Ten words that have different meanings in the UK and U.S
George Bernard Shaw famously quoted, ‘England and America are two countries separated by the same language’. Although they share the English language, there are various differences in spelling, grammar and meaning between the two countries. Breaching the business gap between the UK and U.S can be beneficial, but knowing the colloquialisms of language on either side of the Atlantic Ocean can be helpful to ensure you don’t make any embarrassing mistakes.
A guide to the complexities and deviations of the English language
Here are ten words that divide British and American English (some of which could be highly embarrassing to get mixed up, see #8):
- Billion – in Britain a billion is equivalent to a million million (1,000,000,000,000), while in the U.S it’s a thousand million (1,000,000,000).
- Biscuit – biscuits and tea are a staple of the British diet but in America British biscuits would be called cookies. American biscuits are more like British scones, and are a type of soft leavened bread.
- Chips – fish and chips is a well-known British food but these chips are fatter versions of American fries. American chips would be called crisps in the UK and are unofficially married to dip.
- Coach – sport’s coaches can earn the big bucks in popular U.S sports, stereotyped by baseball cap and tracksuit wearing side-line shouters. In the UK a coach is better known as a type of bus, a sleeker more luxurious version.
- Flannel – in the UK people use flannels to wash their face or body and are tiny squares of flannel cloth. In the U.S flannel is a soft woven fabric used to make shirts.
- Football – the beautiful game in both of their respective countries but football is two very different sports in the UK and U.S. British football is U.S soccer, while American football is similar to British rugby, just with a lot more protective gear.
- Pants – In the UK pants are underwear, otherwise known as knickers or boxer shorts, but American pants are trousers or shorts.
- Rubber – possibly the most embarrassing to get wrong, Briton’s call erasers a rubber, while in America a rubber is a condom.
- Trainer – a trainer in Britain is an American sneaker, footwear used for running or sports. In America a trainer is fitness instructor usually for exercise in the gym.
- Trunk – American’s call the boot of their car the trunk, while a trunk in Britain is a large box with a lid used for storing clothes or games.
For more information on life in Great Britain