USA v.s. UK

Thursday, September 25, 2014 the battle of the words.

A comment I receive often about moving to England is "Well at least you speak the language there, you won't have any problems with that!"

True. We both speak English – saving myself from a massive learning curve.

But not all English is created equal.

A few years ago when I was typing up a paper at my study abroad university's computer lab in London, I noticed the Microsoft Word document I was pouring my words into was a rainbow of colors. Misspelled word here, grammatical error there. The English nerd in me looked on in horror as simple words like "color" were paired with that irritating red squiggle underneath. I am a spelling and grammar enthusiast – the ongoing epidemic of using the incorrect "they're/their/there" and the more recent "peek/peak" (seriously people...) makes me grit my teeth and throw my hands up in the air, exclaiming that I live in a world of buffoons. Noting that anytime I make a spelling or grammatical error, I have to fix it immediately or cower in shame.

Slightly dramatic? Yes. Don't care.

It's not that I didn't know that we use different variations of words or have our own slang and phrases that don't translate across the pond (shout out to Harry Potter for bringing the word "snog" into my life). But it interested me. Mostly because lots of people don't realize the extent of our language barrier – that is, until you visit the UK and someone greets you with a phrase that goes in one ear and slides right out the other.

So, I present to you, some of my favorite, quirkiest, and most prominent language hiccups I now encounter on a daily basis! People from here get a kick out of me saying exotic words like "y'all", and thankfully most just give me a disgruntled half-smile instead of a lecture when I look the wrong way when crossing the road and make them nearly crash their bike. U rock don't eva change, Bristolians. 

USA / UK Lingo

USA: The long version of shorts. Your jeans. Cousin of the sweat pant.
UK: Your underwear. Tread softly when abroad, Americans.

USA: What you see when you get a boo-boo.
UK: A word said with enthusiasm before another word to exclaim something. "Bloody hell" - Ron Weasley, many a time. I can't tell how profane this is actually.

USA: Said before clinking drinks at a dinner or party. "Woo cheers!" *clink*
UK: Another way of saying "thanks" or "goodbye" or just generally ending every conversation ever.

USA: Warm fluffy yeast-y things that you spread butter on and don't read its calorie content.
UK: Kind of like a cookie. But not a chunky cookie, which is still called a cookie. Biscuits: Digestives, Bourbons, Custard creams, etc.

USA: Feeling sad or disappointed, empathetic, woe, etc.
UK: A knee-jerk response to just about everything: bumping into someone, asking a question, etc. Similar to "excuse me".

USA: Angry, mad, upset, annoyed.
UK: Being real, real drunk.

USA: This one

UK: This one

USA: Those funny pots that whistle when water boils you saw in a sitcom one time. Also the name of a chain restaurant.
UK: The source of everything that is good and holy on this earth; without it we would be nothing and the Kingdom would collapse.

Honorable mention for the British words with no true USA equivalent but I just love them so much.
Bits & bobs. 
Bob's your uncle.


  1. this is actually really funny! It explains how I picked up some terms like I say cheers to say bye. It always feel funny after it comes out because it is not the usual context.

    1. Haha thank you! I've begun to start morphing the words together and subconsciously saying both versions back to back, which I'm sure makes me sound ridiculous. "Cheers, thanks!"


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