List of British words not widely used in the United States

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This is a list of British words not widely used in the United States. In Canada, New Zealand and Australia, some of the British terms listed are used, although another usage is often preferred.

  • Words with specific British English meanings that have different meanings in American and/or additional meanings common to both languages (e.g. pants, cot) are to be found at List of words having different meanings in American and British English. When such words are herein used or referenced, they are marked with the flag [DM] (different meaning).
  • Asterisks (*) denote words and meanings having appreciable (that is, not occasional) currency in American, but nonetheless notable for their relatively greater frequency in British speech and writing.
  • British English spelling is consistently used throughout the article, except when explicitly referencing American terms.


A[edit]

abseil 
to descend on a rope (US: rappel). From German abseilen.
accountancy 
calculating and tracking financial matters (US: accounting).
In the UK accounting is explaining oneself or one's actions ("to give an account" or "accountability" in the U.S.A.), accountancy is the profession.
Action Man 
the action figure toy sold in the US as G.I. Joe.
advert 
advertisement (US and UK also: ad, commercial (on TV)).
agony aunt 
the author of an agony column – a magazine or newspaper column advising on readers' personal problems. The image presented was originally that of an older woman providing comforting advice and maternal wisdom, hence the name "aunt". Better known to most Americans as a "Dear Abby" column or advice column. Similarly, agony uncle.
air marshal 
an Air Force officer of high rank (US: general)
all change 
announcement on train or bus on approaching the last stop (US: All out)
amidst 
Both "amidst" and "amid" are common in the UK, whereas in the US "amidst" is often considered old-fashioned.[citation needed]
amongst 
Still in wide usage in the UK, with the alternative among also used. Amongst is considered archaic in US usage, but is still occasionally used.[citation needed]
anorak
In the US, a jacket with a fur-lined hood is generally called a "parka," technical differences between the two garments notwithstanding. As a slang term for someone with an obsessive interest in a niche subject (most famously, trainspotters), "anorak" is also a Britishism (no direct US analog, but similar to the Japanese "otaku," which has migrated into US English).
answerphone 
(originally from trademark Ansafone) automated telephone answering device (US and UK also: answering machine).
anti-clockwise 
direction opposite to clockwise (US: counterclockwise).
approved school 
(old-fashioned) school for juvenile delinquents; reform school. Such institutions have not been referred to officially as "approved schools" since 1969. Juvenile delinquents, depending on their age and level of malfeasance, may now be sent to Secure Training Centres (for ages 15 to 18) or YOIs (Young Offender Institutions – a prison for offenders aged between 18 and 21). (US: juvenile detention center, JDC, juvenile hall, (slang) juvie.)
argy-bargy 
(informal) a disagreement ranging from a verbal dispute to pushing-and-shoving or outright fighting.
arse 
buttocks, backside or anus, depending on context (US equivalent: ass); to be arsed: to be bothered to do something, most commonly as a negative or conditional (e.g. I can't be arsed, if/when I can be arsed).
[to fall] arse over tit 
(vulgar) [to fall] head over heels. (US: ass over tea kettle).
artic (lorry) 
abbreviation of 'articulated lorry' (US: semi, semi-trailer truck, tractor-trailer).
aubergine
(French) a solanaceous plant bearing a fruit of the same name, commonly used as a vegetable in cooking (US: eggplant). Also a dark purple colour resembling the colour of the fruit.
Auntie – sometimes 'Auntie Beeb' (see below) 
(affectionate slang) the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation).
autocue 
a prompting system for announcers or speechmakers addressing a television camera (genericised trademark, after a leading manufacturer) (US: teleprompter).

B[edit]

balls-up 
(vulgar, though possibly not in origin) error, mistake, SNAFU. See also cock-up. (US: fuck up, screw up, mess up)
banger 
(1) a sausage (from the tendency of sausages to burst during frying); (2) a type of small firework; (3) an old car (allusion to a tendency to back-fire), thus the term 'banger racing' = stock car racing. (US: jalopy).
bap
soft bread roll or a sandwich made from it (this itself is a regional usage in the UK rather than a universal one); in plural, breasts (vulgar slang e.g. "get your baps out love"); a person's head (Northern Ireland).[1]
barmaid *, barman 
a woman or man who serves drinks in a bar. Barman and the originally American bartender appeared within a year of each other (1837 and 1836); barmaid is almost two centuries older (circa 1658).
barmy 
crazy, unbalanced[2] (US: balmy)[3][4]
barney 
a noisy quarrel, origin unknown.[5][6]
barrister
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, this used to be the only type of lawyer qualified to argue a case in both higher and lower law courts; contrasts with solicitor. For Scotland, see Advocate. Occasionally used in the US, but not to define any particular type of lawyer.
bedsit (or bedsitter) 
one-room flat that serves as a living room, kitchen and bedroom and with shared bathroom facilities (US: see SRO; compare studio apartment (in British English a studio apartment - sometimes 'studio flat' - would have a self-contained bathroom)' efficiency)
Beeb, the Beeb 
(affectionate slang) the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). See also 'Auntie' (above). The British band Queen released an album called At the Beeb in the UK and it had to be called "At the BBC" for US release.
Belisha beacon 
orange ball containing a flashing light mounted on a post at each end of a zebra crossing (q.v.); named after the UK Minister of Transport Leslie Hore-Belisha who introduced them in 1934.
bell-end 
the glans penis, (slang, vulgar) a male orientated insult.
berk, burk or burke 
a mildly derogatory term for a fool or stupid person. An abbreviation of either 'Berkshire Hunt' or 'Berkeley Hunt', rhyming slang for cunt.[7][8][9][10][11]
bespoke 
custom-made to a buyer's specification (US:custom-made)
biccie, bicky, bikky 
a biscuit (US: "cookie")
big girl's blouse 
a man or a boy who behaves in a way which other men think is how a woman would behave, especially if they show they are frightened of something[12]
bint 
a condescending and sometimes derogatory term for a woman (from the Arabic for 'daughter').[13] Usage varies with a range of harshness from 'bitch', referring to a disagreeable and domineering woman, to only a slightly derogatory term for a young woman.
biro 
/ˈbaɪər/ a ballpoint pen. Named after its Hungarian inventor László Bíró and the eponymous company which first marketed them.
bits and bobs 
sundry items to purchase, pick up, et cetera (e.g. whilst grocery shopping) (Britain and US: odds and ends)
black pudding 
(US: blood sausage)
blag 
(slang) to obtain or achieve by deception and/or ill preparation, to bluff, to scrounge, to rob, to wing it. A scam, tall story or deception. Derived from the French word blague.[14]
bleeder 
derogatory term used in place of bloke ("what's that stupid bleeder done now?"); use has declined in recent years.
blimey 
(informal) an exclamation of surprise. (Originally gor blimey, a euphemism for God blind me, but has generally lost this connotation.)
bloke 
(informal) man, fellow. e.g. Terry is a top bloke. Also common in Australia and New Zealand. (US and UK also: guy).
blower 
telephone
blues and twos 
(slang) emergency vehicle with lights and sirens (emergency services in the UK generally use blue flashing lights and formerly used a two-tone siren) (US: lights and sirens or code)
bobby 
police officer, named after Sir Robert Peel, the instigator of the world's first organised police force. The word 'peeler' of similar origin, is used in Northern Ireland.
Bob's your uncle 
"there you go", "it's that simple".[15] (Some areas of US have the phrase Bob's your uncle; Fanny's your aunt)
bobbins 
something of low quality or (more commonly) someone who lacks ability at something, (e.g. "Our new striker is bobbins") From bobbins of cotton=rotten.
bodge 
a cheap or poor (repair) job, can range from inelegant but effective to outright failure. e.g. You properly bodged that up (you really made a mess of that). (US: botch or cob, shortened form of cobble) See Bodger.
boffin 
an expert, such as a scientist or engineer
bog
lavatory.
bog roll
(roll of) toilet ("bog") paper (slang).
bog-standard
completely ordinary, run-of-the-mill, unadulterated, unmodified. (US vanilla, garden-variety).
boiled sweet
type of confection (US: hard candy)
bollocks 
(vulgar; originally ballocks, colloquially also spelled as bollox) testicles; verbal rubbish (as in "you're talking bollocks") (US: bullshit). The somewhat similar bollix is found in American English, but without the anatomical connotations or vulgar sense meaning 'mess up'. The twin pulley blocks at the top of a ship's mast are also known as bollocks, and in the 18th century priests' sermons were colloquially referred to as bollocks; it was by claiming this last usage that the Sex Pistols prevented their album Never Mind the Bollocks from being banned under British obscenity laws.[16] Related phrases include bollocksed, which means either tired ("I'm bollocksed!") or broken beyond repair; bollocks up, meaning to mess up ("He really bollocksed that up"); and [a] bollocking, meaning a stern telling off. Compare dog's bollocks, below
bone-idle * 
lazy
bonnet
the panel which covers a vehicle's engine and various other parts (US: hood)
boot 
Separate rear storage compartment of a car. US: trunk
bowler 
a type of men's hat (US: derby)
brass monkeys 
cold – from "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey". According to a popular folk etymology, this phrase derives from cannonballs stowed on a brass triangle named after a "powder monkey" (a boy who runs gunpowder to the ship's guns) spilling owing to the frame's contraction in cold weather. (This is however incorrect for several physical and linguistic reasons.) The phrase is a 20th-century variant of earlier expressions referring to other body parts, especially the nose and tail, indicating that the brass monkey took the form of a real monkey.
brekkie, brekky 
(slang) synonym of breakfast
breve 
(musical) a note of two bars' length (or a count of 8) in 4/4 time (US: double whole note)
bristols 
(vulgar, rhyming slang) breasts; from football team Bristol City = titty
brolly 
(informal) umbrella
brown bread 
(rhyming slang) dead; "You're brown bread, mate!"
browned off 
Fed up, annoyed or out of patience.
bubble and squeak 
dish of cooked cabbage fried with cooked potatoes and other vegetables. Often made from the remains of the Sunday roast trimmings.
buggered 
(vulgar, literally a synonym for 'sodomised') worn out; broken; thwarted, undermined, in a predicament, e.g. 'If we miss the last bus home, we're buggered' (US: screwed). Also used to indicated lack of motivation as in "I can't be buggered". (US: "I can't be bothered.")
bugger all 
little or nothing at all; "I asked for a pay rise and they gave me bugger all"; "I know bugger all about plants"; damn all. US: zip, jack or (offensive) jack shit. Usage is rare in the US.
building society 
an institution, owned by its depositors rather than shareholders, that provides mortgage loans and other financial services (US equivalent: savings and loan association)
bum bag 
a bag worn on a strap around the waist (US: fanny [DM] pack)
bumble 
to wander aimlessly or stroll/walk without urgency to a destination; usually synonymous with bungle when used in the US.
bumf, bumph 
useless paperwork or documentation (from "bum fodder", toilet paper)
bunce 
a windfall; profit; bonus
bureau de change 
an office where money can be exchanged (US: currency exchange)
burgle *
(originally colloquial, back-formation from burglar) to commit burglary (in the US, burglarize is overwhelmingly preferred, although burgle is occasionally found).
butty 
a sandwich (esp. 'chip butty' or 'bacon butty').
by-election 
(US: special election)

C[edit]

cack 
(slang) faeces (feces); nonsense or rubbish: "what a load of cack" could equally be used to describe someone talking nonsense or as a criticism of something of poor quality. Also spelt "kak" as used in Dutch. Derived from an ancient Indo-European word, kakkos, cognate with German word Kacke, Welsh word "cach" and the Irish and Scottish Gaelic word "cac" which all mean 'shit'.
cack-handed 
(informal) clumsy * ; left-handed. Derived from cack, meaning "fæces (feces)", with reference to the tradition that only the left hand should be used for cleaning the 'unclean' part of the human body (i.e. below the waist).
cafetière 
device for making coffee (US: French press)
caff 
abbreviation for a café; now used mainly for the old-fashioned establishment ("there's a proper caff up that side road") to distinguish from chain cafés.
cagoule 
type of lightweight hooded waterproof clothing (US: windbreaker)
call minder 
(rare) telephone message recorder (US and UK also: answering machine; voicemail machine)
candidature 
synonymous with candidacy
candy floss 
spun sugar confection (US: cotton candy)
caravan 
travel trailer (US: RV)
caravan park 
area where caravans are parked (US: Trailer park for near-permanently-installed mobile homes, RV park or campground for areas intended for short term recreational vehicle parking. Trailer parks are typically low-income permanent residencies; RV parks/campgrounds are a holiday (vacation) destination.)
car boot 
storage area of car (US: trunk). Can also mean car boot sale.
car hire 
car rental
car park 
area where cars are parked (US usually parking lot if outdoor, parking garage if indoor).
carriageway 
the part of a road that carries the traffic; see also dual carriageway (US and UK also: lane)
cash machine 
automated teller machine.
cashpoint 
automated teller machine. Originally a brand name for Lloyds TSB ATMs, now genericized.
cats eye 
reflector used to mark lane divisions and edges of roads, also written cat's-eye, genericised from the trademark Catseye (US: raised pavement marker; Botts' dots are similar)
central heating boiler 
(US: furnace)
central reservation 
physical barrier dividing oncoming carriageways (only on dual-carriageways or motorways) (US: median strip)
chancer 
(slang) an opportunist
char, cha
(informal) tea. From the Mandarin.
char 
(informal) see charwoman
charlady 
see charwoman
Chartered Accountant 
one authorised to certify financial statements; the equivalent of an American CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
charwoman 
(dated) a woman employed as a cleaner, especially as an office cleaner
chav 
(slang, often derogatory, used primarily in England) typically a nouveau riche or working class person of most of the time lowish intelligence who wears designer label (e.g. Burberry) copies, fake gold bling, and is a trouble-maker. "Chav" is used nationally, though "charv" or "charva" was originally used in the northeast of England, deriving from the Roma (people) word charva, meaning disreputable youth. The closest US equivalents to the chav stereotype are arguably wiggers, although the cultural differences are existent.
cheeky * 
impertinent; noun form, cheek, impertinence; a child answering back to an adult might be told "don't give me any of your cheek" (also there is the expression "cheeky monkey!" in reaction to a cheeky remark).
cheerio! 
(informal, friendly) exclamation of farewell (similar to 'seeya!' and 'ta-ra!'). No connection to the breakfast cereal Cheerios.
cheers 
(informal, interjection) Thank you. Closest to the American "Thanks!" Can also be used to say goodbye.
chemist 
A shop selling cosmetics, various personal products and over the counter medicines with an attached pharmacy. US: drug store.
Chesterfield sofa 
a deep buttoned sofa, with arms and back of the same height. It is usually made from leather and the term Chesterfield in British English is only applied to this type of sofa.[17]
child-minder 
(babysitter) a person who looks after babies and young children (usually in the person's own home) while the baby's parents are working. Childminders are a more professional type of babysitter, and in England are required to be registered with Ofsted, the government-sanctioned education regulation body. They must also possess at least a Level 2 qualification in childcare. A babysitter does not require these qualifications.[18] Babysitter is more common in the UK.
chimney pot 
smoke-stack atop a house. But refers to the cylindrical topmost part. The part below is the chimney or chimney stack.
chinagraph pencil 
pencil designed to write on china, glass etc. (US: grease pencil, china marker)
chip shop 
(informal) fish-and-chip shop (parts of Scotland, Ire: chipper), also chippy (see also List of words having different meanings in British and American English)
chinwag 
(slang) chat
chucked (out)
thrown out; expelled (US: kicked out)
chuffed 
(informal, becoming somewhat archaic, originally Liverpudlian) proud, satisfied, pleased. Sometimes intensified as well chuffed; cf. made up
chunder 
vomit[12]
chunter 
(sometimes chunner) to mutter, to grumble, to talk continuously;[19] "What's he chuntering on about?"
clanger 
(informal) a big mistake, blunder, bad joke or faux pas ('to drop a clanger') (US: lay an egg)
clapped out 
(informal) worn out (said of an object)
cleg 
horse fly
clingfilm 
thin plastic film for wrapping food (US: plastic wrap, Saran wrap)
cobblers 
shoe repairers * ; (slang) a weaker version of bollocks, meaning 'nonsense' (often "a load of old cobblers"), from rhyming slang 'cobbler's awls' = balls
cock-up, cockup * 
(mildly vulgar) error, mistake.
codswallop *, codd's wallop 
"You're talking codswallop". After Hiram Codd, the inventor of the Codd bottle, which was commonly used in the late 19th Century for fizzy drinks (Codd's wallop). (US: You're talking garbage)
communication cord 
near obsolete term for the emergency brake on a train. Is nowadays an alarm handle connected to a PA system which alerts the driver.
compère 
(French) master of ceremonies, MC
compulsory purchase 
the power of the governmental authority to take private property for public use (similar to US: eminent domain)
conservatoire 
music school (US usually conservatory)
cooker 
kitchen stove (US: stove)
cool box 
box for keeping food and liquids cool (US and UK also: cooler)
cop off with 
(slang) to successfully engage the company of a potential sexual partner, to "pull"; to copulate (have sexual intercourse) with.
coriander * 
when referring to the leaves, often called "cilantro" in the US
Cor Blimey 
see Gor Blimey
coster, costermonger 
a seller of fruit and vegetables
cotton bud 
wad of cotton wool fixed to a small stick, used for cleaning (US: cotton swab, Q-Tip)
cotton wool 
Spun cotton, used for cleaning wounds or make-up (US: Absorbent cotton, cotton ball)
council house/flat, also council housing or estate 
public housing. (US: projects)
counterfoil *
stub of a cheque, ticket etc. (US: stub)
counterpane 
a decorative cloth used to cover a bed when it is not in use (US: bedspread)[20]
courgette 
(French) the plant Cucurbita pepo (US: zucchini, from the Italian).
cowl * 
a wind deflector fitted to a chimney top.
crack on(-to) 
whereas "crack on" may be used in a generalised sense as "[to] get on with [something]" (often, a task), to "crack on to [some person, specifically]" indicates one was, or planned to, engage in flirtation, to varying degrees
crikey 
exclamation of surprise (once a euphemism for Christ's keys or perhaps Christ Kill Me. Popularized in the US by late Australian herpetologist Steve Irwin)
crisps 
very thinly sliced fried potatoes, often flavoured, eaten cold as a snack (US: potato chips)
crotchet 
a musical note with a duration of one count in a time signature of 4/4 (common time) (US: quarter note; see Note value)
cuddly toy 
soft toy (sometimes used in the US; also stuffed animal, plush toy). Occurs as the title of the Monkee's song "Cuddly Toy".
cuppa 
[cup of] tea (never coffee or other beverage)
current account 
personal bank account used for everyday transactions (US: checking account)

D[edit]

daft * 
odd, mad, eccentric, daffy, crazy – often with the implication of it being amusingly so. "Don't be daft" and "don't be silly" are approximately synonymous.
dekko 
(informal) a look, reconnoître "I'll take a dekko at it later." – British military slang derived from the Hindustani dhek/dekho meaning "to see". Also less commonly decco, deccie, deek, deeks.
dene 
wooded valley or seaside dune (mainly S W England)
div, divvy 
(slang) a fool or idiot; adjective form, divvy, foolish or idiotic.
doddle 
something accomplished easily - "It's a doddle", meaning "it's easy".
dodgems * 
funfair or fairground bumper cars
dodgy * 
unsound, unstable, and unreliable (US: sketchy). 'That bloke over there looks a bit dodgy'
dogsbody 
someone who carries out menial tasks on another's behalf; a drudge (US: grunt)
the dog's bollocks 
(vulgar) something excellent or top quality, the "bee's knees" (the business), the "cat's whiskers". Sometimes just "the bollocks." (US: the shit). In polite company this phrase may be toned down to "The mutt's nuts", or the phrase "The bee's knees" (the business) may be used as a polite substitute. The etymology of this expression is said by some to derive from printers' slang for the punctuation symbol ':-' when printing involved the use of carved metal blocks to form typesetting.[clarification needed]
dole * 
(informal) welfare, specifically unemployment benefit. Sometimes used in the US, esp. older generation
door furniture 
(US: door hardware)
donkey's years 
a very long time.[21][22]
dosh 
(slang) money (US: dough) "how much dosh you got on ya?"
doss 
to be lazy, "I've been dossing all day", also can mean to truant, "dossing off" (similar to bunking off). Additionally it can informally take the form of a noun (i.e. "that lesson was a doss", meaning that lesson was easy, or good (primarily central Scotland). Also "dosser", a lazy person, or a tramp (US bum); "to doss down", to find a place to sleep, to sleep on some substitute for a bed such as a sofa, the floor, or a park bench; "doss-house", temporary accommodation for tramps or homeless people, cheap dilapidated rented accommodation with low standards of cleanliness (US: flophouse)
double first 
an undergraduate degree where the candidate has gained First-Class Honours in two separate subjects, or alternatively in the same subject in subsequent examinations (see British undergraduate degree classification)
draper 
a dealer in drapery (i.e. clothing, textiles, etc.) (US: dry goods [DM])
draughts 
the board game (US: checkers)
drawing pin * 
pin with a large, flat head, used for fixing notices to noticeboards etc. (US: thumbtack)
dress circle 
the seats in the first balcony of a theatre (US: balcony or loge although dress circle is used in a few very large opera houses that have many levels of balconies)
drink-driving
operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol (US: drunk driving; DUI [Driving Under the Influence]; DWI [Driving While Intoxicated]; OWI [Operating While Intoxicated])
driving licence 
document authorising the holder to drive a vehicle (US: driver's license, driver license)
dual carriageway
road, usually a major one, with each direction of travel separated from the opposing one by a traffic-free, and usually slightly raised, central reservation. Each direction of travel (carriageway) comprises two or more 'lanes'. (US: divided highway)
dustbin 
(sometimes used in the US) receptacle for rubbish, very often shortened to 'bin'. (US: trash can; wastebasket)
dustbin man or dustman
rubbish collector (US: garbage man; trash man; sanitation engineer)
dustcart
rubbish/refuse collecting vehicle (US: garbage truck; trash truck)

E[edit]

economy class 
the cheapest class of passenger airline travel (US: coach or coach class)
earth, earthed 
connected to an electric common return (including but not limited to the physical earth), (US: ground, grounded)
Elastoplast 
an adhesive bandage placed on a minor cut or scrape (UK also: sticking/sticky plaster [DM]; US: Adhesive bandage, Band-Aid)
electric fire 
domestic electric heater (US: space heater)
engaged tone
tone indicating a telephone line in use, (US: busy signal)
estate agent * 
a person who sells property for others (US: realtor, real estate agent)
estate car 
a station wagon
ex-directory 
(of a telephone number) unlisted; also informally of a person "he's ex-directory", meaning his telephone number is unlisted
extension lead 
Extension cable typically refers to mains power but may refer to other cables like telephones, (US and UK also: extension cord)

F[edit]

faff 
to dither, futz, waste time, be ineffectual, “I spent the day faffing about in my room”. Also related noun ("That's too much faff"). Mainly found in Scotland and the north of England, but also popular in South Wales.
fag end 
cigarette butt
fairing 
a gift, particularly one given or bought at a fair (obsolete); type of cookie (biscuit) made in Cornwall
fairy cake 
a small sponge cake (US and UK also: cupcake)
fairy lights 
Christmas lights
feck 
(vulgar) mild expletive employed as an attenuated alternative to fuck (including fecker, fecking, etc.) (originally Hiberno English and popularized by the television series Father Ted).
fiddly 
requiring dexterity to operate ("the buttons on the tiny mobile phone were too fiddly")
fire brigade
fire department
fiscal
short for Procurator Fiscal, name of the public prosecutor in Scotland (US: District Attorney, state prosecutor etc.)
fish fingers 
(US: fish sticks)
fiver 
five pound note (bill)
fizzy drink * 
carbonated soft drink (US: soda, pop, coke depending on the region)[23]
flannel 
washcloth (US)
flat 
(US: apartment); also derived from are the British terms block of flats (US: apartment block), or high flats (to describe a high-rise apartment building - see also Tower Block below)
flex 
electrical lead (UK); electrical cord (US)
flight lieutenant 
an Air Force officer rank (US: captain)
flyover 
a road crossing over another road (US: overpass)
footie 
(slang) football (US: soccer)
foot-path, footpath 
path that is only for use by those on foot that may or may not be alongside a road. Not usually used for paved or widened path that directly abuts the road at a kerb, which is referred to as pavement (US: Sidewalk).
fortnight *
a period of 14 days (and nights) or two weeks
freephone 
a telephone number where the caller is not charged for the call (US: toll-free number)
French letter 
(slang) condom[24][25]
fringe 
bangs, as in describing collective strands of hair covering part or all of the forehead
funfair 
a travelling fair with amusements, stalls, rides etc. (US: carnival or traveling carnival)
full stop 
(US: period (punctuation mark) )

G[edit]

gabby 
talkative[26]
gaff 
(slang) house, home. Also any other place: cheap music hall, theatre, pub, club, shop, hangout
gaffer
(informal) old man; (informal) boss; football manager (US: soccer coach); Also in US: (professional) chief electrician on a theatrical or film set.
gangway * 
a path between the rows of seats in a theatre or elsewhere (US aisle; gangway is a naval command to make a path for an officer)
gaol 
A prison, mostly historical (US: jail)[27]
G clamp 
A metal screw clamp (US: C clamp).
gearbox 
system of gears in a vehicle or other machinery (US transmission)
In UK transmission typically refers to drive shafts.
gear-lever / gearstick 
handle for changing gears in a vehicle or other machinery (US gearshift[28])
gen 
(informal) information, info (short for "intelligence") (US: intel)
get off with someone * 
(colloquial) to begin a sexual relationship[29][30]
Geordie 
a person from Newcastle upon Tyne, or used as an adjective to describe the accent or culture of the surrounding Tyne and Wear region of England.
gherkin 
a pickled cucumber (US: "pickle")
git * 
(derogatory) scumbag, idiot, annoying person (originally meaning illegitimate; from archaic form "get", bastard, which is still used to mean "git" in Northern dialects)
giro
(slang), social security benefit payment (US: welfare), is derived from the largely obsolete Girobank payment system that was once used in Britain for benefit and state pension payments.
glandular fever 
mononucleosis
gob 
1. (n.) mouth, e.g. "Shut yer gob"
2. (v.) spit phlegm (US: hock a loogie)
gobby 
loudmouthed and offensive[31]
gob-shite 
(vulgar)(insult) slang term for a person who is being mouthy about something or someone
gobsmacked 
(slang) utterly astonished, open-mouthed
gods (the)
(informal) the highest level of seating in a theatre or auditorium, usually the "Upper Circle", as in "we have a seat up in the gods" (US: nosebleed section[32])
go pear-shaped 
see pear-shaped
goolies 
(slang), (British) The testicles, from goli Hindi for ball.
gor blimey 
exclamation of surprise, also cor blimey (originally from "God blind me")
Gordon Bennett! 
expression of surprise, contempt, outrage, disgust, frustration.
gormless 
stupid or clumsy
go-slow 
a protest in which workers deliberately work slowly (US: slowdown or work to rule)
grotty 
disgusting, dirty, poor quality (originally from grotesque, though now rarely used with quite that meaning). In a scene from the 1964 film A Hard Day's Night, George Harrison has to explain the meaning and origin of the word; the impression is given that it was then considered modern slang, known only to trendy youngsters (this is no longer the case). George Harrison would have been familiar with the word as well-established Liverpool slang.[33]
green fingers 
talent for growing plants (US: green thumb)
greengrocer
a retail trader in fruit and vegetables [1]
group captain 
an Air Force officer rank (US: colonel)
Guard's Van
(n.) (also known as a Brake Van or a Driving Van Trailer) the leading or trailing carriage on a train nowadays used for luggage storage (US: Caboose)
gumption * 
initiative, common sense, or courage
gutties 
running shoes, tennis shoes, maybe from "gutta percha" old source of natural rubber
guv'nor/guv
(slang) A contraction of "governor", used to describe a person in a managerial position e.g. "Sorry mate, can't come to the pub, my guv'nor's got me working late tonight". Heard mostly in London.

H[edit]

half- 
[as in 'half-eight'] meaning thirty minutes past the hour (Standard English and US: "Half past").
half
(n.) Used mainly in Scotland a 'half' refers to a single measure of alcoholic spirits - usually Scotch whisky. In colloquial speech, it is usually appended with the name of the spirit ('half of vodka', 'half of brandy') if referring to anything other than whisky. It may also refer to half a pint of beer; a 'coming for a swift half?' is an invitation to the pub and significantly more than half a pint is generally involved.
hand brake
Parking brake operated by a hand control, usually a lever (US: Emergency brake. In the US, the traditional "hand brake" is more often to be found on a bicycle or motorcycle as opposed to a car as in the UK.); handbrake turn, a stunt where the handbrake is used to lock the rear wheels and the resulting oversteer enables the car to be turned rapidly in a small space (US related: J-turn, bootleg turn, U-turn.)
ha'penny 
(pronounced "HAY-penny" or "HAYP-nee") half a penny; a coin of this denomination belonging to the predecimal coinage which is no longer in circulation. There was also a half penny in the decimal coinage introduced in 1971 which was 1/200 of a pound. Ha'pennies stopped being legal tender in 1985 and were removed from circulation.
ha'porth 
(pronounced "HAY-puth") halfpennyworth.
hash sign 
the symbol "#" (US: number sign, pound sign [DM])
headmaster, headmistress, headteacher, head *
the person in charge of a school (US: principal [DM]; headmaster and the like are usually used for private schools)
Heath Robinson 
(of a machine or contraption) absurdly complex (see Rube Goldberg machine).
high street 
primary business and shopping street (US: main street)
hire
(v.) to borrow for a set period of time (US: to rent), hence the British terms "car hire" or "bicycle hire"; distinct from the US usage which is "to employ".
hire purchase
a credit system by which debts for purchased articles are paid in installments (US: installment plan or layaway if the item is kept at the store until the final payment is made)
hoarding 
a panel used to display outdoor advertisements, such as on the sides of buildings, or alongside highways (US billboard)[34]
hob 
the hot surface on a stove (US: burner)
hold-all 
a bag (US: duffel bag)
holidaymaker 
person on holiday [DM] (US: vacationer)[35]
hols 
(informal) short for holidays [DM]
hoover 
vacuum [cleaner], to vacuum (archaic in the US) (genericised trademark, from The Hoover Company, the first main manufacturer of vacuum cleaners)
hot up 
to become more exciting[36] (US: heating up).
hundreds-and-thousands
coloured sugar sprinkles used for dessert decoration (US: sprinkles, non-pareils, jimmies)

I[edit]

ice lolly 
frozen fruit juice on a stick; ice pop (US: Popsicle),
icing sugar 
(US: powdered sugar)
industrial action 
(see article; US: job action)
inverted commas 
quotation marks (see also American and British English differences – Punctuation)
invigilator 
person who monitors an examination (US: proctor [DM])
ironmongery 
ironware, hardware; hardware store
identity parade 
police lineup

J[edit]

jacket potato 
baked potato
jam sandwich 
(slang) police car. So called as, in the past, most UK police vehicles were white with a horizontal yellow-edged red fluorescent stripe along the entire length of their sides, giving a certain resemblance to a white bread sandwich with a coloured jam (jelly) filling. The majority of marked vehicle operated by the Metropolitan Police Service retain this livery, albeit the cars are now (mostly) silver. Some older vehicles are still in white, while the Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) use red vehicles. (US: black-and-white. In many cities of the US, police cars are painted black at the hood and trunk and white on the doors and roof.)
jammy (git, cow) 
(slang) lucky (person, woman)
JCB 
generic name for a mechanical excavator or backhoe loader, based on the eponymously named company which manufactures such devices.
jemmy 
To break into a lock, from the tool that is used in such an occasion as burglary (US: jimmy)
jerry 
(slang) pejorative term for a German or Germans
jerrybuilt or jerry-built 
An improvised or unsafe building or piece of infrastructure (e.g. an electrical installation), probably in contravention of safety legislation; (US: jerry-rigged or nigger-rigged (offensive)).
jiggery-pokery 
Expertly tinker with something in a way that a non-expert or casual observer is unlikely to comprehend.
jimmy 
(Rhyming slang) urinate, as in jimmy riddle - piddle
jobsworth 
(slang) Originally a minor clerical/government worker who refuses to be flexible in the application of rules to help clients or customers (as in "it will cost me more than my job's worth to bend the rules"). Also used more broadly to apply to anyone who uses their job description in a deliberately obstructive way.
johnny 
(slang) a condom (US: rubber [DM], Jimmy-hat)
John Thomas 
Better known as slang for penis or "dick" (US: cock, dick, or johnson) From the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover
Joey 
Term of abuse used of someone perceived to be foolish, stupid, incompetent, clumsy, uncoordinated, ridiculous, idiotic. Originated with the appearances of cerebral palsy sufferer Joey Deacon on children's TV programme Blue Peter; still a popular insult among adults who saw the programmes as children.[37]
jumble sale 
(see article; US: rummage sale)
jumper 
a pullover *, sweater
jump leads 
booster cables used to jump-start a car (US: jumper cables)

K[edit]

Karno's Army
a chaotic, ineffective team (usually: Fred Karno's Army) (related US: Keystone Kops, Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight)
kecks 
(informal, also spelt keks) trousers or underpants
kerfuffle * 
a disorderly outburst, disturbance or tumult; from Scots carfuffle[38][39]
kazi 
(slang) lavatory[39] (numerous alternative spellings are seen, such as karzy, karsey, carzey etc.)
kip 
(slang) sleep.
kirby grip 
hair grip. (US : bobby pin)
kit 
(slang) clothing: hence "Get your kit off": an exhortation to get undressed
kitchen roll 
paper towels
knackered 
(slang) exhausted, broken, originally 'sexually exhausted', derived from an old use of the verb meaning 'to castrate'
knacker's yard 
premises where superannuated livestock are sent for rendering, etc. (glue factory). Sometimes refers to the same for vehicles, a scrapyard (US: junkyard)
knackers 
(slang) testicles
knickers 
girls' and women's underpants (US: panties): hence, "Don't get your knickers in a twist" (US: don't get your panties in a wad, keep calm, hold your horses, chill out)

L[edit]

ladybird 
red and black flying insect (US: ladybug)
launderette 
self-service laundry (US: laundromat )
lav 
(informal) lavatory, toilet; also, lavvy (in the US, airplane restrooms are typically called lavatories)
lead (electrical, as on an appliance or musical instrument, microphone etc.) 
electrical cord (US)
learnt 
past tense of "learn" (US: learned)
legacy accounts 
funds left in a budget (US: funds remaining)
legless 
extremely drunk
lessons 
classes (class used more common in US English)
let-out 
(n.) a means of evading or avoiding something
letter box 
1. a slot in a wall or door through which incoming post [DM] is delivered (US: mail slot, mailbox)
2. (less common) a box in the street for receiving outgoing letters and other mail (more usually called a postbox or pillar box) (US: mailbox)
See also Letterbox (US & UK): a film display format taking its name from the shape of a letter-box slot
life assurance
also described as life insurance regardless of coverage (US : life insurance)
lift 
elevator
lock-in
illegal gathering in a pub at night to drink after the pub is supposed to have stopped serving alcohol, where the landlord "locks in" his guests to avoid being caught by police. Unless the landlord charges for the drinks at the time, the people in the pub are considered his personal guests; if money is exchanged beforehand or afterwards then it is considered a gift from the guest to the landlord for the hospitality. Since the introduction of the smoking ban in England and Wales in 2007, a "lock in" can now mean a landlord locking the pub doors and allowing smoking inside the premises. (US: may refer to a large and highly chaperoned "sleep over" at a church, school, etc.)
lodger * 
tenant[40] renting a room rather than an entire property; typically lives with the renter and his/her family
lollipop man / woman / lady 
a school crossing guard who uses a circular stop sign
lolly * 
1. lollipop /ice lolly (US: popsicle); (q.v.)
2. (slang) money
loo 
toilet (usually the room, not just the plumbing device) (US: bathroom, restroom)
lorry 
a large goods-carrying motor vehicle (US and UK also: truck)
loudhailer 
megaphone (US: bullhorn)
lower ground 
In houses, a floor below ground level but not fully underground, typically under a raised ground floor which has steps up from ground level to the main entrance. In offices and shops, a basement.
lurgi 
(hard 'G') 1. An imaginary illness allegedly passed on by touch—used as an excuse to avoid someone. (c.f. US: cooties) From an episode of the Goon Show. 2. (slang) A fictitious, yet highly infectious disease; often used in the phrase "the dreaded lurgy", sometimes as a reference to flu-like symptoms. Can also be used when informing someone you are unwell but you either do not know or do not want to say what the illness is.

M[edit]

main * 
pipe that carries gas or water. "The water main has burst!" (US: line: e.g gas line, water line etc.)
mains power, the mains 
230-250V (Typically denoted on domestic electricals as the rounded 240V standard) AC electrical current, provided by the electricity grid to homes and businesses; also attrib. ("mains cable") (US: 120 volts AC, variously called: line power, grid power, AC power, household electricity, etc.)
manky 
(slang) feeling ill, rough, out of sorts; filthy, dirty, rotten. (poss. from French "manqué" - missed, wasted or faulty)
mardy 
(derogatory, mainly Northern and Central England) describes someone who is in a bad mood, or more generally a crybaby or whiner or "grumpy, difficult, unpredictable". Used, for example, by children in the rhyme "Mardy, mardy mustard...", and in the title of the Arctic Monkeys song "Mardy Bum". The verb to throw a mardy means to display an outburst of anger.
maths 
mathematics (US: math)
MD (managing director
equivalent of US CEO (Chief Executive Officer), also used in the UK
Mexican wave 
simply called The Wave in the US
mentioned in despatches 
identified for valour or gallantry in action (US: decorated)
milliard 
one thousand million, or 1,000,000,000 (US: billion or 1,000,000,000)[34] Now superseded by the internationally standard usage of billion (1,000,000,000).
mince * 
1. ground meat, especially beef (US: ground beef, hamburger meat, mince typically describes a chopping style)
2. Walk daintily or effeminately.
3. Mince your words -- to obfuscate or conceal when talking or writing * (US: "He/She doesn't mince words.")
minge 
(vulgar) (rhymes with singe) female genitals or pubic hair
minger 
(from Scots language ming "to smell strongly and unpleasantly",[41] rhymes with singer) someone who is unattractive
minim 
a musical note with the duration of two counts in a time signature of 4/4 (US: half note; see Note value)
moggie, moggy 
(informal) non-pedigree cat; alley cat; any cat regardless of pedigree; Morris Minor car; Morgan car
Mole grips 
trade name for latching pliers (US: Vise grips).
mong 
(slang) disgusting, dirty, foul, idiotic person, possible derivation from mongoloid, now obsolete term for someone with Down's syndrome
monged (out) 
(slang) being incapable of constructive activity due to drug use, alcohol consumption or extreme tiredness
MOT, MOT test 
(pronounced emm'oh'tee) mandatory annual safety and roadworthiness test for motor vehicles over 3 years old (from "Ministry of Transport", now renamed "Department for Transport")
motorway 
A controlled-access highway, the largest class of road on the British road network, designed for fast, high volume traffic. Abbreviated to M, as in M25 or M1. (US: equivalent to freeway)
mouthing off 
shouting, ranting or swearing a lot about something or someone. e.g.: "that guy was just mouthing off about something" (US [DM]: backtalk; often shortened to mouth ["I don't need your mouth".])
move house, move flat, etc. 
to move out of one's house or other residence into a new residence (US: move, move out)
munter 
an ugly woman (rarely, man); similar to minger
muppet 
an incompetent or foolish person[42]

N[edit]

naff 
(slang) lame, tacky, cheap, low quality (origin uncertain – numerous suggestions include backslang for fan, an old term for a vagina), also gay slang for a straight man (said to mean "Not Available For Fucking")
naff off 
(dated slang) shove it, get lost, go away – a much less offensive alternative to "fuck off" (originally obscure Polari slang, made popular by prison sitcom Porridge and famously used by Princess Anne)
nail varnish 
a varnish applied to nails to enhance strength and glossiness. (US: nail polish)
nark * 
1. (v.) (informal) irritate; also narked, the adjective.
2. (n.) (slang) police informer (US: narc, derived from narcotics agent, but often used in a general sense)
nappy 
absorbent garment for babies (US: diaper)
National Insurance
compulsory payments made to the Government from earnings to pay for welfare benefits, the National Health Service (see below) and the state pension fund.
newsagent 
strictly a shop owner or shop that sells newspapers, usu. refers to a small shop, e.g. corner shop, convenience store, newsstand, or similar (US: newsdealer)
newsreader 
someone who reads the news on TV or radio. See news presenter for a description of the different roles of a newscaster, a British newsreader and an American news anchor.
nice one * 
(slang) a way of thanking someone, or congratulating them.
nick 
1. (v.) to steal
2. (n.) a police station or prison
nicked 
arrested ("you're nicked") - related to "the nick", above (US: up the river, busted[43])
nicker 
(colloquial) 1 pound, maintains singular form when used in a plural context ("it cost me 2 nicker"), rarely used in the singular
niff 
an unpleasant smell
Nissen hut 
hemicylindrical building of corrugated metal. Named for the designer. (US: Quonset hut, named for the place of US manufacture)
NHS 
the National Health Service, the state run healthcare system within the United Kingdom
nob 
1. head
2. a person of wealth or social standing
nobble 
(v.) to sabotage, attempt to hinder in some way. E.g. "Danny nobbled my chances at the pub quiz by getting Gary to defect to his team."
nonce 
A slang term for paedophile, pimp, child molester, or idiot.
nosh 
1. food, meal; also "nosh up", a big satisfying meal ("I could do with a good nosh up") Cf US usage, where nosh means "snack" or "to eat" as in the original Yiddish (i.e., "He's noshing on the shrimp cocktail.")
nosy (or nosey) parker 
a busybody (similar to US: butt-in, buttinski, nosy)
nous 
Good sense; shrewdness: "Hillela had the nous to take up with the General when he was on the up-and-up again" (Nadine Gordimer). Rhymes with "mouse" or "moose".
nowt 
nothing; not anything. "I've got nowt to do later." Northern English. (see also 'owt' - anything; as in the phrase "you can't get owt for nowt" or "you can't get anything for nothing")
number plate 
vehicle registration plate (sometimes used in the US; also license plate or license tag)
numpty 
(originally Scottish,[44] now more widespread) a stupid person
nutter
(informal) a crazy or insane person, often violent; also used as a more light-hearted term of reproach ("Oi nutter!") (occasionally used in the US) (US and UK also: nut, nutcase)

O[edit]

OAP 
Old Age Pensioner (q.v.) (US: Senior Citizen)
off-licence / offie
shop licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises (US equivalent: liquor store). Known in some parts of N England as a "selling-out shop" and in the West Midlands as an "outdoor".
off-the-peg 
of clothes etc., ready-made rather than made to order (US: off-the-rack)
offal
the entrails and internal organs of a butchered animal.
oi 
coarse exclamation to gain attention, roughly equivalent to "hey" ("Oi, you!" = "Hey you!")
the Old Bill 
(slang) The police - specifically the Metropolitan Police in London, but use of the term has spread elsewhere in England
one-off * 
something that happens only once; limited to one occasion (as an adjective, a shared synonym is one-shot; as a noun ["She is a one-off"; US: one of a kind])
on the piss 
(vulgar) drinking heavily; going out for the purpose of drinking heavily; at a slight angle, said of an object that should be vertical
Oriental * 
used to describe the origin of a person from East Asia (China, Japan etc.) (US:Asian - N.B. In BrE, Asian is generally reserved for people from around the Indian sub-continent: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc.)
orientate * 
less common[citation needed] alternative to orient, deprecated by some as an unnecessary back-formation from orientation[citation needed]
Other ranks 
members of the military who are not commissioned officers. (US: Enlisted ranks)
oughtn't 
(US: shouldn't, ought not)[45]
overdraft * 
money used on a bank account making a debit balance; the amount of the debit balance, an 'overdraft facility' is permission from a bank to draw to a certain debit balance.
overleaf * 
on the other side of the page
owt 
anything. Northern English. "Why aren't you saying owt?" See also 'nowt' - as in the phrase "can't get owt for nowt" meaning "can't get anything for nothing."
oy
See "oi".

P[edit]

P45 
a form issued upon severance of employment stating an employee's tax code.[46][47] (US: pink slip) The idiom to get your P45 is often used in Britain as a metonym for being fired or RIF'd.[48] The alternate phrases to get your cards, or get your books are often used - dependent on region.
package holiday 
a holiday whose transport, accommodation, itinerary etc. is organised by a travel company (US and UK less frequently: package tour). Cf holiday [DM]
Page Three 
a feature found in some tabloid newspapers consisting of a large photograph of a topless female glamour models
Paki 
a Pakistani person; often loosely applied to anyone from South Asia, or of perceived South Asian origin. Now considered racist.
Paki shop 
a newsagents or general corner shop run by a person of Pakistani or other South Asian origin. No longer considered an acceptable term. Not to be confused with "packie", used in some areas of the US such as New England, short for "package store", meaning "liquor store".[49][unreliable source?][50][unreliable source?] As with some other terms (cf. fanny pack), this is a case where innocent US use of a term may be unintentionally offensive in the UK.
panda car 
(informal) police car. Small police car used for transport, as opposed to a patrol or area car (analogous to US: black-and-white) Derives from a period in the 1970s when UK police cars resembled those of their US counterparts, only with blue replacing black.
paper round 
(the job of making) a regular series of newspaper deliveries (US: paper route)
paraffin 
kerosene
paracetamol 
a common and widely available drug for the treatment of headaches, fever and other minor aches and pains (US: acetaminophen, Tylenol)
parkie 
(informal) park-keeper
parky 
(informal) cold, usually used in reference to the weather
pasty, Cornish pasty 
hard pastry case filled with meat and vegetables served as a main course, particularly in Cornwall and in the north of England
pear-shaped 
usually in the phrase "to go pear-shaped", meaning to go drastically or dramatically wrong (possibly from the idea of a ball deflating). cf tits-up
peckish 
moderately hungry
peeler 
in Northern Ireland, colloquial word for 'policeman' Similar to 'bobby', q.v.
pelican crossing 
pedestrian crossing with traffic lights operated by pedestrians (formed from Pedestrian Light-Controlled[51][52])
people mover or people carrier 
a minivan or other passenger van
pernickety 
fastidious, precise or over-precise (US: persnickety)
Perspex
Trade name for Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), a transparent thermoplastic sometimes called "acrylic glass" (US: Plexiglass; earlier form dated in the US)
petrol 
refined mixture of hydrocarbons, used esp. to fuel motor vehicles (short for petroleum spirit, or from French essence de pétrole) (US: gasoline, gas). Also variously known as motor spirit (old-fashioned), motor gasoline, mogas, aviation gasoline and avgas (the last two being a slightly heavier type designed for light aircraft)
petrol-head, petrolhead 
someone with a strong interest in cars (especially high performance cars) and motor racing (US: gearhead or motorhead).
phone box 
payphone, public phone. See also "telephone kiosk" (infra) (US: phone booth)
pikey 
a pejorative slang term, used originally to refer to Irish Travellers. Now refers to anyone whose lifestyle is characterised by itinerancy, theft, illicit land occupancy with destruction of amenities, and disregard for authority, without reference to ethnic or national origin.
pillar box 
box in the street for receiving outgoing mail, in Britain traditionally in the form of a free-standing red pillar; also called postbox or, less commonly, letter box (US: mailbox)
See also Pillar box (film): an aspect ratio named for a supposed resemblance to the dimensions of the slot found on a pillar box.
pillar-box red 
the traditional bright red colour of a British pillar box (US: fire engine red or candy apple red)
pillock 
(slang, derogatory) foolish person, used esp. in northern England but also common elsewhere. Derived from the Northern English term pillicock, a dialect term for penis, although the connection is rarely made in general use.
pinch * 
to steal.
pisshead 
(vulgar) someone who regularly gets heavily drunk (cf. BrE meaning of pissed).
pissing it down [with rain] 
(slang, mildly vulgar) raining very hard (sometimes "pissing down" is used in the US, as in "It's pissing down out there.") Also "pissing it down the drain" or "pissing it away" * meaning to waste something.
pitch 
playing field[53]
plait * 
braid, as in hair
plaster 
Band-Aid
plasterboard 
Drywall
pleb 
(derogatory) person of lower class *, from plebs; similar to townie. Also commonly used to mean idiot.
plectrum 
(US and UK: guitar pick)
plimsoll 
a type of shoe with a canvas upper and rubber sole, formerly the typical gym shoe used in schools (US: sneaker or Tennis shoe)
plod 
policeman - from PC Plod in Enid Blyton's Noddy books.[25]
plonk 
a disparaging term for cheap wine, especially cheap red wine, is now widely known in the UK and also to a lesser extent in the USA. Derives from French vin blanc and came into English use on the western front in World War I.
plonker 
(very mildly derogatory) fool *. Used esp. in the south-east of England, although not unknown elsewhere (probably popularised in the rest of the UK by Only Fools and Horses). Derived from a slang term for penis, and sometimes used in this fashion, e.g. "Are you pulling my plonker?" (to express disbelief) (US var: "Are you yanking my chain?")
points 
(n.) mechanical crossover on a railway, (US: switch), hence the term "points failure" is a very common cause of delays on railways and the London Underground.
ponce 
(n.) (slang) someone with overly affected airs and graces; an effeminate posturing man; a pimp. Originates from Maltese slang. (related US: poncey)
(v.) (slang) to act like a pimp; to cadge, to borrow with little or no intention of returning, often openly so ("Can I ponce a ciggie off you, mate?")
ponce about/around 
(v.) (slang) to act like a fop, to wander about aimlessly without achieving anything
ponce off 
(v.) (slang) to mooch, to hit up, to leave in a pompous manner
pong
(n.) (slang) a strong unpleasant smell; (v.) to give off a strong unpleasant smell; (adj.) pongy
poof, poofter 
(derogatory) a male homosexual (US equivalent: fag, faggot)
pouffe, poof, poove 
A small drum-shaped soft furnishing used as a foot rest (related US: hassock, Ottoman)
porky(ies) 
slang for a lie or lying, from rhyming slang "pork pies" = "lies"
postage and packing, P&P 
charge for said services (US: shipping and handling, S&H; the word postage is, however, used in both dialects)
postal order 
a money order designed to be sent through the post, issued by the UK Post Office (US: money order, or postal money order if the context is ambiguous)
postbox, post box 
box in the street for receiving outgoing mail (US: mailbox; drop box); see also letter box, pillar box
postcode 
alphanumeric code used to identify an address, part of a UK-wide scheme. (US equivalent: ZIP Code)
poste restante 
service whereby mail is retained at a post office for collection by the recipient (from French) (US: general delivery)
postie 
(informal) postman
poxy 
(slang) something that is unsatisfactory or in generally bad condition.
pram, perambulator 
wheeled conveyance for babies (US: baby-carriage)
prat * 
(slang) an incompetent or ineffectual person, a fool, an idiot
press-up 
a conditioning exercise in which one lies prone and then pushes oneself up by the arms (outside Britain: push-up)
pritt-stick
glue stick, from the trademark of a common brand.
proper * 
Real or very much something. "He's a proper hero" (US: "He's a real hero")
provisional licence, provisional driving licence 
a licence for a learner driver, who has not yet passed a driving test (US: learner's permit)
pub 
short for public house (US: bar)
publican 
the landlord of a public house.
pud 
(informal) short for "pudding", which may mean dessert or occasionally a savoury item such as Yorkshire pudding or black pudding; a fool (informal term usually used good-naturedly between family members). pulling his pud, means male masturbation.
pukka 
legitimate, the real thing, of good quality (usually Southeastern England term,[citation needed] recently more widely popularised by Jamie Oliver, but dating back to the 19th century). From Hindi-Urdu .
punch-up 
a fistfight
puncture 
(n.) A flat tire on a vehicle, as in "I had a puncture on my bicycle".
punnet 
small basket for fruit, usually strawberries
punter 
customer or user of services. Occasionally refers to a speculator, bettor, or gambler, or a customer of a prostitute.
pushbike 
(informal) bicycle (pre-dates modern safety bicycle q.v. velocipede)
pushchair 
forward-facing baby carriage (US: stroller)

Q[edit]

quango 
quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation. A semi-public (supposedly non-governmental) advisory or administrative body funded by the taxpayer, often having most of its members appointed by the government, and carrying out government policy.
quaver 
a musical note with the duration of one half-count in a time signature of 4/4 (US: eighth note). Also compound nouns semiquaver (US: sixteenth note), demisemiquaver (US: thirty-second note), hemidemisemiquaver (US: sixty-fourth note); see note value).
quid 
(informal) the pound sterling monetary unit; remains quid in plural form ("Can I borrow ten quid?") (similar to US buck, meaning dollar)
quids in 
(informal) a financially positive end to a transaction or venture "After all that, we'll be quids in!" (US: money ahead)
quieten 
used in the phrase "quieten down" (US: quiet down)

R[edit]

randy 
(informal) having sexual desire, lustful, horny (now more common in the US because of the Austin Powers franchise)
ranker 
an enlisted soldier or airman or (more rarely) a commissioned officer who has been promoted from enlisted status ("the ranks"*)
rashers *
cuts of bacon
rat-arsed 
(slang) extremely drunk
recce 
(informal) reconnoître, reconnaissance (pronounced recky) (US: recon)
recorded delivery 
certified mail
Red top 
simply written and sensational tabloid newspaper[54]
reel of cotton 
in the US is spool of thread
Register Office, Registry Office 
official office where births, marriages, civil partnerships and deaths are recorded; usu. refers to local Register Office (in each town or locality). General Register Office is the relevant government department. In England and Wales until 2001, almost all civil (non-church) marriages took place in the local Register Office; different laws apply in Scotland and N. Ireland. "Register Office" is the correct legal term, but "registry office" is in common informal use. (US: Office of Vital Statistics)
Return 
A ticket that is valid for travel to a destination and back. A round-trip ticket.
Right of way 
path (usually an old one) upon which one has the right to travel regardless of land ownership. (Americans are likely to misunderstand the phrase to mean correct way although right-of-way is in use in the US.)
road-works 
upgrade or repairs of roads (US: construction; roadwork [singular])
rocket 
(eruca sativa) leafy, green vegetable used in salads and sandwiches, (US: arugula)
rock 
hard candy in cylindrical form often sold at holiday locations and made so that the location's name appears on the end even when broken. (US: no exact equivalent, but similar to a candy cane)
rodgering 
(vulgar) to engage in a sexual act, or suggest it. e.g.: "I'd give her a good rodgering!"
ropey 
(informal) chancy; of poor quality; uncertain (see dodgy). Can also mean unwell when used in the form to feel ropey
row * 
a heated noisy argument (rhymes with cow)
reverse charge call 
a telephone call for which the recipient pays (US and UK also: collect call); also v. to reverse [the] charge[s] *, to make such a call (dated in US, used in the 1934 American film It Happened One Night – US usually: to call collect)
rota 
a roll call or roster of names, or round or rotation of duties
roundabout 
a circular multi-exit road junction. (US: rotary junction; traffic circle)
(the) rozzers 
1.(rare slang) Police ("Quick, the rozzers! Scarper!") – possibly from Robert Peel, who also gave his name to two other slang terms for the police: peelers (archaic) and bobbies (becoming old-fashioned).
rubber 
a pencil eraser (US: eraser. The word eraser is additionally used in the US to refer to a blackboard eraser. "Rubber" in the US is a slang term for a condom.)
rubbish 
worthless, unwanted material that is rejected or thrown out; debris; litter (US: trash, garbage)
rucksack *
a backpack.
rumpy pumpy 
sexual intercourse, used jokingly. (Popularised by its usage in The Black Adder and subsequent series; the suggestion of actor Alex Norton of a Scots term.)[55][56]

S[edit]

saloon
a four door car (US: sedan)
sandwich cake or sandwich
(US: layer cake)[57][58]
sarky 
(informal) sarcastic (abbrev.) "Why are you being so sarky?" (US: snarky)
sarnie, sarny, sannie 
(informal) sandwich (abbrev.)
sat nav 
GPS
scouser 
a person from Liverpool, or the singular scouse to describe anything or anyone from either Liverpool or Merseyside.
screw * 
a prison guard
scrubber 
a lower class, (usually young) woman of low morals
scrumpy 
cloudy cider, often high in alcoholic content
scrumping 
action of stealing apples from an orchard; also v. to scrump
self-raising flour 
self-rising flour
secateurs 
gardening tool for pruning plants (US:garden shears, pruners or clippers)
secondment 
(/sɪˈkɒndmənt/) the assignment of a person from his or her regular organisation to temporary assignment elsewhere. From v. second (/sɪˈkɒnd/)
Sellotape 
from Cellophane, transparent adhesive tape (genericised trademark) (US: Scotch tape)
semibreve 
a musical note with the duration of four counts in a time signature of 4/4 (US: whole note; see Note value)
send to Coventry
ostracize, shun (US: send to Siberia, vote off the island)
serviette 
(from French) table napkin [DM]. Regarded as a non-U word, but widely used by non-U people. Frequently encountered in Canada.
shafted 
broken beyond repair - can also be used to describe extreme exhaustion
shag 
To have sexual intercourse
shandy 
a drink consisting of lager or beer mixed with a soft drink, originally ginger beer but now more usually lemonade, in near equal parts.
shanks's pony 
on foot, walking – as in "The car's broken down, so it's shanks's pony I'm afraid".
shan't 
(US: won't, will not)[59]
shite 
(vulgar) variant of shit
sixes and sevens 
crazy, muddled (usually in the phrase "at sixes and sevens"). From the London Livery Company order of precedence, in which position 6 is claimed by both the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors and the Worshipful Company of Skinners.
skew-whiff 
skewed, uneven, not straight
skint 
(informal) out of money (US: broke)
skip 
industrial rubbish bin (US: dumpster)
skirting board 
a wooden board covering the lowest part of an interior wall (US: baseboard)[60]
skive [off] 
(informal) to sneak off, avoid work; to play truant (US: play hookey)
slag * 
similar to 'slut', a woman of loose morals and low standards.
slag off * 
to badmouth; speak badly of someone, usually behind their back
slaphead 
(informal) bald man
slapper 
(vulgar) similar to slut but milder.
sleeping partner 
a partner in business, often an investor, who is not visibly involved in running the enterprise (US: silent partner)
sleeping policeman 
mound built into a road to slow down vehicles (UK also: hump [DM]; US & UK also: speed bump)
slippy 
(slang) smooth, wet, with no friction or traction to grip something (US: slippery)
slowcoach 
(slang) a slow person (US: slowpoke)
smalls 
underclothing, underwear, particularly underpants
smart dress
formal attire
smeghead 
(slang) idiot; a general term of abuse (for discussion of origin, see smeg (vulgarism)). Created by writers Rob Grant & Doug Naylor in a 1980s BBC sitcom, Red Dwarf.
snog 
(slang) a 'French kiss' or to kiss with tongues (US [DM]: deep kiss, not necessarily with tongues)
soap dodger 
one who is thought to lack personal hygiene
sod off 
(vulgar, moderately offensive) go away; get lost
solicitor 
lawyer, legal representative (US: attorney)
spacker, spacky, spazmo 
(vulgar, offensive to many) idiot, general term of abuse: from "Spastic", referring in England almost exclusively (when not used as an insult) to a person suffering from cerebral palsy. (variant forms spaz/spastic, are used in American English) See also Joey.
spanner 
(US: wrench)
(slang) an idiot, a contemptible person (US: a less pejorative synonym for tool.) "He's as stupid as a bag of spanners." (US var.: "He's dumber than a bag of hammers".)
spawny 
lucky
spiffing 
(informal) very good (old-fashioned, or consciously used as old-fashioned, associated stereotypically with upper-class people) (US: spiffy)
spiv 
a dealer in black market goods (during World War II). The term wide boy is also often used in the same sense
spliff * 
(slang) a hand-rolled cigarette containing a mixture of marijuana and tobacco, also 'a joint.' (Also used in US, j or blunt more widely used)
spot on * 
exactly (US: right on)
spotted dick 
an English steamed suet pudding containing dried fruit (usually currants) commonly served with custard.
squaddie 
(informal) a non-commissioned soldier (US: grunt)
squadron leader 
an Air Force officer rank (US: major)
squidgy 
(informal) soft and soggy (US: squishy)
squiffy 
(informal) intoxicated (popularly but probably erroneously said to be from British Prime Minister (Herbert) Asquith, a noted imbiber). The word can also be synonymous with skew-whiff.
squiz 
(rare) look, most often used in the form to have a squiz at...
stamp 
(slang) National Insurance payments (e.g.: I have not paid enough stamps to get my full state pension)
sticky-backed plastic 
large sheet of thin, soft, coloured plastic that is sticky on one side; see Blue Peter (US similar: contact paper)
sticky wicket 
a difficult situation,[clarification needed] originating from cricket[citation needed]
stockist 
a seller (as a retailer) that stocks merchandise of a particular type, usually a specified brand or model (US: dealer)
stone the crows 
exclamation of surprise (US holy cow, holy mother of pearl)
straight away 
immediately (sometimes used in the US; also right away)
stroke 
to move your hand slowly and gently over something e.g. stroke a dog. (US: pet)
strop 
(informal) bad mood or temper
stroppy, to have a strop on 
(informal) recalcitrant, in a bad mood or temper
suck it and see 
to undertake a course of action without knowing its full consequences (US: take your chances)
suss [out] * 
(informal) to figure out (from suspicion)
suspender belt
a ladies' undergarment to hold up stockings (US: garter belt)
swot 
1. v. to study for an exam (US cram)
2. n. (derogatory) aloof and unpopular schoolchild or student who studies to excess
sweets 
the same term for candy in US
sweet FA 
(slang) nothing (from "Sweet Fanny Adams", alternative: "Sweet Fuck All"), "I know sweet FA about cars!" (US: jack shit)
swimming costume
swimsuit or bathing suit; also cozzy for short.

T[edit]

ta 
(informal) thank you
Taff, Taffy 
nickname for a Welshman
takeaway 
food outlet where you can order food to go (or be delivered) (not usually applied to fast food chains). Usage: "we had a takeaway for dinner", "we went to the local takeaway". [DM]; (US: takeout)
take the piss (vulgar) * / take the mickey
(slang) to make fun of somebody or something; to act in a non-serious manner about something important. Can also mean to transgress beyond what are perceived as acceptable bounds, or to treat with perceived contempt
takings * 
receipts of money
Tannoy 
loudspeaker (a proprietary brand name), PA system
tapping up 
in professional team sport, attempting to persuade a player contracted to one team to transfer to another team without the knowledge or permission of the player's current team (US: "tampering")
ta-ra! 
(informal, friendly) exclamation of farewell (similar to 'seeya!' and 'cheerio!' (above)). Originally from Merseyside (see Scouser, above)
telephone kiosk 
payphone, public phone. See also "phone box" (supra) (US: phone booth)
tea towel 
a cloth which is used to dry dishes, cutlery, etc., after they have been washed. (US: dish towel)
telerecording 
a recording of a live television broadcast made directly from a cathode ray tube onto motion picture film. The equivalent US term is kinescope.
telly 
(informal) television
tenner 
ten pound note
Territorial
a member of the Territorial Army (US: Army Reserve)
tetchy * 
irascible
thickie 
person of low intelligence.
throw a wobbly 
(informal) to lose one's temper, throw a tantrum
thruppennies 
(rhyming slang) breasts/tits (from thrupenny bits, obsolete British coin)
tinned 
canned as in "tinned soup" or "a tin of tuna"
tip 
a dump or to throw something away
Tipp-Ex 
white tape or liquid used to make corrections of ink on paper (US: Wite-Out)
titchy 
very small; tiny (from tich or titch a small person, from Little Tich, the stage name of Harry Relph (1867–1928), English actor noted for his small stature)
titfer 
(rhyming slang) hat (from tit-for-tat)
[go] tits up 
(mildly vulgar) to suddenly go wrong (literally, to fall over. US: go belly up). cf pear-shaped (appears in the US mainly as military jargon, sometimes sanitized to "tango uniform")
toad-in-the-hole 
batter-baked sausages, sausages baked in Yorkshire Pudding
toff 
(slang) member of the upper classes
toffee apple 
a sugar-glazed apple on a stick eaten esp. on Guy Fawkes Night and Hallowe'en (US: caramel apple or candy apple)
toffee-nosed 
anti-social in a pretentious way, stuck up
Tommy Atkins, Tommy 
common term for a British soldier, particularly associated with World War I
tonk 
(informal) to hit hard, sometimes used in cricket to describe a substantial boundary shot: "he tonked it for six". In Southern England can also mean muscular. (US: ripped or buff).
tosser * 
(slang) Largely equivalent to "wanker" but less offensive; has the same literal meaning, i.e. one who masturbates ("tosses off"). (US: jerk).
tosspot 
(colloquial, archaic) a drunkard; also used in the sense of "tosser".
totty 
(informal, offensive to some) sexually alluring woman or women (more recently, also applied to males). Originally a term for a prostitute in the late 19th century.
tout * 
usually in the context "ticket tout"; to re-sell tickets, usually to a live event. Verb: to tout, touting. Ticket touts can usually be seen outside a venue prior to the beginning of the event, selling tickets (which may well be fake) cash-in-hand. Known as scalping in the US.
tower block 
high rise public housing building. In recent years the US term apartment building has become fashionable to create the distinction between stigmatised public housing projects, and towers built to contain desirable private accommodation.
trainers 
training shoes, athletic shoes. (US: sneakers).
transit, transit van 
generic name for a full size panel van, based on the Ford vehicle of the same name, which in Britain dominates the market for such vehicles.
transport cafe 
roadside diner on a highway used primarily by truck drivers[61][62] (US: truckstop)[63]
treacle 
refined sugar syrup (US: molasses)
truncheon * 
a police officer's weapon (US: nightstick or billy)
tuppence 
two pence, also infantile euphemism for vagina. cf twopenn'orth
tuppenny-ha'penny 
cheap, substandard
turf accountant 
bookmaker for horse races (US and UK: bookie)
turn-indicator 
direction-indicator light on a vehicle (US: turn signal)
turning 
A place where you can turn off a road. Not generally used where the turn would take you onto a more major road or for a crossroads. (US: turn). "drive past the post-office and you'll see a small turning to the right, which leads directly to our farm"
turn-ups
an arrangement at the bottom of trouser-legs whereby a deep hem is made, and the material is doubled-back to provide a trough around the external portion of the bottom of the leg. (US: cuffs)
twee * 
excessively cute, quaint, or 'precious'
twopenn'orth, tuppenn'orth, tup'en'oth 
one's opinion (tuppenn'orth is literally "two pennies worth" or "two pence worth", depending on usage); (US equivalent: two cents' worth, two cents). cf tuppence

U[edit]

uni 
short for university, used much like US college
up himself 
(informal) someone who is stand-offish, stuck-up, snobby. "He's a bit up himself." Euphemistic variation of up his own arse. (US: snotty)
up sticks 
(US: pull up stakes)

V[edit]

veg 
shortened form of vegetable or vegetables.[64][65]
verger (virger, in some churches) 
someone who carries the verge or other emblem of authority before a scholastic, legal, or religious dignitary in a procession; someone who takes care of the interior of a church and acts as an attendant during ceremonies.
verruca 
a wart which occurs on one's foot. (US: plantar wart)
(vegetable) marrow 
a gourd-like fruit (treated as a vegetable) (US: squash [DM])

W[edit]

WAG 
wives and girlfriends, common in headlines referring to the spouse of a footballer.
wage packet 
weekly employee payment (usually in cash) (US: paycheck)
wally 
(informal) buffoon, fool; milder form of idiot.
wanker 
(offensive) literally, a masturbator (although use in this context is uncommon); more likely to be used as a general insult or term of abuse
WC 
toilet (short for Water Closet). (US: bathroom [DM], US old-fashioned washroom). See also loo.
washing up liquid
dish washing detergent (US: dish soap, dishwashing liquid)
wazzock 
an idiot. popularised by the 1981 song "Capstick Comes Home" by Tony Capstick
well
Extremely, very. "He's well rich" (US: "He's way rich")
Wellington boots, wellies 
waterproof rubber boots, named after the Duke of Wellington.
welly 
(informal) effort (e.g.: "Give it some welly" to mean "put a bit of effort into an attempt to do something" US: elbow grease (also UK), oomph); also the singular of "wellies", for Wellington boots (US: gumboots, rubber boots)
welly 
(slang) condom; stems from "Wellington boots" which are also known as "rubbers".
What ho! 
(interj.) Hello! (warmly)
whilst 
Another term for "while". In the UK "while" and "whilst" are used interchangeably, whereas in the US "whilst" is often seen as old-fashioned or pretentious.
whinge 
(informal) complain, whine, especially repeated complaining about minor things (e.g. "Stop whingeing" meaning "stop complaining"); cognate with whine, originated in Scottish and Northern English in the 12th century. Hence whinger (derogatory), someone who complains a lot.[66]
whip-round 
an impromptu collection of money.[67] (Uk and US: pass the hat round)[68]
white coffee 
coffee with milk or cream.
white pudding 
oat and fat sausage often eaten at breakfast, common in Ireland and Scotland
wide boy 
see spiv, above
windscreen 
(US: windshield)
wing commander 
an Air Force officer rank (US: lieutenant-colonel)
wing mirrors 
the external mirrors on a vehicle – though no longer normally attached to the 'wings' (US: fenders) but to the doors (US: sideview mirrors, side mirrors)
winkle 
(slang) childish term for a penis (US: winkie)
witter 
(informal) to continue to talk trivially about a subject long after the audience's interest has gone (assuming there was any interest in the first place). "He wittered on."
wobbler, wobbly (to have or to throw)
(informal) tantrum
write-off
(slang) when cost of repair of a damaged asset (usually a car) is not feasible or exceeds its insurance value (US:total loss, totalled) Is also used formally in the context of accounting.
wog 
(offensive, term of abuse) member of an ethnic minority. The word can refer to a wide variety of non-Europeans, including Arabs, sub-Saharans (and those of sub-Saharan descent), Iranians, and Turks.

Y[edit]

Y-fronts
men's briefs with an inverted-Y-shaped frontal flap; originally a trademark (US: jockey shorts/briefs; US slang: tighty whities)
yob, yobbo 
lout, young troublemaker (origin: boy spelt backwards)[25]
yomp 
to move on foot across rough terrain carrying heavy amounts of equipment and supplies without mechanised support (Royal Marines slang popularised by the Falklands war, army equivalent is to tab). Also used informally for any walk across rough ground.
yonks 
a long time, ages. "I've not seen her for yonks." (colloquial)

Z[edit]

zed 
last letter of the alphabet, pronounced "zee" in United States
zebra crossing 
(US: crosswalk)
Zimmer frame 
walker

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  14. ^ blague
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  20. ^ "And just what the fuck is a counterpane? I wondered in a small, unhappy voice..." Bill Bryson Notes from a Small Island" HarperCollins publishers 1995 ibsn 0-552-99600-9
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  68. ^ "Always Free Online". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 

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