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Is British and American English the same language

In the words of the poet and playwright Bernard Shaw, “England and America are two countries separated by the same language.” Whilst many words mean exactly the same in both countries there are some amusing differences and in many instances a totally different word is used for the same thing.

If you don’t want to leave brits scratching their head to what you mean, then knowing the differences is a must. For instance asking for gas in a petrol station won’t get you very far. And referring to our beloved national game as soccer won’t help you make many friends.

The spelling of words that sound the same can also be different. This can be attributed to the divergence of American English in the early 18 century when Americans started spelling words as they sounded opposed to British English spellings which retains the spelling of words it has absorbed from other languages, such as French and German.

Courtesy of the Oxford English dictionary here are some differences in everyday words. 

British English

American English

accommodation

accommodations

action replay

instant replay

aerofoil

Airfoil

aeroplane

Airplane

agony aunt

advice columnist

Allen key

Allen wrench

aluminium

Aluminium

aniseed

Anise

anticlockwise

counterclockwise

articulated lorry

tractor-trailer

asymmetric bars

uneven bars

aubergine

Eggplant

baking tray

cookie sheet

bank holiday

legal holiday

beetroot

beet(s)

biscuit

cookie; cracker

black economy

underground economy

blanket bath

sponge bath

block of flats

apartment building

boiler suit

Coveralls

bonnet (of a car)

Hood

boob tube

tube top

boot (of a car)

Trunk

bottom drawer

hope chest

bowls

lawn bowling

braces

suspenders

brawn (the food)

headcheese

breakdown van

tow truck

breeze block

cinder block

bridging loan

bridge loan

bumbag

fanny pack

candyfloss

cotton candy

car park

parking lot

casualty

emergency room

catapult

slingshot

central reservation

median strip

chemist

drugstore

chips

French fries

cinema

movie theater; the movies

cling film

plastic wrap

common seal

harbor seal

consumer durables

durable goods

cornflour

cornstarch

cos (lettuce)

Romaine

cot

crib

cot death

crib death

cotton bud

cotton swab

cotton wool

absorbent cotton

council estate

(housing) project

courgette

zucchini

court card

face card

crash barrier

guardrail

crisps

chips; potato chips

crocodile clip

alligator clip

cross-ply

bias-ply

crotchet (music)

quarter note

current account

checking account

danger money

hazard pay

demister (in a car)

defroster

dialling tone

dial tone

diamante

rhinestone

double cream

heavy cream

draughts (game)

checkers

drawing pin

thumbtack

dressing gown

robe; bathrobe

drink-driving

drunk driving

drinks cupboard

liquor cabinet

drinks party

cocktail party

driving licence

driver’s license

dual carriageway

divided highway

dummy (for a baby)

pacifier

dust sheet

drop cloth

dustbin

garbage can

earth (electrical)

ground

engaged (of a phone)

busy

estate agent

real estate agent, realtor (trademark)

estate car

station wagon

ex-directory

unlisted

faith school

parochial school

financial year

fiscal year

fire brigade/service

fire company/department

first floor

second floor

fish finger

fish stick

fitted carpet

wall-to-wall carpeting

flannel

washcloth

flat

apartment

flexitime

flextime

flick knife

switchblade

flyover

overpass

football

soccer

footway

sidewalk

fringe (hair)

bangs

full stop (punctuation)

period

garden

yard; lawn

gearing (finance)

leverage

gear lever

gearshift

goods train

freight train

greaseproof paper

wax paper/waxed paper

green fingers

green thumb

grill (noun)

broiler

grill (verb)

broil

ground floor

first floor

groundsman

groundskeeper

hairslide

barrette

hatstand

hatrack

hen night

bachelorette party

hire purchase

installment plan

hoarding

billboard

hob

stovetop

holdall

carryall

holiday

vacation

holidaymaker

vacationer

homely

homey

hosepipe

(garden) hose

in hospital

in the hospital

hot flush

hot flash

housing estate

housing development

hundreds and thousands

sprinkles (for ice cream)

ice lolly

Popsicle (trademark)

icing sugar

confectioners’ sugar

indicator (on a car)

turn signal

inside leg

inseam

jelly babies

jelly beans

Joe Bloggs

Joe Blow

Joe Public

John Q. Public

jumble sale

rummage sale

jump lead

jumper cable

jumper

sweater

junior school

elementary school

kennel

doghouse

ladybird

ladybug

a lettuce

a head of lettuce

level crossing

grade crossing

lift

elevator

lolly

lollipop

lollipop lady (or man)

crossing guard

loose cover

slipcover

lorry

truck

loudhailer

bullhorn

low loader

flatbed truck

lucky dip

grab bag

luggage van

baggage car

maize

corn

mangetout

snow pea

market garden

truck farm

marshalling yard

railroad yard

maths

math

metalled road

paved road

milometer

odometer

minim  (music)

half note

mobile phone

cell phone

monkey tricks

monkeyshines

motorway

expressway; highway

mum/mummy

mom/mommy

nappy

diaper

needlecord

pinwale

newsreader

newscaster

noughts and crosses

tic-tac-toe

number plate

license plate

off-licence

liquor store; package store

opencast mining

open-pit mining

ordinary share

common stock

oven glove

oven mitt

paddling pool

wading pool

paracetamol

acetaminophen

parting (in hair)

part

patience

solitaire

pavement

sidewalk

pay packet

pay envelope

pedestrian crossing

crosswalk

peg

clothespin

pelmet

valance

petrol

gas; gasoline

physiotherapy

physical therapy

pinafore dress

jumper

plain chocolate

dark chocolate

plain flour

all-purpose flour

polo neck

turtleneck

positive discrimination

reverse discrimination

postal vote

absentee ballot

postbox

mailbox

postcode

zip code

potato crisp

potato chip

power point

electrical outlet

pram

baby carriage; stroller

press stud

snap

press-up

pushup

private soldier

GI

public school

private school

public transport

public transportation

punchbag

punching bag

pushchair

stroller

pylon

utility pole

quantity surveyor

estimator

quaver (music)

eighth note

queue

line

racing car

race car

railway

railroad

real tennis

court tennis

recorded delivery

certified mail

registration plate

license plate

remould (tyre)

retread

reverse the charges

call collect

reversing lights

back-up lights

right-angled triangle

right triangle

ring road

beltway

roundabout (at a fair)

carousel

roundabout (in road)

traffic circle

rowing boat

rowboat

sailing boat

sailboat

saloon (car)

sedan

sandpit

sandbox

sandwich cake

layer cake

sanitary towel

sanitary napkin

self-raising flour

self-rising flour

semibreve (music)

whole note

semitone (music)

half step

share option

stock option

shopping trolley

shopping cart

show house/home

model home

silencer (on a car)

muffler

silverside

rump roast

skeleton in the cupboard

skeleton in the closet

skimmed milk

skim milk

skipping rope

jump rope

skirting board

baseboard

sledge

sled

sleeper

railroad tie

sleeping partner

silent partner

slowcoach

slowpoke

snakes and ladders

chutes and ladders

solicitor

lawyer

soya/soya bean

soy/soybean

splashback

backsplash

spring onion

scallion

stag night

bachelor party

Stanley knife

utility knife

starter

appetizer

state school

public school

storm in a teacup

tempest in a teapot

surtitle

supertitle

swede

rutabaga

sweet(s)

candy

takeaway (food)

takeout; to go

taxi rank

taxi stand

tea towel

dish towel

terrace house

row house

tick

check mark

ticket tout

scalper

timber

lumber

titbit

tidbit

toffee apple

candy apple or caramel apple

touch wood

knock on wood

trade union

labor union

trading estate

industrial park

trainers

sneakers

transport cafe

truck stop

trolley

shopping cart

twelve-bore

twelve-gauge

underground

subway

vacuum flask

thermos bottle

verge (of a road)

shoulder

vest

undershirt

veterinary surgeon

veterinarian

wagon (on a train)

car

waistcoat

vest

walking frame

walker

wardrobe

closet

water ice

Italian ice

weatherboard

clapboard

white coffee

coffee with cream

white spirit

mineral spirits

wholemeal bread

wholewheat bread

windcheater

windbreaker

windscreen

windshield

wing (of a car)

fender

worktop

countertop

zebra crossing

crosswalk

zed (letter Z)

zee

zip

zipper

 

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