(British) English Translated for Americans
(British) English Translated For Americans



(Modified original reproduced as a US-1 reference with author permission)
  • ACCOMMODATION in the sense of lodging is singular in English and plural in American English
  • ADMIRALTY in Britain is the Navy Department in the U.S.
  • AGRICULTURAL SHOW is a State or County Fair.
  • AIRY-FAIRY means superficial in a disparaging sense and is roughly "fanciful"
  • ALLOTMENT is a small rented area for growing vegetables or flowers away from you home.
  • ANORAK is an Eskimo word for a windbreaker or parka.
  • ANTI-CLOCKWISE is counter clockwise.
  • ARTICULATED LORRY is a trailer truck.
  • ASSISTANT - short for shop assistant - would be a salesclerk.
  • AU PAIR is a foreign girl who lives as one of the family in return for helping with the children. Enables "foreign" girls to learn English in a family environment.
  • AUBERGINE is an EGGPLANT
  • BACKBENCHERS is a Member of the House of Commons who is not the Minister.
  • BAD PATCH means a rough time
  • BAGS OF is slang and means piles of - usually referring to money.
  • BALACLAVA is a woolen helmet named after the site of a battle in the Crimean War
  • BANGER is slang for a sausage
  • BANK HOLIDAY is a LEGAL HOLIDAY in the U.S. Apart from Xmas they are all different in Britain
  • BARGE POLE is a colloquialism for a ten-foot-pole
  • BARRACK is to demonstrate noisily in public e.g. as in 'boo'
  • BARRISTER is a TRIAL LAWYER
  • BASH is to hit as in 'bang'
  • BATH in Britain becomes BATHTUB in the US
  • BATH OLIVER is a dry biscuit eaten with cheese
  • BBC the British Broadcasting Corporation
  • BEARSKIN is a high, black fur hat worn by Guardsmen
  • BELT UP is slang for shut up
  • BILL is what one asks the waiter for and in the US becomes CHECK
  • BIRD is slang for 'girl' although in the US DAME would be closer
  • BIRO is a ball-point pen
  • BISCUIT is a CRACKER or a COOKIE
  • BIT used where Americans would say "part"
  • BITTER is a type of beer
  • BLACK TIE is Mess dress or tuxedo
  • BLOCK OF FLATS is an apartment building or high-rise tower block, or a large house converted to flats
  • BLOKE slang for man
  • BOBBY is a police officer
  • BOG toilet
  • BOG-ROLL toilet roll
  • BOILER is the furnace
  • BOLLARDS are barrels
  • BONNET is HOOD when referring to your car
  • BOOK as a verb to reserve rooms or theater seats
  • BOOT is the TRUNK of your car
  • BOOT SALE is a flea market or yard sale
  • BOX television
  • BOXING DAY is the first week-day after Christmas
  • BRACES are SUSPENDERS which as an English word means GARTERS
  • BRASS PLATE is the equivalent of a SHINGLE
  • BUBBLES & SQUEAK is cooked cabbage and potatoes combined and fried
  • BUILDING SOCIETY is a savings and loan
  • BUMBAG is the same as our fanny pack
  • BUNGALOW is a single story house detached house
  • BUREAU is a writing desk with drawers and a lift-down flap
  • CAB-RANK is a taxi-stand
  • CALL-BOX is a telephone booth
  • CAMIKNICKERS are teddies
  • CAMP BED is a COT which in Britain is used for a baby's CRIB
  • CANDYFLOSS is cotton candy
  • CARAVAN is a trailer
  • CAR PARK is a parking lot
  • CASHIER is a TELLER
  • CALICO is muslin
  • CALOR GAS is bottled gas
  • CASTOR SUGAR is finer than granulated sugar but not as fine as icing-sugar
  • CATS EYES are surface road reflectors
  • CHAR is slang for tea - the drink
  • CHAT UP is slang for handling someone a line especially to get to know a girl
  • CHEERS thanks; also used as a toast before drinking; also, "see you later"
  • CHEMIST is a DRUG-STORE
  • CHESTERFIELD is a sofa
  • CHIPS are FRENCH FRIES
  • CLINGFILM is Saran wrap
  • CLOAKROOM is a half bath
  • COACHES are buses
  • COFFEE, WHITE, WITHOUT is coffee, cream, no sugar
  • COLLEAGUE is a co-worker
  • CONVENIENCE is a REST ROOM
  • CONVEYANCING is buying or selling properties
  • COOKER is a stove
  • CORNFLOUR is cornstarch
  • COSTUME is a swimsuit
  • COURGETTE is a ZUCCHINI
  • COT is a small child's bed or crib
  • COTTAGE traditionally a pretty, quaint house in the country, perhaps with a thatched roof (although the name is stretched nowadays to encompass almost anything except a flat), may be detached or terraced
  • COVER NOTE is an Insurance binder
  • CRACKING great ("What a cracking bird!")
  • CRICKET is a ball game to which Americans have no equal
  • CRISPS are potato chips
  • CUPBOARD in Britain is CLOSET in the US
  • CURRENT ACCOUNT at a bank is a CHECKING ACCOUNT
  • C.V. (CURRICULUM VITAE) is a resume
  • DAME in Britain refers to a lady who has been knighted
  • DAY-RETURN means a ROUND-TRIP ticket usually on the railway
  • DEMERAEA sugar is the brown sugar usually on the tables in pubs, not at all like our baking brown sugar
  • DETACHED is a house that stands alone, usually with its own garden
  • DEVIATION is a detour
  • DIARY is our calendar/date or appointment book
  • DINNER JACKET is a TUXEDO
  • DORMITORY is a multiple bedroom usually found in boarding schools and is NOT a barracks
  • DRAUGHTS is the game of CHECKERS
  • DRESS CIRCLE in the theater is the FIRST BALCONY
  • DRESSING TABLE is the equivalent of the American DRESSER
  • DRESSING GOWN is a ROBE or bathrobe
  • DUAL CARRIAGEWAY is a DIVIDED HIGHWAY
  • DUMMY is a pacifier
  • DUSTBIN is a GARBAGE CAN
  • DUSTMAN is a garbage collector
  • DUVET is a eiderdown quilt
  • EARLY-CLOSING is an infuriating custom of shops closing one afternoon a week
  • EARTH as a verb and as an electrical term equals to GROUND a wire
  • ELASTOPLAST is BAND-AID
  • ELEVEN is a FOOTBALL or CRICKET TEAM (from the number of players)
  • ENGAGED is what the operator says when the telephone line is BUSY
  • ERNIE is 'electronic random number indicator equipment' and selects Premium Bond winners
  • ESTATE AGENT is a REAL-ESTATE BROKER
  • ESTATE CAR is a STATION WAGON
  • EX-DIRECTORY is a UNLISTED TELEPHONE NUMBER
  • EX-SERVICE MAN is a VETERAN
  • FAG is a cigarette
  • FANCY DRESS is costumes
  • FANCY DRESS PARTY is a costumes party
  • FEN is swampland or marsh
  • FIRST FLOOR in a building is SECOND-FLOOR in the US
  • FISH-FINGERS are FISH-STICKS
  • FITTED applied to carpets means WALL-TO-WALL
  • FIZZY DRINK is pop/soda
  • FLAN is an open sponge or pastry case with a fruit or sweet filling
  • FLANNEL is a face-cloth
  • FLAT is an APARTMENT usually one floor
  • FLEET STREET is a colloquialism for the PRESS
  • FLEX is an electric cord
  • FLY-OVER is an over-pass
  • FOOTBALL is rugby, not American football
  • FORTNIGHT means two weeks or fourteen nights
  • FREE HOUSE associated with a Pub means it can sell any brand of beer it wishes, it is not linked to any specific brewery
  • FRINGE (HAIR) is BANGS
  • FULL STOP is the black dot at the end of a sentence called in the US a period
  • GAMMON is ham
  • GARDEN is the property outside a house which in the US is a YARD
  • GATEAU is a type of layer cake
  • GEARBOX is TRANSMISSION
  • GEAR-LEVER is GEARSHIFT
  • GEORDIE (pronounced JORDY) is a native of Tyneside and also the dialect he speaks
  • GEYSER (GEEZER) is a water heater
  • GIVE-WAY as a road sign means YIELD
  • GLASS is CRYSTAL
  • GONGS are slang for military medals
  • GOVERNMENT means administration and refers to the people currently running the country
  • GENERAL PRACTITIONER (GP) is a internist or doctor
  • GREASPROOF PAPER is wax paper
  • GREEN BELT is a no-building zone around a town or city
  • GREENGROCER is a fruit/vegetable store
  • GRILL as a verb is to BROIL
  • GUILLOTINE is a paper-cutter
  • GUMBOOTS are rubber boots
  • GUMSHIELD is the same as a mouthgaurd
  • GYMKHANA is a local Horse Show
  • GYM SHOES are SNEAKERS
  • HABERDASHERY is pins, needles, ribbons, thread etc. : and is what you ask for in a shop
  • HAGGIS a traditional Scottish dish made from a sheep's inside
  • HAIRDRESSER is a man or women's 'barber shop' or 'beauty shop'
  • HAIRSLIDE is a barrette
  • "HALF" when addressed to a bar-tender means a half-pint of beer
  • HALF-TERM is a mid-term vacation of short duration
  • HARD CHEESE is tough luck
  • HAT TRICK is a cricket term for taking three wickets by three successive balls but it is often to any triple triumph
  • HAVE-A-BASH means give it a try
  • HAVE NO TIME FOR means to have a low opinion
  • HESSIAN is burlap
  • HIGH STREET preceded by 'the', is the American Main Street
  • HIGH TEA served late in the afternoon usually contains a cooked item such as eggs or sausages - this is not to be confused with 'tea' or 'afternoon tea' which is merely a cup of tea with a cake or very small sandwich
  • HIRE PURCHASE is to buy on an installment plan
  • HOB is an installed gas, electric range top
  • HOLIDAY is a vacation although the university still uses vacation for the time after term finishes
  • HOMELY is simple or unpretentious and not the 'ugly' meant in America
  • HOOD of a car is known as 'BONNET' in England but of a cloak or coat is still the same
  • HOUSEMAN in a hospital is a doctor or 'intern' in America
  • HOOVER is to vacuum
  • HUNDREDWEIGHT is 112 pounds and 20 Hundredweight are in 1 ton
  • HUNT an Englishman hunts fox or deer but shoots game birds or rabbits
  • ICE on menus means ice-cream
  • ICING SUGAR is similar to our powdered sugar
  • IMMERSION TANK is a hot water heater in a house
  • INTERVAL is an intermission
  • IN TRAIN means coming along as in 'the work is progressing'
  • IRONMONGER is a hardware shop
  • JAB is a shot or immunization
  • JAM is what Americans would call jelly
  • JELLY is what they call Jell-O
  • JERSEY is a sweater
  • JOINT (of meat) as in Sunday Joint is a piece of roast meat
  • JUMBLE SALE is a rummage sale
  • JUMPER is a sweater (or woolly, or jersey), the American 'jumper' is a pinafore dress
  • JUNCTION is an interchange on motorway
  • KEDGEREE is a dish of fish, rice and eggs and often served at breakfast
  • KETTLE (FOR HOB) is a tea kettle
  • KIOSK can be a news-stand or a telephone box
  • KIP sleep ("I could do with a kip" or "He's kipping on the sofa.")
  • KITCHEN PAPER is paper towels
  • KNAVE is a jack in playing cards
  • KNICKERS underwear for women
  • KNOCK BACK DOUGH is to punch down dough
  • KNICKERS are ladies' underpants
  • 'L' plates are large red 'L's which a person learning to drive must put on his car
  • LACQUER is hair-spray
  • LADDER in a stocking is a 'run' in America
  • LADYBIRD is a lady bug
  • LAGER is beer
  • LANDLORD in a pub is the inn-keeper
  • LARDER is a pantry
  • LAY A TABLE is to set the table
  • LAY-BY is a roadside parking area at the side of the road
  • LEADER can be a newspaper editorial, the leading counsel of a team of lawyers or the first violinist in an orchestra but NOT the conductor as is popular in America
  • LEMONADE is Sprite, 7UP
  • LETTER-BOX is a mail-box
  • LEVEL-CROSSING is a grade crossing
  • LIFE GUARD is a member of a regiment of the Royal Household Cavalry
  • LIFT is an elevator
  • LINE on a railway means track
  • LOO can be an 18th century card game or a lavatory or bathroom or whatever you wish to say
  • LORRY is a truck
  • LOUNGE SUIT is a business and NOT clothes for lounging in
  • MAC is an abbreviation for macintosh or raincoat
  • MAKING CONTACTS is networking
  • MAGISTRATE is very close to a justice of the peace
  • MAINS is an electric circuit box
  • MAISONETTE is an apartment on 2 or more floors
  • MAJORITY as a voting term this equals a 'plurality' in American terms
  • MANCUNIAN is someone from Manchester
  • MANGETOUT are snow peas
  • MARKET many towns have a weekly market day with wares on stalls (booths) in the open air - the right to do so goes back hundreds of years & the AA book lists them all - so does a list available from my office
  • MARROW is a very large zucchini
  • MARTINI is vermouth - if you want a Dry Martini ash for a Gin & French
  • MASH is mashed potatoes
  • MATCH is what two sides play on a sports field and is equal to an American game
  • MEAN is tight-fisted or stingy as opposed to the American 'cruel' or ill-tempered
  • MEWS HOUSE is a hose that's converted from old stables or servants' lodging (usually 17th or 19th century) and is the town equivalent of a genuine cottage
  • MINCE or MINCED MEAT from the butcher is chopped meat of hamburger however MINCEMEAT is chopped apples, raisins etc. Which goes into a mince pie
  • MOOR is open land often with heather
  • MOTORWAY is a Freeway
  • MORNING TEA is often served in your hotel room before you go down to breakfast
  • MUFFIN is a small, spongy cake served toasted and buttered - do NOT confuse with the American 'English Muffin' which does not exist in England.
  • MUSLIN is cheesecloth in America but American 'muslin' is calico in England
  • NAFF tacky
  • NANNY is a child's nurse
  • NAPPY, a corruption of napkin, is a diaper
  • NETS are sheer curtains
  • NEWSAGENT shop selling newspapers
  • NOTECASE is a billfold
  • NO ENTRY is wrong way (traffic sign)
  • NO OVERTAKING is no passing
  • NOTICEBOARD is a bulletin board
  • NUMBER PLATE is a license plate
  • OFF HIS ROCKER is out to lunch
  • OFF LICENSE is a shop which can sell alcohol all day but it must be taken away or consumed 'off' the premises
  • OFF-THE-PEG refers to 'ready-to-wear' clothes
  • OPHTHALMIC OPTICIAN test eyesight, prescribe glasses, and diagnose eye diseases
  • OPHTHALMIC MEDICAL PRACTITIONER treats eye diseases, test eyesight, prescribes lenses
  • OUT OF BOUNDS is equivalent to the American term 'off-limits'
  • OVERLEAF is the reverse side of a page as is P.T.O. (please turn over)
  • OVERTAKE is a driving term meaning to pass another car
  • OXBRIDGE is a portmanteau word for the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge
  • P45 is a pink slip
  • PANDA CAR is a small police car
  • PANTOMINE has no American equivalent and is an English Christmas entertainment based on a fairy-tale with a lot of modern singing, dancing and humor - it is not mime
  • PANTS are underpants in American - the English equivalent of American pants is trousers
  • PARAFFIN is kerosene - American 'paraffin' is paraffin wax or white wax
  • PASTRY CASE is a pie crust
  • PASTY is an individual pie as in Cornish Pasty
  • PAVEMENT is sidewalk
  • PERAMBULATOR shortened usually to 'pram' is a baby-carriage
  • PETROL is gasoline
  • PILLAR BOX or POST BOX is a mail-box and its painted red not blue
  • PLAIT is a braid when applied to girls' hair
  • PLASTER is a band-aid
  • PLIMSOLLS are shoes such as American deckshoes
  • PLONK (SLANG) is wine
  • PORRIDGE is oatmeal
  • POLYFILLA is spackle compound
  • POPPERS are snaps
  • PUDDINGS (the term) can be used to group all desserts whether it is cake, pie, ice-cream, custards. British puddings are not like our custard type "Jell-O" pudding
  • PRANG (in a car) is a fender bender
  • PREMIUM BOND is a Government Lottery Bond which has no interest
  • PROVISION is accrual
  • PUB is a public house which is a bar with an English atmosphere which cannot be defined in this small space - go an see one
  • PUB WITH ROOMS - is similar to an inn
  • PUSH-CHAIR is a child's stroller
  • PYLON is a high tension tower
  • QUEUE as a verb it means to stand in line - and woe betide you if you cut in
  • QUID (slang) is a one pound note
  • RED INDIAN means an American Indian - 'Indian' alone means a native of India
  • REDUNDANT is to be released from a job
  • REEL is a spool
  • REFUSE COLLECTOR is a garbage man
  • REGISTER OFFICE is a marriage clerk's office
  • REMEMBRANCE DAY is November 11 or the nearest Sunday and is Veteran Day in America
  • RESIDENT is the name for a person registered at a hotel
  • RETURN TICKET is a round-trip ticket on a train or bus
  • RING ROAD is a circular route around a town
  • RING UP is to telephone
  • ROAD WORKERS is road construction or road repair
  • ROUNDABOUT is a traffic control or a merry-go-round
  • RUBBISH is garbage
  • RUCKSACK is a backpack
  • RUNNER BEANS are string beans
  • SACK is to be fired from a job
  • SCONE is an American soda biscuit and its eaten with butter and often jam and cream
  • SCOTCH EGG is a hard-boiled egg in sausage meat
  • SELLOTAPE is scotchtape
  • SEMI-DETACHED is a duplex or two-family house
  • SEND DOWN means to expel from University although it may indicate only a temporary absence
  • SERVIETTE is a napkin
  • SHANDY is a drink made from beer and lemonade
  • SHEPHERD'S PIE is a dish made from minced beef and potatoes
  • SILENCER of a car is the muffler
  • SISTER in a hospital is the head nurse of a ward
  • SLAP-UP four-star, excellent-refers to food
  • SLATE is to express a harsh criticism
  • SLIPROAD onto a motorway is a ramp
  • SOLICITOR is an attorney
  • SPONGE BAG is a toilet kit
  • SPONGE FINGER is a long, soft, sweet cake or 'lady-finger'
  • SPROUTS is Brussels sprouts
  • SQUASH is a fruit drink
  • STALL in a market is a 'booth' but in a theater is an orchestra seat
  • STARTER is an appetizer
  • STONE referring to weight is 14 pounds
  • SUBWAY is a pedestrian underpass
  • SUMMERTIME is when daylight saving time is in effect
  • SUPER means 'terrific' i.e. splendid
  • SURGICAL SPIRIT is rubbing alcohol
  • SURGERY is a doctor's office
  • SUSPENDERS are garters
  • SWEETS are candy
  • SWISS ROLL is a jelly roll
  • TA informal thank you
  • TABLE the verb means to submit for discussion (the reverse of its American meaning)
  • TAILBACK is a line of traffic
  • TAKEAWAY is carryout
  • TALLBOY is a highboy
  • TAP is faucet
  • TARMAC is pavement
  • TATTY is shabby
  • TEAT is a nipple for baby's bottle
  • TERM is one of the three educational parts of the year - roughly like a semester
  • TERRACE HOUSES is a row of 3 or more usually 2 or 3 stories high
  • THEATRE in a hospital is the operating room
  • THIRD PARTY INSURANCE is liability insurance
  • TIGHTS are pantyhose
  • TIN as a food container is a can
  • TOAD-IN-A-HOLE is a dish of sausage 'bangers' in batter
  • TO PINCH is to steal
  • TORCH flashlight
  • TORY is a member of the Conservative party
  • TRAINERS are sneakers
  • TROUSERS are slacks
  • TUBE in the subway
  • TWEE is arty
  • UNDERDONE referring to meat is rare
  • VACUUM FLASK is a thermos bottle
  • VAN is a small truck
  • VAT is Value-Added Tax. Similar to sales tax in the states
  • VERGE (OF ROAD) is the shoulder
  • VEST is an undershirt in Britain not the American meaning of a 'waistcoat'
  • VILLAGE is a small town without a mayor and usually with under 3,000 people. In the UK can be a handful of houses with a church and a pub, or a larger settlement with shops and community center
  • WASHING UP LIQUID is dishwashing liquid
  • WASHING UP POWDER is laundry soap
  • WC stands for "water closet", in other words, the toilet
  • WELLINGTONS are rubber boots named after the Duke of Wellington
  • WHISKY is Scotch
  • WHISKEY is Irish
  • WHITEHALL is a collective word referring to the government because so many government offices are located around the road
  • WHITE SPIRIT is alcohol
  • WINDSCREEN is a windshield
  • WING of a car is the fender
  • WIRELESS is the original term for radio and is often used by older people
  • WOOLLY is a sweater
  • WRITTEN OFF (CAR) is "totalled"
  • ZEBRA CROSSING is a striped pedestrian crossing
  • ZED is the letter 'z' (or "zee" as pronounced in American English)

Original 1996 reference by Chuck Leverich : chuck@leverich.dungeon.com



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Last Updated 07 May 2010