Talk:List of British words not widely used in the United States/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Requested Move Redux

Welcome back! As my last proposal went down the drain, I got one more for you. I am herewith providing you a list of possible titles; pick your favorite one. (Ça va sans dire that the whole enchilada applies verbatim to the List of words mainly used in American English (link updated to List of American words not widely used in the United Kingdom because of proposed deletion of redirect page - TrevorD 19:22, 9 May 2006 (UTC)); for those who didn't follow the debate, see the green discussion below to figure out the reason for this move.)

1. List of distinctive British terms

2. List of British words not used or not well established in the U.S.

3. List of words regarded as distinctive Briticisms in the U.S.

4. List of words distinctively British with respect to American English

5. List of British words not used or not widely used in the U.S.
(link updated to List of British words not widely used in the United States because of proposed deletion of redirect page - TrevorD 19:22, 9 May 2006 (UTC))

6. Other (specify)

Capsule: this page should be made up of words that arose in Britain and (regardless of their use in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc.) fit in in the British vs. American scenario because Americans don't use them (e.g. petrol) or don't use them that much (e.g. queue) or regard them as distinctive "Briticisms" (e.g. one-off), but should exclude words that are now common in the U.S. (e.g. overbooking).

The List of words mainly used in American English (link updated to List of American words not widely used in the United Kingdom because of proposed deletion of redirect page - TrevorD 19:22, 9 May 2006 (UTC)) should be made up of words that arose in the U.S. and (regardless of their use in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) fit in in the British vs. American scenario because Britons don't use them (e.g. gasoline) or don't use them that much (e.g. flatware) or regard them as distinctive "Americanisms" (e.g. aside from) but should exclude words that are now common in the UK (e.g. downsizing -- mmh, bad example ;-( .

This ultimately is intended to really explain the differences between British and American---that is, what is and sounds British as opposed to what is and sounds American.

I'll add more options when they come to my mind... --JackLumber 20:47, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

I guess 5 sounds the best, but with alterations. I completely disagree with 3, and 1 has the problems discussed below. Number 2's title seems a bit tiresome and 4's too. Shouldn't the word be 'distinctly' anyway? I propose List of British words not widely used in the U.S. (link updated to List of American words not widely used in the United Kingdom because of proposed deletion of redirect page - TrevorD. -- Boothman 21:02, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
distinct = unmistakably apprehended; distinctive = characteristic, so it could be either of the two. I tend to be more verbose than needed when it comes to... language issues. Your proposal seems to be the best tradeoff to date. --JackLumber 21:31, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
I'll go with (6). <grin> My view would be that we can generalise the article titles to something (using Boothman's idea) like:
...and so on for Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Pacific Island states, Gibraltar, Malta, the Falklands, Nigeria, Ghana etc. etc.
I interpret 'not used' such that in general speech or writing, people would not use the terms listed, even though they may well understand it's meaning. For example many, if not most, British people would understand the American usage of 'trunk' to mean the storage compartment in the back of a saloon/sedan car, but would use the word 'boot' themselves for the same thing.
There are a couple of problems with this approach. Many Chinese are learning English, and depending upon which variant they are learning, it may well be that British English or American English or even both may well be more widely spoken outside the country of origin than within it! So, tongue in cheek, the first article would instead be:
and possibly the American entry would be:
Actually, maybe that's not such a bad idea. How about:
No doubt someone would argue that, say, New Zealand speaks British English, but while not rigidly accurate, I suspect the article titles would be 'good enough'.
Anyway, just a suggestion, and it's the wrong time of day for me to be thinking hard about this. I hope we can come up with a solution acceptable to our general audience/readership. WLD 01:04, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

Older move discussion

The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the debate was no consensus. —Nightstallion (?) Seen this already? 13:52, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

(Yet Another) Requested Move

Hi everybody. Believe it or not, I'm coming up with another move proposal---but this time I want that consensus be reached. This page was/is known by a whole bunch of different names, each of which is somewhat flawed:

  • List of British English words not used in American English. The original name. This was unsatisfactory in the sense that many words that are *characteristic* of British usage would have gotten lost (e.g., "car park," "rubbish," "queue," and others), and this would be undesirable if we are trying to effectively outline a thorough map of the differences between English dialects. But most of all, a word "used here" and "not used there" doesn't make much sense---nothing prevents us from using the words we want as we see fit. Languages (especially the English language!) are constantly evolving.
  • List of words mainly used in British English. This was the title I myself contrived to fix the problem I just explained. But, as Ben Arnold pointed out, it could mislead the reader into thinking that the constituent words might have little or no currency outside of Britain (as in Australia, New Zealand, etc.); I only thought about the British-American dichotomy, summarily including all non-North American English-speaking nations under the... Union Jack (even Oxford dictionaries do so, though).
  • List of words mainly used in Commonwealth English. This is Ben's current title; it has two major problems, namely (1) it breaks the British/American symmetry found throughout the category American and British English differences (whether you like it or not, BrE and AmE are the two major dialects of English) (2) it uses the phrase "Commonwealth English," a phrase that smells like original research and whose meaning is not completely clear or accurate---aside perhaps from spelling issues: American spelling vs. non-American (i.e., "Commonwealth" spelling), but even so there would be flaws. Additionally, the current title may even allow for words of Australian, New Zealand, etc., origin---and this would kind of stray from the "Brit. vs. Amer." point.

When all's said and done, I suggest that this page be renamed as List of distinctive British terms. The new proposed title is concise and direct; it does not automatically imply that the words are not used here or there, fits in perfectly in the "British/American differences" scenario, and can accommodate words also used in Australia, New Zealand, etc. but not words that are common only outside of the UK (Australian, etc. words have their own articles), and avoids not just the phrase "Commonwealth English" but also the phrase "British English" (not as ugly as "Commonwealth English," but still ugly, as all phrases of the form {Nation}{-ish, -an, ...} English). After all, most all of the so-called "Briticisms" are used in Australia, New Zealand, etc. also, and practically all the words that are characteristic of English as spoken outside of North America originated in Britain, so they are "distinctively British," as Britain greatly influences the culture, the speech, etc. of the countries that used to comprise the British Empire---arguably more than the U.S. could.

What I said above is, of course, to be applied to all the articles of the form List of words mainly used in {pick a nation} English. And of course, all "Briticisms" and "Americanisms" that are no longer "distinctive" (as, say, park and ride and gridlock) won't belong on these pages.

Pardon me for being lenghty... Please add support or oppose followed by your John Hancock... um, signature. JackLumber 21:36, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

  • Strongly Support - as long as pages are made with List of distinctive American terms, List of distinctive Australian terms etc. -- Boothman 12:02, 13 April 2006 (UTC).
  • Strongly oppose. The purpose of this page is to show difference between the two major dialects - if you remove every word that is shared between Australian and UK, then between Indian English and UK, then, etc. you will have a very short list which does not serve the purpose of showing which words are not used in American English, an entirely encyclopedic topic which someone will soon start again. There may be room in Wikipedia for lists of uniquely Australian, Canadian or UK words; however, in practice these are often covered in the national dialects articles themselves. Please come up with a valid reason ;-) -- Jack
I think you misunderstood, this article "can accommodate words also used in Australia, New Zealand, etc", as long as they are actively used in Britain. The British part is the unique bit here, basically all words which are used in Britain, no matter if they are used elsewhere. I trust the same would be employed for the Australian, American versions etc. -- Boothman 18:16, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

"What I said above is, of course, to be applied to all the articles of the form List of words mainly used in {pick a nation} English. And of course, all "Briticisms" and "Americanisms" that are no longer "distinctive" (as, say, park and ride and gridlock) won't belong on these pages." and Boothman's comment that we would need a List of distinctive American terms, hardly seem to show the the pages would serve the same purpose, merely, under different titles. Perhaps in the first quote, you when that the words are shared between British and American, and not between British and {pick a nation}? Rmhermen 20:06, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

Hermen, you dreadfully misunderstood! My intro was lengthy and tedious, but I suspect you didn't read it. It's just a big mix-up! To be concise, the philosophy of the page (and of its American counterpart) won't change *at all*. Just a name issue. Obviously the List of words mainly used in American English (link updated to List of American words not widely used in the United Kingdom because of proposed deletion of redirect page - TrevorD 19:22, 9 May 2006 (UTC)) will be renamed too; but "distinctively American" means "not much used in Britain" while "distinctively British" means "not much used in America," that is, mainly used in Britain and in the countries influenced by Britain and British English, i.e. Australia, New Zealand, etc. as I explained above. It's not just a language thing, it's a culture thing. Even Oxford dictionaries flag, say, petrol as "Brit." or "BrE," assuming that Australians, etc. speak some kind of "British" or "British-derived" English (as opposed to American English). Put it another way, British and American are the two major, influential dialects; a common American (resp. British) word can be considered "distinctively American (resp. British)" as long as it doesn't have much currency in Britain (resp. the U.S.). Most all words coined in Britain are bound to go down under, as Britain is the primary reference point for all English-speaking nations outside of North America. Likewise, Canadians know and use the vast majority of so-called "Americanisms," but words like parking lot or mass transit are "distinctive" American, regardless of their use in Canada---precisely because they are not used in Britain, or just little. Words like push-up or even movie are used pretty freely in Australia, much more than in Britain---that's why they can be considered "distinctively American": British English sees them as Americanisms. After all, the name of the game is documenting British vs. American differences. On the flipside, Austral (Australia + New Zealand) and Canadian words have ostensibly less chances of success outside of their respective nations. If an Australian word makes its way into British English and becomes widespread in Britain, then that word is no longer distinctively Australian. But words like bikkie, servo, barbie are all the way distinctively Australian! The word eaves trough is not "distinctively Canadian" to me, as it's the standard word in my own idiolect. (for those of you who don't know, that means "gutter" or "rainspout.") But garburetor sure is (it makes me laugh every time...) So? --JackLumber 20:16, 13 April 2006 (UTC) Hermen, if you can come up with a better title that would retain the British/American symmetry and leave out the word "Commonwealth," well, help me out, whatcha wadin' for! Do me a favor and change your mind! We can also use the adjective "distinctive" only for British and American words in the sense I just explained, and, to avoid possible ambiguity, name other dialect pages just Australian words, Canadian words, New Zealand words, etc.---in other words, the adjective "distinctive" would apply only to the British/American dichotomy.
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


Hi everybody, this page should be arranged like its cousins List of words mainly used in American English (link updated to List of American words not widely used in the United Kingdom because of proposed deletion of redirect page - TrevorD 19:22, 9 May 2006 (UTC)) and List of words having different meanings in British and American English/rewrite. Namely, it is necessary that

  • definitions be in British English using British spelling
  • American equivalents be appropriately distinguished, e.g. petrol (US: gasoline, gas)

It's up to British people to accomplish this mission. Directives are posted, contributions are appreciated.


7/18/04 - Is "ta" really slang for "thanks"? From my time on the other side of the Pond, I was under the impression that "ta" was kind of an upper-crust way of saying "goodbye," although I noticed later that the word would sometimes be used jokingly over here to mean "thanks."

Any thoughts on this? Dablaze 22:07, Jul 18, 2004 (UTC)

As a Brit, I can tell you that "ta" is certainly slang for "thanks" and is still frequently heard (sometimes extended as "ta very much" or the joky "ta muchly"). The expression you're thinking of for "goodbye" is "ta-ta" (equal emphasis on both syllables), which is nowhere near so common. It's not just used by upper-crust people, though, and is probably more of a dialect term in certain areas, whereas "ta" for "thanks" is universal. -- Necrothesp 23:18, 18 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Ya know what? I was totally backwards. You are (of course) correct about British usage -- it's in America that "ta" is used as a sort of snooty "goodbye," I suppose by cutting the original "ta-ta" in half. I know Mr. Burns does it more than once in the Simpsons, but I've heard it in real life too, mostly (if not exclusively) by people being ironic or faux-snobby. -- Dablaze 21:40, Jul 20, 2004 (UTC)


Can someone verify the vulgarity of "fanny" in British English? -- Zoe

Yup. It is slang for vagina. (We always find it odd listening to the Amerian english usage. My favourite moment was in a clothes shop hearing a rather large woman in a strong very loud New York accent checking out a new skirt and innocently asking the girl with her "do you think my fanny would look big in that?" And watching probably 50 people in the large store, from the men's section to the household section to people coming down escalators in unison collapse in a fit of laughing. And the woman looking around at people laughing with tears running down their faces, asking the girl serving her (who was biting her lip to stop her laughing) "was it something I said?" The girl leaned over, whispered something, and the woman, in a Rachel from Friends-type voice, said, a whole octave lower, "Nooooo. They thought I was talking about . . . my vagina?" The moment she said that all 50 people, who had sort of recovered from the fits of laughter, were buckled up again, especially when loudly she said "they thought I was asking . . . IS MY VAGINA BIG IN THAT?. But to be fair to her, the woman immediately saw the funny side. The manager of the store gave her the skirt free, saying she had made his day, that he hadn't laughed as much in years and that he would laughing everytime he remembered it for the rest of his life. Oh. yes. Marks and Spencers. Dartford in Kent. 1989. I still remember it now! lol FearÉIREANN 04:20 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

"I have a banana in my fanny pack." Oh how we laughed. -- Steinsky 15:06, 24 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I have noticed that Zoe only asks for this sort of thing when her preferred default would reinforce something US-centred (see how the US-oriented let through the material I supplied for the Virgin Islands if and only if it suited their preconceptions, and denied vandalism despite previously being told that repetition of cuts without discussion would constitute vandalism and not mere disagreement - yet refused to see that that was as much driven by their own uninformed perspective as the reverse was by my informed recollections). She achieves US-oriented selective editing by imposing the requirement one way, even when the material itself demonstrates how to establish most of its own provenance through internal evidence (she and they wouldn't look).

So Zoe will want more than being told by someone with inside knowledge (she wouldn't stop vandalising even when I showed my own knowledge of the area, achieved through following the constitutional connections with the Danish Crown). For a current piece of evidence more solid than merely being there, try this, from this week's Spectator diary by Michael Vestey (at [1]):-

"...I was discussing with a friend this week the problem of remembering the Christian names of people one hasn’t seen for some time, and was reminded of a social gaffe I committed some years ago. Bumping into a former flatmate and his wife in a London theatre bar, I struggled to recall her name so that I could introduce her to my then wife. An association began to form in my mind and I heard myself saying, ‘And this is Fanny.’ The woman stared at me and said, ‘Pussy. He calls me Pussy.’ ‘Ah,’ I replied in confusion, ‘I knew it was something of the sort,’ which, of course, only compounded the offence."

I trust this is evidence solid enough for Zoe, considering that not only is there a link but also the hard copy magazine is available if she cares to find one. PML.

I have no clue what PML is trying to say here, rather than making another unwarranted slap at me that seems to be the bgeneral way of doing things around here lately. If those who are interested would care to review the changes PML made to the Virgin Islands article, they can see that PML attempted to include POV material and made no attempts to back it up with proof, but instead insisted that those of us who questioned it prove otherwise. Although why this is here, I can't fathom. -- Zoe

False, and provably so. (I was very carefully giving enough rope.)
It was not POV - it was factual. There is room for argument about its accuracy, but it is clearly a statement of fact whether or not the USA applied pressure on Denmark, and the sorts of pressure applied. POV would have been merely stating that the pressure was improper; I changed that to spell out the sort of pressure, leaving it to readers to apply their own sets of values. As for not backing it up - that was precisely what spelling it out was doing. All people had to do was look at the dates to see that one neutral power was acting on another while other world powers were distracted, and at the comparative history to see that full blown acquisition was beyond international norms (as well as being usual US practice around that time, e.g. Hawaii, Puerto Rico). Two out of three of the points challenged were patently true on the face of the material there, and the rest was open to being followed up - yet it was made out that I had to prove it (while not applying the same standard of proof to what it suited this mob to let through - which is selective).
I pointed that out. Rejecting that without equally being bound to show cause - that's selective. And saying that unilateral cutting is justified as mere disagreement, that's concealing vandalism and refusing to follow up. PML

I'm at a total loss too. Come on, folks, I don't remember there being a Gang Up On Zoe day in the calendar. Zoe is a decent hardworking editor here. --FearÉIREANN 04:25 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)

That doesn't justify either vandalism or selectively applied standards. Go and see what happened there. PML.

She can be a little bit overly americocentric just as I can be a little bit hibernocentric but she deserves to be treated with a lot more respect, given all that she does for wiki, than she has been getting lately. --FearÉIREANN 04:25 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Non sequitur. And it got up my nose to be told that announced and premeditated vandalism was no vandalism. PML.

We all need a bit of wikikarma (Jeez, did I just type that. I'm turning into the new Mav!)

Love the story of fanny/pussy. BTW does Pussy have the same sexual meaning in the US that it has in the UK and Ireland? In one James Bond, film there is a character called Pussy Galore. UK viewers got the sexual reference with the Pussy bit, but only Irish people got the full meaning. galore is an anglicised version of the Irish language go lore (maybe a different spelling, well it is 19 years since I studied Irish!). Anyway, go lore means in gaelic plenty of. So the name Pussy Galore translates as plenty of pussy, a highly risqué name to use in a 1960s mainstream film. I always presumed that they were only able to get away with it because pussy had a more innocent meaning (eg., cat) outside the UK and Ireland. Am I right or wrong? FearÉIREANN 04:25 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Pussy is probably the most common vulgar term for the vagina in the US. Second would be cunt, I guess. There's been commercials for some stupid-looking movie recently, and in it a guy's new mother-in-law tells him to call her Pussy (as a name) and he snickers. Passes for comedy in some quarters, I suppose. Tuf-Kat
"Pussy" (for vulva/vagina) is not considered vulgar in modern American slang usage. "Cunt", however, is extremely vulgar and demeaning. Mkweise 15:41, 24 Aug 2003 (UTC)
Tch, JTD. Galore is in common usage, else Fleming wouldn't have bothered with it - how would his double entendre been appreciated otherwise? And it's "go leor". I like to think of it as meaning "enough to go around". In this context anyway. It's only 6 years since I studied Irish.
So now the general way of doing things is to throw slaps at Zoe? Is that WikiS&M? Admit it Zoe, you just forgot the control word! Try "red" ;-) -- Jim Regan

What about "Octopussy"? Any double entendres there? -- Rickyrab

Just to add to the fanny/pussy discussion -- my brother-in-law, who has emigrated to Canada, tried to buy what we call a "bum bag" in the UK. The shoplady was shocked by his speaking the word "bum" out loud. Apparently in Canada the item is known as a "fanny pack". (!!?!) Is that also the usage in the US? Deb 22:33 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Sorry, I only just noticed it's already there - I was looking under F instead of B. Deb 22:35 18 Jun 2003 (UTC)

PML, I find your criticisms of Zoe unwarranted and incorrect.

To the best of my knowledge they are correct (and matters supporting my assertions have simply been edited out rather than making an attempt at rebuttal - even when the edited material was itself part of my own supporting material, like references to norms followed by other powers). As for warranted, see below. PML.
Cut her some slack. RK 14:56 19 Jun 2003 (UTC)
No. Bluntly, if she insists on taking the view that prima facie plausible stuff should be edited until her POV is satisfied and announces in advance that this is not vandalism, she is condoning vandalism. She cut my efforts no slack. She should be held to the same rigorous standards she drops others in - and if that causes her discomfort, that is incidentally a cause for amusement. The only reason for cutting her slack would be, if the pain she gets is gratuitous. It isn't, it's incidental. She deserves no more slack than she gives. I shall not go out of my way to seek her out, but as, when and if she leaves herself open I shall jump in with both feet. That's what has been happening recently; I was most careful to wait until she was already on the defensive, so nobody could suppose I created the occasion. PML.

And what's wrong with providing evidence to satisfy her view point? You managed to do it here, why not on the Virgin Island talk page? Granted, as Jtdirl pointed out to you, Zoe has an Americocentric view point, but what's stopping you from providing evidence of your claims? Surely, if it's as well known as you claim that the US pressured Denmark into the sale, you could provide at least one external link or book reference, instead of clutching at straws on this page. It can't be so inconceivable that an American could wish for confirmation that a word with an innocent meaning in the US could have a vulgar meaning elsewhere. In addition, in future maybe you should keep the old cliché in mind - "people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"—this whole exchange, and particularly the one of the Virgin Islands page, says as much about your biases as Zoe's, if not more. -- Jim Regan 01:48 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Crumpet/English Muffin

Split English muffin

I've added crumpet and suggested it's known in the US as an English muffin. Are they actually the same though? To us in the UK, a crumpet is a flat disc about 3 inches across and three-quarters of an inch deep. It's toasted and eaten with butter. It's made in such a way that one side is plain, but the other side (and the depth of the crumpet) has scores of holes or dimples, thus allowing the butter to be spread thickly. (A muffin used to be similar except that both surfaces were plain -- it was cut in half before toasting, making two flatter discs, to reveal the dimples. Nowadays though, a muffin is likely to be the US version -- a small cake with a peaked top.) Pauld 01:13 29 Jun 2003 (UTC)

It doesn't sound like it. In the US an "English Muffin" usually runs about 6 inches across and more than an inch deep, evenly baked, and they don't soak up the butter from the outside, they have to be cut in half for that. Wish I had a picture of one. - Hephaestos 01:16 29 Jun 2003 (UTC) (Well OK reading that over they're smaller than that, but still a long way from 3×¾. Maybe it's because I'm hungry. *grin* - Hephaestos

Hmm, does sound more like the original muffin than a crumpet. I've changed to the page to say "similar to". Pauld 10:41 30 Jun 2003 (UTC)

In Canada we have both crumpets and English muffins. They are way not the same. Trontonian
I'm only a year too late, but I just added a photo here (and at English muffin). Elf | Talk 02:33, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)
A while after the original discussion took place... A muffin is more like bread whilst a crumpet has holes. Then there's the pikelet which is similar to the crumpet but very thin, not to be mistaken with an american pancake or the french pancake. Captain scarlet 09:18, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Eaves trough

Eaves trough? On the net as a regional US usage (also eavestrough). I've not heard it in the UK. Andy G 19:23 7 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Me neither. In Surrey we call them gutters. Pauld 23:22 7 Jul 2003 (UTC)
I think it turns out to be a Canadianism. Sorry about that. Rmhermen 23:34 7 Jul 2003 (UTC)


Are the words pension or pensioner used in America, dont they call a pension Social Security? G-Man 23:18, 3 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Social security is the mandatory, government-(mis)managed retirement program. We use the word "pension" to refer to voluntary retirement plans managed by private insurance companies. Mkweise 15:33, 24 Aug 2003 (UTC)
2 years later, I disagree; "pension" is used for the government-run Social Security program as well. "I'm looking forward to my gigantic Social Security pension." But the term "pensioner" is not used. Tempshill 21:57, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
Definitely not a real-time conversation! Anyways, the term "pensioner" IS used, and means "one who receives a pension." It is NOT used, however, to refer to a senior citizen, retired person, or retiree, as in the only-British phrase "old age pensioner."--JackLumber 14:22, 28 February 2006 (UTC)


Canola is not a synonym of oilseed rape, but rather a patented variety of rapeseed. I put rapeseed as the synonym becuase that's the term I've heard all my life in Canada. It's probably the same as the American term. Trontonian


Lush means drunkard in America, so I removed that meaning. Trontonian

I seriously doubt that anything more than a very small percentage of people here in the U.S. would know what a lush was, and everyone else that does know knows it's a Britishism. Lush here only has the meaning of say, lush foliage on a plant.
The American Heritage Dictionary gives drunkard as a meaning of lush without designating it as British. Another possibility is that it's used in some regions of the States and not others. Trontonian 21:02, 17 Sep 2003 (UTC)
I am accustomed to reading the word lush in American novels, with the meaning drunkard. I have never heard there is anything peculiarly British about that meaning ?

I have never heard "lush" used to describe a drunkard. I have heard people use the word lush to describe foliage. Greenmountainboy 03:33, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I've always thought this was an Americanism (I'm British). I just looked it up in the OED, and sure enough, the meaning drunkard is given expressly as American usage of lush, not British. So I'm right ;-p Graham 04:22, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I'm suspecting regional variations, perhaps; I've lived in several parts of the U.S. and I'm quite familiar with both meanings. Elf | Talk 02:35, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)


I should like to point one that a scone is certainly not a general term for a biscuit. I've no idea whether scones exist in america, but they are more of a cross between a cake and a shortbread, eaten halved and spread with butter and often cream and jam. If americans really do call these "biscuits", then it should be noted that biscuits have a quite different meaning in Britain. I also note that if americans call waistcoats "vests", then "vest" ought to be added to the list, although I've no idea what americans call them! 80.255 23:09, 15 Oct 2003 (UTC)

You seem to misunderstand the list. Scone is not a general term for biscuit. Biscuit is the American term for what Britons call scones. Actually we have fancy biscuits called scones but we know that they are just fancy biscuits. I have no idea what a Briton would call a vest. Can you explain it? Rmhermen 23:25, Oct 15, 2003 (UTC)
The page already says that a Briton would call a US vest a waistcoat. I've added that an American would call a British vest an undershirt. Andy G 23:44, 15 Oct 2003 (UTC)
We have separate lists for that nowadays. It was already on the other list. I forgot to check it. Rmhermen 23:48, Oct 15, 2003 (UTC)

I all ways thought a biscuit in the US is savoury eaten with gravy. A scone in the UK is sweet. Dainamo 15:07, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I don't know what a "savoury" is, sorry. Biscuits somewhat resemble scones but, as you say, not usually sweet. Mostly flour, liquid, fat. Yes, some people eat them with gravy. I like mine slathered with butter. Buttermilk biscuits are my favorite. :-) Elf | Talk 04:59, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)


What are blinders in america? I call blinkers turn signals and don't know any other usage. (im in america) Greenmountainboy 03:26, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Blinders are what you put on horses' heads to get them to go straight. Is that what Briton's call blinkers? Rmhermen 06:05, Dec 11, 2003 (UTC)
Yes, blinkers are part of the rein-set for a horse, worn about the eyes to prevent over-stimulation of the horse, and so are especially useful in crowd situations.
James F. (talk) 22:25, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Bugger off

Just added "buggery" and "bugger off" as vulgar. RDevz 23:02, 5 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Changed definition of "bugger off" to "go away" because I've never heard "fuck off" used in that context. "Fuck off" is fairly rare in American English and usually seems to mean "do nothing productive," as in "I should go back to my desk and work, but I think I'm going to fuck off at the water cooler a bit longer." --Darksasami 11:11, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)
While I won't claim to know how vulgar "bugger off" is, I must say that Darksasami is wrong in claiming that fuck off is rare in American English and that I don't think I have ever heard it used in the manner he claims. Rmhermen 14:32, Mar 31, 2005 (UTC)
That probably wasn't the best example. Here's a thorough treatise, of sorts, on the term. It's used in much the same way as "fuckin' around." I think we're running into the difficulty that America is just too darn big and too many people in it talk.
Now that I think about it, when used angrily and in the imperative, "fuck off" does mean the same thing as "bugger off," in that it means "go away/leave me alone," but it doesn't hold up to all the situations that "bugger off" covers, like "to run away" ("They buggered off when they saw the policeman"), or just as a very informal "go" as in "bugger off and fetch us another pint, there's a good lad."
Here's my POV/OR mix: I've not heard "fuck off" in any context other than "go away":
  • "Where'd they go?" "They fucked off when they saw the cops."
  • "Fuck off!" (imperative; also "Fuck off and die!")
  • "I just won the lottery!" "Fuck off!" (incredulity)
Basically, each of these three instances of "fuck off" cand be replaced with "get out of here" (suitably conjugated, of course). 20 years in the CF, I've heard many variations on profanity. SigPig 15:30, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
On the other hand, too much of my British English education is from fiction and from watching Red Dwarf and Blackadder rather than from talking with British friends, so take anything I say with a grain of salt.
It could be worst, you could have been watching american films where englishmen systematically have a Cockney accent... Where would we be if that was indeed the case gov'nor, apple and pears and all that. Captain scarlet 09:45, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

WC & Loo

I would like to suggest the addition of "water closet" and "loo". -Tom


There are too many slang and vulgar expressions mixed up in the list (in contrast to List of American English words not used in British English). Perhaps we should have two lists on this page, one for normal usage and one for slang expressions. Mintguy (T) 09:22, 23 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Agree. A separate page for vulgar terms, i.e. List of British English words not used in American English (vulgar) would be good. Mr. Jones 13:54, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)


I always forget, which usage marks one as lower class, serviette or napkin? -- orthogonal 03:28, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I believe that using 'serviette' suggests that one is middle-class, whereas the lower- and upper- classes are supposed to be happy to use the much shorter and more apt 'napkin'. ICBW, however.
James F. (talk) 06:02, 30 Jun 2004 (UTC)
The lower classes are marked by their ignorance of the difference between two similarly named items. Or more usually, by not knowing that two terms actually refer to the same item. But always, the lower classes are marked by their slavish belief that one term is somehow more ruling class than another. An An 10:28, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Just got back from London and was mystified by signs saying "No busking". Later I found signs that talked about "licensed busking", so it's apparently not equivalent to "begging." Here at home again, my Merriam-Webster dictionary defines only a noun, "busker", as a British word for someone who entertains esp. by playing music in the street. So then is "busk" a verb meaning "to entertain by playing music in the street"? (although the signs were all in the Underground passageways, so that's not really "in the street"-- Elf | Talk 15:59, 20 Jul 2004 (UTC)

"Busking" is playing music or performing some other entertainment in a public place and soliciting monetary reward. But I doubt that anyone would say "I will set out to busk tonight". Busking has always been illegal on the Tube but Transport for London have finally realised that people like it if the busker is actually any good, so they've started licensing it. See Mintguy (T) 16:28, 20 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Actually on reflection you would say "I'm going to busk at the tube station tonight". Mintguy (T) 17:20, 20 Jul 2004 (UTC)
There are various "Busker" gatherings in the US, and anyone who's been in Boulder, CO in the last 25 years certainly knows what a busker is, as their downtown pedestrian mall is a prime hang out for them. It is a word that is more common in the UK, but is certainly known over here on this side of the pond as well.

Zebra Crossing

What on earth is a Zebra Crossing?

See Zebra crossing Mintguy (T)
It's what the Beatles are walking across in Image:AbbeyRoad.jpg. Maybe pedestrian crossings aren't so marked in America. —Stormie 04:49, Aug 12, 2004 (UTC)
Right, they're not striped but just bounded by two broad parallel lines. What really tickles my American fancy, as one drives out of the Heathrow parking lot, is the combined pedestrian crossing and speed bump, which a sign announces as "Humped Zebra". Might thre be an entry for this? Dandrake 07:26, Aug 12, 2004 (UTC)
Umm, whut? The zebra crossing is a series of stripes of white paint approximately 40cm wide each seperated by a similar distance, painted parallel to the road and perpendicular to the direction of travel of the pedestrians involved. I seriously doubt that there's ever been a zebra crossing sufficiently narrow that just two stripes were required (being just 2m wide)...
As for all the specialist terms to do with road design in the UK, including zebras, humped or otherwise, and 'tables' &c., I possibly could write an article, but I don't know that much. Road furniture and design terminology in the United Kingdom, anyone?
The amusement for Americans is that humping is slang for, um, what a mommy zebra and a daddy zebra do to make little zebras. Is that Brit also? (And, yes, it also means raised areas as in humps on a camel.) Elf | Talk 18:39, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Yes, humping has the same connotations in Britain. -- Necrothesp 12:49, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)
No the statement was that U.S. crosswalks do not have parallel lines in crosswalks, only two perpendicular ones. So they don't look like zebras. Rmhermen 14:21, Aug 12, 2004 (UTC)
Ah, right. *sighs* :-)
James F. (talk) 14:51, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)

U.S. crosswalks do not have parallel lines in crosswalks. That ain't necessarily so. Look at these "zebra-stripe crosswalks":
Picapica 22:36, 18 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Yeah. lots of crosswalks look a bit like Zebra crossings. The thing that defines a Zebra crossing in the UK is, believe it or not, that it has two striped poles with orange flashing lights at the kerbsides: Belisha beacons. --Tony Sidaway|Talk 03:33, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

Skirting board

What's the most common US term for skirting board? Is it baseboard?

Well, what is a skirting board? Now a skirting table is where you separate out poor quality wool from a fleece. Rmhermen 18:20, Aug 12, 2004 (UTC)
It's the piece of wood at the bottom of a wall, next to the carpet Bluap
Yes, baseboard. Elf | Talk 18:42, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)


Is Mobile (i.e. mobile phone) used in the US, or is is solely referred to as a cellphone? Bluap 18:31, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Sometimes mobile phone is used, but predominantly it's cellphone. I don't think I've heard it as just mobile. Elf | Talk 19:00, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Actually, I think "cell" is more commmonly used.
"Mobile" is what the voice activation on my phone wants for a category name ("Home", "Work", "Mobile", and "Other") so I use mobile or cellphone; I've never called it "a cell".
London sign for context

Weak subway

Another mystery sign from my brief stay in London: "Weak subway." What on earth--? Is that a pedestrian underpass that's about to collapse on me? Elf | Talk 18:42, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Probably. Never seen that one before. -- Necrothesp 19:57, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)
It's not an expression I've ever heard before. Mintguy (T) 13:45, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
It didn't look like a warning sign, though. Here's the sign--does context help? Elf | Talk 17:10, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
It is a warning sign, but it is definitely very uncommon. The 17T indicates a weight limit and you usually see this on bridges. This is obviously a case of a road tunnel with a weight restriction for some reason. "Weak Subway" is a new one on me. Putting "Weak Subway" into Google produces 10 hits, none of them from the UK. where precisely did you see this? Mintguy (T) 18:17, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Where precisely is a challenging question. My first evening there I was sooooo tired that I just sat on the top of one of those double-decker tour buses and sort of sat in a drooling trance as they drove me around the better part of tourist-infested London. But that sign woke me long enough to snap a photo. So somewhere in there. :-/ For all I know, we detoured (excuse me, diversioned?) into an alternate time-space continuum or maybe Canberra before taking me back to my hotel. Elf | Talk 22:08, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Hm... , who knows then. BTW The British do not have a liking for making verbs out of nouns themselves, they tend to arrive from across the pond, so diversioned is wrong, but detoured is correct. Diverted is also correct though. Mintguy (T) 23:51, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Hmm. Looking at the picture, I would say what it actually means is that the pedestrian subway beneath the road is weak, which is the reason for the 17 ton axle limit on the road above. It's just to explain the reason to drivers (we're an indepedently minded people - we like to know the reasons for things), not to warn pedestrians that it might collapse. It is common on bridges. -- Necrothesp 01:24, 14 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Turn-ups on trousers (cuffs on pants)

I just noticed on the trousers page that it talks of 'cuffs'. In Britain we would never refer to 'cuffs' on trousers, they would always be called 'turn-ups'. 'Cuffs' is only used in reference to shirt sleeves. In the context of trousers, are these always called 'cuffs' in the US? Mintguy (T) 13:45, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)

In my experience, yes. (I always have to say that because the U.S. is a big place...) I've never heard the phrase "turn-up". Elf | Talk 16:51, 13 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Same here. -- 07:24, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

Chap and chum

Chap and chum were just listed as being British words not used in Am. Eng--not true; chum is pretty common in U.S., and chap is certainly used, although usually in a more facetious way. Elf | Talk 20:14, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Cup cake

18 August 2004 - I'm having problems here with the statement that Fairy Cakes are equal to Cup Cakes. A cup cake, to my understanding, is a small cake with a hard frosting on top. A fairy cake is a small cake where the top is cut off, a soft icing applied to the top of the base, and the remaining top sliced in two and stuck into the icing at an upwards angle to look like wings. To my mind they are not the same thing at all. Any thoughts? Ben W Bell 10:02, Aug 18, 2004

That's a butterfly cake, which is made by doing what you just said to a fairy cake. Here is a picture of a fairy cake. [2] Mintguy (T) 11:52, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Looks like Britain and the US do have different definitions of cupcake then (since the butterfly cake article says that a butterfly cake is made out of a cupcake). British cupcakes traditionally have a flat top entirely covered in quite thick fondant icing. -- Necrothesp 12:59, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)
AFAIK what we call a cupcake in Britain, or rather I should say, what the supermarkets call a cupcake, is basically a chocolate fairy cake which the top portion sliced off to make it flat and then filled up to the brim of the container with chocolate icing(frosting). There may be perhaps some slight coffee/chocolate/caramel variations on the theme, but I don't think I've seen a simple plain flavoured cake presented in this manner. Bufferfly cakes are made with what we call fairy cakes, otherwise how would you make the wings? Mintguy (T) 13:26, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Now see cupcake. Elf | Talk 20:52, 18 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I (a Briton) use Ben W Bell's terminology on the definition of cup cake (which in my experience is something bought from a supermarket rather than homemade), and my (British) wife would agree with his suggestion that a fairy cake is equivalent to a butterfly cake. However, to me a fairy cake (distinct from a butterfly cake) fits the currently stated definition of cup cake (except that in my experience butter-cream or water icing is usually on top rather than "frosting"). I'm not sure this helps much other than to illustrate that the use of the terminology in practice varies within British English, let alone American English. How about the following:
fairy cake 
cupcake, usually with butter-cream or water icing rather than frosting; or butterfly cake StephenDawson 09:55, 19 August 2005 (UTC)
Well I don't think that would be helpful because I, an American have no idea what water icing is nor why butter cream would be distinguished from frosting. Here anything you cover a cake with can be called either frosting or icing interchangeably. Rmhermen 13:41, August 19, 2005 (UTC)


While working in the US, when using the word "twice" on a frequent basis (as the work involved giving intructions to trainees) I was often, although not all the time met, with a blank expression, more often than not followed be the question "do you mean two times?". I never found out the answer, but is "twice" generally not used (although understood) in North America or is it a regional/level of education thing? The expression "two times" would be considered a rather awkward way of saying "twice" in the UK and Ireland, but paradoxically "thrice" would be considered rather archaic or excentric in place of "three times". Dainamo 15:23, 21 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Twice is very common. Same in U.S. as you describe for "two times" and "thrice". I couldn't imagine an American not understanding "twice"--unless it's said with an accent they didn't understand. ;-) (I'd have been greatly confused by Brits telling me to go down the "Mell" if I hadn't already looked at a map to see the word "Mall" and wasn't familiar with "Pell Mell" (Pall Mall) cigarettes.) Elf | Talk 05:04, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Well probably my accent then! Dainamo 21:49, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Er.. Pall Mall is generally pronounced Pal Mal. The American pronunciation of Maul for Mall is sometiems used in reference to what we would have formerly exclusively, and now still more frequently call a "shopping centre". I think the word with the pronuciation the causes the most problem is "water". American's generally pronounce it as "wadder" whilst in Britain is it generally pronounced as "wort ter". In an accent that drops the T (like Cockney) it is pronounced as "waur 'ah" or "war 'er" There was a famous ad for a beer once which some Brits will remember. "The water in Majorca..." ... I know it's online somewhere. I'll go find it. ... found it ... ad in Real player format Mintguy (T) 10:26, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I've recently upgraded my system and apparently don't have all the plug-ins I need to view/hear stuff like this. Maybe someday I'll figure it out. Thanks for the thought. Elf | Talk 16:59, 26 Aug 2004 (UTC)
My guess would be that your problem is the usage of the word. Something like "twice ten" would be met with confusion regardless of the accent; common usage in American English would be something like "He asked the question twice." Ben 20:23, 2005 Feb 25 (UTC)
No difference from British English there. -- Necrothesp 14:50, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Oh yes, there is. I can't imagine twice ten being "met with confusion" anywhere in the UK. "Twice ten is twenty, twice twenty is forty...". No probs. -- Picapica 21:21, 22 March 2006 (UTC)


I'd be interested to know why 'vulgar' was changed to 'crass' in the footnote. 'Vulgar' seems much more appropriate to me. -- Necrothesp 16:46, 29 Aug 2004 (UTC)


I'm wondering, do the Americans use the term Wardrobe for the place where they hang their shirts, jackets, trousers etc? Ben W Bell 07:11, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)

We usually call it a closet, unless it's a freestanding piece of furniture, in which case it is called an armoire, or sometimes a wardrobe. According to Merriam-Webster, wardrobe can be used to refer to a closet used to store clothes, but I would characterize that as a marked usage.Closet or clothes closet would be the usual term. The word wardrobe, however, is more often used to refer conceptually to the collection of clothing one owns, as in "I need to update my wardrobe with some new pants and a sweater". This is just my experience, which consists mostly of Californian and Northeastern usage. YMMV in other parts of the country. Certainly the word "wardrobe" is not viewed primarily as a Britishism, like "trousers" would be. Nohat 07:32, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Ditto what Nohat said (including CA/northeast coverage :-) ). I've never heard wardrobe used for the small room or nook that we call a closet; only for furniture (as in [[The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

]]) or for one's collection of clothing. On the other hand, although trousers isn't commonly used, I wouldn't have considered it a Britishism. Elf | Talk 15:57, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)


I'm not sure what the correct American English is for this, but the definition currently given definitely isn't it. David Johnson 15:03, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

And, BTW, Americans *do* use "duvet" as well as "comforter", but it's more of a hoity-toity term that you'd find in linen shops or in the phrase "duvet cover" (which apparently sell well whereas "comforter cover" you don't see much, perhaps because they sound too un-hoity-toity). Elf | Talk 03:31, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I believe "eiderdown" is the British word.


I saw an alternative dervation of this (Penguin or Oxford Dictionary of Slang, I think), from Bristol Dockers, rhyming with knockers, another British slang word for breasts. IR - 18/11/04


Whoever added flats as a term for apartment unknown in America has clearly never been to San Francisco, where it's the standard term for a specifc type of apartment, namely one level of two/three-story building, usually an old Victorian. --Calton 16:24, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

And I think it's more commonly used in U.S. cities than in suburban apartment buildings, but it's definitely used in the U.S. Elf | Talk 03:31, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Having lived in NYC, Los Angeles and Chicago, I've never heard it used -once- (in my short 35 years) until I moved to the UK. On top of that, my past experience was in real estate/apartment renting, so I would have thought to hear it at least once. And no, I'm not the person who added it. ;-)
According to the M-W unabridged dictionary, the term flat is used in the Northern U.S. for a type of apartment lacking amenities.


I see that "jammy" is listed as a British term here, but "jammies" isn't listed in any of these pages. In the U.S., it's child-speak for "pajamas" (as in, "time to put on your jammies!"). Does British English use the same thing? Elf | Talk 03:31, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Yup, I've heard 'jammies' used as a diminutive of pyjamas - also 'jim-jams'. As well as the meaning of 'jammy' as a synonym for lucky in the UK, we have bicuits (cookies) called 'Jammy Dodgers' which I think is both a brand name and a generic term. Don't eat 'em, myself. Andy F 03:43, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

English usage vs. Trinidadian ("correct") usage

  • Hassock and Poof are used synonymously where I come from for what Americans seem to call an Ottoman. Which one (or both?) is the normal English term for the piece of furniture you put your foot on?
  • Drawing room, sitting room - American "living room". Again, do English use drawing room and sitting room synonymously?
  • Pavement for what Americans call Sidewalk? (Heard Indians use "footpath")
  • Road for what Americana call Pavement

The following words are also missing - am I right to assume they are still in use?

Lift (En) for Elevator (Am) Boot (En) for Trunk (Am) Bonnet (En) for Hood (of a car) (Am) Wellingtons (En) for Rubber Boots (Am) Mackintosh (En) for Rain coat (Am)

I don't want to add things that are no longer used, or where usage differs from what I know - I'm just an ex-colonial, never set foot outside Heathrow. Guettarda 23:40, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Oops, sorry - didn't realise there was a separate list for words w/ different meanings...though shouldn't "flat" go there rather than here? Guettarda 23:45, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I'm confused. If Americans call a pouffe an ottoman, what do they call an ottoman? And you must be wrong, you wouldn't put your foot on a hassock - that's something you kneel on in church. Also, a footpath doesn't have to be paved (many are across open countryside), but a pavement, which is always paved, is usually only found by a road. Admittedly a footpath may be a pavement, but a pavement need not be a footpath. :)) jguk 00:03, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
In Trinidad hassock and pouffe (thanks for correcting my spelling) are the same. According to an Indian I spoke to, "footpath" was the word for the thing at the side of the road (American "sidewalk") - was curious about that usage - but of course, "pavement" and "footpath" need not be synonymous (wasn't thinking about the word "pave" in pavement).
But as for ottoman - that's what my wife calls it what my aunts would call a pouffe and my mother a hassock (which, I assumed was the usage she picked up in England (where she learned English) though you never know, it might just be a Canadianism...I have a confused history, which is why I don't use my dialects consistently - the thing at the back of the car is the "trunk", while the thing is front is the "bonnet".
By the way, what do you mean by ottoman (to me it's a Turk up to WWI). Guettarda 00:16, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Ottoman and hassock are both used in AE for the thing you put your feet on. Or a footstool. The thing you kneel on in church is a kneeler or a prayer bench. What is a ottoman in BE? It is not on either list. A footpath usually means a trail, sometimes an unpaved garden path in AE. Rmhermen 00:18, Dec 14, 2004 (UTC)

What does this mean?

to cop off with: to successfully engage the company of someone, usually of the opposite sex, for a period of time.

It's possible to interpret this sentence literally, but it seems awfully roundabout. In fact, it smells like a euphemism. If it's a euphemism, it ought to be recast so as to be more direct. There's no need for prissiness here. If it's not a euphemism, but simply meant to be interpreted literally, then it's a little too verbose and abstract and, well, euphemism-y (not to be confused with euphemistic).

It's not clear to me exactly what is meant by "engage the company of". I surmise it just means "chat with". I'm also confused about "someone, usually of the opposite sex". Is this just a generic idiom for chatting or is there some element of mild flirting involved? If my assumptions are correct, then I suggest "to chat with" instead. Would someone familiar with the idiom care to clarify? Nohat 08:29, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

It simply means "to pick up", in a sexual sense - to succeed in attracting a sexual partner. Interesting phrasing, I agree. -- Necrothesp 11:22, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Well, I was trying to define "cop off with" in terms that weren't slang themselves, and trying to be mindful that a significant number of readers will not have English as a first language, or be at all familiar with British culture. I wasn't trying to be prissy. Oh well. "Copping off", often has a sexual connotation, but by no means always (at least in the usages I have heard). If it is reported that "A has copped off with B", then the only inference that can be drawn is that A & B are enjoying each other's company to the exclusion of others. What they are doing with their time in each other's company is a different matter - it could simply be sharing a milk-shake in McDonalds, or courting, dating, kissing, making out, shagging, shopping or any other mutually enjoyable occupation. Anyway, I tend towards thinking in the abstract and looking for the underlying structures/meaning - probably too often for other people's taste. Feel free to rewrite in less abstract and euphemistic-sounding terms. In that vein, Necrothesp seems quite good at tidying up my writing, for which I am grateful. -- WLD 00:08, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
True, it doesn't always mean to run off to have sex with. More, to have an element of sexual attraction. Glad you're not offended by me tidying things up. -- Necrothesp 14:11, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Gaffer tape/Duct tape

I'm not familiar with British usage on this one, but Gaffer tape is alive and well in America in the theatrical trade. Duct tape is a similar, but slightly different product; gaffer's is usually black and duct has a somewhat stronger adhesive. Unless anyone has evidence that no-one uses the term duct tape in the UK, this one should be deleted. JHCC 20:59, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I'm sorry, what? "Evidence"?
"Duct tape" is not a term used, nor understood, in the UK. Honest.
If the explanation needs cleaning up, then please do so, but removing it would be unproductive.
James F. (talk) 08:16, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Well, since "gaffer tape" clearly is used in both the US and the UK, then it doesn't really belong on a page called "List of British English words not used in American English". I would suggest, instead that a new entry on List of American English words not used in British English on "duct tape" created instead. I will remove this entry to that page. Nohat 08:44, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Umm, yes, of course, mis-read which page this one was.
Forgive me, it's 09:03 and I haven't slept yet.
James F. (talk) 09:03, 31 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yeah. The only problem here is that "duct tape" is in fact well understood in the UK. I've been using the term for 20+ years, as have most of the people that I know who I'd use the term to. Rightly or wrongly, it's effectively synonymous with Gaffer tape, even if in fact they are two slightly different products. To confound matters further, a brand of gaffer tape called "Duck Tape" is also sold in the UK. Graham 06:09, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I second this. "Duct tape" is definitely known and used in the UK. In my experience, "duct tape", "duck tape" and "gaffer tape" are all used interchangeably for the same general product. -- Necrothesp 22:09, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Furthermore, while "gaffer tape" may be familiar to theatrical people in the US, it isn't in general use here, and I, for one, had never encountered the term before. Mwanner 13:18, May 21, 2005 (UTC)

I think of both these terms as being US terms. They are not terms that are in my (British) vocabulary.

Removal of words - 2nd opinion requested on some candidates

I removed a few words used in AE (brook, chump...). I think "via" and "piss poor" should be removed as well, but would like a second opinion. Rich Berry 20:31, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

My nominations for removal: piss off, whatsit, dodgy. I'm just one person, but I'm American, I know what all these mean, and don't think of them as British expressions at all. Possibly Lager too.

"Dodgy" sounds very British to me; "piss off" is a coin flip; and "whatsit" sounds quite at home in America. Tempshill 22:04, 22 September 2005 (UTC)


I've removed this comment from the maths entry:

(The British put the "s" at the end of "maths" because "mathematics" itself is plural. But this pattern is found among US English speakers when referring to the academic field of statistics as "stats".)

because it appears to be an apologia for the British form. Advocacy for the greater "logicality" of dialectical forms is not really NPOV. Besides, one might argue in turn that you can have one stat, but you can't have one math. Nohat 05:26, 17 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Do the British use plural verb forms with "mathematics" and "statistics"? In the US, it's "mathematics is..." If the British usage is "Maths are...", I'd be inclined to put the removed text back in. Note that in the U.S., even though we say "stats", it's still "stats is...", when referring to the field of study, though it's "stats are..." if referring to an individual set of data ("Johnson's stats are better than Smith's"). -- Mwanner 13:06, May 21, 2005 (UTC)
It's an idiomatic use, nothing more. Neither "math" nor "maths" is intrinsically more logical.
"Economics" and "mathematics" (and "statistics" as a field of study) are singular everywhere; treating them as plural nouns is a common mistake. Statistics is plural when referring to collections of numbers; each of which, after all, is a statistic. ProhibitOnions 17:31, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

Format change

I changed this list to a definition list format because it's a list of words with their definitions. This allows search engines like Google to figure out the semantic relation between the words and their definitions and provide more valuable content when searching for meanings of words. If you don't like the way the definition lists appear, then I would lobby to change the CSS formatting for definition lists. The markup, however, is semantically optimal. It's a list of definitions, so the appropriate markup is a definition list. It's not tabular data, so a table is inappropriate. Nohat 00:41, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

PS I agree that the default appearance for definition lists is kind of ugly, so I am trying to make as many of them as possible, so people become aware of their ugliness and perhaps someone with a flair for the CSS can fix it. Nohat 09:00, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for the reasoning and the update. Making things easy for the machines and difficult for us humans seems a little perverse. My POV is that a table is appropriate, so would like to see it reverted back. This is not to say I disagree with your comments re: CSS formatting - I don't, but I'm not in agreement that deliberate uglification is the 'right' way forward. Could deliberate uglification be construed by some as vandalism? WLD 09:08, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Well, definition lists are easier for humans to edit than the more complicated table formatting, and it has always been policy that, when choosing between nicer to look at or easier to edit, easier to edit wins. I was actually planning to put together a collection of pages containing definition lists and try to get some momentum on improving their appearance over the next few days. I know that it can be done, and I think the list on this page makes an excellent argument for improvement. I think we can agree that ideally, definition lists will be a) easy to edit, b) usable by search engines for proper semantic interpretation and c) attractive to look at. It seems like a much smaller hill to climb to go from a+b to a+b+c than to go from c to a+b+c. Nohat 09:57, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Bits and Pieces

Hello all,

I'm new to this and I noticed a few things I didn't want to add without checking as you may have gone through all of this before and didn't wish to upset the balance of nature.

A few British English terms that confused me on first hearing them are:

Prat ("he's a right prat") Dole ("I'm on the dole") Pissed ("Roger is so pissed he can't roger anything!") Park (as in car park, i.e. parking lot) Tuck in ("tuck in you lot! It's not going to taste any better cold")

I'm sure some of our British or English friends can come up with better definitions for those than I can, if you decide they're worth adding.

Also I thought "pukka" was an Indian (Hindi) word so maybe it should be labeled as slang for the modified British definition?

"Pikey" may be a bit out of place here, but it's good for an American to know NOT to use that word in the company of strangers even if his British hosts bandy it about.

I'm assuming that this section is completely staying away from Cockney rhyming slang. Is that correct? It could go on forever, I suppose, if it was included.

You might also like to look at List of words having different meanings in British and American English for words like "pissed". If they appear there then they shouldn't appear here. -- Necrothesp 14:53, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Groovy! Thanks! Glad I asked first. AKAJack

double #

"double #"

Um... I'm not sure what is meant by this entry. The British say "double pound sign" when they want to indicate two pound signs? Well, USians might do that as well, on whatever strange occasions there might be for needing to mentioning them. Is there more to this? Just wondering. func(talk) 06:50, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

Er...sorry. I read down a bit further and discovered that it is a "hash" in British English, not a "pound" sign. Actually, it's sometimes called "hash" in US English as well, (though often only among computer programers). func(talk) 06:56, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

I think this entry refers to the habit of British (and Australian speakers, by the way) of saying double numbers not as "nine nine", but as "double nine". So where an American would more likely say the telephone number "553 2399" as "Five five three, two three, nine nine" a British person would say it as "Double-five three, two three, double-nine." Use of the # symbol is as a wildcard. MinorEdit 00:07, July 21, 2005 (UTC)
A good example, albeit slightly off-topic, would be "treble" and "triple". I.e., "4 treble 9", is the same as saying, "four nine nine nine" or "4 triple 9".

Match Game

  • (the) match (football)
  • (the) game (American football)

Nope - football *never* means American football - it always means soccer.

  • pants
  • lame

A slang meaning. The difference is that pants in the UK means underpants, not trousers.

I think a lot of these are regionalisms - and would be unknown in some places in the UK.


The British idea of a "fell" as a rocky outcropping has been preserved apocryphally in the Boston, Massachusetts area--Middlesex Fells Reservation is a large parkland directly north of the city and the terrain conforms to the British definition. The Fellsway is a well-traveled trunk road, Route 28, that splits in half just before the reservation. The western half, Fellsway West carries Route 28 through the reservation parallel to I-93, while Fellsway East turns into the Lynn Fells Parkway, leading to the Lynn Fells Reservation.

Balls Up

I'm rather suspicious of the equine etymology given. It sounds a lot like a Victorian bowdlerisation, along the lines of the classic brass monkey story. Can anyone give any evidence either way? PeteVerdon 15:09, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

Major Additions

I'm in the process of adding loads more words. Things like "bummer" have to go in, because like "fanny" it's harmless in the US, but could raise a snigger in the UK. I want to include spelling differences - like Aluminium as well. Whilst I recognise there may be some debate over an entry, I would appreciate it if word removals are proposed and discussed as per Wiki-quette, rather than simply deleted anonymously. Some of my additions have already been deleted or modified, it's not clear by whom and why. I am a native English speaker from the north of England, and have discussed my entries with American friends, or found them from what seem like credible sources. Promsan 2005:09:24 12:31 GMT

Please note that for words that are used with different senses in both countries, there is a separate list, List of words having different meanings in British and American English, which is being transferred onto List of words having different meanings in British and American English/rewrite. The list here is ONLY for words which are not used at all in American English. Thanks. Also note that no deletions are anonymous - they are listed in the history and usually (and should be) explained. But not all deletions have to be discussed here first - that is not policy. -- Necrothesp 11:34, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
I think it might be more useful to merge the two, whilst retaining a way of categorising and distinguishing them; i.e. with four columns, or colour coding. I'd like to see spelling differences on the same list; also categorised. The reason being that it's tiresome to have to switch between pages for each category of difference. I think there may be value in seeing the full breadth and depth of differences displayed in one page. How do I propose a merger?

Promsan 2005:09:24 12:49 GMT

I think it's been proposed before and I suspect you'll find little support for it. -- Necrothesp 11:53, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
Why? What's the objection? Who by? What I'm suggesting is a large table. Currently, you have some words on the "same spelling, different meanings" page that make up some on the "British only" page; this may become more apparent as the lists are expanded. Perhaps (if the objectors are unwilling to compromise) we could have an additional page listing all differences so that everybody's happy? My motivation is to try and get closer to some kind of quantification of "how different" the dialects are. This goes beyond simply listing different spellings and vocab, but includes usage, semantics and grammar differences as well as phrases (like "What's up?" for example). I know there's a page called "the difference between American and British English", but it's inadequate in my view.
Incidentally - why has someone removed "off" as a verb, and left "go" as a noun? Surely both should get the same treatment? What's the rule and who decides it? I put this page in my watchlist, but it wasn't there - how can I see whose changing what, so I can talk to them about it?
BTW - if any words I enter here are considered to be in the wrong place, it's unintentional. ...who'd have thought Americans knew what "lager" meant!

Promsan 2005:09:25 12:09 GMT

To see who's made a change, click on the "history" tab at the top of the page. The watchlist only lists the most recent change. -- Necrothesp 16:27, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
I've already pointed out that there's a separate list for words used in both languages, yet you continue to add them here. Please stop doing it. They'll only be deleted, but it's extremely tiresome to continually have to do it. You may not agree with having separate tables, but until there is consensus please stop forcing your view on the rest of us. Thanks. -- Necrothesp 16:41, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
Hang on, are you telling me that "cronky" is used in America? Why has that been removed? Why has "quid" and "queue" gone? - I can understand "queue" going, though I'm not sure I agree with it (it falls into the category of words which are rarely used in America). Why is "go" still in?!
I will add my words in this discussion page, as it advises us in Wikipedia procedures, ok? It's probably a good idea, as I can't remember every word I added; but I seriously doubt all of your "corrections". I question the very way a word is defined as being used or not used as I discuss on the other page. I'm not trying have an edit war or "force my view on the rest of 'us'" - I think that's a slightly provocative thing to infer (please view my userpage to avoid any misunderstanding) - I don't want to fall out with anyone, I want to help develop and expand this area of Wikipedia.
I haven't created any tables (your grammar is ambiguous to me), and I don't see any evidence of a concensus on the issue - in fact there appear to more people against the status quo than for - please can you provide evidence of a consensus? Who is this "us" of whom you speak? I hope this isn't one of those pages where a troll zealously guards the content. What's the precise objection, and who specifically makes/supports it? It takes one to know one 09:10, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
"Quid" has been removed because it's used in both countries and is on the appropriate list (it's used for a chunk of tobacco in the USA). You've been asked not to do something and been told the reason and have had your edits removed by more than one person, yet you continue to do it. I'm sorry, but I think that falls into the category of "forcing your view on the rest of us". I'm also sorry that you find my grammar ambiguous, but having reread it I don't think it's ambiguous in the slightest - I never suggested you had created any tables. I'm also interested that you seem to be accusing me of being a "troll". I'm merely trying to keep words in the correct articles, as defined clearly in those articles and their titles. This article is for British English words not used in American English, as it quite clearly states. If you want to add such words then you're very, very welcome, but if you add words that are used in American English or are used in both dialects then they will be removed, which seems fair enough to me. Lots of people work on this page, and we endeavour to keep it free of words that fall into other categories, otherwise it would be fairly pointless maintaining the page at all. -- Necrothesp 20:31, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Fair enough, I will not interfere. I will create a different article with a different purpose, as it seems there is sufficient demand/concensus for it from other Users. Articles have been removed mainly by two of you, and not always with (satisfactory) explanation. I do not actually regard you as the problem/troll (though I'm not sure if you have been helpful enough in explaining some of your edits), I actually agree with much of your edits and views (though you still haven't explained about "cronky" and "go"); though there remain a lot of inconsistencies. There are others who appear to be behaving undesirably, and forcing their views on others and not adhering to the spirit of NPOV. I want to also note, that none of you do not appear to be a linguistics graduates, the notion of what a word is is flawed in my view - this is supported by articles in Wikipedia as detailed on Homonyms. Finally, the reason why some comments are not clear is because I am disabled, and have difficulties with text; that does not, of course, mean I'm stupid, or that my comments are invalid in any way.It takes one to know one 10:39, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Well, it wasn't me who removed "cronky". You're right that "go" should probably be removed. The fact that we're not linguistics graduates is irrelevant - this is a page about usage, not linguistic technicalities. -- Necrothesp 12:29, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
Hope my edits do not create problems. I added after a few words that I thought were now well known in (and used by) Americans, even though in some cases clearly British in origin. I think "queue" is one. A few others I was surprised were in this list, but did not want to move or delete as others may think my American is too different from theirs? - Marshman 01:42, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Candy Floss?

Do british people really call it candy floss?

here in Australia we call it fairy floss (im talking about the pink string sugar sticks).

Yes, we do indeed call it "candy floss". Always have done. I've never heard the term "fairy floss". -- Necrothesp 12:24, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Two words

My UK English is 30 years out of date but is "flash" still used to refer to vehicles and people? Also is anybody here familiar with the word "nunkey" of (nunky). My teenaged niece who lives just outside of Driffield in Yorkshire uses it but my brother who lives in Nottingham had not heard of it. CambridgeBayWeather 11:30, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

"Flash" = overly showy or ostentatious, yes (e.g. "you flash git"). Never heard "nunkey" - probably a dialect word. -- Necrothesp 12:43, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
Should flash then be included here or would it be better in List of words having different meanings in British and American English? CambridgeBayWeather 13:16, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
Flash yes, nunkey? Never heard that one and I've lived in Yorkshire for 33 years. What's the context? Orbtastic

I am a flasher = I expose myself to the public. Brit.Eng. It made some signposts in the US quite amusing: "Stop on ped x-ing when flashing." SJLoewenthal 19:40, 4 October 2005 (GMT)

Flasher does have that meaning in American English as well. It is just not the only meaning. Rmhermen 22:09, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

Agony aunt/agony column

Perhaps a transatlantic translation of these ters could be added. Agony might qualify for the used differently article but the combination terms are unknown in AE. Rmhermen 17:21, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Paddy wagons

Does anyone in the UK call the police vehicles used to cart off people who've been arrested paddy wagons, or am I dealing in anachronisms?

  • It's a little old fashioned, but it's a slang term still used in the UK. exolon 03:23, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Car Park

In what part of the US is the word "car park" versus "parking lot" used? I'm not saying it isn't, it's a big country. To me, car park is still overwhelmingly British. Steggall 03:18, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

I would agree. After 30 years of living in the US all over the place, I have heard "Parking lot" or "Parking garage" quite often, but never 'car-park'. If it is used, it would stand to reason that such usage is quite remote.

To mangle

I found it surprising to see 'to mangle' in the list as 'name-mangling' (in C++) is a widely used term in computer programming. I checked with my workmate from upstate New York and he confirmed that to mangle is definitely a term he understands and might even use. I think 'to mangle' doesn't belong in this list. Thomas Munro 13:40, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Correct, only "mangle" (noun) belongs here. Mirror Vax 13:56, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
And maybe not. In the U.S. a mangle was a type of machine for wringing/ironing clothes, but the last time I saw one was in the 1950s. As the machine went out of homes, the word went out of use. - Marshman 01:42, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Needs trimming

This list has accumulated a large number of words that should be in the "used differently" list. I am unsure what should be done about words that are nouns in one dialect but only verbs in the other and vice-versa. I would tend to say keep them here. Just looking through G I found:

come on!
a shilling, 1/20th of a pound sterling, also five pence, and the coins of these denominations
the hood of a car
the trunk of a car
person with red hair (sometimes pronounced with hard g's and rhyming with "ringer"); also, any type of carbonated soft drink (primarily used in Scotland)
(often shortened to gov or guv) boss or sir (often used in addressing one's boss or employer especially in a hierarchical workplace, or to a customer by service personnel, e.g., a taxi driver addressing the passenger)

All of which are used with different meanings in American English. Rmhermen 15:50, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes, all are common American words; just the definition. But that might be true for a lot of words on this list which probably have similar or same American/British meanings, but special British slang meanings (as most of the ones you list). - Marshman 01:49, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
Which means that they should not be here - we have a separate list for those words. Rmhermen 14:27, 10 February 2006 (UTC)


I've made a few changes, mostly adding to pre-existing words with the occasional added word. Some words I classify as a bit dodgy on this list, but for argument's sake I've decided to keep them. Boothman 12:02, 25 February 2006 (UTC)


Has anyone else Heard of tis word? i certainly haven't. tommylommykins 16:18, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, it's a well known (in the UK at least). In fact, I can't really think of a synonym that I use regularly in place of klaxon. -- Boothman 19:05, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Pretty much on a daily basis. It's such a great word to use to describe someone with no hope what so ever to regain an acceptable status in society. Captain scarlet 19:02, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
What? I thought a klaxon was an airhorn-type-thing. So in your place klaxon means "loser"? -- Boothman 20:23, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Not really in my area, I don't live in Hull where this expression originates from. Captain scarlet 20:39, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, its original meaning, of course, is "a type of motor horn" (probably from the name of the company that made them). More to the point, in regard to the entry here, however, is: What on earth is the proffered "definition" and idiot in regerance to Devo internet chav intended to mean? -- Picapica 10:59, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
This is why this article exists. It presents words that are either used differently or do not exist in other country speaking variations of english. I have taken on board your concerns and refined the definition which hopefully describe the word more accurately. Captain scarlet 12:56, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. I wasn't really looking for lessons in grandmotherly ovisuction in the matter of the article's raison d'être, Captain, but thanks all the same for unscrambling the "cat walked across the keyboard" definition. -- Picapica 13:08, 23 March 2006 (UTC)


I moved this because 90% of the words are common across all Commonwealth English dialects. We can note regional peculiarities next to the individual terms. The alternative to moving the page was to eliminate most of the list. Ben Arnold 03:44, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Remember that sometime ago someone's attempt at moving "List of AmE words not used in BrE" to "List of AmE words not used in Commonwealth English" was causing the doom of that page, with all of its content getting vanquished... This move actually brings about a couple of issues: 1) it breaks the British/American symmetry found throughout the main article & related pages 2) it uses the phrase "Commonwealth English," a phrase I'm striving to shuck off, as it has zero or little support by authoritative publications and is probably original research. Anyway, please don't rename the List of words having different meanings in British and American English—I'm btw planning on expanding it to cover British, Austral, Canadian, and U.S. usage.--JackLumber 19:33, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

The crux of the problem is that U.S. English is different from English spoken in most of the rest of the world. People from the U.S. often see it as a difference between the U.S. and the U.K. but most of those differences are also common to Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, probably most of Western Europe, probably India, South Africa, etc. The list goes on.

If we were being honest we'd divide our lists into Words largely confined to the United States and Words rarely used in the United States.

I don't like the term Commonwealth English because it implies the usage is limited to the Commonwealth. I'd expect most English speakers in Ireland and mainland Europe are likely to use the so-called Commonwealth idiom.

Ben Arnold 00:29, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

By the way, I'm happy to help with New Zealand idiom, but I fear much of it will be identical to the U.K. stuff. Which for me begs the question why we try to label it with a particular country rather than just admit that it's roughly a case of U.S. on one hand and the rest of the English-speaking world on the other.

I'll certainly admit that there are terms in the U.K. that are not in use in, say, New Zealand. But of the terms listed at least 70% would be in the "common anywhere outside the U.S." category.

Ben Arnold 00:38, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Well Ben, first off, mainland Europeans don't speak English, any, either as an official or a second language. They are taught English in school of course (and therefore are speakers of English as a foreign language, as virtually the whole rest of the world :-), and are more familiar with British usage, Britain being part of the European Union. (Watch out—most continental Europeans don't speak English, or do just a little.) But European learners of English sure are aware of American terminology (any EFL student should know both petrol and gasoline, holiday and vacation, etc., regardless of his/her geographic location), as much as they are not aware of many of the colloquialisms herein listed (or even American colloquialisms, for that matter.) [I can tell, I have contacts among Europeans and EFL students.] Second off, we should factor in the role of Canada. Canadian vocabulary features many so-called British words, but it's in fact much closer to U.S. lexicon—Oxford dictionaries oftenest regard Americanisms with collective N.Amer. or NAmE tags (rather than US). This being said, Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand (and, to a lesser extent, South Africa and India—remember that English is actually a second language to South Africans and Indians) undoubtedly share a main body of words that are uncommon or nonexistent in North America. Oftentimes it is said that these countries speak (dialects of) "British English," but this is a misnomer, as you know better than I do—as you live in New Zealand, how can you possibly speak British English? The phrase "Commonwealth English" is even more of a misnomer, for the reasons we already explained. And yet the other option would be to split the whole enchilada into "US English" vs. "Non-US English," that is, the chestnut US vs. them ;-) (it would probably violate WP:NPOV). "International English" for "Commonwealth English" would be another unlikely term—linguists uses it in a different sense altogether, it would imply perhaps that North Americans don't fit in in an international layout, as they probably come from Mars or Jupiter... "Intercontinental English" would be better, as it would comprise Europe (British English), Oceania (Austral = (Australian + New Zealand) English), Central America (Caribbean English), yada yada yada. In sum, the only thing that disrupts is the lack of proper terminology. We can get along with our current "stopgap," though—it can't really faze me. The List of words having different meanings in British and American English is laid out in three columns—British meanings, common meanings, and American meanings. It would take just a little fine-tuning to change those columns to British + Austral meanings, common meanings, North American meanings. (Not right now though, I plan on this as a medium-/long-term project.) And yet the terminology thing would be clumsy again. Pam Peters' "Cambridge Guide to English Usage" never speaks of "Commonwealth English" (in spite of the fact that this book is actually the only reference cited by the Commonwealth English article...), but rather of British vs. American, often taking into account Australia and Canada (and, yes, occasionally, New Zealand...;-) — JackLumber 12:47, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Hi JackLumber. Having lived accross Europe I can assure you that the curriculum for most European countries does 'not include American (indeed, use here is american and english as opposed to american english and british english). Some english teachers do indeed have an american accent, having studied accross the pond, but their teaching is in line with national guidelines and teach english (that's english english). I can also assure you that most europeans are unaware of the differences between english and american having never heard american (films are dubbed in local language). I do not understand why and how User:Ben Arnold got away with moving a page relating specifically to the particularities of English. If users wish to include differences in say whichever other variation of english, eg: List of words mainly used in Australian English, List of words mainly used in Indian English. There wasn't an actual debate either. The page should be moved to where it was and a concensus reached before moving a popular page. As for use of the word Commonwealth, it is mainly confined to the... Commonwealth. Most countries just use the word 'English' (understand English English): This is all wrong ! there is now a need for a page stricly for List of words mainly used in British English (link updated to List of British words not widely used in the United States because of proposed redirect deletion TrevorD 23:14, 9 May 2006 (UTC)). Captain scarlet 13:32, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
As for how he moved it, see WP:Bold - you should have seen this place in the early days before most of the anarchists left. However, if you don't agree now is a good time for debate. There is a difficulty in making a simple page and making a complete listing. I note that this page has already changed from List of words used only in British English to list of words used mainly... Rmhermen 13:51, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, Captain, all countries use the word "English." Including the U S of A. The language I speak is "English," not "American English." It becomes "American English" when it comes to compare it to other varieties of English. The same goes for Britain, Australia, etc. I indeed said that European learners of English are more familiar with British usage, but a learner who really claims to speak English cannot get freaked out if s/he is faced with "gasoline," "railroad car," "diaper," "vacation." Conversely, a foreign customer who's learning English "the American way" must nonetheless know "petrol," "railway carriage," "nappy," "holiday." As far as this article, if I were large and in charge, I would have retained the original title as explained above, but I would also add usage notes for those words that are not used in Australia/New Zealand/etc. or used in Canada. It was yours truly the one who introduced mainly. Lists of words not used here or there don't make much sense, we can't compartmentalize the language. Indeed, the guys and the chaps were oftener than not a-wrangling and a-changing and a-changing back and a-reverting back and forth ("It's not used!" "Yes it is!" "No it's not!"). Any way you look at it, this is all over now. Compare List of words mainly used in American English (link updated to List of American words not widely used in the United Kingdom because of proposed deletion of redirect page - TrevorD 19:22, 9 May 2006 (UTC)), List of words mainly used in Australian English. List of words mainly used in Canadian English coming soon. --JackLumber 14:06, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
In response to both users Rmhermen and JackLumber, glad to see some replies and although I'm showing my strong opposition to this move (and although I have been editing this article for a short period of time) I have not seen the tag, I usually at least comment in such situations. I thought the original scope of this article was to list words used in the UK ( understand English as I'm afraid it is commonly used this side of the world) and the US. That is why each time possible I have include in brackets the american wording. If blah blah blah this article is to remain named Commonwealth crappety whatever, I shall then open or reopen depending on the history and article on the differences between English and American (I do not wish to offend anyone with this wording I am merely applying common use) (that's common use not in the US) since the scope of the original article has been bastardised not by edition but renaming. By renaming articles in such ways it almost takes the whole fun of it away, I mean think of the pleasure someone has when adding a word such as wanker (slang and offencive), this is what it's all about. Captain scarlet 15:02, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Well as I said if you want to move it back then you have to get rid of the majority of the words. I have just informally gone through A to F to see which ones sound pretty everyday New Zealand English:

autocue, abseil, agony aunt, argy-bargy, answerphone, anti-clockwise, arse, to be arsed, arse over elbow, balls-up, banger, barrister, bedsit, berk, black pudding, bloke, boffin, bog, the, bog roll or bogroll, bog standard, bollocks*, brolly, building society, bum bag, to burgle, to busk, candy floss, caravan park, car park, cashpoint, cat's eye, central heating boiler, chimney pots, chip shop, chuffed, clanger, clingfilm, cobblers, cock-up, comfort break, compere, cotton bud, courgette, crikey, crisps, current account, the dog's bollocks, dodgems, dodgy, dole, dosh, draughts, drawing pin, dual carriageway, dustbin, engaged tone, fairy lights, fancy, feck*, fixture, fizzy drink, fortnight, forty winks, fuckwit, funfair

Some of the terms I haven't listed are probably everyday in demographic groups other than my own. My point is that to have a list of "words mainly used in British English" you have to exclude at least the words I've listed above.

Those who would like to move back might want to consider whether they want such a limited list — or whether there's another way around the problem.

Ben Arnold 00:24, 23 March 2006 (UTC)

That's not what I meant. Actually I didn't even figure this botch. By renaming the page as List of words mainly used in British English (link updated to List of British words not widely used in the United States because of proposed redirect deletion TrevorD 23:14, 9 May 2006 (UTC)) I implicitly assumed that Australia, New Zealand, etc. use some kind of a "variety" of British English; that is, the adjective "British" can refer here to the "British Commonwealth" rather than "Britain." Indeed, the Webster's definition of British goes as follows: ...2 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of Great Britain or its inhabitants b : of, relating to, or characteristic of the British Commonwealth c : of, relating to, or characteristic of England. To put it another way, what a couple Wikipedians call Commonwealth English is more often than not collectively referred to as British English. Second off, all of the words herein listed are "British English words" in the sense that they 1) are of British origin, and 2) are characteristic of the way Britishers speak (as opposed to, say, Americans) and therefore are "mainly used in British English." A list of words whose usage is exclusively confined to Britain would be a List of words mainly used in the United Kingdom. Additionally, we currently have two lists of Briticisms, the distinction between them being blurred; we could use one of them for "normal" words and the other for vulgarisms, slang, and the like. — JackLumber 12:54, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Ah, therein lies your problem. You're using a U.S. dictionary to define the word British. I've checked the Cambridge Learner's Dictionary Online and it defines British as: relating to Great Britain or the United Kingdom. No reference to the Commonwealth. Note also that the term British Commonwealth is a U.S. term. The Commonwealth is not British. The British Empire was British, but the Commonwealth is specifically non-British. It's offensive to many in Commonwealth countries to call it British. The American Heritage Dictionary ( gives a similar definition of British to Webster's, but is at least sensitive enough to use the name Commonwealth of Nations. Ben Arnold 22:52, 23 March 2006 (UTC)
Speaking of nationalities, your argument is flawless. But speaking of languages, you can cut me some slack can't you? My preference for "British English" is supported by the fact that all dictionaries label words like those in this page as Brit (OED New Edition) or BrE (Oxford Advanced Learner's). And, "British Commonwealth" ain't an American invention. Quote c. In full British Commonwealth (of Nations), the association of Great Britain and certain self-governing nations which were formerly dominions or colonies, together with all her dependencies and theirs, mostly owing allegiance to the British sovereign; = British Empire unquote. "commonwealth," Oxford English Dictionary.--JackLumber 13:17, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Wait, I got it. What about List of distinctive British terms or something like that? Concise, direct, does not automatically imply that the words are not used here or there, fits in perfectly in the "British/American differences" project, can accommodate words also used in Australia, New Zealand, etc. but not words that are common only outside of the UK, and avoids not just the phrase "Commonwealth English" but also the phrase "British English." So?--JackLumber 18:20, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

What about a comparative list of English terms? Done in columns, alphabetically by nation: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc etc. I mean, I'm looking at this list, and the first word I've seen that sees wide use in Canada is "barrister". Everything before it seems British (with the poss exception of "arse", and I've only encountered that in the Atlantic provinces). SigPig 15:43, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

Hi SigPig! ...Hmmm, that would get complicated. Someone proposed a thing like that before (UK-US heterologues A-Z), and the outcome was just, as you see, an unsanitary butchery. This page was created as a spinoff of American and British English differences—so we used to have 1) a page for "British" words, 2) a page for "American" words, 3) a page for words with different meanings in UK and U.S. And yet "barrister" doesn't have the same meaning everywhere—as you know, a Canadian lawyer is actually a barrister and solicitor, the two professions being one; and in the U.S. "barrister" is sometimes used in a pejorative, non-technical way. If we want to figure in differences between, or among, all major dialects, i.e. American, Australian, British, and Canadian (in alphabetical order!), given that Canadian lexicon is similar to American and Australian is akin to British we could assume that the words on the "British" page are commmon in Australia and uncommon in Canada except where noted and that the words on the "American" page are common in Canada and uncommon in Australia except where noted, and adjust the gigantic List of words having different meanings in British and American English the way I suggested here some time ago. Factor in the List of words mainly used in Australian English and the List of words mainly used in Canadian English (the latter of which was created by yours truly), and the scenario is complete. Btw I apologize in advance for neglecting the Canadian English page, but I presently am kind of tangled in this issue—quite an undertaking...--JackLumber 20:22, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Dinlow (listed as 'dinlo') is derived from Romani (AngloRomani), and does NOT come from P*rtsmouth. Please amend. This was confirmed to me during an e-mail dialogue I had with Britain's only Professor of Romani(Gypsy) studies in the mid-1990's. RAYMI

Flappy-paddle gearbox

Does that really belong here? As far as I know, it was coined within the past couple years by Jeremy Clarkson, and in that sense it's actually become pretty popular in the US, at least on the internet and in print, thanks to pirated episodes of Top Gear.

Some of the epithets on this list (like fuckwit and spaz/spastic) are pretty common in the States. Likewise pud also appears in American English, with a much more offensive connotation (referring to semen). Queue is also used in American English... while "(stand in) line" is used instead in those day-to-day situations, "queue" is still used to describe the concept of a chronologically-ordered list in more abstract terms (such as when describing one's list of assigned tasks at work, or in computer programming). AKADriver 18:37, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

Well, the article indeed cries out for cleanup, as the big fat tag I posted a couple months ago suggests... "Queue" is in fact a word "mainly used in British English" in everyday speech (especially in idioms such as "jump the queue," which is uniquely British), but maybe could use a relocation to the List of words having different meanings in British and American English. Yes, "pud" has a different meaning altogether in the U.S., but I would regard it as nonstandard slang and hence not (yet, the language evolves...) worth mentioning. But I guess it would be pretty safe to remove "spaz" as you suggest. And yes, many terms that appear here are questionable indeed. Would you help me with the cleanup? --JackLumber 20:10, 13 April 2006 (UTC) (But this is nothing if compared to the mess this page used to be---way back, this list included even words like "elbow grease" or "google it"...)

Sticky-backed plastic

I'm a Brtion. Sellotape and sticky-backed plastic are similar but different substances. Sticky-backed plastic (always reminiscent of Blue Peter) is a large sheet of thin, soft, coloured plastic that's sticky on one side. Sellotape is a small roll of (on the most part) see-through, thin plastic used for sticking paper together, among many other uses. Different substances altogether - someone needs to change it. --Celestianpower háblame 21:34, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

That would be akin to what I know as "contact paper." Yes, a more accurate definition and a better explaination are called for. Hey Cel, while your adit, check out discussions No. 1 & 2. Best, JackLumber 21:50, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Discussions 1 & 2? --Celestianpower háblame 22:04, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, those at the top of the page about move proposals. Meanwhile I tried to fix that sticky thing. --JackLumber 22:10, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Driver's/Driving licence

Following the discussion in Talk:List_of_words_having_different_meanings_in_British_and_American_English#Driver.27s_licence.2Flicense I was proposing to add "driving licence" to this list of British/Commonwealth English. Then I looked at the article Driver's license! According to that article, the UK & part of the Commonwealth uses the British term driving licence, whereas other parts of the Commonwealth use the American term driver's license but with British spelling! In view of the discussion in the section #Moved above and the desire to include Commonwealth terms as well as British terms, I was uncertain how to enter these to avoid confusion and give a full picture. Please see if what I've done is clear and acceptable. I've also made a corresponding entry in the list of "mainly used in American English". TrevorD 10:58, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

OK, I finetuned your entry... while renaming the page. That was one of the problems with the "Commonwealth" title---if we were to factor in usage from all over the Commonwealth we would wind up in an unsanitary mess. And after all, the Category is "American and British English differences," not "English differences around the world." Let's face the facts---British & American are the two major varieties, and Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc. all have their own articles with words peculiar to each dialects. JackLumber 11:59, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. I'm happy with the changes you've made. Personally, I prefer the "British" title to the "Commonwealth" one (but I am British, so maybe biased!). I completely agree with you that "British & American are the two major varieties", with the others being primarily one or the other, but with mixtures, variations, and their own peculiarities and 'unique' words.

Does at least the intro part of American and British English differences now need altering? The bullet points still have "American" and "Commonwealth" as the main 'types'. TrevorD 15:05, 24 April 2006 (UTC)

The main article intro could stand some remodeling---the Commonwealth thing aside, it's a little confusing; see all those recent changes to the "Liberia" parentheses... Btw, once upon a time the intro actually foregrounded "American English" and "British English"; incidentally, the user who prioritized "Commonwealth English" was later blocked indefinitely.--JackLumber 19:34, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Mail / Post

I've just added:

  • "pillar box" and "pillar-box red" to this list of British words; and
  • "mailbox" to the list of different US & UK meanings.


  • letter box
  • post box
  • postman

(commonly) used in the US (or is it always "mailbox", "mailman")? Should they be added to either list? TrevorD 10:44, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Letter box is the "Britishest" of the 3. But I guess it's pretty safe to add them, as they help characterize English as spoken in Britain. And btw, the term "mail carrier" or "letter carrier" are now preferred (you know, non-sexist language...)--JackLumber 19:34, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Come now - no-one uses that. It's postman and postwoman universally. --Celestianpower háblame 21:03, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Celestianpower, are you talking about UK or US? No-one in the UK would say "mail carrier", but would anyone in the US say "postman" or "postwoman"? TrevorD 22:09, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
I thought it was clear I was talking about American usage. "Postman" is used sometimes in the U.S., but it has much more currency outside of the U.S., as Celestianpower points out. (Assuming that "universally" means "outside America" to Celestianpower. Hey Cel, looks like we Yanks come from another, maybe parallel, universe to you ;-) --JackLumber 12:15, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes Jack. It was clear to me that you were talking about the US. That's why I addressed my comment to Celestianpower: I read his comment "universally" to include America. Anyway, as you'll have seen, I have added the listed terms. TrevorD 12:28, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Sorry, since you mentioned that letter box being the "Britishest", I thought the whole post was about UK. And universally meant "in my experience in the UK". Anyway, from my experience (in the UK), we use postbox (for the big red box that people put letters in to send to other people), letter box (for where the postman puts letters for you - you know, in your front door) and postman/postwoman (the letter delivery people) exclusively here. Hope that helps! --Celestianpower háblame 12:30, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
No prob whatever! But letterbox could probably use an entry on the List of different meanings, as the motion picture-related meaning is current in both dialects.--JackLumber 13:06, 26 April 2006 (UTC)