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American vs. British Lingo

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

After visiting the UK twice and watching loads of British TV (what can I say? I like British shows 😬), I've realized that Americans use different lingo than the British. Whether you're from the UK or the US, knowing these terms can help you for your travels.

Cookie vs Biscuit

As a southerner, I'm used to having biscuits and gravy or a biscuit with a bit of butter and some jam. Biscuits in the UK are actually more like American cookies, they are just baked twice. The closest thing to an American biscuit in the UK is a scone. While American biscuits are usually served with gravy or butter and jam, scones are usually served with jam and clotted cream! I just have one question... do you put the clotted cream on first or do you put the jam on first? 🤔


18-Wheeler/Semi-truck vs Lorry

Alabama's "Roll on (Eighteen Wheeler)" would sound very different if it was sung in the UK because 18-wheelers are actually called lorries there. Even in the US, everyone calls these massive trucks something different. I grew up saying 18-wheeler, but other Americans call them semi-trucks or tractor trailers 🤷‍♀️

Fries vs Chips

"I'll have a brie cranberry panini with a side of fries... I mean chips..." I can't tell you how many times I said (or even almost said) fries instead of chips while I was in the UK. The UK's 'chips' are actually slightly different from fries. Chips are a bit thicker than American fries. American chips are referred to as 'crisps' in the UK.

Side Mirrors vs Wing Mirrors

This is one that I just learned from my cousin's British wife. In the US, we call the mirrors on the side of the car "side mirrors", but in the UK they call them 'wing mirrors'. Doesn't it sound a bit more majestic when you call them 'wing mirrors'?

Elevator vs. Lift

Yep, you read that right. "You might cut out because I'm getting on the lift now." I mean, it makes sense because it lifts you to another level... 🤔

Sneakers vs. Trainers

If a British person says "I have some trainers," they don't mean physical trainers. Trainers are actually sneakers! So, next time you're shopping for shoes in the UK, be sure to check out the trainer section.

Sweater vs. Jumper

Another good one to remember for shopping in the UK. When you're buying Christmas vacation clothes, make sure you search for some cute jumpers to keep you warm. 😉

Parking Lot vs. Car Park

If you're brave enough to drive on the left side of the road, you may need to find a place to leave your car. Look for signs that point you to the nearest car park (aka parking lot/garage)... and make sure you stay on the correct side of the road 😁

Vacation vs. Holiday

Americans think of holiday as a day off of work/school, when you can sleep in and stay in bed for as long as you want. In the UK, 'bank holiday' is like an American holiday (public holiday), while 'holiday' also means vacation.

Highway vs. Motorway

"Life is a ..... motorway." It just doesn't sound the same, but that is what they're called in the UK. Quite honestly, Americans could just adopt the word 'motorway' instead of using three different words (freeway, highway, expressway) to say the same thing.

Restroom vs. Loo

'Excuse me, I need to use the loo.' You may hear this expression while you're in the UK. It's the same as toilet, restroom, bathroom, etc. It sounds kind of fancy and it's hard not to speak with a British accent when you use the term.

Now that you have the lingo down, you're practically a Brit. Use these terms and you'll be speaking like the locals!


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