I don’t think that’s what it means: British vs. American English

Chart that reads "Do You Speak English?"
Chart that reads "Do You Speak English?"

I don’t think that’s what it means: British vs. American English

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Okinawa

Living in England has its perks — stunning castles and palaces, rolling green hills and beautiful countryside, only being a stone’s throw from London, and of course, not having to learn a completely new language as an adult. Once you arrive however, you’ll realize that there are many subtle and not-so-subtle differences between British and American English. Words meaning one thing to us, may have a completely different meaning to our British counterparts. After conferring with my local co-workers and friends, we’ve compiled a small cheat sheet to help translate English to … English. Some words are pretty well-known, while others may catch you off-guard:

(*British = American)

Bonnet = hood (of a car)

Boot = trunk (of a car)

Car park = parking lot

Caravan = camper/trailer

Car hire = rental car

Carriageway = smaller highway

Estate = station wagon

Flyover = overpass

Gear box = transmission

Indicator = turn signal

Junction = exit

Lay-by = rest area

Lorry = semi-truck

Motorway = freeway/expressway

Number plate = license plate

Petrol = gasoline

Roundabout = traffic circle

Saloon = sedan

Sat nav = GPS

Tube/underground = subway

To let/for let = for rent

Windscreen = windshield


(*British = American)

Aubergine = eggplant

Biscuit = cookie

Candy = hard candy

Chicken goujons = chicken tenders

Chips = thick-cut fries

Cooker/hob = stove

Courgette = zucchini

Crisps = chips

Cuppa = cup of tea

Ice lolly = popsicle

Jacket potato = baked potato

Mince = ground meat

Peckish = hungry

Rasher = Bacon

Sweet or pudding = dessert

Sweets = candy

Takeaway = take-out food

Toastie = grilled/toasted sandwich

Trolley = shopping cart


(*British = American)

Chemist = pharmacy

Jumper = sweater

Nappy = Diaper

Off-license = liquor store

Pants = underwear

Pushchair = stroller

Quid = slang for pounds sterling (GBP)

Rucksack = backpack/knapsack

Spectacles = eyeglasses

Trainers = athletic shoes

Trousers = pants

Wardrobe = closet


(*British = American)

Barrister = lawyer/attorney

Bin = trash can

Bits n’ bobs = knickknacks

Bob’s your uncle! = There you go!

Booking = reservation

Bugger = jerk

Cheeky = sneaky

Cinema = movie theatre

Cot = crib

CV = resumé

Diary = calendar

Dodgy = suspicious

Dummy = pacifier

Film = movie

Flat = apartment

Flypast = flyover

Football = soccer

Garden = yard

Hen party = bachelorette party

High street = main street

Holiday = vacation

Lift = elevator

Loo = toilets

Mad = crazy

Mate = friend

Mobile = cell phone

Opposite = across from

Plaster = band aid

Post = mail

Post code = zip code

Quay = dock/wharf

Rubbish = garbage

Queue = line

Ring = call

Rubber = pencil eraser

Stag night = bachelor party

Suncream = sunscreen

Tick mark = check mark

Torch = flashlight

Uni = college/university

Whinge = whine

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