100 words with different meanings in British and American English - UsingEnglish.com (2023)

100 words with different meanings in British and American English - UsingEnglish.com (1)

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Of all the differences between the English of Great Britain and that of the United States, the most interesting and important are the words that are used in both places, but with different (and sometimes even opposite) meanings. This list contains 100 such words and phrases, arranged from A to Z, from the most familiar like "pants" to the lesser known like "boob tube."

  1. Appropriation - embezzlement - issue of money
  2. (British) Asian/Asian (American) - someone whose family is from South Asia - someone whose family is from East Asia
  3. Athlete - someone who runs athletics events - a sportsman (general)
  4. Bathroom - the place with bathtub or shower - the place with toilet
  5. bill: the thing you get at the end of your meal in a restaurant that says how much you have to pay ("the check" in US English): paper money, as in "a five-dollar bill" ("banknote" or "note" ) in British English)
  6. biscuit - as in "chocolate biscuit" ("cookie" in American English) - a type of savory bun (as in "chicken and biscuits")
  7. volar - fart - blow someone up (similar to "put someone on their feet" in British English)
  8. Boob Tube – a strapless top (“tube top” in American English) – TV
  9. Brackets - brackets - brackets
  10. Report (legal): documents given to a lawyer about legal proceedings: documents presented to a court to show the arguments of a party
  11. Bum - buttocks/buttocks - homeless person/vagrant
  12. Buzzard - a medium-sized hawk - a type of vulture
  13. campsite – an area where people can camp (“campground” in American English) – a place for a single tent (“pitch” in British English)
  14. Accident - someone who was injured (as in "accident department") - someone who died (as in "accident numbers")
  15. French fries: hot, thickly sliced ​​potato chips, as in "fish and chips" ("fries" in American English): thin, crispy snacks eaten cold from a bag, as in "chips" and "Nacho fries." ("chips" in British English)
  16. Cider – an alcoholic beverage similar to beer but made from apples ("hard cider" in American English) – a soft drink made from apples
  17. (Police) Commissioner - professional police chief ("Chief of Police" in American English) - person in charge of supervising police forces
  18. Commonwealth/ (The) Commonwealth – a federation primarily of former British colonies/ the subsequent period between the death of King Charles I in 1649 and the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 – a way of reaching out to US states and territories such as Puerto Rico
  19. Constable - Constable - officer who delivers summons ("Bailiff" or "Sheriff's Officer" in British English)
  20. cook - stove in the kitchen for cooking ("range" in American English) - a person who cooks ("cook" in British English)
  21. maize (field) - wheat - mais (often called "sweet corn" in British English)
  22. cot – a baby crib (“crib” in American English) – an extra fold-out bed (like a camp bed)
  23. Cookies - Christmas cookies - Fool
  24. DC - Detective Constable (as in "DC Smith") - District of Columbia (as in "Washington DC")
  25. Dormitory - a room for several people, often with bunk beds, for example in a boarding school - a place where university students live ("corridors" or "student corridors" in British English)
  26. Appetizer – the first course / appetizer – the main course
  27. Faculty – The largest organization of a university, often made up of several departments: professors and similar staff (“academic staff” in British English)
  28. Fagot - cigarette - a very uncharacteristic insult for a homosexual
  29. Bassoon - a kind of meatball - a non-PC insult to homosexuals
  30. Costumes: dressing up in a costume, for example, for Halloween: formal wear such as a ball gown.
  31. Fanny – vagina/vulva – buttocks (as in “fanny pack”)
  32. first degree - first degree burning - first degree murder
  33. first floor – up from the ground floor ("second floor" in American English) – the ground floor ("ground floor" in British English)
  34. Flapjack – a sweet snack made mostly from oats (like a "granola bar") – pancakes
  35. Soccer – Football/ Soccer – American Football
  36. Gas - natural gas - gasoline ("petrol" in British English)
  37. go to the bathroom - go crazy - go to the bathroom (for a baby)
  38. graduate: successful completion of a bachelor's/bachelor's degree: successful completion of any academic level, e.g. "graduating from secondary school" ("finish" in British English)
  39. grill - to cook under heat ("broil" in American English) - to cook on a griddle/grill
  40. gymnasium – gymnasium, the place where sports are practiced, including at school – gym class (“physical education class” in British English)
  41. Basket - a large basket for groceries, as in "picnic basket" - a laundry basket
  42. Hockey - field hockey, played on field - ice hockey
  43. homey - cozy (place) - simple or ugly
  44. bonnet - the top of a convertible - the engine cover ("bonnet" in British English)
  45. Hooker - a rugby position - slang for a hooker
  46. jelly - a wobbly dessert, as in "jelly and ice cream" ("Jell-O" in American English) - a type of gelatin with no solid pieces of fruit inside (as in "peanut butter and jelly sandwich")
  47. Jock - slang for a Scotsman - slang for an athlete
  48. Sweater – sweater – a kind of knitted dress
  49. touch - get pregnant - wake up someone knocking on your door
  50. crazy - crazy - angry
  51. bad - stingy / the opposite of generous - cruel / nasty
  52. Paramedic - doctor / internist - paramedic / paramedic / paramedic
  53. Tanatorio - Place for corpses ("morgue" in EE.UU.) - Funeral home/funeral home
  54. Diaper – a type of baby underpants (“diaper” in British English) – an offensive word for afro hair.
  55. nervous – nervous/ scared – cheeky
  56. Outside lane: The lane closest to the opposite side of the road and usually used by faster cars ("inside lane" in American English): The lane next to the road that is usually used by slower cars ("inside lane" in British English) ). )
  57. Pantomime - a type of play/musical, often based on fairy tales, played at Christmas (often abbreviated to "panto") - a performance without speech ("mime" in British English)
  58. trousers - underpants - long trousers ("trousers" in British English)
  59. Parentheses - parentheses in general (brackets, square brackets, etc.) - parentheses
  60. Pavement: the part of the roadside that people walk on ("sidewalk" in American English): the material of which a road is made
  61. Penny - one hundredth of a pound - one penny
  62. pissed off - drunk - pissed off ("pissed off" in British English)
  63. Prep School – a private school that prepares students for high school – a private school that prepares students for college
  64. Professor - the senior academic staff of a university - all the professors of a university
  65. Prom - Musical performance, as in "The Proms" - dancing/dancing, especially in schools
  66. public school – an old and usually high-ranking private school (historically the first schools open to the paying public), a government (local and/or national) funded school ("government school" in British English)
  67. Pudding: Dessert in general, or a hot, heavy dessert similar to Christmas Pudding: A type of pudding dessert, similar to crème caramel.
  68. Purse - a small and/or women's bag - a handbag or shoulder bag
  69. Bahnbetriebswerk - a place where trains are parked - a railway terminal
  70. Rider - a person who rides a bicycle, motorcycle, horse, etc. - a person who travels on a train, bus, etc. ("passenger" in British English)
  71. Robin - A small red-breasted bird - A medium-sized red-breasted bird
  72. roommate - someone who shares the same room - someone who shares the same house/apartment ("housemate" or "flatmate" in British English)
  73. a rubber – an eraser – a condom
  74. Saloon - part of a pub - a western-style bar
  75. Semester - half an academic year - between a quarter and a half academic year, depending on how the academic year is divided ("Term" in British English)
  76. semi - semi-detached house ("duplex" in American English) - semi-trailer truck ("articulated truck" in British English)
  77. Sorbet – a powdered confection that sizzles slightly on the tongue – a type of frozen dessert, like ice cream but with little or no milk ("sorbet" in British English)
  78. Cutlery - Trophies won by sports teams - Things to eat ("cutlery" in British English)
  79. Sprouts – brussels sprouts – alfalfa sprouts
  80. Squash - a type of liquor that needs to be diluted with water to drink - a type of pumpkin-like vegetable (similar to a British "marrow")
  81. Public school: a school funded by the government ("public school" in American English): a school funded by the state (rather than the national government or more local setting)
  82. hit - hit the ball - miss (in baseball)
  83. Metro – pedestrian underpass – metro
  84. a practice - a doctor's office, like a clinic - an operating room
  85. Suspenders: stocking straps ("garters" in American English) - trouser straps ("suspenders" in British English)
  86. Sweets: small sugary snacks ("candy" in American English), desserts/sweets in general, such as B cake
  87. Tank top - sleeveless jersey - tank top
  88. The Times - The Times (en EE. UU. a menudo "The London Times" genannt) - The New York Times
  89. bother someone - annoy someone - irritate someone
  90. Tights - Nylon stockings ("pantyhose" in American English) - tight pants ("leggings" in English English) or pants and top of a piece ("unitard" in English English)
  91. Tosser - idiot - someone who likes to throw things, the opposite of "hoarder"
  92. Trailer: something that goes behind the car or bicycle, usually to carry extra luggage; similar but also small places where people can spend the night ("caravan" in British English)
  93. trolley: a type of road train ("tram" in British English)
  94. trooper - soldier in the army - state police officer
  95. tuition fee - tuition, particularly by a (private) tutor - money paid for study ("tuition fee" in British English)
  96. Underpass - an underground street, often under another street - a pedestrian tunnel under a street ("subway" in British English)
  97. vest - underwear worn under a shirt ("shirt" in American English) - part of a three-piece suit worn under a jacket ("vest" in British English)
  98. lavararse – lavararse – lavararse las manos (before dinner)
  99. White spirit: a type of alcohol used for cleaning, thinning paint, etc. ("turpentine" in American English): a type of moonshine for drinking
  100. Yankee – someone from the United States (usually abbreviated to "Yank") – someone from New England or the northeastern United States in general

Copyright © 2018 alex fall

Written by Alex Case for UsingEnglish.com Ltd

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(Video) British English vs American English | Same meaning, different word


What are some words that have different meanings in British and American English? ›

  • Purse. In American English, “purse” is a term used to describe a woman's handbag. ...
  • Biscuit. Knowing the American and British meanings of this word could mean the difference between enjoying your restaurant order and being surprised by it. ...
  • Football. ...
  • Jumper. ...
  • Fancy dress. ...
  • Bird. ...
  • Braces. ...
  • Trainer(s)
Jan 5, 2018

How American English is different from the British English elaborate you answer? ›

The most significant differences between British and American English are in their pronunciations, their vocabularies, and their spelling. There are grammatical differences, too, but these are less important and harder to describe, so we will pass over them for today.

What are some examples of British and American vocabulary? ›

There are hundreds of everyday words that are different. For example, Brits call the front of a car the bonnet, while Americans call it the hood. Americans go on vacation, while Brits go on holidays, or hols. New Yorkers live in apartments; Londoners live in flats.

What words do Americans spell different to British? ›

9 Spelling Differences Between British and American English
24 more rows
Oct 18, 2019

What are the 1000 most commonly used words in English? ›

Here's the List of the 1000 Most Common English Words
  • be – “Will you be my friend?”
  • and – “You and I will always be friends.”
  • of – “Today is the first of November.”
  • a – “I saw a bear today.”
  • in – “She is in her room.”
  • to – “Let's go to the park.”
  • have – “I have a few questions.”
  • too – “I like her too.”

Can you tell me some British words? ›

50 Must-Know British Slang Words and Phrases
  • Bloke. “Bloke” would be the American English equivalent of “dude.” It means a "man."
  • Lad. In the same vein as “bloke,” “lad” is used, however, for boys and younger men.
  • Bonkers. ...
  • Daft. ...
  • To leg it. ...
  • Trollied / Plastered. ...
  • Quid. ...
  • Dodgy.

Why did American English develop differently than British English quizlet? ›

In a SINGLE WORD, why is American English different from that spoken in England? -The vocabulary is different largely because settlers in America encountered many different experiences. The new continent contained physical features, such as large forests and mountains that had been given new names.

What are the 850 words of basic English? ›

I , ice , idea , if , ill , important , impulse , in , increase , industry , ink , insect , instrument , insurance , interest , invention , iron , island . jelly , jewel , join , journey , judge , jump . keep , kettle , key , kick , kind , kiss , knee , knife , knot , knowledge .

What are some common British phrases? ›

Brilliant British English Phrases You Need To Know
  • Fancy a cuppa? meaning: “Would you like a cup of tea?” ...
  • Alright? meaning: “Hey, how are you?” ...
  • I'm knackered! meaning: “I'm tired.” ...
  • Cheeky. meaning: playful; mischievous. ...
  • I'm chuffed to bits! meaning I'm very pleased. ...
  • Bloody. meaning: very. ...
  • To bodge something. ...
  • I'm pissed.
Jan 28, 2020

What British words do Americans not understand? ›

The UK and America are two nations divided by a common language.
Synonyms for British Words Americans Don't Understand
  • Fringe: Bangs. ...
  • Jumper: Sweater.
  • Trainer: Sneaker.
  • Dummy: Pacifier.
  • Plaster: Band-aid.
  • Nappy: Diaper.
  • Hole-in-the-Wall: ATM.
Oct 12, 2021

What are examples of British spellings? ›

The difference is most common for words ending -bre or -tre: British spellings calibre, centre, fibre, goitre, litre, lustre, manoeuvre, meagre, metre, mitre, nitre, ochre, reconnoitre, sabre, saltpetre, sepulchre, sombre, spectre, theatre (see exceptions) and titre all have -er in American spelling.

How to convert American English to British English? ›

How To Change American To British English On MS Word
  1. Navigate to the Tools menu in the Word toolbar.
  2. Choose “Language” from the Tools menu.
  3. Choose “Set Language.” A dialogue box will appear on the screen.
  4. Select “British English” from the list of languages in the dialogue box.
  5. Click on “Default.”
  6. Confirm the action.

What are the 100 common words? ›

The 100 most common words in English
1. the21. at41. there
2. of22. be42. use
3. and23. this43. an
4. a24. have44. each
5. to25. from45. which
15 more rows

What is the number 1 most used word in English? ›

the Article

How do British people say yes? ›

' Aye – It means yes.

How do British say cool? ›

Dynamite/Wicked. Dynamite is used for awesome and cool. Wicked too is used to convey the same meaning.

Why is American English different from British English in the first place? ›

American spelling was invented as a form of protest

Webster wanted American spelling to not only be more straightforward but different from UK spelling, as a way of America showing its independence from the former British rule.

Why did the British accent change in America? ›

The first is isolation; early colonists had only sporadic contact with the mother country. The second is exposure to other languages, and the colonists came into contact with Native American languages, mariners' Indian English pidgin and other settlers, who spoke Dutch, Swedish, French and Spanish.

Is British English more difficult than American English? ›

However, there is no scientifically precise answer to this question. Some find American English, others British English difficult and incomprehensible. It is impossible to say which variety is more difficult than the other. This is purely a matter of perception for someone who is learning English.

What are the 50 new words? ›

50 favorites
  • automagically adv. Automatically in a way that seems magical.
  • bargainous adj. Costing less than expected.
  • big media n. Primary mass communication sources, e.g., TV and the press.
  • bromance n. Close platonic male friendship.
  • buzzkill n. ...
  • carbon credit n. ...
  • carbon offsetting n. ...
  • catastrophize v.

What are the 30 new words? ›

30 New Words in English with Meanings to Use in Everyday Communication
New Words to UseMeanings
Acquiesceaccept something reluctantly but without protest
Alignplace or arrange things in a straight line
Amendmake minor changes in a text in order to make it fairer
Annihilatedestroy utterly
24 more rows

What are the 10 most important words in English? ›

The 100 Most Important Words in English
  • Amount.
  • Argument.
  • Art.
  • Be.
  • Beautiful.
  • Belief.
  • Cause.
  • Certain.
Jul 18, 2019

What English words have different meanings? ›

Homonyms, or multiple–meaning words, are words that have the same spelling and usually sound alike but have different meanings (e.g. Bark– dog bark, tree bark).

What words do British people say that Americans don t? ›

12 British Sayings That Americans Don't Understand
  • “They lost the plot.” ...
  • “I haven't seen that in donkey's years.” ...
  • “Quit your whinging!” ...
  • “He's such a chav.” ...
  • “You've thrown a spanner in the works.” ...
  • “Let's have a chin-wag.” ...
  • “I'm chuffed to bits.” ...
  • “That's manky.”
Nov 10, 2014

What are different English words with the same meaning? ›

A synonym is a word or phrase with a meaning that is the same as, or very similar to, another word or phrase. Terrible and awful are synonyms because they have the same meaning. Can you do better today than you did on yesterday's exercise? 1 - A synonym of tired is: delighted.


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