Differences in English Translation: How Brits and North Americans see the world through different words.

What is the difference between “I am going to spend a penny” and “I am going to the restroom”? It is just a linguistic one. North American and British people have many expressions with the same meaning but they usually use different words. These differences grew into a book called “The UK to USA Dictionary: British English vs. American English” whose third edition has just come out with more revisions and additions.

You can find below some terms from the book:


Afters: Dessert

Anorak: Parka

Aubergine: Eggplant

Banger: Sausage or firecracker

Bap: Hamburger bun

Beetle crushers: Heavy boots

Bog: Toilet

Bridge roll: Hog dog bun

Buns: Muffins or cupcakes

Call box: Phone booth

Candy floss: Cotton candy

Cash point or hole-in-the-wall: ATM

Chemist: Pharmacist

Coach: Bus

Codswallop: Nonsense

Conjurer: Magician

Courgette: Zucchini

Crumpet: English muffin

Davenport: Writing desk, bureau

Drawing pin: Thumbtack

Dustcart: Garbage truck

Eggs and soldiers: Eggs and toast strips

Face flannel: washcloth

First floor: Second floor

Fish slice: Spatula

Flyover: Overpass

Gangway: Aisle

Gormless: Stupid, lacking sense

Hair grip: Bobby pin

Hire car: Rental car

Hoarding: Billboard

Iced lolly: Popsicle

Kagoul: Windbreaker

Kitchen roll: Paper towel

Knickers: Women’s panties

The local: Neighborhood tavern

Motorway: Freeway

Muppet: Dimwit

Nappy: Diaper

Niff: A smell, stink

Off license: Liquor store

Orbital: Beltway

Plaster: Band-Aid

Power point: Electrical outlet

Rubber: Eraser

Scrummy: Delicious

Sleeping policemen: Speed bumps

Silver paper: Aluminum foil

Skip: Dumpster

Tomato sauce: Ketchup

Read the whole article.

About TermCoord

The Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Schuman Building on Place de l'Europe, Luxembourg
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2 Responses to Differences in English Translation: How Brits and North Americans see the world through different words.

  1. oliverlawrence says:

    Some of these allegedly American terms – like ketchup, toilet and magician – are also widely used in the UK and have been for years; they wouldn’t be thought of as (and probably aren’t) American imports. Dividing lines are often not categorical. Although America’s larger population and greater insularity probably lead to a greater flow of imports from west to east across the Pond than vice-versa.

  2. Pingback: Weekly favorites (Apr 2-8) | Adventures in Freelance Translation

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