to the structure on the first floor. The first floor is the whole floor while ground floor is usually the public area of the first floor.

    Lorry – Truck – A truck is generally any vehicle that can haul something. It is usually in reference to a vehicle with a cab and an open bed with a tailgate. Larger vehicles are usually referred to by type, tow-truck, flat bed, tanker truck, etc. A rig is usually a souped-up or modified 4×4 or other off-road vehicle, i.e. a rock crawler. A big-rig is an 18-wheeler.

    Loo or Toilet -> Restroom – Crapper and shitter are more vulgar terms. A bathroom is usually better furnished than a restroom but are interchangeable. Americans don’t usually use the term Loo, the toilet can be the actual thing you sit on or the room. John, head, pot can also be used (“I’m going to use the …”). Temporary toilets can be referred to usually by putting the prefix porta- in front of one of the more colloquial terms (porta-john or porta-pot). In a nicer establishment, the ‘safest’ thing to ask for would be the toilet.

    Pavement – A paved walking or driving surface.
    Side walk – The paved path, usually along a road, designated for pedestrians

    Postman – Mailman – These can be interchanged by region however mailman is more common.

    Pissed – Pissed is not used to refer to drunk, hammered, shit-faced
    Angry – Less intense than furious. Pissed off or just pissed, they are interchangeable.

    Queue – usually refers to a line in an amusement park or when waiting for a service, usually government such as the department of motor vehicles (DMV)
    Line – more commonly used and usually used in place of queue. You would wait in line to make a purchase for example.

    Roundabout – Roundabout is the same. These are usually in smaller towns but are not especially common

    Rubbish -> Garbage or trash. When there is organic material mixed in, garbage would be more correct. Trash would be primarily inorganic (cardboard, batteries, paper, cans, etc). Garbage can still be used the same as the printer example. Recycling can also be used but only on materials that can be recycled or composted. Compost is only organic material.

    Shop -> Store – A shop is usually specialized like for antiques, hats, etc. A store would be any place that sells something. Most Americans would use store over shop. An American would go to shop not go to a shop.

    Silencer – For a gun, also a suppressor or flash suppressor
    Muffler – on a car or motorcycle

    Solicitor – those annoying idiots who try and sell you junk
    Lawyer/Attorney – someone who practices law

    Sweets -> Candy – Candy would be would usually be some sort of flavored sugary treat like jelly beans. Chocolate would be specified as such unless it is referred to as a candy bar. Candy is usually individually wrapped or in small packs. Caramel and fudge would also be separate from candy.

    Tap -> Faucet – A faucet is part of a sink. A tap is usually at a bar and dispenses some other drink. Tap water is water from a faucet. A spigot would be outside usually connected to a hose. An American would probably get water from the sink. It is implied that the water is coming from the faucet.

    Trousers -> Pants – Slacks would refer to business pants, usually ironed with a crease on the front and back of each leg with two front pockets and either one or two back pockets, worn with a belt. Jeans are denim pants with two front pockets and two rear pockets. Cargo pants have large pockets on the sides above knee level. Khakis generally refer to a nicer, more professional type of pants at a professional level between jeans and slacks up to the level of slacks.

    This was fun to put together. I don’t know if it will still be of any use to you anymore. I like these common term comparisons.

    1. Oh yes, it’s still very useful indeed! Thank you kindly for your input, it certainly is valuable to get this quality feedback.

      Truck is the one that’s been giving me some hassle recently. For some reason I keep slipping into calling a Toyota Land Cruiser (cab with a flat bed bit at the back) a truck, which is okay I guess coming from an American character, but I have to slow down and backpeddle a bit when I fall into the trap of having an English character use the same term.

      Interesting about the Trousers phrasing as Cargo pants here are generally referred to as combat trousers or combats, the same thing essentially.

      At the moment I’m busy whizzing through The Holt, and while I slow down when it comes to my American character, I know some of his words and phrases will need a polish in the edits.

  12. Hello everyone, as a native russian speaker I really want to know if I tell an American person Britishism, will he understand me?And vice versa I am not lazy-bone, but it will put everything in my mind into order. I will be very greatful) Всего хорошего!

  13. There’s a lot of variation in the UK as well. Just to confuse you, up here in north west England, “lorries” are frequently called “wagons”, and everything from a pickup to a 40 tonner can be called a “truck” and nobody is going to be confused. I know somebody with a Land Cruiser pickup and he calls it a “truck” and another guy says his father was a “truck driver”. I saw an exhibit in a local museum about the early 20th century where they were describing “motor wagons” and “steam wagons”. A similar thing in London called them “motor lorries”, so maybe “lorry” was a London word that spread to the rest of the UK?

    Also, “pants” is often used here to mean “trousers” rather than underpants. This led to a lot of confusion with Londoners where I worked.

    The path next to the road tends to be called a footpath round here (as well as pavement). It might be surfaced with gravel or tarmac rather than paved. It’s still pavement even if it’s in a town square.

    1. It’s been many years but I can’t help replying because it’s so interesting. Maybe you are still working on book three.

      I agree with Logan on just about everything except toilet. In a nicer place I would avoid that like the plague. To me, a toilet is a porcelain appliance and nothing more. In a very nice restaurant, like suit-and-tie nice, I would say the safest bet is to ask for the men’s room. In a more standard restaurant, I would ask for the restroom. If it was a crummy bar I might refer to it as the can or bathroom. Never crapper, loo, or things along those lines – either because they mean nothing in the US or because I’m not that crude. It always amused me when my 80-year-old grandmother called it the john.

      “Principle” is spelled principal in that context. It means main or most important, essentially.

      Sidewalk is one word. That will give you away if you spell it as two.

      Traffic island is not related to a roundabout (which is also known as a traffic circle). A traffic island (a small paved or grassy divider) divides lanes going in opposite directions, usually at an intersection, but it doesn’t extend along the length of the street (that’s a median). It’s useful for pedestrians crossing very wide, multi-lane roads, especially where there’s no light or stop sign. They only have to make it halfway across the road to the traffic island where they can safely wait for traffic to be clear on the opposite lanes and finish crossing.

  14. A few belated notes:

    Ginger ale is weaker than ginger beer, but the same idea. A traffic island is the grassy or concrete separator between oppositely moving lanes of traffic; the word for roundabout is traffic circle or roundabout, depending on where you are. In a restaurant you’d ask for the rest room or the men’s/women’s/ladies’ room, but in a private house for the bathroom, which may or may not have a bath in it. (Americans are shocked conversely when they ask for the bathroom in other countries and get sent to a room with a bath but no toilet.) Calling the room the toilet would be mildly vulgar, though not as vulgar as can (crapper and shitter are beyond the pale, we don’t know Thomas Crapper here, and bog is unknown). Shops are fancy places: a supermarket is a store, not a shop. For me candy includes chocolate.

  15. Hello!
    We park our cars in parking spaces (such as in a parking lot), the driveway at home, or in the garage if your house has one, or a carport(an open garage- roof but no walls).
    Pissed means angry. Drunk means you’re intoxicated with alcohol. Candy includes chocolates, jelly beans, all those things at the checkout line, but not baked goods like pies, cakes, and cookies. And many of us say trash intestead of garbage.
    I enjoyed reading about British words for American words.

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