Funny Slang Words and Vocabulary in American and British English - Owlcation - Education
Updated date:

Funny Slang Words and Vocabulary in American and British English

American Words, British Words

I am an American, and typically, when I ponder British English, I think of charming accents, some slight differences in spelling, and words that sound, well, more formal. Our trash and garbage sound sort of low-class compared to rubbish.

We sometimes use the British spelling for special occasions. For example, my engraved wedding invitations requested the “honour of your presence,” as opposed to the American everyday honor. I guess I have always considered American English a casual version of British English.

Recently, though, I made a friend who is British and living here in the States temporarily. We noticed right off that there were words we used that the other was not quite familiar. It became a bit of a game, and I even started a list of American English versus British English. Some differences were interesting, some were funny, and some were downright hilarious.

Common Dictionary Vocabulary

The first unfamiliar word my friend used was larder. She noticed my confusion and tried cupboard, which at least got me in the right room of the home. I finally figured that she meant pantry, which is where we keep dry foods. The next word came up when we were planning a lunch date. She jotted down the date and time in her diary, while I marked my calendar. If she calls me on the phone, she would ring me up, but if the line was busy, she would say the line was engaged.

On most occasions, I can decipher what my friend means by double-checking the context. Last week, she regretted sending her boys to watch an early morning tennis tournament without their fleeces. I assumed that she meant without their jackets or some kind of pullover. Other times, though, we have to ask each other for clarification. She recently told me a funny tale about a pissed woman, and I wondered what had made the lady angry. Turns out that pissed means drunk. We began to notice that the vocabulary differences were even funnier when we looked at slang words.

Do You Know Your American Slang?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What is a bummer?
    • a hobo or tramp
    • a bad experience
    • a chair
    • the backside of pants or trousers
  2. What is a pad?
    • a wad of money
    • a type of cereal
    • a drink coaster
    • an apartment or place to live
  3. What is a kegger?
    • a beer party
    • a barrel maker
    • a log splitter
    • a cheerleader
  4. What is a clunker?
    • a bed
    • a type of shoe
    • a clumsy person
    • an old large car
  5. What is a flick?
    • an insect
    • a movie
    • a type of soda
    • a ditzy woman
  6. What is a junkie?
    • a drug addict
    • an overweight person
    • a hoarder
    • a type of bird
  7. What does croak mean?
    • to sing
    • to die
    • to be embarrassed
    • to burp
  8. What does cheesy mean?
    • cheap
    • smelly
    • yellow
    • friendly
  9. What is a spud?
    • a policeman
    • a beer
    • a noodle
    • a potato
  10. What does scarf mean?
    • to gag
    • to run
    • to eat quickly
    • to vomit

Answer Key

  1. a bad experience
  2. an apartment or place to live
  3. a beer party
  4. an old large car
  5. a movie
  6. a drug addict
  7. to die
  8. cheap
  9. a potato
  10. to eat quickly

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 3 correct answers: Not looking too good. Try again.

If you got between 4 and 6 correct answers: Aw, come on now. You can do better!

If you got between 7 and 8 correct answers: Pretty good, dude!

If you got 9 correct answers: Good going, cowboy!

If you got 10 correct answers: Welcome to America!

Spotted Dick with Custard

Funny American Slang Words

My British friend was filling out a lottery ticket at the grocery store recently. She glanced up at the young man helping her and asked if he had a rubber. When she noticed his confusion and discomfort, she quickly corrected and asked for an eraser, which, in England, is often called a rubber. For you Brits, a rubber is the slang word for condom in the US. That gave us a chuckle.

Imagine a young British newlywed couple hosting a dinner for their parents. They have gone to great lengths to prepare the home and meal to impress. The bride’s father says: “Well, let me have a butchers at your spotted dick.” This family knows that “have a butchers” means to have a look, and that the spotted dick is a dessert made of pudding and dried fruit. The Americans, however, might be wondering what STD the groom has and why on earth would he be letting his father-in-law "have a butchers" at him, whatever that means! In any case, using the word "butcher" in a sentence with the slang word for a certain male body part is enough to have most American men crossing their legs, to say the least!

Do You Know Your British Slang?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What does cracking mean?
    • awesome
    • ripping apart
    • ugly
    • dying
  2. What does biggie mean?
    • a child's best friend
    • a child's belly button
    • a child's poop
    • a child's pacifier
  3. What is a dummy?
    • a child's best friend
    • a child's belly button
    • a child's poop
    • a child's pacifier
  4. What does Cheerio mean?
    • a cereal
    • goodbye
    • hello
    • a nursery rhyme
  5. What is a doddle?
    • an easy task
    • a child's poop
    • a child's pacifier
    • a difficult task
  6. What does dicky mean?
    • happy
    • angry
    • sick
    • well
  7. What does bung mean?
    • catch
    • throw
    • jump
    • swing
  8. What does whinge mean?
    • whistle
    • whisk
    • whirl
    • whine
  9. What does potty mean?
    • toilet paper
    • purse
    • sad
    • crazy
  10. What does stonking mean?
    • huge
    • tiny
    • smelly
    • lovely

Answer Key

  1. awesome
  2. a child's poop
  3. a child's pacifier
  4. goodbye
  5. an easy task
  6. sick
  7. throw
  8. whine
  9. crazy
  10. huge

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 3 correct answers: What a load of cobblers! Rubbish.

If you got between 4 and 6 correct answers: You need to brush up on your British slang!

If you got between 7 and 8 correct answers: Fair game.

If you got 9 correct answers: Smashing!

If you got 10 correct answers: You must be a Brit! Well done.

Shagging Contest Video Clip

Funny British Slang Words

My friend’s son attends elementary school and was learning a dance in PE class. He was a bit nervous about dancing in front of the others, and the teacher told him to just shake his fanny. He was quite taken aback, since fanny is British slang for a certain female body part! In the US, fanny is the polite word for rear-end, so the teacher was really telling him to “shake his booty.” He would have understood if she had said bum, but that would be the word for hobo in the US. Of course, the British word for hobo is tramp, which in the US means hooker…………..and round and round we go!

Imagine a young American couple nearing their wedding date. The bride-to-be may say to her fiancé, “Hon, our wedding is only two months away - I think we need to take some shagging lessons.” If you live in the US, you know that shagging is a popular swing dance, particularly in my home state, South Carolina. The British, however, would think it quite humourous that this woman would be suggesting lessons in, well……sexual intercourse! That is the British meaning for their slang word, shagging. My friend really gets a kick out of the Shagging Contests that are announced over the radio here.

Comparing American English to British English

It has been very amusing to compare the different vocabulary used in these two parts of the world. It is understandable that the English language evolved a little differently in each area as the years went by, but the slang words make the differences particularly funny.

Besides having a good laugh, though, I do feel better prepared for when I get the chance to visit England. Hopefully, I will not receive too many queer (odd) looks from others, as my friend does when she says to open the bonnet (hood) or close the boot (trunk) of her car. Here are some additional American English to British English terms:

American to British Vocabulary

American termBritish termDefinition

mom

mum

mother

shopping cart/buggy

trolley

a wheeled cart to push around in stores

calendar

diary

a planning chart of days and months

pal

mate

friend

nap

kip

short snooze

diaper

nappy

absorbant material wrapped around infant's bottom to retain waste

baby stroller

pram

a small wheeled-vehicle to push baby around in

liquor store

off-license

store that sells alcohol

bar

pub

an establishment that serves beer

wasted

pissed

intoxicated

barfing

honking

vomiting

the john

the loo

the bathroom

fanny or butt

bum

bottom part of body you sit on

hot

dishy

good-looking

fall

autumn

one of the four seasons

call

ring

make a phone call

mail

post

letters delivered by postal system

vacation

holiday

a trip or time away from work/school

candy

sweets

sweet confections

cookie

biscuit

small sweet cake

french fries

chips

fried potatoes, stick-shaped

potato chips

potato crisps

round thinly-sliced potatoes, fried and crunchy

Comments

Brian Dedd on April 03, 2019:

Another great article. As a Brit who writes in both British and American 'voices', articles like this are very useful to me. Incidentally, we wouldn't usually say 'potato crisps', just 'crisps', as in '2 pints of lager and a packet of crisps, please'. Also, 'pissed' is drunk, but equally 'pissed off' is annoyed, and 'piss off!' is a ruder equivalent of 'get lost!'. 'Taking the piss' or 'having a laugh' means taking liberties.

I think we still have some other mild, archaic swear words that you've probably lost - like bugger, sod, git, etc, & we still sometimes use bloody or bleeding (in London, often "bleedin'") as a slightly rude adjective. "Shag" means "to have sex with", which meant the film about a dance of that name in the 1990s caused considerable amusement. Also 'willy' is an archaic & rather childish name for 'penis', so the film "Free Willy" also caused some hilarity over here.

Also be aware that Aussies, Kiwis and in particular Indians all have their own words & idioms. In Australia, what you call Scotch tape and we call Sellotape is called Durex - a brand of condoms in the UK. Vomiting is usually called 'puking' or 'throwing up' where I come from, but in Australia it's called 'chundering' (allegedly from 'watch-under!'). A 'fanny pack' used to be called a 'bum-bag' over here, though you don't see them so much nowadays, whilst the US 'fanny' is 'bum' or 'arse' (NOT 'ass') in the UK, & the UK word 'fanny' is a slightly-archaic equivalent to the word 'pussy' in the US.

You mention the difference between 'mom' & 'mum', but also in the US you have 'mom & pop stores'; we don't have the same expression, but we refer to parents and 'mum & dad'. And there are loads of words we've absorbed from India; words like verandah (I guess 'porch' might be the nearest US equivalent), bungalow (a single stor(e)y house) & countless words related to curry, which has almost become the British national dish.

And like curry, variety in language is intellectual spice, so the more we have, the better!

Cynthea Clemons-Brown on December 31, 2017:

My husband of 39 years was a proud Englishman and I lived five years total in London. To 'have a butcher's' means TO LOOK - it is Cockney rhyming slang 'have a butcher's hook' which is shortened.

Also, a baby stroller is a 'push-chair' - a 'pram' is short for 'perambulator' and is what we Americans would call a baby buggy or carriage - the old-fashioned kind that you rarely see anymore.

Chuck Stuart, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA on February 22, 2017:

I have two:

I had just met a rather uppity English woman, was walking toward my car, and I said, "Oh, there's the first robin of the season." She responded, "Oh, in England we have tits. They're not very big, but my, how they sing!!

Later that day we dropped her husband off at the clinic, for he had a bum shoulder. As he left the car, she said to him, "Keep your pecker up!" My sons, 11 & 13, were in the back seat desperately trying to stifle their laughter - bless them!

Chuck Stuart

Worcester, MA

chuckstu@gmail.com

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on January 06, 2017:

This is an excellent and quite funny article . I'm American and I spent some time in the British Virgin Islands. I did a double-take when a man suggested that he "knock me up" the next day. Of course, he just meant he was going to come by to see me; he did not mean that he would t impregnate me without outside of wedlock.

Marta on January 21, 2015:

I'm Spanish, and though I've had loads of British English teachers, but never an American, and I've been to England a few times, I knew more american slang!

Robert Levine from Brookline, Massachusetts on January 07, 2015:

Ah yes, as George Bernard Shaw wrote, Great Britain and the United States are the only two countries separated by a common language. Another point of difference is our use of "mad" to mean angry, while the British use "I'm mad about" to mean "I love" (as we would say "I'm crazy about").

Jose on April 08, 2014:

Nicely written! Fun to read!

FullOfLoveSites from United States on March 04, 2013:

Unconsciously I'm using some words such as "flat" (for apartment), "holiday" or "mate"

Another thing, if you haven't included it before, our "truck" is their "lorry". ;)

Anyway, great and entertaining hub. Voted up and interesting. :)

rkawata on February 23, 2013:

Phoenix560's list is very impressive. My British friend found me another one that is a little more basic and with picture. ;)

http://one-europe.info/user/files/Ivan/BritishAmer...

Phoenix560 on November 28, 2012:

I am English and got talking to someone about this today, I love the differences between British English and American English and it is always great fun comparing them. Even the written grammar is different like the use of a full stop (Period in AE) is always on the outside of the enclosed brackets in BE (like this). As opposed to inside.

It has always fascinated me how one natural language can evolve so differently over distance.

If you are interested here is a good comparison table: http://www.usa-vs-uk.com/usvsuk-dictionary.html

Great Hub BTW!!

john on November 22, 2012:

i feel good after reading

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on October 28, 2012:

Hi, Dave. Yes, "fanny" has quite a different meaning from American to British, which makes the above exchange so funny. Thanks for the additional words. I had not heard of "chundering."

Dave H on October 27, 2012:

I am English and have never heard vomiting in our country called honking.......Puking or Chundering are much more common or Throwing Your Guts Up or Throwing Up...

Fanny in England is not known as bum but Vagina....

Here is more .. Getting Your Leg Over, Bonking , To Bonk someone, Banging, A bit of Slap and Tickle all refrering to sex

knowledgeismight from Germany on September 17, 2012:

I'm not a native English speaker and scored AE slang 50% and BE 20% and I was quite sure to know more unusual words. I have read books with curses / swearing and a lot of slang / not commonly known words (especially for foreign speakers) and this is the result. Anyway, I really love to learn more and I appreciate this article. Thanks! (British English could be "Ta" instead of thanks)

Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on August 14, 2012:

I meant to get back to you about 'Having A butcher' it took a while but all of a sudden the saying came back to me. I think you're right most of the slang does come the cockneys in East London, Joyce.

Mazzy Bolero from the U.K. on August 14, 2012:

A bob was a shilling before we got decimal currency, but I'm not sure if it's the same bob here. Funny how you hear these expressions and never think about where it comes from :)

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on August 14, 2012:

Hmmm...never heard of the odds and sods either though it is catchy. A bob is a type of money or coin, isn't it? Maybe it came from that.

Mazzy Bolero from the U.K. on August 14, 2012:

"Bits and bobs" is quite common, as is "odds and sods". "Odds and ends" is used, too, and "bits and pieces" but they aren't as catchy. I don't know where the bobs come from either.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on August 14, 2012:

Yes, could be something like that, Mazzy. She also said "bits and bobs" as we say odds and ends. Not sure where the bobs come from.

Mazzy Bolero from the U.K. on August 14, 2012:

I've never heard of that one, ChaplinSpeaks. We say "props" too. Maybe its idiosyncratic or perhaps regional.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on August 14, 2012:

I can see how cockney slang can be very confusing, almost like a kind of secret code since a rhyming word replaces another and then in some cases, the first rhyming word (like hook) is left off. I will have to check out Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.

Loo does sound much nicer than toilet or "the john."

My British friend is back in England now and just told me she gave a speech using "artifacts." Finally figured out that she meant "props"!

melbelle from Southern United States on August 11, 2012:

This is a cool hub. I have read books that are more popular in England and written by authors who reside in England, and sometimes I have to read the sentence a couple times to realize what they are talking about. I love their slang over in England. I wish we said "loo" over here instead of "toilet" - so much nicer!

Joshua Patrick from Texas on August 11, 2012:

That's correct - cockney slang is all about rhyming, and often the rhyming word is left out of the statement... like "let's have a butcher's." If you want an entertaining example of this, then watch Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels!

Mazzy Bolero from the U.K. on August 11, 2012:

It's "butcher's hook" - rhymes with look.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on August 10, 2012:

Hi, writer20. Seems like the "have a butchers" came from an old cockney rhyme, so, like you said - may have originated in a different area from you. I now have a new interest for England and will have to chart the different areas.

Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on August 10, 2012:

Being a Brit I understood everything in your great hub. I've been in the U.S . for 30 years now and still remember most of slang words, except I've never heard of Have a Butcher means take a look. It maybe because we come different areas in England. I'm from Tonbridge Kent.

Voted up, funny and interesting.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 28, 2012:

Mazzy, we have something called wing chips which may be similar to your salt and vinegar chips. They are thinly sliced and you can get them crispy, soggy, or in between. I like mine kind of soggy with the malt vinegar. The curry sauce sounds good!

Mayo - seems like you either love it or hate it. As for me, hold the mayo!

Mazzy Bolero from the U.K. on July 28, 2012:

I dunno, actually! I only know the Belgians did it. There's a difference between the traditional large chips we eat with fish and the thin fries we get in MacDonalds. The large chips we eat with salt & vinegar and sometimes curry sauce. Fries tend to come with dips such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and maybe mayonaisse, so perhaps that is changing our eating habits.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 28, 2012:

Hi, Mazzy. I have heard of people in Germany, Italy, France and the UK dipping french fries in mayo. How widespread is this?

Mazzy Bolero from the U.K. on July 28, 2012:

I'm British and I've never heard of mayo on chips (French fries) either. The British tradition is salt and malt vinegar, but we also use ketchup. I thought it was the Belgians who put mayo on their chips!

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 28, 2012:

Hi, BlissfulWriter. Yes, and it may help one from putting his foot in his mouth!

Hi, GFTJ. I, too, would like to visit across the pond, well maybe after the Olympics have cleared out.

Joshua Patrick from Texas on July 28, 2012:

Cockney rhyming slang is always fun to try to decipher - Michael Caine is fluent in it. I plan on traveling to the UK as soon as I an afford it.

BlissfulWriter on July 27, 2012:

Nice handy translation table of American to British words for those traveling to United Kingdom.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 27, 2012:

Hi, Georgie. Mayo on chips sounds terrible to me! You know, I think my friend would call her chips "crisps", and her "chips" would be her french fries!

GH Price from North Florida on July 27, 2012:

I had a friend from England and we had some of the same problems. She kept wanting to go outside and smoke a fag. And she broke wind. ( A LOT!)

She also asked for mayo for her chips and kept trying to get in on the wrong side of the car. It was awesome.

Great Hub, I enjoyed reading it.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 27, 2012:

Hi, bluebird. Scrabble is my absolute favorite board game! Glad you could pick up some new lingo for the game.

bluebird on July 27, 2012:

Great hub! My husband and I play Scrabble every chance we get so we are always looking for new words and enjoy collecting them. This hub was interestingly funny.

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on July 14, 2012:

I agree, Rebecca, it's a foreign language to me :)

Rebecca on July 13, 2012:

I don't think stones will ever be phased out in the same way they have in the states - as long as we use pounds, we'll always use stone too. As Trish M says, we have started using kilos more, particularly at the doctors, but I think most Brits still don't have a real understanding of what that is - we know how much a stone is, but a kilo is still some strange thing that they use on the continent. If someone told me they weighed say, 60 kilos, I would have no context to put that in, I have no idea if it's heavy, light, average, it really doesn't mean anything to me.

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on July 13, 2012:

Ho again :)

I always use 'stones' for my weight, though medical officialdom tends to use 'kilos' now. I usually ask for an English translation. :)

We use 'diary' in two ways. One can be a 'secret journal'; the other is an engagement diary.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 12, 2012:

Hi, Rebecca. I had not heard the "can I use your dog" - funny and I will add it to my personal list, and may actually start using the phrase a bit to freak out my friends. I noticed the diary/calendar difference when my friend said she would write our lunch date down in her diary. A diary for us is a secret journal to write down thoughts. Dayplanner might be a better term for the American "diary". We never say kip - interesting how it is used depending on the relationship.

Do you still use stones for measurement? I was thinking that term had been phased out. No, we have never used stones. I had to actually look it up to see that it is about 14 pounds, though that figure has not been constant over the years.

With all this new info, I may have to write a second article, a part 2! Thanks for your input.

Rebecca on July 12, 2012:

Great hub! I have a lot of American friends and we often have such difficulties. My boyfriend's australian and while we might not have as many difficulties, it's still quite interesting - especially since we learn a lot of American slang from TV shows, but Australian slang just comes from right out of nowhere. There were a couple of things in your list that I kind of disagree with (no offence!)

1 - calendar/diary: we use both, but when we say calendar we mean something that hangs on the wall, whereas a diary is a book.

2 - nap/kip: we say both. I'd actually consider 'kip' to be a much more... common word, as in I wouldn't say it to someone I had a formal relationship with, for example a teacher, but I would say it to a friend. Nap I think I would say to anyone.

I thought maybe something that would interest you (if you haven't heard it already) is the phrase 'can I use you dog?' which means 'can I use your phone?' it comes from that same old wonderful source as 'a butchers' and I think cockney rhyming slang is probably the most confusing of all our slang, I wouldn't even expect another English person to know what it meant in most cases. The way 'butchers' comes from butcher's hook = look, 'dog' comes from dog and bone = phone.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was talking to an American friend and I realised that, even though you use pounds, you don't know what a stone is? Or if you do, you don't use it? It took them ages to convince me that your country isn't about to fall apart just because you don't have a handy stepping stone from pounds to tonnes, but I'm still not quite sure I'm over that one!

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 09, 2012:

Hi, Gypsy Rose Lee. I am wondering now how my British friend is getting on back in England after living in the US awhile and picking up some of our slang. She may have that American/British mixed slang now, or at least an expanded vocabulary!

Hi, oceansider. Glad you liked this hub. It is not my typical kind of article, but it sure was fun writing it!

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 09, 2012:

Trish, now that I think about it, we do have something we call a change purse - a small pouch with a clasp that keeps loose change. Not used so much in recent times, but kids like to have them - the ones with Hello Kitty or Spiderman on them anyway.

oceansider on July 09, 2012:

I had fun reading this and taking the quizzes....thanks for a unique hub!

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on July 09, 2012:

This was great. Voted up and awesome. Still chuckling. Wow coming from the states I agree still having some tough times getting on with British slang cause this is Europe. But here in Latvia I don't have to worry about it too much. Wonder what a mix of American and English slang would be like? Thanks for sharing this delightful hub and passing it on.

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on July 09, 2012:

Ah! A wallet! That's what my daughter suggested that it would be. Over here, men use wallets; women use purses. :)

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 09, 2012:

Hi, Trish.

A wallet!

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on July 09, 2012:

Hi ChaplinSpeaks :)

OK. So, if your handbag and your purse are the same thing, what do you keep your money in??

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on July 09, 2012:

Hi, chef-de-jour, Mazzy, Trish, and Nell. You really have cheered me up today with your comments. My British friend has just moved back to England, and I am missing her so much! You have given me some new slang to add to my list.

Trish, we still say pocketbook in my area, but maybe an old fashion term? Not sure. All three words - pocketbook, purse, handbag - mean the same thing to me. We also have the clutch, which is a very small handbag without straps.

Nell Rose from England on July 08, 2012:

So funny! I couldn't stop laughing! being English it really 'curls me up' (makes me laugh) when the Americans and English try to speak the same language! I remember when my friend went to the States and being in a nightclub, went up to this guy and said, 'scuse me, have you got a fag?! lol! she meant, of course, a cigarette! that's what we call them! she was politely told in a whisper that fag out there meant something else! haha! she also got really stroppy (pissed) with a guy when he walked past and said, there goes the biggest bum in America, he was talking about another guy, she thought he meant her backside! lol! so funny.

Tricia Mason from The English Midlands on July 08, 2012:

Hi :)

As an Englishwoman, I found that very amusing.

I think that US TV programmes have been very informative for the British, re American Engish.

The English do use the terms 'pal' and larder', though.

As for 'calendar' and 'diary', I use both. The diary is the little book in my handbag and the calendar hangs on the wall. Both have my appointments noted in / on them.

Oh, and 'handbag', isn't that a 'purse' in America, while a 'purse' is a ... not sure .. is it 'pocketbook', or something like that???

English slang: 100%

US slang: 80%

Mazzy Bolero from the U.K. on July 08, 2012:

Actually, Paul Kheun, we say "half two" informally for "half-past two". The 'pants' thing is funny, chef-de-jour, and there's a similar thing for women - what we call knickers are called panties in the US - knickers are usually outerwear! When I was at a US high school, what we call knickerbockers briefly came into fashion and the school set up a 'no knickers' rule!

Andrew Spacey from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on July 08, 2012:

A proper good hub ChaplinSpeaks! Isn't it curious the way a language evolves when it travels and meets up with fresh culture? Different spelling, meaning and expression.

The first time I heard an American say 'pants' when they really meant 'trousers' was very puzzling and amusing. 'Take your pants off please' was one step too far at the time!

Lovely presentation dear.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on May 22, 2012:

Hi, Hannah. It really is a fun topic. Good to bring some laughter to the classroom, too!

Hannah-g919 from Incheon, South Korea on May 21, 2012:

Yes you are spot on! I am a Brit living in South Korea teaching English to high schoolers, most of their vocab is from American sources so we have a good laugh trying to figure one another out!

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on May 07, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by, CircleSquaring, and for the vote. Welcome to Hub Pages, mate!

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on May 07, 2012:

Thanks, Paul. I have noticed some things my friend says are just a little different, and now that I think about it - it is those prepositions.

CircleSquaring from Dallas, Texas on May 07, 2012:

I say, good show, old chap! Voted up, indeed.

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on May 02, 2012:

This is a very interesting hub for me because I have been working with British teachers in Thailand teaching EFL for the past 5 years. I have heard a lot of the slang which you have introduced nicely in this article. Besides differences in words and spelling, the Brits also use prepositions a little differently than we do. I hear so many Brits say "me mom" and "two and a half" for half past two. Voted up and sharing.

Nellie on May 01, 2012:

Coming from NZ we use a mix of both American and British words, and in general we know the meaning's for both, and it's always funny when tourists both from the UK and the USA have no idea what we are saying.

Then of course there is slang that is uniquely Kiwi.

Interesting article.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 30, 2012:

Hi, nishlaverz. Thanks - I have a few more to add to the list now! It seems the American quiz is easier for most people - maybe due to popular American movies?

nishlaverz from N.E England on April 30, 2012:

I actually meant to say fadge is a name used for a type of bread bun but is is also used like fanny as a name for a certain part of a woman anatomy.

nishlaverz from N.E England on April 30, 2012:

I scored more on the American quiz than the British yet I'm English. However as a pit yacker a fanny is a bread bun.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 29, 2012:

Thanks, mbyL! I just had an email from my British friend today asking for clarification on a certain word. Can't repost it b/c here, it is a bad one!

Slaven Cvijetic from Switzerland, Zurich on April 29, 2012:

Very funny and amusing to read! Shared Voted up and Funny!

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 18, 2012:

Thanks, Rebecca! That is funny about the pie. You are right about the differences we can find without leaving the US. There is a Southern saying heard at school "You get what you get, so don't throw a fit" In the North, they say "You get what you get, so don't be upset" It rhymes depending on how you pronounce "get"

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on April 18, 2012:

This is very interesting and entertaining as well! And you don't have to leave the country to experience colloquial differences! I had a professor down at AASU that discussed language, dialect and accent differences. She mentioned going to NYC and someone asking if she would like to have "pie" for dinner. (meaning pizza) she thought they were talking about just the dessert! Great Hub, I enjoyed it!

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 14, 2012:

Thanks, robertlucian! It was a fun topic to write about.

robertlucian on April 13, 2012:

Good Job. Thanks for sharing I enjoyed reading.

Voted up and tweeted

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 13, 2012:

Thanks, missolive! Nappy is a funny one - I have heard it used to mean fuzzy, like as in carpet or even someone's hair. Then for the Scottish, it means liquor.

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on April 13, 2012:

Great job - I have family that lives 'across the pond'

I'll be sure to share these with them. I wrote a hub on potty training recently and someone commented about the nappy - I figured they meant a diaper. Now I know! :)

Voted up and tweeted

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 12, 2012:

Thanks, amithak50. Yes, it is interesting how the "u" was dropped from many of the "ou" words. Also a change from many "ise" words to "ize."

amithak50 from India on April 12, 2012:

Being from a non english speaking country and when I was child ,I sometimes confused in spelling like "colors" or "colours" but I got after sometimes that one is American and other is british ..Nice hub ..Thanks for sharing

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 11, 2012:

Thanks, Teresa. That is so neat! Did not know that your mum is a Brit! My friend just said she can't believe that I call an infant's stroller a "baby carriage" - said it sounded so royal.

Teresa Coppens from Ontario, Canada on April 11, 2012:

What a fantastic hub topic! I really got a crack out of this one! I will have to show this one to my mum as she is straight from the island. We used to giggle as kids with our friends when she used many of the British phrases in your hub table.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 11, 2012:

I know what you mean! Sometimes around my friend, I feel like I even pick up her accent.

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on April 11, 2012:

I will start writing them down - my memory is so shot these days! I have started saying a few things they say, e.g., kids, get on the path (sidewalk), a car's coming; do you want to come round to ours (do you want to come over to our house), etc. ;)

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 11, 2012:

Thanks, Robin. Let us know of any other funny sayings from your friends if there are more!

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on April 11, 2012:

Our neighbors and good friends are British expats, so we have become very familiar with many of these sayings and words. I loved the table of the differences! ;)

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 11, 2012:

Thanks, alissa! It seems my friend has a funny story on this about every week. My mother travels to London Friday, and I am wondering if she will put her foot in her mouth somehow!

Alissa Roberts from Normandy, TN on April 10, 2012:

How funny! The story about your friend's son was hilarious. I can just imagine his face as the teacher tells him to shake his fanny. Great job with this useful and very entertaining hub - voted up!

Rachel Vega from Massachusetts on April 10, 2012:

:) Very fun. This is especially useful as I plan to take a trip across the pond soon! Voted up and funny.

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 10, 2012:

Thanks, Mazzy. I had not heard of a Wankers here yet, but just saw online a Wankers Corner in Oregon! Too funny!

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 10, 2012:

Ha Ha, Larry! I had to look that one up. Didn't know "knock me up" was slang for "wake me up". Yes, quite a different meaning in the US! Thanks for the vote up.

Mazzy Bolero from the U.K. on April 10, 2012:

An entertaining hub. Some of the US slang words are used in Britain, too, but I dunno if this is because we hear them so much in American movies, or whether they are just older words than we realize. Another one: from the fact that there are bars and restaurants in the US called "Wankers", I infer that word does not mean the same in the US as it does in Britain,

Larry Fields from Northern California on April 09, 2012:

Voted up and much more. Here's my all-time favorite British slang expression: Knock me up!

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 09, 2012:

Thanks, teaches12345! It has been a fun learning experience for me as well. My friend just threw a few more at me, so I may need to revise soon!

Dianna Mendez on April 09, 2012:

I really learned a lot from your hub. Your writing style made it so enjoyable. I scored 100% on the American slang quiz, guess that means I have been around. Took the British quiz and only scored 50%, but again, I did learn from it. Fun article!

Sarah Johnson (author) from Charleston, South Carolina on April 09, 2012:

Thanks, alifeofdesign. It was a fun topic, and I am sure there are many other funny stories out there about language misunderstandings!

Graham Gifford from New Hamphire on April 09, 2012:

Fun hub! Thanks for sharing I enjoyed reading.

Related Articles