Home » Living in US » Common American English Words in daily Life vs British Words – Vegetables, Traffic

Common American English Words in daily Life vs British Words – Vegetables, Traffic

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 wordBritish English equivalentExplanation and usage.
CilantroCorianderWhen you go to buy vegetables,  you have to look for cilantro leaves
OkraLady FingerTypically you look for Okra in a Grocery store.
Egg plantBrinjalIf you use brinjal, people in US do not understand. So, use Egg plant
Bell pepperCapsicumThe 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.
JalapenosGreen ChiliGreen 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 wordBritish English equivalentExplanation and usage.
Grocery StoreSuper MarketYou find vegetables and all the house supplies in a typical grocery store. It can be used synonymous with super market.
RestaurantHotelIn US, Hotel means the place you stay for night like Marriot.
Cross WalkZebra CrossingThe path for crossing roads at Traffic lights
Traffic LightsTraffic SignalIn US, they use the word Traffic lights or Just the word Lights to refer to Traffic Signal
SodaCold DrinkSoda refers to anything like Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, etc
PeanutsGround nutsPeanuts are common snack and it is also used in phrases too. Like “that income is just peanuts”.  It means very less.
Grade / PercentMarksYou do not see professors using the word Marks at all. They use either percent or grade.
SidewalkPavement / Foot pathYou walk to home on sidewalk in American English.
BatteryCell / CellsYou use batteries for charging. In US, they do not understand if you refer cell. They think cell phone.
EraserRubberTo 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 / BlenderMixi or MixieYou use the word mixer or Blender in US to refer to mixi. It is used for mixing flour, blending, etc
RefrigeratorFridgeI have never seen anyone use Fridge. They use Freezer or Refrigerator to store vegetables  and freezer to make ice or store frozen vegetables.
SneakersTennis Shoe / Sports ShoeSneakers 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.
BubblerDrinker Water FountainBubbler 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.
PillsTabletsin US, you take pills if you are sick. It could be for common cold or allergies, etc
PantsTrousersYou buy a pair of pants in US. There is no Jeans pant, you just refer as Jeans
ClippersNail CutterYou 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.

   

Other Articles

170 Comments

  1. 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.

    Reply
  2. 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.

    Reply
    • Terry,
      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…

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  3. 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

    Reply
  4. 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!

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
        • 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.

          Reply
  5. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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%

      Reply
  6. 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…

    Reply
  7. 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…”

    Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
  8. 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’

    Reply
    • 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,
      etc. etc…

      Reply

Leave a Comment