Commonly Used American Slang Expressions in Daily Life vs. British English

Commonly Used American Slang Expressions in Daily Life vs. British English

by Kumar · 23 comments

Initially, when I moved to US for the first time, in my conversations with Americans, they would use some expressions in that would make me think a little bit and understand based on context or sometimes ask them or look up on the interet for the usage….They were new to me because, either they were used by only Americans in their daily life as slang or they were not british…Anyways, let me share some of the common American Slang expressions. In the same lines, you may read this article : Commonly used American English words in daily life,  Some of this may help you with TOEFL or ESL too :)

I do not know if the equivalent slang terms that I mention below are exactly from British English, but at least they were used by me when I lived in India. We speak and use British English in India…so just assuming they are the same…

American Slang Expression and their Equivalents in British English

British English Term

American English Slang Expression

Explanation

Tire is punctured Have a flat tire You do not use puncture for tires or tubes in America. You got a flat tire
Stand in Queue Stand in a line I never heard anyone using queue in US. You just stand in a line at bus stop or in a bank
Go to Petrol Bunk Go to Gas Station In America, gasoline is the term for petrol and they call it gas in short form. Diesel is still Diesel in America.
Put a full stop at end of sentence. Put a period at end of sentence. No one  uses full stop in US. It is a period
I want to post this letter I want to mail this letter In America, people use mail for post
I passed out in 2000 from Delhi University I graduated in 2000 from Delhi Univerity In America, Pass out means faint because of loss of blood, weakness or sometimes after getting drunk too much :)
We are used to saying  “hash” for symbol # In US, “#” means a pound symbol

Turn left at the signal

Turn left at traffic lights or just lights

I have seen many people use lights for traffic siginals
Don’t be coward, step up. Don’t be a chicken, step up. Chicken is used to signify that you do not have courage or you are bold enough.

“You Bet”

Some people use, “you bet”, whenever you say Thank you to them for doing a favor. It is like saying “You are welcome”
I am trying, but the phone is engaged. I am trying, but the phone is busy. You do not use the word engage in US, just phone is busy
I need to buy some alcohol or liquor for tonight I need to buy some booze for tonight Using booze is very common for alcohol in slang

Bummer! I can’t go to concert tonight.

“Bummer” is an expression used to express emotion and it  means something that you did not expect happened and you cannot do anything about it.
Look at a place or visit the place. Lets check out this place or just check out anything. In slang, people use “check out” for visiting or looking at them with interest. Based on context, it can also mean you have to vacate the place like in “Check out the hotel at 11 AM”
He just hung upon me or  Just hang up the phone “Hang up” means just disconnect the phone. It has nothing to do with hanging someone in gallows

I cannot do this buddy.

I wish I could do this buddy

It is tricky here, when some says, “I wish….” it means they cannot do it, but politey saying they cannot do it.
Its fine Its Cool or just Cool In America, people use “Cool” a lot. It is kind of cool to use cool :)  It has nothing to do with “Cold weather or cool climate”

The bar is empty tonight

The bar is totally dead tonight In this context, dead means just empty.

There are still so many to write, I will write another article some other time. In the mean time you can check this article : How to Greet People in America.

Do you have any other expressions that you would like to share ?

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Born & Raised American June 17, 2014 at 9:00 pm

The American “slang” isn’t slang at all. This chart is incorrect on the American side but I don’t know about the British side because obviously I’m not British. An example of American slang is “bae” it stands for before anything else. This is something someone new to America might not know. Things on this chart however is just phrases that Americans say that is grammatically correct in our dialect which makes it not slang.

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Sarah February 9, 2014 at 2:19 am

As an American, I must add that we DO use the word “queue”, it’s just rare. When you do hear it, it’s usually in reference to amusement parks. For example, a park near me has a thing called “Quick Queue”, which is a card you can buy that allows access to a shorter queue which gets you on the ride faster.

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Karen January 8, 2014 at 1:53 pm

I’m afraid that the author has the term ‘slang’ wrong. It appears that if it’s not the expression in British English, then it’s slang. For example, ‘to stand in a queue’ is simply the British way that Americans say ‘to stand in line’. I don’t understand how the latter is ‘slang’ but not the former.

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Zalak December 19, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Here the British words, I think, mean the words/slangs that are “largely” used in Indian subcontinent. It can be helpful to the people who are not at all aware of American slangs or American english. But try to update/correct more slangs to it.
I want to add 2 words to this list.
1. Kiss = “face battle” (it’s said over here to be more cool word than kiss). I think it’s more kinda humorous.
2. Nosy = meaning poking into somebody’s matter or asking too many things about him/herself.
Thanks

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Christian J. June 9, 2013 at 2:29 am

[Yours]: “In America, Pass out means faint because of loss of blood, weakness or sometimes after getting drunk too much”

[Mine]: “In America, Pass out means [to] faint because of loss of blood and weakness, sometimes after [drinking] too much or, simply, to go to sleep. (E.g. “Hey man, I’m gonna go pass out.” or “I’m about to pass out”).

Don’t some British use the American “slang” quite often or once in a while. (I know they particularly like to do it when making fun of an American.. jokingly of course.. lol.. or when trying to get along with us..?)

There’s another possible “slang”.

[Make fun of..]

^The action of joking to and/or about an individual or group of people^

Do British use this “slang” as well?

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Rohit Varshney March 30, 2013 at 2:54 pm

can anyone tell me what is called “dhoti” in English?

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Saurabh April 11, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Rohit Varshney,
May not be the same thing, but what about wrap-around.

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shea July 16, 2013 at 5:14 am

correct

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TAMTAM January 9, 2013 at 7:30 pm

im learning speaking american, but i have no partner. I feel bored speak in front of my mirror all the time…

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Elmira February 7, 2013 at 2:20 am

well u can use chatrooms n find an american chatmate :)
i think it helps u alot alot…
n ucan have fun while learning…try it

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Natalie November 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I’m sorry but I find this very inaccurate on both sides. I visit family in England every summer and a lot of the slang terms you say are strictly American have reached the U.K. Plus, you give a lot of examples of outdated and rarely used American slang. Most of my friends would say the bar is empty not the bar is dead and booze is not a commonly used term. More of a term for college students and people just joking around about alcohol.

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IndiGuy November 12, 2012 at 12:25 pm

British: Wash-room
American: Restroom
————————
British: Lift
American: Elevator

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AK November 9, 2012 at 11:15 am

?? This list is 80% inaccurate!!! “To pass out” in the UK means “to faint”.
You would NEVER say someone “passed out of university”. You would say that they “passed” a test, but not “passed out”. Also, “booze” and “to check out” are slang terms used in British English too. We don’t say petrol bunk in British English, we say petrol pump or petrol station. You need to revise this with a native speaker.

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Steve November 1, 2012 at 4:58 am

Hi – I just read through this article (looking for some ambiguous wordage for a quiz with a UK team and a US team) – I don’t think there was a single term (not one!) that actually needed any clarification – they are all pretty-much interchangable without any loss in meaning either side of the ocean. It may be that we don’t use the same words, but they are close enough not to merit explanation. I am looking for something a bit more challenging – e.g., the word “fanny” means different things in the US and the UK…………….

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Arun October 7, 2012 at 7:19 am

Good

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Cath September 5, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Nicely done…

I’m American born and bred and I wanted to take exception to one of your included expressions…you state that “booze” is a popular term for “alcohol” or “liquor” and in my experience that simply isn’t true, or at least not true here in the Midwest. While you do hear the term “booze” from time to time, I doubt I have ever actually used it and it is Much less popular than “alcohol” or “liquor”.

Also, generally, the term “booze” carries a slightly more ‘working class’ connotation as well as a nod toward an almost humorous reference to alcohol.

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Amardeep October 6, 2011 at 10:49 am

Great job, It’s very helpful for me.

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alain ishimwe July 26, 2011 at 11:19 am

thank you sir,
this is very crucial and we are learning more.

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My Thuong December 27, 2010 at 3:05 am

Hi, I’m in Viet Nam. Thanks for your helpful page. I have some friends who are going to immigrate to U.S and i try to help them to learn daily American English conversation. It’s very wonderful if you can show or send me relevant documents

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Kumar December 28, 2010 at 1:22 am

I do not have any documents that could be of any help. Just browse the blog, there are plenty of articles on American English and Lifestyle.

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Saurabh October 31, 2010 at 9:16 am

British English: Bill please

American English: Check please

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hetal patel October 29, 2010 at 12:30 am

Sir, I come to know about the words from this site thanks for it
I want to add 1 more word it to this list
American English Apartment
British English Flat
please reply me

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Kumar October 30, 2010 at 3:53 am

Hetal, I am glad you found it helpful ! Yes, you are right…

Reply

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