Wednesday, January 15, 2014

American and British English: Differences in Vocabulary

US: apartment building
UK: block of flats

US: apartment/flat
UK: English: flat

US: antenna
UK: aerial

US: area code  
UK: dialing code

US: attorney  
UK: barrister/solicitor

UK: cashpoint

US: bathroom  
UK: loo/ WC/ toilet

US: band-aid 
UK: plaster

US: baby carriage  
UK: pram

US: buddy  
UK: mate

US: beet 
UK: beetroot

US: busy (phone line)  
UK: engaged

US: candy  
UK: sweets

US: can (of food)  
UK: tin

US: cafeteria  
UK: canteen

US: chips  
UK: crisps

US: check (rest.)/bill  
UK: bill

US: clothes peg 
UK: clothespin

US: corn  
UK: maize

US: cookie  
UK: biscuit

US: cotton candy  
UK: candy floss

US: crosswalk  
UK: zebra crossing

US: counter-clockwise  
UK: anti-clockwise

US: diaper  
UK: nappy

US: detour  
UK: diversion

US: dead end  
UK: cul-de-sac

US: driver's license  
UK: driving license

US: divided highway  
UK: dual carriageway

US: eggplant  
UK: aubergine

US: first floor  
UK: ground floor

US: fall/autumn  
UK: autumn

US: fries 
UK: chips

US: flashlight  
UK: torch

US: gearshift  
UK: gear-lever

US: garbageman/garbage collector  
UK: dustman/dustbin man

US: game (sports)  
UK: match

US: gas  
UK: petrol

US: guy  
UK: bloke

US: freeway/highway  
UK: motorway

US: to honk  
UK: to hoot/to honk

US: hood (car) 
UK: bonnet

US: jelly  
UK: jam

US: jello  
UK: jelly

US: kerosene 
UK: paraffin

US: line  
UK: queue

US: laundromat  
UK: laundrette

US: movie theater  
UK: cinema

US: motor home  
UK: caravan

US: mail  
UK: post

US: muffler  
UK: silencer

US: napkin  
UK: serviette

US: overpass  
UK: flyover

US: one-way ticket  
UK: single ticket

US: parking lot  
UK: car park

US: pacifier  
UK: dummy

US: pants  
UK: trousers

US: pet peeve  
UK: pet hate

US: period  
UK: full stop

US: private school  
UK: public school

US: pharmacy (or drugstore)  
UK: chemist's shop

US: red hair  
UK: ginger hair

US: real estate agent  
UK: estate agent

US: résumé/CV  

US: restroom  
UK: public toilet

US: to rent (a car)  
UK: to hire (a car)

US: shrimp  
UK: prawn

US: semi-trailer  
UK: articulated lorry

US: sedan (car)  
UK: saloon

US: soccer  
UK: football

US: station wagon  
UK: estate car

US: sidewalk  
UK: pavement

US: store  
UK: shop

US: trailer  
UK: carvan

US: thumbtack  
UK: drawing pin

US: tank top  
UK: vest

US: truck  
UK: lorry

US: trash/garbage can  
UK: rubbish bin

US: turn signal  
UK: indicator

US: two weeks  
UK: fortnight

US: trunk (car)  
UK: boot

US: vest  
UK: waistcoat

US: windshield  
UK: windscreen

US: zucchini  
UK: courgette

US: zip code  
UK: postcode

US: z (pron. "zee") 
UK: z (pron. "zed")


  1. This is a good resource. It is useful for people to be aware of the differences in usage across the Atlantic. I'm British and we understand American English without any confusion so there's no need to worry if that's what you know as a foreign language learner. The only time it gets really confusing for us in everyday usage on our side of the pond is with the word chips( oh and maybe pants) ! In actual fact a lot of the words listed here as American usage are widely used in the UK too. I would say I have never heard anyone say clothes pins in England - we say pegs, it that one the wrong way around on the list?

  2. I think you got clothes pins and clothes pegs turned around, but otherwise this is a great list!