This article was updated by the Great British Mag content team on 16 November 2021
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 heads 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 18th century when Americans started spelling words as they sounded. British English has retained the spelling of words it has absorbed from other languages, such as French and German.
|British English||American English|
|Action replay||Instant replay|
|Agony aunt||Advice columnist|
|Autumn||Fall (as in the season)|
|Baking tray||Cookie sheet|
|Bank holiday||Legal holiday or federal holiday|
|Bin, dustbin or rubbish bin||Garbage can, trash can or wastebasket|
|Biscuit||Cookie or cracker|
|Chemist||Drugstore or pharmacy|
|Fizzy drink||Soda or pop|
|Jumper||Sweater or sweatshirt|
|Kitchen roll||Paper towels|
|Loo or WC||Bathroom or restroom|
|Loo roll||Toilet paper|
|Mobile or mobile phone||Cell or cell phone|
|Pants||Underpants, underwear, or panties|
|Sweets or sweetshop||Candy or candy store|
|To ring||To call (on the telephone)|
|Trainers||Sneakers or tennis shoes|