We have covered an article on Common American English words used in daily life vs British English equivalents.
We will expand more on the ones that we have missed in that article like some commonly used vegetables, some of the things around traffic, etc. I am not trying to write a dictionary or anything here. Just trying to share few more words that I thought were different to me since I came to US.
Feel free to add your words in the comments, that I have missed so that we have a good collection. I will add it to the article.
Common words in Daily routine/ activities
We have split the common words used in daily life as sections for easy reading and understanding.
Vegetables Names in the US
|American English word||British English equivalent||Explanation and usage.|
|Cilantro||Coriander||When you go to buy vegetables, you have to look for cilantro leaves|
|Okra||Lady Finger||Typically you look for Okra in a Grocery store.|
|Egg plant||Brinjal||If you use brinjal, people in US do not understand. So, use Egg plant|
|Bell pepper||Capsicum||The big green pepper / chili you cook !|
|Chili||In US, Chili is a dish made of ground beef, chili powder, tomatoes and beans. Be careful about the context of usage.|
|Jalapenos||Green Chili||Green Chili are referred to as Jalapenos. They are a little bigger than regular green chili.|
Traffic Words, Other Common Words in the US
|American English word||British English equivalent||Explanation and usage.|
|Grocery Store||Super Market||You find vegetables and all the house supplies in a typical grocery store. It can be used synonymous with super market.|
|Restaurant||Hotel||In US, Hotel means the place you stay for night like Marriot.|
|Cross Walk||Zebra Crossing||The path for crossing roads at Traffic lights|
|Traffic Lights||Traffic Signal||In US, they use the word Traffic lights or Just the word Lights to refer to Traffic Signal|
|Soda||Cold Drink||Soda refers to anything like Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, etc|
|Peanuts||Ground nuts||Peanuts are common snack and it is also used in phrases too. Like “that income is just peanuts”. It means very less.|
|Grade / Percent||Marks||You do not see professors using the word Marks at all. They use either percent or grade.|
|Sidewalk||Pavement / Foot path||You walk to home on sidewalk in American English.|
|Battery||Cell / Cells||You use batteries for charging. In US, they do not understand if you refer cell. They think cell phone.|
|Eraser||Rubber||To erase stuff written by pencil you use Eraser in US. Rubber means Condom in America. Do not ask someone in class, “I need rubber”. People will look at you and say What ?|
|Mixer / Blender||Mixi or Mixie||You use the word mixer or Blender in US to refer to mixi. It is used for mixing flour, blending, etc|
|Refrigerator||Fridge||I have never seen anyone use Fridge. They use Freezer or Refrigerator to store vegetables and freezer to make ice or store frozen vegetables.|
|Sneakers||Tennis Shoe / Sports Shoe||Sneakers are often used to refer to running shoes in US.|
|Tortilla||It is like chapatti made of wheat or corn flour, but primarily of Mexican origin. Pronounced as Tortia.|
|Bubbler||Drinker Water Fountain||Bubbler is a just a water fountain that provides drinking water in public places. You do not use Glass or anything. You just drink off the fountain.|
|Pills||Tablets||in US, you take pills if you are sick. It could be for common cold or allergies, etc|
|Pants||Trousers||You buy a pair of pants in US. There is no Jeans pant, you just refer as Jeans|
|Clippers||Nail Cutter||You cut your nails by clippers in US|
There are many other fun words and comparisons added by our readers in comments. I suggest you check out the comments below.
If you can think of any other common American words that are different from British English, just add them as comments. I will write an article on some common American phrases sometime that I thought were new to me.
What do American’s a call a circuit bulb
In the southern US, like Texas, a “nincompoop” is pretty much the village idiot. What is he called in London?
1. I’ve never heard of cold drinks in UK but I’ve heard of Fizzie Drinks.
2. Tennis shoes are what Appalachian Americans would call a British Trainer.
3. Fridge is the actually American term of choice.
I am British and have lived in the US for 40 years. I agree with the majority of the comments of those who replied. Here are some additions of American lingo vs British.
Brits say crisps and Americans say potato chips.
Brits say shopping trolley and Americans say cart.
Brits say scones and Americans say biscuits.
Brits say biscuits and Americans say cookies.
Brits: sweets Amer: candy
Brits: chips Amer: french fries
Brits: cardigan. Amer: sweater
Brits: lift. Amer: elevator
Brits: I’m going to the pictures
Amer: I’m going to the movies
Brits: football Amer: soccer
(That one is debatable as Brits used to say soccer years ago b4 they changed to football. )
Brits: waistcoat Amer: vest
Brits go to the doctor’s surgery which Americans think of as having an operation/surgery.
It’s just interesting, and fun. I asked for a rubber when I first came to the US and everyone that I worked with thought that it was hilarious.
I also agree that words are used differently depending on what part of the country you live in.
Rain slickers and muck boots are still known as Rubbers in Appalachia.
It’s a regional thing. West of Knoxville and East of Asheville they turn back into condoms tho
Just one thing – a scone (UK) is not a biscuit (US) – they’re close, but not the same.
To me as an American, a scone would be a treat I’d eat while having tea (or coffee) while a biscuit, would be eaten with a meal and usually not sweet.
As a Brit, I can tell you that very little of this list is correct. Egg-plant is referred to as aubergine, traffic lights are simply traffic lights, restaurants are restaurants, bell peppers are bell peppers, peanuts are peanuts. I could go on
Right! I don’t think this person speaks British English
Well said. And an eggplant is an aubergine. The list was not compiled by a British person, or they would know all of these.
I was thinking the same thing. I’m from the UK and am in the US for university, and I saw mistakes for both sides of pond.
I know that Ozzies call sweet peppers “capsicums,” so perhaps this person is conflating different places????
An example where British English and American English clash is brainstorm which to the British means a sudden state of mental confusion and to the Americans a sudden inspiration. For the latter the British would say brainwave. Best wishes Geof London
Few things I need to correct seeing as I lived in usa had family there my stepmom was also American.
You say they call running shoes sneakers not tennis shoe lol you got it backwards all the Americans I came across used the term Tennis shoe very few said sneakers.
You also confused their term restaurant for us calling it hotel lol… and continue to say Americans use term hotel for places to stay which makes no sense cause use it too lol Restaurant there means same as here and hotel means same as what hotel does here too.
Battery in America means the same as battery here I’ve never heard someone call batteries Cells in australia lmao
Peanuts are called peanuts in australia too never heard someone say ground nuts.
Americans say trousers ALOT for same meaning as us you got it backwards we say pants lol
Australians are the ones who use the term “bubbler” Americans use fountain or drinking fountain.
Sorry but you’ve confused a few things and made a lot of errors.
I’m Australian but lived in usa for a short while, I know the common terms both sides use and this is inaccurate
You’re right for the most part. However, in the North East, e.g. NY, the preferred word is “sneakers.” “Tennis shoes” is really used, except for, perhaps, by older people.
Right! Americans do not say “bubblers”. Growing up I would have said sneakers (East coast). Now I live in the Midwest and I say tennis shoes. My relatives in England say trainers.
Also, pullovers and sweaters in American English mean jumpers in the UK. We often call cardigans in the US sweaters too.
I was going to ask if Brits still use spanner, torch and boot, but my question was answered by the emoji menu that came up as I typed them — with a pic of a wrench and a flashlight.
A question from a Yank: are there any common British terms that have been, or are being, replaced by (the dreaded) “Americanisms”?
I do not think they would replace any of them as it is very much English tradition to retain their core British term. They may adopt some new ones based on some trends, but I doubt, if they would replace.
Well, not necessarily being replaced, but the word ‘pants’ is claimed by Brits primarily living in south east england (read London) as meaning underpants or female underwear.
However as a Brit living in North west England, I know that in the North generally, pants has always meant outer wear/trousers.
I mean it is derived from middle ages ‘pantaloons’ which were always worn on the outside.
So outside of London, the rest of the UK is solidly in line with US usage of pants.
Ignore Brits who claim that pants means same as knickers or mens underpants, it is simply a recently connived affectation.
I live in the NW of England and have never heard of anyone call trousers pants.
I call them pants and live in Lancashire.
OK. Even the Germans are using it.
I read through your list of 25 words. As a British person with some knowledge of American English I can tell you that you only got four absolutely right. These were:
Crosswalk = Zebra crossing (A zebra crossing is a black and white path across the road. It solely for the benefit of pedestrians. Some will have traffic lights to stop vehicles others will not so drivers are expected to stop if the see someone trying to use the crossing).
Sidewalk = Pavement (a footpath is not the same as it is usually unpaved)
Eraser = Rubber (a rubber is also a slang term for a condom)
Pants = Trousers (pants, a.k.a. briefs are male underwear eg. Boxer shorts)
In fact you got twice as many absolutely wrong than right. Namely:
Eggplant is not Brinjal (which I have never heard of) it is Aubergine
Grocery Store is not Supermarket (these are larger shops) more commonly we would call a small local shop, a Corner shop
Restaurant is a restaurant and a hotel is a hotel (many hotels do have restaurants in them)
A soda is not cold drink (as this would include flat drinks like squash) it is a fizzy drink. A soda is carbonated water usually used a mixer for alcoholic drinks.
Peanuts are he same (peanuts are technically groundnuts)
Batteries are batteries not cells
A Mixer/Blender is the same name. Mixie is a made up name that has never been used.
I’ve never of a bubbler but from your UK version it sounds like you are describing drinking fountains.
Some you missed:
A Fanny pack is a Bum bag
A Cell phone is a mobile (phone)
A cigarette is called a Fag by some.
Suspenders are called Braces in the UK (they are used to hold up trousers/pants)
Diapers are called Nappies
Bills (currency) are called notes.
Rest rooms are called Toilets. Toilets will have toilets inside them.
Jelly is called Jam (the British call Jello, Jelly)
A biscuit is not something you have as part of a meal (except for the meal we call (high) tea). A biscuit is something like a cookie.
Thank you for your input, really appreciate it! I will update the article.
I’m American and have never used or heard anyone use the term bubbler. It’s a water fountain or drinking fountain!
Australians call drinking fountains bubblers
Thanks for the input. The USA has both jelly and jam. For us they are not the same thing.
In the US, jelly and jam are also 2 different kinds of fruit spread. Jam is thicker and fruitier than jelly. We also have preserves, which are the fruitiest. Jelly here is wobbly and doesn’t spread smoothly.
Eh. I think they just collocate with different fruit, i.e. grape jelly, strawberry jam and orange marmelade.
Right. Know what the difference is? I can’t jelly my d*** into your girlfriend.
Hahaha sorry I had to
Aloha, We used to say “ice box” for refrigerator growing up. Now I often use fridge. US
My grandparents called the fridge and ice box.
Firstly the term “British English” is incorrect. There is American English and there is English, American English is the language spoken in America and English is the language spoken in the rest of the English speaking world.
This list appears to have been made up (in more ways than one) by someone who has no knowledge of the names of things on either side of the pond. When there are so many people from both Britain and the US telling you that the list is wrong then maybe it is time to remove it to save further embarrassment.
Thanks for your inputs. While I agree with you, the list is meant for non-native speakers planning to relocate to UK or the US and get them a sense of the overall difference. The intent is keep it informal…
Also I don’t know about the UK but America has many regions so we differ in what we call things. You really can’t say “Americans call it …..” .
Examples: my husband is originally from NY city and I am from South Carolina. ( almost 12 hours apart by car)
These are a few items we call differently. Me: hose pipe He: Hose ( garden hose)
Me: Pepsi (all carbonated drinks) He: soda
Me: buggy He: cart (shopping cart)
Me: dash He: glove compartment ( the little compartment in the front area of your car)
Me: tag He: license plate
( number plate on car )
Me: commode He: toilet
There are tons of other differences and yeah we usually know what someone is talking about if they are from another area of the country but sometimes we don’t.
The rest of the English speaking world? Have you talked to an Aussie or a Kiwi? They don’t speak American English and they don’t speak what you call English. It’s all English dear, just with the rich spice of far flung nations. I love the variety of expressions. All languages are fluid, ever changing ways to communicate. Enjoy them and don’t be so pedantic.
Also, an American kitchen stove in England is called the “hob”. Don’t know where they got the origin of the name but it is definitely one I didn’t know and thought was different
Thanks for sharing !
WRONG! ln Britain the stove is called a cooker. The hob is just the top part where you heat pans.
You heat water on the stove, bro
Why would you put a pan on the stove? Pans go in the oven. Pots on the stove or burner.
Coriander and cilantro is confusing. Cilantro IS the leaves and stem Coriander is the dried seeds! geez….
I have heard of the term “bubbler” but I thought it was used in England for what we call a water fountain. I’ve also heard the term water cooler in the U.S. I was born & raised in the Pittsburgh, PA area. We always used the term fridge as a refrigerator. I asked my mother (who I called mum because she called her mother “mum”), why we used the term fridge? She said it was short for Fridgedaire, one of the 1st manufacturers of refrigerators. I’m always interested in finding out interesting things!
That’s very interesting..thanks for sharing. I never knew that story of Fridge.
Your mum doesn’t have it quite right, but I can see why she thinks it. Its a bit more boring. Fridge or Refrigerator comes from the Latin refrigerare / frigus meaning cold. Fridgedaire got their brand name from that too.
Why do you say mum instead of mom? Also why to people in the UK call a toilet a loo, a TV a teli?
Telly not teli. lt is short for television. No-one knows the origin of the word loo, though it is generally thought to be derived in some way from the french word l’eau, meaning water.
A TV is a shortened term for a television, as is the English word ‘telly’.
Maybe be “British words” are Australian words, they certainly aren’t all British words.
For speakers of normal English American is easy to understand as the words all come from normal British English and were taken to America.
Agree, they are all kind of related in some ways 🙂
Yes someone said it, the majority of this is absolute none sense. Just to clear up, we call traffic lights traffic lights and you will never see traffic lights at a zebra crossing. It’s literally the point of the crossing. We call jalapeños just that, we use the terms tortilla, bell pepper and we call eggplants aubergines. I’ve also seen Americans use the term fridge. Was someone bored and hired a 2 year old to do this.
Thanks for sharing !
Most of these are inaccurate.
Thanks, I have learnt new American vs British English words i did’t know before.
No you haven’t this is absolute none sense. Ignore everything here because it’s just not true. As a Brit I can confirm this 100%
Most of the ‘so-called’ British English words are entirely wrong.
“In US, Hotel means the place you stay for night like Marriot”. Yes mate, it’s the same in England.
I’ve never heard anyone say ‘Brinjal.’ We say Aubergine.
I could go on…
Yes I agree
The term brinjal is used in India/Pakistan. I’m starting to think that may be the origin of this list.
I have lived in 7 U.S. states, and traveled through about half of them, and the only place I ever heard any one say “bubbler” was in Wisconsin and that was in the 70’s, I don’t know if they still call it that. Also, pretty much everyone I’ve ever known calls it a fridge in normal conversation and only uses the word refrigerator when wanting to be very clear or correct, like walking into an appliance store, “Yes, I’m looking for a refrigerator…”
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I did notice its usage a lot, when I was in Midwest.
Yes i was going to point out that I have not heard anyone here in the US say “bubbler” for water fountain. I say water fountain and I heatd everyone else say water fountain as well.
It is probably not as common, I have heard few times 🙂
My niece lives in Rhode Island, and they refer to a drinking fountain as a bubbler. I had never heard of it until I heard her mention it one time.
They say bubbler up in Wisconsin. I typically say drinking fountain water fountain is common too.
This article seems like it was written by an American making up words that sound vaguely British.
Many of these supposedly British words are incorrect.
If you live in the Southern US, you don’t use the word “soda” for a soft drink. You mostly want a “coke”. When you actually specify your brand is when you order.
If you order iced tea, it’s assumed you want “sweet” tea.
I’m American and assumed a Brit made this up. Tennis shoes is a commonly used term in the USA and I’d expect any American to know that.
I grew up in Chicago, and the most common word for sneakers or tennis shoes was “gym shoes”!
I don’t know if that’s still the case today.
There are so many regional variations in vocabulary that it’s often difficult to impossible to claim a definitive “American English” word for certain things.
This is very true, there are so many variants by the region!
Most of the British English is wrong. As a born and bred Londoner I’ve never heard some of the terms being described as British English.
-Brits don’t say Brinjal, they say Aubergine.
-We call a place you go to eat and a place you stay the night a hotel, just like the in the US.
-We call batteries batteries, no one says cell.
-We call Soda ‘Fizzy Drinks’ or ‘Soft Drinks’
-I’ve never heard anyone call a blender a ‘mixi’
-We don’t call traffic lights traffic signals, we also call them traffic lights
-We call a bell pepper a pepper, not a capsicum
-Jalapenos are just Jalapenos
-Sneakers are called ‘trainers’ in the UK, not a ‘tennis shoe’
Oh thank goodness you wrote this, I was dreading typing it all out. I’m in the UK too and went ‘huh?’ at half of it.
Yes, we Brits say batteries (not to be confused with artillery), but we know that Duracell makes batteries. It’s not a source of confusion over here.
We probably say mum, because mother is pronounced “mutther”
(more or less) in the UK.
Blender – food mixer, or blender, we’re not fussy which, we understand both.
Slight clarification – in the UK you will see pedestrian crossings controlled by traffic lights as in the US, but they don’t have stripes, while a Zebra crossing has stripes like a zebra and usually a yellow globe on a striped pole on each end of the crossing. To be more pedantic the yellow globe thing each end is called a Belisha Beacon. A pedestrian has the right of way on a British road (apart from motorways etc.) if they have started or show a clear intention to cross the road (now codified in the latest Highway Code).
Bear in mind different words for the same thing are often used in different parts of the UK. And some words can cause amusement to Brits when people from the US say them…. such as Worcester(shire) Sauce, which we pronounce more or less as Wooster Sauce. Oh, and if you see a road sign to a place name Cholmondeley, it’s pronounced “Chumley”. And don’t even try to work out what an Abinger Hammer looks like – it’s a place too!
Places to eat… can be a hotel, a cafe, a pub (public house), tearooms, plus a few I can’t remember,
Thanks for sharing !
Hi colleagues, its great article on the topic of teachingand completely explained, keep
it up all the time.