British vs. American English: 10 different words you might not know the meaning of
On the whole, British and American speakers of English have very few problems understanding one another. Over the last half a century or so television and film have done much to familiarise Americans with British English (BrE) and Britons with American English (AmE).
There are actually thousands of vocabulary differences between British and American English. While many of these words can be instantly understood by speakers from the other country, other words might easily baffle someone who hasn’t spent a long period of time in both countries.
First let’s look at some of the well-known vocabulary differences between Britain and the United States. Native speakers from either country should know all of these:
10 well-known vocabulary differences
petrol (BrE), gas (AmE)
pavement (BrE), sidewalk (AmE)
lift (BrE), elevator (AmE)
boot (BrE), trunk (AmE)
lorry (BrE), truck (AmE)
sweets (BrE), candy (AmE)
car park (BrE), parking lot (AmE)
motorway (BrE), highway (AmE)
biscuit (BrE), cookie (AmE)
rubbish (BrE), garbage (AmE)
OK, they were the easy ones. Now try 10 more difficult ones, some of which may be completely unknown or are liable to cause some confusion between an American and British speaker.
10 lesser-known vocabulary differences
How many do you know? (The correct answers are at the bottom of the page.)
- _______ (BrE) / barf (AmE)
- pedestrain crossing (BrE) / _______ (AmE)
- _______ (BrE) / downspout (AmE)
- drawing pin (BrE) / _______ (AmE)
- flyover (BrE) / _______(AmE)
- _______ (BrE) / teeter-totter (AmE)
- _______ (BrE) / rutabaga (AmE)
- _______ (BrE) / eggplant (AmE)
- _______ (BrE) / antsy (AmE)
- braces (BrE) / _______ (AmE)
(Scroll down to see the answers.)
Here are the answers:
- vomit (BrE) / barf (AmE)
- pedestrian crossing (BrE) / crosswalk (AmE)
- drainpipe (BrE) / downspout (AmE)
- drawing pin (BrE) / thumbtack (AmE)
- flyover (BrE) / overpass (AmE)
- see-saw (BrE) / teeter-totter (AmE)
- swede (BrE) / rutabaga (AmE)
- aubergine (BrE) / eggplant (AmE)
- fidgety (BrE) / antsy (AmE)
- braces (BrE) / suspenders (AmE)
How did you do? Can you add to the list? Please leave a comment below and let me know.
In a future post I’ll look at grammar points which differ between British and American English.
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