Leigh Van Bryan and his friend Emily Banting are not the first people to fall afoul of the linguistic differences between us Brits and our cousins over in the USA. Although we both speak English, we don’t always share the same English, especially when it comes to vocabulary.
The tourists were booted out of the country after the Department of Homeland Security flagged Leigh as a potential threat when he posted a tweet to his mates prior to his trip to Hollywood which read: ‘Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America?’ What the Department of Homeland Security didn’t seem to appreciate was that in the UK, within his generation, he didn’t plan to ‘destroy’ America but to party very hard. (Read more about the story here)
So in honour (yes, honour not honor) of Leigh we thought we would spare travelers either side of the Atlantic their blushes with a quick fire guide to Anglo-America words that don’t mean the same.
If you know of anymore, please send them our way to add here (details at end).
- Rubber (USA = condom) – Rubber (UK = eraser)
- Football (USA = rugby with lots of body armour) – Football (UK = what the Americans call “soccer”)
- Fag (USA = homosexual) – Fag (UK = cigarette)
- Bum (USA = homeless person) – Bum (UK = your bottom)
- Fanny (USA = your bottom) – Fanny (UK = women’s genitalia)
- Knickers (USA = short trousers) – Knickers (UK = women’s underwear)
- Pants (USA = trousers) – Pants (UK = men’s underwear)
- Pot plant (USA = marijuana plant) – Pot plant (UK = plant in a pot)
- Suspenders (USA = braces) – Suspenders (UK = Straps worn to hold up a woman’s stockings)
- Pissed (USA = angry) – Pissed (UK = drunk)
- Power-bang (USA = type of fringe [hair]) – Power-bang (UK = does not exist but would be interpreted as very vigorous sex)
- Chippy (USA = a woman of suboptimal morals) – Chippy (UK = fish and chip shop)
- Tomayto (USA = red salad vegetable) – Tomahto (UK = red salad vegetable) 🙂
If you know of any more “tricky” words people should avoid, please email us (info AT kwintessential.co.uk) along with your name and we will publish them here.
For those interested in some more UK-USA vocabulary, please check out these websites:
- Wikipedia – British-American English
- The BG Map – Driving specific differences
- The American’s guide to speaking British
- Dictionary of Slang
- A British slang dictionary with audio pronunciations
written by +Ben Lewis