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Q: Funny difference of sayings/words between US and UK language ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: Funny difference of sayings/words between US and UK language
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: urgenthelpneeded-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 21 Sep 2004 17:17 PDT
Expires: 21 Oct 2004 17:17 PDT
Question ID: 404433
We are a search marketing company located in Spain, France and Sweden.
We help clients to get good ROI with their keyword marketing in all
European languages. Our USP "unique selling proposal" is to do good
keywords list in localized language for all local European markets
that makes value into converting relevant customers for our clients.
We want to target online advertisers in US and UK about using our
service and then we translate their keyword lists included in the
"click price". Regarding this matter I would like to have help with;
1) Funny sayings or words that means one thing in US language and
another in UK language that I can use as copy in our "online ad units"
when targeting prospects in UK and US. Lovely with phrases and also
with words that is the same word but with different meaning,)

For further info please make contact or have a look at

Kind regards,
Hakan Mauritzon
Subject: Re: Funny difference of sayings/words between US and UK language
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 21 Sep 2004 19:11 PDT
Hello Hakan,

As an American who spent some time living in London a few years ago --
and who encountered more than my fair share of odd-sounding
Britishisms, as well as providing the Brits with my own peculiar brand
of New York-tinted American English -- this question was a particular
pleasure to work on.

There are a fair number of folks who have been struck by the often
humorous differences between US and UK English, and who have provided
some valuable resources on the internet.  I've provided links,
examples and a few of my own comments to some of the key sources,

I think these will fully meet your needs in terms of providing some
catchy and funny raw material for your business needs.

However, before rating this answer, please let me know if you need any
additional information.  Just post a Request for Clarification, and
I'll be happy to assist you further.




This site specializes in the differences between UK and US terms
pertaining to cars, and should be of interest to a number of your
clients, I would think:
British/American Car Term Translations

Some of the terms that sounded (to my American ear) particularly quaint, were:

Apron -- Valance 
Bonnet -- Hood 
Boot -- Trunk 
Petrol -- Gasoline 
Torch -- Flashlight 
Tommy bar - Crow Bar 


This site classifies the differences in usage by various categories,
which can be quite useful in terms of pointing out the importance of,
e.g., spelling differences when designing a key word campaign:
American vs British English

Different Spelling, Although Same Pronunciation
Colour ? color
Centre ? center 

Same Term, Different But Similar Spelling and Pronunciation
Aluminium ? aluminum 
Maths ? math

Same Words, But Different or Additional Meanings 
Trousers-- Pants
Jumper = Sweater
Jumper = Pinafore [dress]. 
GB 'I'm getting warm; I think I'll take off my jumper' would refer 
[in American English] to 'taking off my dress' instead of 'taking off
my sweater'

Divergence and Overlap
To post vs to mail a letter 
tap vs faucet

Same Concept, Different Terms 
Hire a car ? rent a car 
Sweet ? dessert
Barrister vs. solicitor ? lawyer, attorney-at-law 


This site contains quite a number of links to sites that provide
comparisions of UK/US English:

For instance, you'll find a large vocablulary list at:
Selected Vocabulary Differences 
Between British and American English 

where they point out that "rubber" in the UK is an eraser, while in
the US it refers to a condom.  Examples of other terms at the site

Bespoke = custom-tailored, tailor-made 
Bilberry = blueberry 
Braces = suspenders
Chemist (drugstore) = druggist 
Constable = (police) officer 
Crisps = potato chips 
Sweetshop = candy store 

The site also points out that the phrase "a good screw" mean  "a good
salary" in the UK, but carries quite a different, bawdier meaning in
the US.


This site has a clever list of the differences found in the UK and US
versions of several of the Harry Potter books:

dustbin -- trashcan  
motorbike -- motorcycle  
cooker -- stove 
sellotape -- scotch tape  
cine-camera -- video camera  
video recorder -- VCR  
packet of crisps -- bag of chips  
crumpets -- English muffins  
pop my clogs --  kick the bucket  
Father Christmas  -- Santa Claus  
go to the loo  -- have a pee  


And here's a site that specializes in embarassing and off-color differences
A Briton's Guide to Confusing and Embarrassing Words 

I'll give only two examples here, as many of these aren't fit for
prime time viewing:

Lemonade. In the US, non-fizzy fruit drink possibly made from lemons
that we Brits call 'squash'. Our 'lemonade' is fizzy, akin to your pop
or soda (depending on what part of the US you are from.) I was most
disappointed when I found this out for the first time in a US

'Knock you up'. In our country, to wake someone up in the morning so
they won't be late. Slightly different meaning for our American
Cousins... [e.g. "to impregnate, usually without intention ...]


...and yet another list:

Again, I trust these resources and examples will fully meet your
needs.  But if you require any additional information or examples,
just let me know.


search strategy:  Google searches on:

British American English
British American translation
UK US translation
Subject: Re: Funny difference of sayings/words between US and UK language
From: answerfinder-ga on 22 Sep 2004 00:54 PDT
I recommend this site, it has "over 1000 words and expressions that
differ in their usage between the US and the UK."

Google Answers Researcher
Subject: Re: Funny difference of sayings/words between US and UK language
From: guzzi-ga on 22 Sep 2004 19:13 PDT
From the UK perspective, many years ago I was stunned to hear a
character in ?Happy Days? called ?Mr Wanker?. Years previous to that
in ?The Mystery Movie? with Denis Weaver (I think it was called) A
recently bereaved wife said ? I miss him patting me on the fanny.?

Also briefly :-

tub -- bath
take a shower -- have a shower (same applies to bodily functions)
trunk (car) -- boot
sidewalk -- pavement
turnpike -- not usually a UK word
shift (car) -- gearstick
program -- programme
analog -- analogue
ax --axe
Pot luck (at a meal invite) in US means bring something. In UK it
means the host will rake up something.
Suspenders in UK are only worn by women (well almost only) to hold up stockings.

As a general rule, we are more familiar with US words and
pronunciations than the other way around due to films and media. US
generally altered words but not always. ?Fall? was the word but we
changed to ?Autumn?. Also spelling with a ?z? (eg utilize) used to be
the norm but we changed to ?s?.

Divided by a common language, eh.

Subject: Re: Funny difference of sayings/words between US and UK language
From: luke_flegg-ga on 03 Oct 2004 16:08 PDT
fanny pack. what are you americans doing to my language?!! and if you
say you wear pants over here you will get GIVEN a pair of boxers to
stop talking.
unfortuantely 'butt' has begun quite used here after it was only used
for talking about the end of your fag or the action to headbutt
Subject: Re: Funny difference of sayings/words between US and UK language
From: nelson-ga on 06 Oct 2004 16:04 PDT
Hey, stop the homosexual slander!


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