A look at some words that can cause confusion between Americans and the British.
U.S to U.K words.
CHIPS, in the U.S. this refers to potato chips, but chips in the U.K. are what Americans call fries. The British delicacy of fish and chips refers to a battered fish, normally Cod, with what Americans would describe as something similar to steak fries.
HOOD, as in the hood on a vehicle. The British call the vehicle hood the bonnet.
TRUNK, as in the trunk on a vehicle. The British call the trunk the boot.
PISSED, A pissed American is a very annoyed one but in the U.K. if you are pissed, you are falling down drunk.
RESTROOM, unknown in the U.K. If you need the restroom when in Britain, you’d better ask for the toilets if you are desparate.
ELEVATOR, the British don’t have elevators, they have lifts.
CANDY, Brits don’t eat candy, they eat sweets.
GAS, British vehicles don’t run on gas, they run on petrol which is why they have petrol stations and not gas stations.
STORE, the British generally make their purchases at a shop but they understand “store”.
PANTS, pants are trousers in the U.K.
JUMPER, British men wear jumpers, no, they are not wearing women’s clothing, they are wearing what Americans call a sweater.
TIRE, a tire is still a tire in the U.K. but it the British spelling is tyre.
FAG, this is not a derogatory term for a gay person in the U.K., it is slang for a cigarette.
TRACTOR-TRAILER, the British call them articulated lorries.
FREEWAY, The British call them motorways.
APARTMENT, an apartment in the U.K. is called a flat.
Americans have a fascination with the British word WANKER. This is a very derogatory expression in the U.K. It refers to a specific act but it is generally used to describe an unpleasant or stupid person.
U.K. Slang words.
There are many regional differences in the use of slang in the U.K. These are mainly from South East England and London.
Crisps = the British name for potato chips
Spuds = potatoes
Whistle = A Cockney rhyming slang term derived from “whistle and flute” which means a men’s suit.
Apples and Pears = Cockney rhyming slang for stairs.
Rub-a-Dub-Dub = pub
Merchant Banker = rhyming slang for wanker, you could also hear “ships anchor”, “Ricky and Bianca” etc. I personally like “merchant banker” because that term and “wanker” seem to go so well together.
Telly = TV
Dicky Dirt = shirt, (more rhyming slang).
Pigs Ear = beer
Bloke = roughly equivalent to guy or dude when referring to a particular man. Bloke is not used in the U.K. as a direct greeting to someone. “Hey dude” or “hey man” is ok, “hey bloke” is totally wrong and a Brit would think it was amusing.
Tomato = it’s a tomato in both countries, just pronounced differently, more like tomayto in U.S. and tomarto in U.K. The British know what you are talking about if you say tomayto, but try saying tomarto in the U.S.A. and you will get the big “huh?”.
I am Bilingual, I can speak British and American.