American British Notes (http://www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/~jphb/american.html)
aluminum * aluminium Interesting discussion at
boro borough "boro" is informal and is sometimes seen in British road markings. In Scotland the word is "burgh" but it is pronounced "burr" or, sometimes, "borough" NOT "berg".
bylaw bye law
catalog catalogue +
curb kerb Edge of roadway or pavement. "curb" in the sense of "restrain" is used in British and American English.
dialog dialogue +
donut doughnut "donut" is informal and is quite commonly used in BE to suggest that the bun is of a typical American character.
gage gauge + American usage is obsolete
gray grey +
license licence British usage is license for the verb and licence for the noun
meter metre British usage is "meter" for a measuring device and "metre" for the unit of length. A correspondent suggests that the US military prefers "metre".
mustache moustache +
nite night "nite" is informal in both AE and BE.
omelet omelette +
pajamas US pyjamas
practice practise British usage is "practise" for the verb and "practice" for the noun
program programme British usage is "program" for computers and "programme" for television or radio.
story storey of building
sulfur sulphur + According to a correspondent the American spelling is now "official" British spelling for use by professional chemists but it is unlikely to be recognised by any other British English speaker.
thru through + American usage is obsolescent but may still be seen on road signs etc.,
tire tyre part of wheel in contact with road
vise vice tool
Generally American English -or as a word ending is equivalent to -our in British English, American -er as a word ending is sometimes equivalent to -re in British English. In American English the final e is removed from verbs before adding -ing, in correct British English this is not done giving "routeing" (British) and "routing" (American), however the American practice of dropping the "e" is becoming quite common in British English. If a verb ends in a single 'l' then the American -ing, -ed and -er forms also have a single 'l' whereas the British forms have a double 'll'. For example American English has signaler, signaling and signaled whereas British English has signaller, signalling and signalled. American English tends to prefer -ize and -ization whereas British English prefers -ise and -isation contrary to statements by certain well-known British authorities and much spell checking software.
Canadian spelling seems to be intermediate between the British and American (US) forms but is generally closer to British practice. There are variations from province to province. A quiet half-hour spent perusing the Vancouver Yellow Pages suggested that "aluminium", "gauge", "jewellery" and "mould" are preferred. [OK - I know there are better things to do in Vancouver !]. Some correspondents have suggested that Canadians normally use "aluminum".
There are, of course, exceptions to the above rules. American usage is "glamour" not "glamor" and "advertising" not "advertizing". British usage has "honorary" and "honorific" without the "u". Several correspondents have also noted that the British usages "centre" and "theatre" are displacing the American usages, particularly where the establishment in question wants to suggest that it is of superior quality.
When spelling out words (and 'phone numbers) it is British practice to say things such as "double e" for "ee" and "treble 3" for "333".
Please note that "tonne" is not a British spelling of "ton" but a quite separate metric unit equal to 1000 kg as distinct from the British ton of 2240 lbs (= 1016.96 kg).
As I receive more information from American correspondents it is becoming clearer that there are quite widespread regional variations in both the US and Canada, this looks like an interesting topic for further study.
The second part of the list shows common differences in usage. I.e. those cases where different words are used to describe the same thing. The primary purpose of this list is to indicate American usages that would be unfamiliar to speakers of British English. The following indications appear alongside some of the American and Canadian usages.
* Many American usages are familiar to British English speakers. This asterisk indicates American usages that are comparatively unfamiliar or unknown.
obs These are American usages that are, according to correspondents, obsolete or obsolescent. American English speakers now use the same words as British English speakers.
Can These usages are, I believe, confined to Canada. In general Canadian English is more similar to American English than British English. Where Canadian usage is the same as British usage as distinct from American usage this is indicated.
US These usages are confined to the USA and are not known in Canada or the UK.
? I'm not certain about the meaning of the American usage, further information will be welcome.
AE American English
BE British English
CE Canadian English
American/Canadian British Notes
airplane * aeroplane
alligator pear Obs avocado
AM Medium Wave Radio stations broadcasting using amplitude modulation on frequencies in the range 555-1600 kHz. In Europe (and the UK) the actual frequency range is 531 to 1611 kHz with 9KHz channel spacing. Stations do not have distinctive callsigns. There are (in the UK) a number of national stations (not all operated by the BBC) that can be heard anywhere in the country.
antenna aerial Electronics. A correspondent has suggested that AE uses "aerial" for rod type antennae such as the "rabbit ears" sometimes used with TV sets.
apartment flat A flat occupying more than one floor is called a "maisonette" in BE and a "duplex" in New York. A correspondent suggests that CE uses "flat" to refer to accommodation with some shared facilities and another suggests that AE uses "townhouse" to refer to a multi-level apartment. Another correspondent suggests that AE reserves the word "apartment" to refer to rented accommodation. BE does not distinguish between owned flats and rented flats.
apartment house/building block of flats See entry for "condominium".
appetizer starter, hors d'oeuvre "hors d'oeuvre" is rather posh.
area code dialling code Telephone. The obsolescent BE phrase STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialling) code may be encountered.
arugula rocket Edible plant used in salads.
asphalt Tarmac The BE term is proprietary. A composite of bitumen (a tarry substance) and gravel used for surfacing/paving roads etc. In American usage "tarmac" is used to refer to surface of airport runways etc. A macadamised road is one with a surface of carefully graded stones first devised by John Macadam in the early 19th century. "Tarmacadam" refers to the same form of road construction with a final layer of a tarry substance designed partially to prevent vehicles throwing up dust and small stones and partially to prevent rainwater seeping into the road structure. According to a correspondent oil men use "asphalt" to refer to something found down an oil well.
attached home obs semi-detached house A pair of dwellings sharing a single common wall. There are, apparently, significant regional US variations in the names of types of housing.
attorney lawyer See notes on "lawyer".
auto, automobile obs car The word "auto" is still sometimes seen in notices and road signs. The American usages would sound strange to British ears.
automated teller machine (ATM) cashpoint A "hole in the wall" machine from which you can get money.
baby carriage pram, perambulator The word "perambulator" is very pompous. This is a substantial crib or cot-like container kept well clear of the ground on large wheels.
backpack/backbag rucksack Carrier for camping equipment etc., usually with a metal frame, worn on the back.
back-up light * reversing light AE prefers "reverse light" according to a correspondent.
baked potato jacket potato A potato cooked without removing the skin.
baking soda bicarbonate of soda Sodium bicarbonate (Na2CO3) used in cooking.
ball-point pen Biro The BE term is proprietary. Invented by the Hungarian Laszlo Jozsef Biro in the 1940's.
Band-Aid sticking plaster The AE term is proprietary. The word "bandage" referring to an "ad-hoc" wound dressing made of cloth, gauze etc., is common to AE and BE.
bandshell bandstand British bandstands do not have sound reflecting shields or enclosures and are just fenced, roofed and raised enclosures in public parks. A correspondent suggests that bandshell is a West Coast usage.
bangs fringe Hair style. In BE a "fringe" is hair hanging straight down beneath the normal hair line and usually trimmed to a straight edge; "bangs" refers to a fringe at the side with sharply swept forward ends.
bankroll US foot the bill
bar pub, public house An establishment where drinks can be purchased for consumption on the premises as distinct from an off-licence (BE) or liquor store (AE). In BE a "bar" is either a room within a public house, cafe, club, hotel etc., where drink is sold or the actual counter over which drinks are sold. Public houses often have several rooms with differing standards of furnishing and comfort and prices to match. In order of increasing facilities these are quite commonly called the "public bar", "saloon bar" and "lounge bar" although there are many variations. Public houses, although intended primarily to sell drink, often sell meals nowadays. Many public houses are "tied", which means they are actually owned by a brewery, and the landlord really is just a landlord. "Tied" houses give preference to the owner's brands although recent legislation and consumer pressure has made it much more likely that "guest" beers will be on offer. You may occasionally come across a "beer house" which is a public house only licensed to sell beer and similar drinks but not wines or spirits. See notes on "beer". The AE terms "tavern", "roadhouse" and "saloon" referring to various types of drinking establishment have no direct British equivalent.
barrette* hair slide
baseboard skirting board A plank fixed along bottom of wall. In BE a "baseboard" is a board on which something, such as a model railway layout, is built. "cove" is sometimes used with the same meaning in AE/CE but in BE this refers to a curved moulding between wall and ceiling.
bathrobe dressing gown
bathroom toilet Especially in a domestic context. In BE a bathroom is a room containing a bath in a private house or hotel. See discussion under "washroom".
battle stations US action stations The US Navy now refers to "general quarters".
beater *obs, Can banger Decrepit car. AE also has "clunker", "jalopy" (obs?), "hooptie" and "junker". Both BE and AE refer have "lemon" in this context.
beer lager The drink referred to as "beer" in American usage would not be recognised as such by many British drinkers. In British usage "beer" is a mildly alcoholic beverage served at a temperature that does not freeze your taste buds. "Real Ale" is beer prepared with the minimum of chemicals in a traditional fashion, usually in small local breweries. In BE lager is beer brewed using low temperature fermentation, it is typically lighter and clearer than normal beer and often served chilled. The word "lager" has some negative connotations being associated with drunken youths known as "lager louts". The word "ale" is slightly archaic and now means the same as "beer". The word "stout" describes a strong dark beer brewed with roasted malt or barley and particularly popular in Ireland (Guinness is the best known brand). See notes on "bar".
bell pepper * red pepper, green pepper Yellow ones are also available. A variety of capsicum. There is some evidence of US regional variations. CE has "red sweet pepper" and is generally as BE. A correspondent has, rather confusingly, suggested that in AE a "red pepper" is hot whereas a "red bell pepper" is mild.
beltway, loop ring road, circular road A road circling a city. There are various other regional and local North American names. CE as BE.
bill note In the sense of a piece of paper currency. British currency notes currently in general circulation are £5, £10, £20 and £50. The £5 and £10 notes are frequently called "fivers" and "tenners". The different notes are of different sizes, colours and general appearance which makes things a bit easier for the visually handicapped unlike the paper currency of a certain North American country.
billfold Obs wallet The AE term is becoming obsolescent and being replaced by "wallet"
billion thousand million The old British usage in which a billion was a million2 is now largely obsolete and most British speakers would assume the American meaning. Careful users avoid the words altogether and use exponent notation. The usage continued
trillion = tri+(m)illion = million3 = 1018
quadrillion = quad+(m)illion = million4 = 1024
centillion = cent+(m)illion = million100 = 10600
The American naming seems to work on the principle 103+(number×3)
binder clip bulldog clip Spring loaded device for holding sheets of paper together.
birdcage no equivalent Net covering over swimming pool.
blacktop Tarmac See notes on "asphalt". AE usage may be primarily rural to distinguish from "dirt roads".
blinkers indicators Part of a car. See note on "turn signals". In BE blinkers are used on horses to prevent them being distracted by things going on on either side.
blood sausage black pudding The AE term "chorizo" has a similar meaning.
blush rosé light pinkish wine
bobby pin * hair grip, Kirby grip "Kirby Grip" is proprietary.
boneyard obs scrapyard, junkyard Place where old machinery etc., gently rots away. "boneyard" is a regional US usage.
bouillon cube stock cube
boxcar no equivalent A covered railway wagon with a door for loading. British railways use either open trucks, wagons built for specific loads such as oil or, most commonly "container flats" which are flat trucks with no side panels adapted to carry the ubiquitous containers.
braid plait Hair style. British geographers would refer to "braided streams" and British electronic engineers would refer to "braided conductors".
breakdown lane hard shoulder Lane at edge of multi-lane limited access road. A correspondent suggests that "breakdown lane" is specific to the North East of the US.
brewpub * no equivalent British usage would simply refer to a "pub that brewed its own beer" although the word "microbrewery" is now becoming common in both BE and AE.
Brit Briton "Britisher" sounds rather Germanic (especially in stereotypical WW2 films). "Briton" is not widely used. We are Englishmen, Scotsmen, Welshmen and Irishmen (and women!) and confusing them causes offence. The correct name of the country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, often abbreviated to the United Kingdom. Great Britain is a large island off the North West coast of Europe, it includes the kingdoms of England and Scotland and the principality of Wales. England and Scotland share the same monarch but Wales has a prince of its own. Northern Ireland is just a province, don't confuse it with Ulster which includes the counties of Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal in the Irish republic. The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey etc) are not legally part of the United Kingdom.
The word "Brit" is rapidly coming into popular usage. The correct adjectives for things from Scotland are "Scottish" for most things, "Scots" for the people and a sort of pine tree and "Scotch" for the whisky.
broad jump long jump
brown bag lunch packed lunch Lunch obtained from supermarket or, more usually, made at home and taken to work. In US practice supermarkets and grocery stores give/sell customers brown paper bags to take the groceries home in, in UK practice plastic bags, with handles, are used, a practice now becoming common in North America.
bun bap, roll A small round loaf, often used to make hamburgers. In BE buns are often sweet and deliciously sticky and there are many varieties such as the hot cross buns traditionally served on Good Friday.
bureau Obs chest of drawers + A piece of furniture consisting of a number of wide shallow drawers one above another mainly used for storing clothes and linen. A correspondent has suggested that the US usage is regional. In BE "bureau" refers to a piece of furniture typically found in old-fashioned offices with both drawers and a fold-down writing surface.
burglarize burgle, steal "Steal" is now the commoner AE usage.
burlap hessian coarse fabric used for sacking, bags and, sometimes, wall covering.
bus coach In British usage for journeys between towns and cities its a coach, always single decker. Within towns and cities it's a bus, often double-decker.
busboy No equivalent In British restaurants the waiter clears tables.
busy signal engaged tone Telephone system.
butterfly blade flick knife
caboose * guard's van A caboose traditionally includes sleeping and messing facilities is painted red and has a sort of H-shaped chimney, a guard's van does not.
cadaver corpse A dead body. AE seems to increasingly reserve the word "cadaver" for medical and forensic use.
cafeteria canteen Place, especially in a factory or school, where meals are served. BE also uses "canteen" for a small water bottle used by soldiers and campers and also for a collection of cutlery.
candy sweet The word "candy" refers to a particular crystallised sugar confection in British usage.
canine cookie Obs dog biscuit
car carriage, truck A railway vehicle for carrying passengers (carriage in BE) or freight (truck in BE). On the road its a "car" in both BE and AE.
caravan obs convoy Group of vehicles travelling together. The American usage "caravan" is rare/archaic except when the vehicles are camels. In BE a "caravan" is a mobile home or trailer. A correspondent has told me that American estate agents (Realtors) refer to groups of viewers of properties as "caravans".
carnival travelling fair or circus In British usage a carnival is a period of widespread public celebration often associated with street processions, this also applies in a few American cities such as New Orleans. A fair is travelling entertainment with sideshows and rides such as dodgems, ferris wheels, helter-skelters etc. A circus has seating round a ring (or several rings) where clowns and animals perform. The tent covering the ring of a circus is called the "big top".
carousel merry-go-round Fairground ride consisting of wooden (or plastic) horses on poles which rise up and go down as the whole rotates. I have seen examples with up to five rings of horses.
carpenter's level spirit level
cart trolley Shopping. BE does not use the word "cart" in this context reserving it for a wheeled trailer pulled by a vehicle or horse.
casket coffin The American style casket looks very elaborate and in rather poor taste to British eyes. Coffins are invariably very plain affairs.
cattle guard cattle grid
cell phone, cellular phone mobile phone Often just called "the mobile" in BE and "cell" in AE.
check US cheque Banking. Same pronunciation, different spelling. CE as BE.
checkers draughts Board game.
checking account current account Banking. The American facility is technically called a "demand deposit account". It is called a "chequing account" in CE.
chesterfield settee See entry for "couch".
chicken wire wire netting
chief executive officer (CEO) managing director (MD) Head of day to day operations of a commercial organisation. The American usage is creeping in in the UK.
chifforobe * gentleman's wardrobe A wardrobe with hanging space on one side and drawers on the other.
chips crisps Thin fried slices of potato usually sold in bags as snacks or "nibbles". According to a correspondent there is now US legislation requiring that the word "crisp" be used to describe those made from moulding chopped potato.
chorizo See entry for blood sausage.
cilantro coriander herb
city town In American usage "city" is used for any "incorporated" area, which seems to mean that it has some form of local government, as such the population may be only a few hundred. There are state-by-state regional variations in the precise meaning of the American term. In British usage an urban area is only a city if it has a cathedral or has a royal warrant saying it's a city. If it isn't a city it's a town (or a village). My own city, Wolverhampton, has a population of about 250,000, a bishop, a university, a main-line railway station, trams and over a thousand years of history but it didn't become a city until December 2000.
closet fitted wardrobe Especially a walk-in wardrobe or small storage room that is a permanent fixture not a piece of furniture.
closing out closing down Sale of goods when shop or company ceases regular trading. AE also uses this to refer to stock clearance of particular lines of merchandise.
clothes pin clothes peg Holds washing on a line.
coach economy Inexpensive class of accommodation on a train or aeroplane. In BE a "coach" is a single decker bus like vehicle that carries booked passengers or is booked for a party of passengers, unlike a 'bus' it does not stop to pick up custom at the roadside.
collect call * reverse charge call Telephone.
comfort station Obs public convenience, toilet See discussion under "washroom". I have also seen "comfort house" applied to a portable toilet on a building site. A correspondent reports "port-a-potty" for temporary facilities. This would probably be called a "portaloo" in BE, although this is a proprietary term. According to a correspondent this term has re-appeared in AE as a fold-down table for changing a baby's nappy.
comforter quilt, eiderdown, bedspread Warm covering on top of bed that is made up traditionally using sheets and blankets as distinct from a duvet.
concert master leading or first violin, leader Orchestra.
condominium, condo * block of flats Both BE and AE use "condominium" to refer to a territory governed jointly by two nations. In referring to a block of flats BE does not distinguish between rented flats and individually owned flats. "condominium" usually means that the flats are individually owned rather than rented.
conductor guard A railway official. In London, buses have both a driver and a conductor whose job is to sell tickets.
consignment * second hand goods The American term refers to goods sold on commission, a concept unknown in the United Kingdom.
cookie biscuit (sweet) In British usage "cookie" is sometimes used to refer specifically to a biscuit with chips of chocolate included known, I believe, as a "chocolate chip cookie" in AE.
cooler cool box a well insulated box used for food etc., Both BE and AE also use "cooler" as a slang word for a detention cell.
cord lead, flex Flexible electrical cable joining an electrical appliance or telephone to a socket. For power connections British practice uses the same colours as are used in Europe, brown for live, blue for neutral and green with yellow stripe for earth. Older British practice still used for permanent cables is red for live, black for neutral and green (or bare copper) for earth. American practice is black for live, white for neutral and green for earth, although it is not normal for the cord from the outlet to the appliance to have colour coded wires.
corn sweet corn, maize, corn-on-the-cob In British usage "corn" is used fairly generically to mean "wheat" or "oats".
corn starch corn flour
cotton batting obs cotton wool
cotton candy candy floss
cotton swab cotton bud Q-Tip is a proprietary US term.
couch settee An upholstered seat for two or more people. BE has several variants with no specific words for two or three seated versions. A "chesterfield" has buttoned leather upholstery. "Sofa" is a fairly common alternative. A "chaise longue" has an arm at one end only so you can lie down on it. In BE a "love seat" has two seats side by side but facing in opposite directions in a sort of "S" shape, suitable only for the most chaste amatory activities. "couch potato" means the same in BE as AE.
county American usage would, typically, be "Orange County". Apart from "County Durham" the word would not be used in referring to a British administrative division, the suffix "-shire" means that it's a county anyway. The use of the word "County" is normal in referring to Irish administrative divisions. They're called "parishes" in Louisiana, in British usage a "parish" is the lowest level unit of government (rural areas only) or ecclesiastical organisation. There are no standard geographical subdivisions between the nations of the UK and the counties. Unlike the states of the USA and the provinces of Canada there are no standard postal abbreviations for British counties, and their names are frequently omitted from addresses, a practice that is accepted by the Post Office if a post code is included.
cow pie cow pat Something you don't want to put your foot in.
coworker workmate "coworker" is also understood in BE as a slightly more formal term. BE also has "Workmate" as a proprietary term for an adjustable workbench.
crackers biscuits In British usage "cracker" can refer to a particular type of biscuit used with cheese or the usage "crackers" can imply that somebody is mentally deranged. BE speakers would be unaware of any racially offensive connotations.
crane fly daddy-long-legs Insect with long legs (Tipula Maxima). [My dictionary suggests that AE uses daddy-long-legs to refer to something called a harvestman (Order Opilones) that lives in leaf litter and is a sort of spider with very long legs.]
crawl space under floor void
crazy bone *obs funny bone
cream of wheat semolina
creek stream, brook in British usage a "creek" is a small inlet of the sea. I am told the American word can also be spelt "crick", reflecting common pronunciation, although this would be considered uneducated.
crosswalk pedestrian crossing Specially marked part of roadway used by pedestrians crossing the road. The British usage "zebra crossing" is obsolescent. Many such crossings are controlled by traffic lights, some are still uncontrolled but indicated by large orange globes on striped posts known, after the presiding minister who first installed them, as Belisha beacons.
cuban no equivalent Floridan term for a sandwich with roast pork, ham, and swiss cheese.
cuffs turn-ups At bottom of trouser legs. Shirts (with long sleeves) in both AE and BE have cuffs.
cupcake fairy cake Small individual cake.
custom made bespoke, made to measure This refers to clothing, otherwise "custom made" is normal British usage. BE also has "bespoke software" (for computers).
davenport bed-settee The AE term is probably proprietary. In BE a davenport is a type of desk.
daylight saving(s) time (British) summer time In AE "summer time" refers to any period of time during the summer.
dead end cul-de-sac BE also has "no through road", meaning a road that just stops. "cul-de-sac" is largely confined to suburban roads and usually implies a turning circle at the end, often with houses built round it. People live in cul-de-sacs not on them. "no outlet" is also sometimes seen in North America.
deck pack of playing cards
deck no equivalent A part of a house consisting of wooden boards on the outside of the building at ground or first floor level (or higher) allowing people to walk around. British houses simply do not have such things, the nearest equivalents are "patio" meaning an unroofed area adjacent to a building paved with slabs, "verandah" a covered and glassed walkway along the side of a building and "conservatory" a room-like extension entirely walled and roofed in glass. Wooden decking for use in gardens was introduced to the British market in 1998 and is being heavily promoted as "decking".
deductible excess Of insurance payouts.
deep freeze freezer Domestic appliance for storing frozen food.
delivery tanker tanker A vehicle that transports and delivers liquids such as milk and petroleum products.
delivery truck van
denatured alcohol methylated spirits, meths Ethanol (C2H5OH) that has been made unfit for drinking by the addition of methanol (CH3OH), pyridine and purple colouring. See also "rubbing alcohol".
desk clerk receptionist In hotel. Both BE and AE use "receptionist" to mean the person in a commercial office who greets visitors.
dessert pudding Course after main course of a meal other than breakfast. "Pudding" usually implies that it has been cooked, otherwise "dessert" is often used. Calling the course "afters" is thought rather common by most British people. It is also sometimes called a "sweet" in BE. A correspondent has suggested that AE uses "pudding" with the same meaning as the BE "jelly", see entry for "Jell-O". CE as BE.
diaper * nappy
differ... than differ... from The American usage "different than" grates terribly in British ears, in British English it's "different from" and "differing from".
dime no equivalent 10 cent coin. For notes on British money see the entries for "nickel" and "loonie".
diner café Strictly there is no British equivalent of the traditional 12' wide American diner. In British usage the spelling "caff" (and pronunciation) is used to indicate a rather lowly establishment.
dirt road unpaved road BE would more usually call this a "track".
discount concession Reduced admission prices to cinemas, theatres etc., for students, pensioners etc. Advertisements often quote a regular admission price and a price for "concessions". Other uses of "discount" are the same in AE as BE.
dish pan washing up bowl
district attorney public prosecutor The "procurator fiscal" in Scotland. Many state variations in the US.
divided highway dual carriageway
docent * curator, guide In a museum, historic house or art gallery. Correspondents have suggested that "docent" implies a volunteer and also that "curator" refers to the director or administrator of a museum in AE/CE.
doctor's office surgery Contrary to the usage actual surgery is only done by surgeons in hospitals. British senior surgical staff are often referred to as "Mr." rather than "Dr." no matter how highly qualified. This probably dates back to the time when doctors were qualified but surgeons were little more than barbers unworthy of the honorific title. British dentists and veterinarians never use the title "Dr.".
double whole note breve Music.
downtown town centre The word "center" is, apparently, common usage in New England. Geographers sometimes refer to the central business district or CBD, but this isn't a general BE usage.
(the) draft conscription Enforced membership of military forces. It was also called "national service" in the UK but was abolished in the 1950's.
drapes * curtains
dresser chest of drawers, dressing table A dressing table is a table, usually with 2/3 small drawers and a large adjustable mirror used by ladies for doing their make-up.
driver's license US, driver's permit Can driving licence
drug store pharmacy, chemists Pharmacy refers specifically to a place where medicines can be obtained both on and off prescription. A chemist's shop as well as incorporating a pharmacy will also sell a variety of personal products such as soap, tooth brushes, toothpaste, combs etc.
druggist obs chemist, pharmacist The word "chemist" is more common in BE.
dry goods store drapery, haberdashery A shop selling, cloth, thread and related items.
dump tip Throw something away. Also the place where things are thrown away.
Dumpster * skip Waste storage and transportation. AE term is proprietary.
duplex (house) * semi-detached house A pair of dwelling houses sharing a common wall. The single-storied version, which is very unusual, is called a "semi-detached bungalow" in BE. An apartment with two floors would be called a "maisonette" in BE. CE as BE. According to a correspondent CE uses "duplex" and "triplex" to mean a building containing two or three self-contained flats. A correspondent has also mentioned "shared-wall dwelling" as AE bureaucrat-speak.
editorial leader Article in newspaper or magazine expressing the opinions of the editor. The American usage is not uncommon in BE.
eggplant * aubergine
eighth note quaver Music.
electrician's tape insulating tape Sometimes called "electrical tape" or even "sticky tape".
elementary school primary school Attended by children from about 5 to 10.
elevator lift If it's for goods only BE has the word "hoist". A "grain elevator" is called a "silo" in BE.
engineer engine driver Person controlling a locomotive. Otherwise BE uses "engineer" in the same way as AE.
England United Kingdom The American habit of saying "England" when the United Kingdom is meant is mildly annoying to people who live in England and EXTREMELY annoying to people who live in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. A correspondent has suggested that this American habit is becoming less common. See notes on "Brit".
entrée main course In British usage "entree" means first course sometimes known as starter or in posher circles "hors d'oeuvre".
eraser rubber Used to remove marks made by pencils, British pronunciation is eraZer, American is eraSer.
excise laws licensing laws
exit junction Usually numbered location where you enter (BE) or leave a limited access highway. In North America exit numbering normally reflects the distance in miles (US) or kilometres (Canada) from the start of the highway except on the East Coast. In the UK junctions are numbered successively with new junctions built since the road was first laid out having numbers such as 7a and 11b.
Exit in the sense of "way out" inside a building is the same in BE and AE.
expressway main road See notes on "interstate".
Exxon Esso Petrol company. Now ExxonMobil.
eyeglasses spectacles, specs Usually just plain "glasses" in both AE and BE. Now where did I put them ?
fair show There is no direct British equivalent of a state or county fair. The nearest are agricultural shows held in rural districts. In BE a fair is a travelling collection of rides and amusements that is set up for a few days in a convenient location.
fall autumn Both words are used in CE.
fanny pack bum bag Small bag worn around the waist and resting on the bottom. In BE "bum" is a slightly vulgar word for "bottom" and "fanny" is a distinctly vulgar word for the female genitalia.
faucet * tap Strangely in AE tap water comes out of the faucet unless you're in Pennsylvania where, apparently, its the register.
fava bean broad bean Vegetable (vicia faba).
fedora trilby Soft felt hat. There are slight differences.
feminine napkin sanitary towel The word "tampon" has the same meaning in both British and American usage. "Maxi Pad" is an American proprietary term.
fender wing Part of car.
mudguard Part of bicycle.
field pitch A sports ground.
fire hall Can fire station
firehouse fire station
fire starter fire lighter Small packet of readily combustible material.
fire truck * fire engine or fire appliance Professional fire fighters deprecate the usage "fire engine" and refer to "fire appliances" (BE) or "fire apparatus" (AE). The phrase "fire engine" is also used in America.
first floor ground floor In British usage the floors of a building are numbered starting at zero rather than one. So an American reference to the "second floor" would correspond to a British reference to the "first floor".
First Nations *Can American Indians, Indians The native (pre-Columbian) population of America.
flagstaff obs flag pole "flagpole" as a single word is common American usage.
flashlight torch With a bulb and batteries.
float home obs house boat
float plane Can sea plane An aeroplane adapted to land on and take off from water. The British usage "flying boat" is obsolete. There are differences in nomenclature depending on whether the main fuselage is intended to touch the water (a flying boat or sea plane) or whether the only part intended to touch the water are floats in more or less the position where a normal aircraft would have wheels (a float plane).
floor lamp standard lamp Domestic lighting appliance consisting of a tall pole with a lamp on top.
football American football See "soccer".
four way (stop) cross roads A place where two roads intersect. In America in the absence of traffic lights, priority is given to vehicles in order of arrival and, if two arrive at once, to the vehicle on the right. In the United Kingdom one or other of the roads will have priority, priority is indicated by road markings.
freeway motorway Limited access high speed trunk road. American usages "freeway", "highway", "beltway", "causeway", "express way", "parkway" all have similar meanings that are not differentiated in British usage. "freeway" often implies that it isn't a toll road or turnpike. Apart from a few bridges, toll roads are currently unknown in the UK, although the countries first toll motorway is opened north of Birmingham in 2004. See "interstate" entry for details on British road numbering.
freight elevator hoist, goods lift
french fries chips Sometimes just plain "fries" in AE. The variants "home fries", "steak fries" and "shoestring fries" don't map into BE, they're thick-cut chips, thin-cut chips and whatever you get in MacDonald's.
freshman no equivalent In BE "freshman" or "fresher" is sometimes used to refer to a first year undergraduate at a university. See notes on "high school".
fridge pack no equivalent See entry for "two-four".
funeral director undertaker
furnace * central heating boiler Domestic use only. In BE "furnace" is industrial.
galoshes Wellington boots, wellies Tall rubberised boots.
garbage, trash rubbish, refuse
garbage can dustbin
garbage collector obs dustman BE computer scientists talk about "garbage collection". Political correctness has now given AE "sanitation engineer", in BE this term would refer to somebody who designs and builds sewers and associated facilities, a specialised form of civil engineer.
garter belt suspender Used to support ladies' stockings. In British usage a "garter" is a band, usually elastic, that goes around the leg to support a sock or stocking. There are no gender specific connotations.
gas petrol Fuel for motor vehicles. British usage reserves "gas" to mean an inflammable gas such as methane or carbon monoxide piped to domestic and industrial premises as a fuel. The word gasoline would not be widely understood in Britain. "Petroleum" is sometimes seen in legal and official notices. British aeroplanes are fuelled with "avgas" however, unless they're jets, of course.
gear shift, gear stick gear lever Part of car.
generator dynamo It converts mechanical energy to electrical energy. The American usage would be familiar to British ears. I was once told that a dynamo only generates DC whereas the machine that generates AC is called an alternator.
German shepherd alsatian breed of dog
girl scouts US girl guides
goaltender goalkeeper "goalie" is common in both AE and BE.
goatsucker nightjar bird
golden raisin US sultana A dried grape.
goose bumps goose pimples
goose egg * duck Score of zero in a game. The BE usage is confined to cricket.
gotten got "gotten" is sometimes used in BE to suggest an American rustic.
grade gradient (slope) The American usage of the word to refer to a stage in a child's progress through school is unknown in the UK. AE has "sixth grade" and "sixth graders" whereas CE has "grade six" and "grade sixes". See entry for "high school".
grade crossing * level crossing Road/railway crossing.
graham crackers digestive biscuits Biscuits made from whole wheat flour. Also available part coated with chocolate or as a pair sandwiching a cream filling.
grease pencil chinagraph pencil
green thumbs green fingers good at gardening
ground earth Electrical.
ground minced meat, but mincemeat is something completely different composed mainly of fruit and used for making delicious small pies at Christmas time.
GST Can VAT Goods and Services Tax / Value Added Tax. A tax levied "at the point of consumption". In the UK shop prices are almost always quoted inclusive of VAT (currently 17.5%) so what you see is what you pay. In Canada shop prices are quoted exclusive of this tax so you're in for a surprise when you get to pay, you can always blame "the government". Canadian GST is currently 7% but the provinces levy their own provincial sales tax (PST), typically at about the same level as the government tax.
gumboot *obs wellington Boot, usually rubber or rubberised, reaching well up the calf worn in agricultural contexts.
gurney * no equivalent It's not that wheeled stretchers are unknown in British hospitals, it's just that there is no common name for them.
half note minim Music.
hardware store ironmonger
hat check girl cloakroom attendant AE may be obsolescent, since few people wear hats now.
headlamp obs headlight Car.
heavy cream double cream
hex cast a spell on
Hidabed, hideaway bed-settee A couch or sofa that can be converted to a bed. Hidabed is proprietary. May also be called "daybed" in both BE and AE.
high school secondary school The British system of education for those under 18 is quite different from the US system. From 5 to 11 children attend a primary school, often starting in a class called "reception". From 11 to 18 they will attend a secondary school, in some areas they may transfer to sixth form colleges at the age of 16. The stages are referred to as years starting at 1 (at age 5) up to 11. After the 11th year children may join the 6th form (don't ask !). The phrase "high school" when used refers to a school, often for girls, with selective entry via competitive examination. A similar school for boys is often a "grammar school", many of these are fairly ancient foundations and in recent years have become co-educational. AE references to "freshmen", "sophomores", "K12" etc., would not be understood in the UK. In Scotland "high school" means any secondary school.
high tea Obs afternoon tea A light meal taken in the late afternoon. Usually cakes and similar confectionary with a pot of tea. Widely available in British restaurants and "tea shops" which specialise in this sort of meal. In BE "high tea" refers to a more substantial meal taken at the same sort of time but with at least one cooked course.
highboy tallboy Tall chest of drawers.
highway main road In British usage the word "highway" is confined to formal and legal contexts. See entry for "interstate".
hoagie * roll There is really no direct BE equivalent. The alternative AE usage "submarine" or "sub" is not uncommon in British usage. "grinder" (mid west esp Pittsburgh), "hero" and "poor boy" (New Orleans) are regional US variants. The usage "hoagie", according to one correspondent, is specific to the Philadephia area.
hobo * tramp Some AE speakers use "hobo" to mean a casual or itinerant worker as distinct from a "bum" or "tramp" who lives by begging and handouts. There is no word in BE to convey this precise distinction.
hog pig In British usage a "hog" is a person that claims exclusive use of something, i.e. hogs it. Farmers use "hog" to mean a male pig and "sow" to mean a female pig, the use of "hog" to mean a pig of either gender is probably obsolescent.
honor box honesty box Where you put money in return for small items.
hood bonnet car
hope chest bottom drawer Where a women keeps garments etc., against the possibility of matrimony.
hopper ball space hopper Large bouncy ball with ears. May be proprietary.
horny randy slang. Eager to engage in sexual congress. Americans called Randolph should not introduce themselves in British circles by saying "Hi, I'm Randy", unless, of course, ......
(house numbering) British houses are usually numbered serially starting from one end of a road or street with even numbers on one side and odd numbers on the other side, however it is not uncommon to find them numbered sequentially up one side of the road and down the other. Subsequent subdivision of plots results in houses with numbers such as 60A, 60B, 60C etc., fractional house numbers are more or less unknown in British usage. North American numbering seems to be a sort of co-ordinate system related, probably, to land subdivisions giving rise to frequent gaps. Driving along a country road and passing house number 82357, half a mile of open countryside and then house number 85163 is very puzzling to the British visitor who will wonder where 82359, 82361, 82363 etc., are. According to a correspondent the Post Office or Local Government allocates such numbers on a basis of one number for every 25 feet of frontage. There are, as in many things American, regional variations.
house-trailer * caravan See entry for "trailer".
hutch chest, Welsh dresser A piece of furniture with open shelves, a flat surface and a single row of drawers, usually used for storage and display of plates etc. In BE a "hutch" is a small, usually outdoor, structure where rabbits, ferrets or similar animals live.
icebox Obs refrigerator In BE "icebox" refers to the part of the refrigerator kept below freezing point and a "cool box" is a well insulated box for carrying food and drink. The American practice of garages and supermarkets selling ice to replenish a cool box is unknown in Britain.
ice chest Obs cool box
incorporated limited British firms often have titles ending in "Ltd" meaning limited liability or "Plc" meaning public limited company. "Public" implies that the company's shares are publicly traded. There are also private companies.
industrial park industrial estate An unlovely area of factories and other commercial premises. BE also has "trading estate".
installment plan hire purchase A scheme for paying for something by a series of payments after you've obtained the item.
instant replay action replay Use of video recordings to replay highlights immediately after the event particularly during TV coverage of sporting events.
intersection cross roads A place where four roads meet or two roads cross depending on your point of view. See also notes on "four-way".
intermission interval Break in performance in theatre, cinema or on TV. "Intermission" sounds rather old-fashioned to British ears.
interstate *US main road, major road, trunk road A major highway joining different parts of the country.
The usage "trunk road" is largely confined to road planners and road system administrators but most closely captures the meaning of "interstate". The specific usage of "interstate" to mean roads funded under a particular legislative act would be unknown to BE speakers. Interstate highways are arranged in a more or less regular geographic fashion with even numbers for those running east-west and odd numbers for those running north-south.
Roads in Great Britain have numbers whose initial digits are based on a radial zone system based on London and Edinburgh
A1 - London to Edinburgh
A2 - London to Dover
A3 - London to Portsmouth
A4 - London to Bristol
A5 - London to Holyhead
A6 - London to Carlisle
A7 - Edinburgh to Carlisle
A8 - Edinburgh to Greenock
A9 - Edinburgh to John O'Groats
Roads, for example, between the A1 and A2 all have numbers starting with 1. An initial A means a major road, an initial M means a motorway, an initial B a minor road. A T after the number means a trunk road. An A road number will sometimes have the suffix M, indicating that it has been built to motorway standards. [E.g. A40(T), A1(M)] There is also an extensive network of unclassified roads sometimes called class C roads. Road numbering is unique, the more the digits, the less important the road.
Broadly speaking an "A" road (not trunk) is equivalent to a "federal" road, a "B" road to a state road and the others are equivalent to "county" roads.
See also entry for "freeway". E numbers are European designations, although many of these have been designated for the UK, they are more or less unknown in the UK.
intimate apparel underwear
Inuit Eskimo Most British people are unaware of the preferred usage and are equally unaware of any negative connotations associated with the word "Eskimo". There are very few Inuit in the British Isles. A Slovak colleague of mine told me that in a recent census in the Czech Republic over 10,000 people described themselves as Inuit so forcing the government to make special provisions. CE prefers "Inuit".
janitor * caretaker BE has no distinction between a "live-in" caretaker and one who comes in on a daily basis.
jack socket Connector for telephone. In BE "jack plugs" and "jack sockets" are particular types of multi-pole electrical connectors. See entry for "outlet".
jelly No equivalent Spread for toast or bread not incorporating preserved fruit only fruit juice. See discussion under "preserves".
jelly roll Swiss roll A sort of cake made by spreading jam on a square cake base and then rolling it up into a cylinder.
Jell-o jelly US term is proprietary. A wobbly edible gelatine based substance often flavoured with fruit and used as a dessert. In British usage it is often served with ice cream and is a children's favourite.
I cannot resist quoting the following from a correspondent
Pudding is in no way related to jello, other than the Jell-O brand makes pudding (which is best described as a kind of down-market mousse that you can make by adding milk to a powder, or buy it premade in little sealed cups). It will often be called jello pudding snacks, just to tell the brand. But jello in general is the gelatin 'jelly,' as you call it. Pudding would never be used to describe the bready dessert thing such as 'christmas pudding'. that would be called fruitcake.
john toilet See discussion under "washroom". One correspondent suggested that "the ladies" may be called "the jane" in the interests of political correctness, I'm not sure I believe it.
jump rope US skipping rope
jumper short dress In British usage "jumper" means a sweater.
kerb side near side Side of a vehicle nearest the kerb. In the UK this would be the left hand (port) side. It would still be called the near side if you were standing in the middle of the road when you would be nearest the off side of the vehicle. Sometimes written "nearside" and "offside".
kerosene paraffin A flammable liquid. "paraffin" in AE refers to a solid waxy substance known as "paraffin wax" or just plain "wax" in BE and used for making candles etc.
kindergarten nursery See discussion under "high school".
Kleenex tissues American term is proprietary.
knickers/knickerbockers plus fours Rather old-fashioned loose fitting trousers especially worn by golfers. In BE "knickers" refers to an undergarment covering the body from the waist to the top of the thighs, it can also be used as a slang word implying contempt or annoyance. In BE a "knickerbocker glory" is a rather splendid ice cream, fruit and cream dessert served in a tall glass.
last name surname
lawyer, advocate, attorney lawyer, solicitor, barrister In BE "lawyer" is a general purpose term, broadly synonymous with "solicitor" for a legal practitioner. A "barrister" is a more highly qualified (and paid !) practitioner who specialises in pleading (advocacy) in higher courts. Until very recently only barristers were allowed to practice in higher courts but this is slowly changing. In England and Wales, justice is administered via a hierarchy of magistrates' courts, county courts, crown courts and high courts with an ultimate appeal to the House of Lords. In criminal cases proceedings are initiated and led by the public or crown prosecutor (known as the procurator fiscal in Scotland). The legal system in Scotland is different from that in the rest of the United Kingdom. CE as BE.
lead cable Permanent electrical wiring. See entry for "cord". "cable" meaning TV distributed by cable is common to both AE and BE.
legal holiday bank holiday Current bank holidays in England are (for 2002) Jan 1st (New Year's Day), March 29th (Good Friday), April 1st (Easter Monday), May 6th (May Day), Jun 3rd Spring Bank Holiday, don't confuse with Whitsun which is a religious festival), Aug 26th (Summer Bank Holiday), Dec 25th (Christmas) and Dec 26th (Boxing Day). [In 2002 June 4th is also a bank holiday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2nd.] The May day holiday is always the first monday in May, not May 1st.
lemonade real lemonade, squash, cordial In British usage "lemonade" often refers to a sort of carbonated sugar water.
license plate / license tag number plate It indicates the identity of a vehicle. British number plates are permanent for the life of the vehicle. There is a single nationwide system of numbering. The payment of annual road tax is indicated by a small paper disc fixed to the windscreen.
Lifesavers * Polo Both terms are proprietary and refer to a hard round white mint, sometimes fruit flavoured, with a hole in the middle.
lightning bug fire fly
lima bean butter bean
line * queue Group of people waiting in an orderly fashion. AE "waiting in line" is equivalent to BE "queueing".
line cord * mains lead Flexible cable joining electrical appliance to supply.
liquor spirits Alcoholic drink whose preparation involves distillation. Includes whisky, brandy, gin, vodka.
liquor store off licence A shop selling alcoholic drinks for consumption off the premises. There are regional variations in both AE and CE. Many British supermarkets and grocery shops also sell alcoholic beverages. In some North American regions (e.g. British Columbia) the sale of alcohol in this fashion is a monopoly. See notes on "bar".
lobby foyer First main room you encounter on entering a hotel, theatre or cinema. Both terms may be encountered in all versions of English. In BE a "lobby" is a group of people attempting to influence an organisation or decision making process, especially parliament.
locker room changing room
long distance trunk call Obs Telephone. There is no general word for this in BE.
longshoreman docker Apparently a West Coast term.
loon great northern diver Bird pictured on Canadian one dollar coin.
loonie Can no equivalent This refers to a one dollar coin. In BE and AE "loony" is a colloquialism for lunatic.
Fortunately I'd read the Air Canada in-flight magazine when the airport bus driver asked me "Have you got a Looney ?"
The British pound coin is simply called a "pound coin". Pound notes were last issued in England in about 1985. Scottish banks issue their own notes which are different from those issued by the Bank of England and their one pound notes may sometimes be encountered. They are widely accepted in England.
Referring to a pound as a "quid" is rapidly becoming uncommon in BE. Intriguingly the plural of "quid" is "quid". See entry for "bill" for details on British paper currency.
lorry obs hand cart, dolly
lost and found lost property
lot plot Parcel of land that can be bought and sold and is, usually, partly occupied by a building.
love seat settee see entry for "couch".
low fat milk semi skimmed milk In the UK there is no defined meaning for phrases such as "fat free" and "low fat" although consumer groups are campaigning for such standards.
luggage rack roof rack On the roof of a car. In BE luggage racks are found in trains and aeroplanes but not cars.
lumber timber AE distinguishes standing timber (i.e. trees that haven't been chopped down) from lumber (which is what they become after they've been chopped down and the logs cut to shape and size). BE uses "timber" in both contexts.
In BE "lumber" refers to unwanted items hence "lumber room" and "to lumber somebody" i.e. give them an unwanted task and also means to proceed slowly and clumsily.
lunch pail lunch box
M & M Smarties Both terms are proprietary and refer to small sweets with hard coloured sugary coatings. Both words are also sometimes used to mean any small item. Smarties have hard chocolate centres are shaped vaguely like flying saucers. A correspondent tells me there is a US sweet called Smarties that do not have chocolate centres.
mail post What you do to a letter or parcel to send it on its way. Whilst on its way its "in the mail" (AE) or "in the post" (BE).
mail man postman "mail lady" sounds improbable to British ears. In Britain she's called a post woman. "mail carrier" is an alternative American usage and has the official approval of the US Postal Service.
mail slot letter box Aperture for delivery of postal items to premises. Note that in British English, "letter box" also refers to a box in public place where letters etc., are deposited for onwards transmission by the Postal Service, sometimes known as a pillar box.
main street high street A common name for the most important road in a town or city. Often used to refer generally to the shops and retail outlets of a town or city.
maize sweet corn "maize" is apparently uncommon in AE. Also known as "corn on the cob". The use of "maize" to mean a shade of yellow is not known in BE.
mall shopping centre The obsolescent British usage "shopping arcade" means a group of shops fronting on to a covered pedestrian way. "Shopping centre" usually implies covered access in British usage whereas American usage uses "mall" to imply covered access and "center" to imply non-covered access. A "parade of shops" in British usage refers to a row of shops fronting on to a road, this usage is largely confined to Southern England. "mall" can also mean a large public park-like area such as Independence Mall in Philadelphia.
Mason jar Kilner jar Both terms are proprietary.
mass transit public transport
Master Card Access Credit card company. The British arm has been called "Master Card" since 1998 but many British people still refer to "Access".
master of ceremonies compere The person who introduces the performers in a TV or stage variety show. However BE uses "master of ceremonies" for the person "orchestrating" a wedding reception or similar social occasion.
mean bad tempered In BE "mean" means stingy, unwilling to spend money, miserly. In AE "mean" can also mean "good" but this is probably obsolete.
meat grinder mincer
median (strip) central reservation Dividing strip down the middle of a dual carriageway. Also called "median strip" in AE.
military time 24 hour clock Times expressed using numbers in the range 0-23 for the hours.
mimosa * Buck's Fizz A drink made by mixing champagne and orange juice.
mobile home caravan See notes on "trailer".
modeling clay Plasticine BE term is proprietary.
mortician * undertaker There are regional variations in American usage. A correspondent tells me that "mortician" is still used for a hospital employee working in the morgue.
Mother's Day Mothering Sunday In the UK this is the fourth Sunday in Lent (21st March in 2004), in the US it's the second Sunday in May. "Mother's Day" is widely used in BE as a synonym for Mothering Sunday.
movies films The productions themselves. In BE you go to the cinema.
movie theater cinema "cinema" is also used in both BE and AE to refer to the art and culture of films.
moving company removal company A company that will move your personal effects etc.
moving van pantechnicon, removal van Lorry adapted for moving personal effects when moving house. Sometimes called a "panel truck" in AE.
muffler silencer Part of vehicle exhaust system. In British usage a muffler is a sort of scarf. In AE a silencer is something you put on a gun.
mutual fund unit trust A scheme whereby the investor buys shares or units in a fund which, in turns, buys shares in many companies thereby spreading risk. Dividends received by the fund are aggregated and paid to the fund's investors in proportion to the number of units they have purchased.
native americans american indians
nickel no equivalent 5 cent coin.
The traditional names for British coins such as tanner (6d), bob (1/-), florin (2/-) and half-a-crown (2/6) all disappeared when the currency was decimalised in 1972. Surprisingly new names for the new coins have not emerged apart from the 1p coin being called a "penny". Mercifully the habit of referring to 5p as "five pee" that was common immediately after decimalisation is now dying out and most people would simply say "five pence".
The current coin set is 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. The 1p and 2p are copper plated steel, sometimes called "coppers", the 5p and 10p are "silvery", the 10p being bigger than the 5p (unlike the nickel and dime). The 20p and 50p are curious seven-sided "silvery" affairs with curved edges, these having the interesting geometrical property of constant width (similar to the eleven-sided loonie). The £1 coin is small thick and rather yellowy, nobody calls it a sovereign. The recently introduced (1999) £2 coin is similar to the Canadian $2 coin having a "silvery" bit and a "yellowy" bit.
The US government has, apparently, made several efforts to issue dollar coins in recent years but these have proved to be remarkably unpopular.
I was at a meeting at the European Commission recently and we were all comparing our shiny new small change ('euro' coins have national symbols on the reverse) and commenting that I'd got a Luxembourg 'euro' when a German colleague asked if I had any British euros. Not yet.
nightstick truncheon Blunt cosh-like weapon carried by policemen.
notions haberdashery Accessories such as buttons and zips used in the manufacture of garments. In BE "haberdashery" also refers to a shop selling such things.
number sign hash mark See notes on "pound sign".
offense players forwards Players who lead attack in certain team sports such as football.
oh nil Used in reporting the scores of sports fixtures. Where AE would say "two-oh" or "two to nothing", BE would say "two-nil" for a score of 2-0.
oil pan sump Part of engine of motor vehicle.
on-ramp, off-ramp sliproad How you join or leave a limited access highway. Sometimes called "exit ramp" in AE.
operating room operating theatre
orchestra seat stalls seat in a theatre on the same level as the stage and orchestra
outhouse privy In British usage an outhouse is just that. A small, usually brick, building used for storage or similar purposes with no through access from the main building.
overalls dungarees In British usage an "overall" is a one-piece sleeved garment used to cover one's normal clothes when working in a dirty place or job. In British usage "dungarees" often refer to such a garment worn by children or women, especially when pregnant, it consists of trousers integral with a bib-like top.
outlet socket Connector for telephone or electrical power. In BE these are sometimes referred to as "telephone points" or "power points".
British telephone sockets are similar to American ones except that the little latching thingy is on the side rather than the top. Technically the American connector is an RJ11, the British plug is a BT/431A or a BT/631A depending on whether there are 4 or 6 wires, the socket is a BT/601A although there are variants. RJ45's are used in both the UK and North America for data connections.
British power sockets have three thick flat pins in a sort of T-shaped arrangement, plugs are large clumsy things whose only saving grace is a fuse in the plug, the user has to find a screwdriver to connect a plug to a cable. American power sockets use thin flat blades, sometimes with a round earth pin, plugs are almost always moulded on to the cable. In very old British buildings an extraordinary variety of round pin sockets may sometimes be encountered. British domestic electric power is nominally 230V at 50Hz, whereas American is nominally 117V at 60 Hz
British light bulbs use a two pin bayonet fitting of similar size to the large screw fittin