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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.

Ground Floor First Floor

Contributed by Chris Johnson




* Nik Shearer advises this is known as a "dummy tit" in Scotland and Newfoundland

underground subway
angry mad
tights pantyhose

In the US, tights and pantyhose are different things: pantyhose are sheer, whereas tights are thicker.


taxi cab
mad crazy
dustbin garbage can
single ticket one-way ticket
shop store
ill sick
timetable schedule

All the above contributed by Elma Pavlikova

ring (telephone) call
biscuit cookie

Sent in by Thomas Highden - thanks

jumper sweater
nappy diaper
caravan trailer or motor home
chemist pharmacist
Elastoplast bandaid
estate agent realtor
jacket potato baked potato
jam jelly
jelly jello
lead leash
mac or mackintosh raincoat
marrow squash
peckish hungry
football soccer
no true counterpart football
garden yard

A garden is specifically the part with a lot of plants, whereas a yard could be just grass.


post code zip code
power point/plug/socket electrical outlet/outlet
pram (short for perambulator) baby carriage


Daniel Ausema

pub (short for Public House) bar

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) cafeteria
rucksack backpack
Sellotape scotch tape
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) sideburns
sleeping policeman (I say nothing!) speed bump
smalls underwear
snooker 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.


solicitor lawyer/attorney

William Hitch advises that general public tend to call them lawyers but they call themselves attorneys.

(here again I am not sure about this one and in the U.K.  solicitiors, lawyers and barristers have different roles)

sultanas raisins (in the U.K. we have sultanas, raisins and currants)
A surgery doctors office
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!)
tap faucet
tin can
torch flashlight
articulated lorry tractor trailer
trainers sneakers
treacle molasses
vest undershirt
waistcoat vest
lounge living room
banger fatter, thicker version of a sausage

In the UK we also use the term "old banger" when talking about a clapped out car.

bap hamburger bun
candyfloss cotton candy
clingfilm plastic wrap

We also say "Saran wrap" as well as "plastic wrap."


pork scratchings pork rinds
porridge oatmeal
strimmer weedwhacker

Tom Ekin

tomato sauce/ketchup catsup or ketchup
white sauce gravy  (in the U.K. gravy is usually brown as it originated from meat juices whilst cooking).

This subject has created a great deal of interest and input from visitors.  For ease of use these have been split into several different pages including:-

Differences between Australian, British and American English.

a chart listing some of the differences between the more commonly used British/American words and phrases

Differences between some of the more common British and American words and phrases.

Then there are all the suggestions of language differences (23 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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