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Common American English words used in daily life vs British English equivalents

When I first moved to US, it was very hard for me to understand a friendly chat or conversation. There were a lot of words that were quite unfamiliar to me. In fact, they were general words that we use in daily life, but only difference was the actual words meaning and their usage in America.

If you are an international student or professional from outside of America, you may be used to different set of words in other parts of world due to British English influence, and sometimes local country specific influence as well. It would be very handy to know some of these common American English words that we use in daily life and how they are different from British English or words used in other countries.

Below are some of the common words used here in America, what I felt were different. It took me a while to catch up with very basic words that Americans use in day to day conversations…I am still learning new words every day! The below list something good to start with.

Feel free to add your words to below list as comments and we will update the article.

Common American English Words Used in Daily Life

American English Word

British English/ General English  equivalent

Explanation and usage.

GasPetrolIn US, you would say, I need to fill gas in my car before it I run out of fuel.  Gas means liquid petroleum and NOT natural LPG Gas
Trash, GarbageRubbish, dirtTrash is used in different ways like:

Pick up the garbage and put it in the trash can. Do not trash the place.

Trash CanDustbinNo dustbin word used here…Just trash can or Shredder for disposing the paper
Rest roomToiletInstead of saying, I want to go to toilet, you would say: “I would like to use the rest room”. Bath room is also used, but means
ShowerBathLets say if you want to take bath, people say: I need to shower. Also like,  I was taking shower when  you called me. ‘I need to quickly jump in the shower before I take off to meeting’.
Bag (plastic or paper)Cover (plastic)Usually in India, we say ‘can I get my stuff in a plastic cover’. Here in US, people say “Can I get a bag for the stuff?” . It is used for both plastic and paper.

When you do shopping, here the cashier would ask “Receipt with you or in the bag”. People say, ‘in the bag please J or no’

BikeBicycleWe often get confused when Americans use bike. It means bicycle
MotorcycleMotorbike or bikeThe name says it.
Zip codePin codePostal pin code in other countries vs Zip code in US for postal purposes.
CheckBillTypically in restaurant after you are done with meal, you ask for check in US from the waiter.
ElevatorLiftNo one uses lift, it is elevator in US
FootballAmerican FootballAmericans consider football means by default as American football
SoccerFootballPeople say Soccer when they refer to actual football. In Europe and everywhere we call football, but here in US they say it soccer.
GlassesSpecs or SpectaclesEye glasses used for faulty vision
CookiesBiscuitsCookie means just biscuit and usually very sweet biscuit
GaragePlace where you park your car in apartment complex or your dedicated place to park car
StoreShopAny shop is called store
FlashlightTorchTorch light that we use in darkness
Flat tireTire punctureUsually when the tire gets puncture by any metal or thorns
VacationHolidayWhen someone has taken a holiday, people usually say he is on vacation.
BillNote100 dollar bill vs 100 rupee notes when dealing with cash
Cheese BurgerIt is understood that it is a Beef burger with cheese on it and not just Cheese between bun !
CologneIt is Men’s fragrance. In India, people use Perfume for both male and female. When you say perfume, it is only for women in US or any part of the world. Just a common mistake in usage of words.
CreamerWhen mixing coffee, people in USA use creamer, which is equivalent of milk.
YogurtCurdWe use the word Curd a lot. You have to specifically say Yogurt.  Butter Milk is common though. It is same.
Flour is pronounced as FlowerOne of my friends had a bad experience in Walmart and had to literally write it on paper. So make sure you pronounce it right, otherwise you get wrong product 🙂 . Listen to pronunciation to clarify.
Meat or  Red meat, ChickenNon-VegetarianWe are used to saying I am a non-vegetarian, in US people might get lost. You have to say, I eat meat or chicken. When you go to a restaurant, if you are a vegetarian, you should say “NO Meat or Chicken”  otherwise, you may find interesting stuff as a vegetarian in your food J
TruckLorryWe use lorry a lot in daily life, but here in US, people call by truck. The trucks are huge here
Mailbox / MailPostbox / PostIn US, usage: “I have to mail this package today. Let me drop it off at the nearest mailbox.”
ChickIt is used very commonly used in daily conversations to refer to a female in teenage up to 40 years old. e.g: “I met this chick the other day, she was cool”
Hitchedusually used to tell someone that they are married. e.g: he is already hitched, no more funny business.
ShotsPeople commonly use the word ‘shot’ to indicate that they got medication or injection. E.g. “I got a flu shots yesterday” to tell that they had flu injection/vaccination yesterday.
School  Usually, the word school is used to indicate any institution from 1st grade to 12th grade…after that you call University. But, in America, the word school is used very commonly even to refer to a University or Department in University. E.g.: “Which school did you go to for Masters ?”.  “I went to Stanford”.  “I got my Masters from UW School of Engineering”.

Also, check out the some more words in this article : Common American English Words in daily life vs British Words — Part II . Also, our readers have added some amazing set of words and differences as comments, do read the comments to get more information.


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  1. Thank you very much. Today I get to know that how much different in US english and UK english. BTW thanks amazing information.

  2. By this we can learn lot of word in american language
    and these word can show our standard in life ,so thank u for learning lots of word

  3. This is highly inaccurate. A lot of the terms you have listed under British English are incorrect and are not used. For example, yogurt is the same in both countries. The British term is not ‘curd.’ LOL

    • Thank you for that comment Meg. I also wanted to point out regional differences are missed here. Bag, or sack in the Midwest, among others. There are quite a few spelling and usage errors as well in the descriptions which makes it unusable in an English language classroom.

  4. About the “creamer” used in coffee in the US. Powdered or liquid creamer is not necessarily what most Americans use in coffee and coffee “customs” can vary from region to region. Many Americans use either real cream, that comes in small tubs at restaurants, or milk, or they use soy or almond milk. I always use milk. Creamer was always something my grandmother used and its always something you will find in an office breakroom. I am from Colorado but I spent two decades in New York. In Denver, I would request a coffee with milk/cream. In New York, if you want coffee with milk/crea,/creamer, you would say “I want a coffee light.” People think it is unusual in NY, also, to have coffee without sugar. I often had to explain to stores that I did not want sugar.

    • Yes in America just specify what you want. One of the good things about America is we tend to be fairly accommodating and have lots of options. Unless you are @ some random small town gas station but even in places like 7/11 there are many options you just make it yourself. When ordering from a coffee shop the options are endless so have fun lol. Creamer will usually refer to powdered creamer or liquid MOST shops will give you liquid by default but will have powder if you specify “powdered creamer” in gas stations they will usually have different flavors of liquid and powdered creamers like French vanilla, Hazelnut, Irish cream, caramel are most common and usually a couple seasonal flavors (amaretto-a cherry almond is my favorite 🙂 Now coffee shops will usually only have plain creamers but will have endless flavor shots you can add like 10-25 different flavors, sweetened or sugar free so if you don’t like sweet coffee but you want some flavor you can get sugar free. A gas station/convenience stop will usually offer half and half and milk if it’s in a bigger city then usually will have a soy or almond milk option for vegans and lactose intolerant people. A coffee shop will have ALL the options- Non fat (skim) milk, 2%milk, whole milk, chocolate milk, half and half, powdered/liquid creamer, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk and sometimes more. SOOOO much more lol. Do not be afraid to be specific in fact if you aren’t specific they will prompt you to be specific. You aren’t bothering them, it’s what they do. This is just plain ol coffee. I can’t get into too much specifics about lattes and cappuccinos because I don’t have the experience with those. GOOD LUCK!!!! All else fails just tell the barista what you like it general and they will hook you up (take care of you)

  5. Some clues:
    A holiday in the U.S. is still a holy day, just like the word:
    Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. It’s usually a day you get off work, “thank God!” You still get paid if it’s a holi…day. That’s “holy” enough for me!

    “Vacation” comes from French. (Paris is “vacated” in the summer.) It’s time off that YOU have to pay for, or earn, and arrange with you boss ahead of time.

    Another clue: We “shop” in “stores.” (“I love to shop!”) Also, a shop is sometimes a little store, or a guild where people all make the same thing. Mechanics and engineers work in “shops” for example.

  6. Without having read other comments, I wanted to make some clarifications.

    Here in America the word bike is synonymous with motorcycles as well as bicycles. Bike is simply and informal word for both. However we do use the word bicycle as well (only for bicycles of course), but never motor bike.

    Yogurt and buttermilk are not synonymous. Yogurt is what is leftover from strained milk. Buttermilk is what is left over after making butter. Also, I noticed the usage of “curd” when comparing. Here, if we hear the word “curd” most will assume that you’re talking about cheese.

    The word bathroom and restroom are synonymous when used as using the toilet itself. Also, note how bathroom is spelled here, it’s not bath room. Now a shower is when you have the water spraying on you. A bath is sitting in the tub filled with water. You can only take a shower or bath in a bathroom, but never a restroom. So bathroom works as a verb (using the toilet) and a noun (a room where you clean yourself).

    Garage is a building that houses parked cars. It must be a building to be a garage. However, a parking lot is a space of land were people park. My understanding is that the Brits call a parking lot a car park, or is it a garage? I’m not sure.

    We use the word shops here too, but we usually mean small stores that sell things such as jewelry, clothing, antiques and the like. Not food and not big stores. You’re right though that for us any shop is a store, but also for us not every store is a shop.

    If you have any questions, just post a reply.

  7. To know the exact difference between Perfume and Cologne you might want to check the link below :

    • Regardless of the technical difference in America women wear perfume and men wear cologne. Although no one will care if you are a man and wear “womens perfume” or a woman wearing “mens cologne” I know men that wear perfume meant for women just because they like the way it smells and they will still refer to it as “cologne” because a man is wearing it and vice versa. It’s stupid really, Americans tend to genderize things that don’t need to be gendered. Like waitress (woman) or waiter (man) there’s really no point it it because they are doing the same job.

    • Dear All,

      We like American common people’s life style although we are not part of the said society & despite that’s a faster society is always Honorable to us,

      With the best Compliments of

  8. A couple are incorrect. In England we also say bike, in everyday language no one says bicycle. Our equivalent of a zipcode is a postcode, not pin code. We also say bag, not cover as you have said. We say yoghurt too, curd it something different. we call cologne after shave. over here we say glasses for spectacles too, we never call them eye glasses though, just glasses.

    • I think this may be geared more towards India’s version of British English? Have you ever been taught observation?? Like the fact that the man writing this is named “Kumar” and 90% of the comments are by Indians.

  9. hai every body i am pursing my masters in california am planning to know more american words can any body help me to improve my language .

    Thank you to all

  10. You need to specify that you’re an Indian and that you’ve moved from India to the US which explains why a lot of your definitions are wrong.

    It’s not clear why you haven’t taken advice on board from English people about any advice. But you wouldn’t need to if you specified that this isn’t British English (whatever that is) but an Indian variant – which is fine. The Chinese have their own variation.

    This seems like a popular spot so if you took some advice it could be even better. Ignoring advice is just very stupid.

  11. Confusing as though he was trying to ‘translate’ American to British English and vica versa, the author also threw some Indian English in their which kind of ‘muddied the waters’. Sorry but did find it very confusing, especially as some under the ‘British’ column was not necessarily 100% British.

    • All the american words are different from the indian words
      We can learn the all the american words the words like…
      We say lift in american language we say elevator. All the words are easy

  12. Heyy…thankuuu soo soomuch for providing me such good information… I look forward to learn more such words from this blog. Thank you 1nce again.


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