A Comparative Look at US vs UK English

As with foreign language translation, companies and tourists alike should be familiar with the differentiation of meanings behind the English language in US vs UK English.  Companies located in the United States that provide services and products in the UK and vice-versa will need to ensure the proper usage of words as to represent any branding in an appropriately perceived manner.

Here are several important examples you need to remember – simply to make sure no one gives you a weird look when you’re off on your holidays (or, um, “vacation”).

1. A jumper

UK: A woolen pullover worn in the winter

US: Someone who commits suicide by leaping from a building or bridge

2. A rubber

UK: An eraser for a pencil

US: A condom

3. Nappy

UK: Something a baby wears (noun)

US: Frizzy or hairy (adjective)

4. The first floor

UK: The floor above the ground floor

US: The ground floor of a building

5. Blinkers

UK: Flaps attached to a race horse’s face to restrict its vision

US: Indicators on a car

6. A casket

UK: Another word for jewelry box

US: Another word for coffin

7. Fancy dress

UK: Informal party wear, dressing up as a well-known character

US: Formal party wear, including ball gowns and black tie

8. A flapjack

UK: A flat oatmeal snack

US: A type of pancake

9. A geezer

UK: A gang member, tough guy

US: An old man

10. Homely

UK: Used to describe a comfortable, cozy house

US: Used to describe someone who is plain or ugly

11. A hoo-ha

UK: An argument or disagreement

US: Female genitalia

12. A moot point

UK: Something that is up for debate

US: Something that is irrelevant

13. Nervy

UK: Nervous or prone to fidget

US: Bold or confident

14. Peckish

UK: Slightly hungry

US: Irritable or angry

15. A run-in

UK: The end of a race

US: An argument or dispute

16. Shattered

UK: Exhausted

US: Emotionally devastated

17. Solicitor

UK: A legal representative

US: A door-to-door salesman

18. Through

(As in, “The shop is open through lunch”)

UK: During (lunch hours)

US: Up until (lunch hours)

19. Trainer(s)

UK: Shoes

US: Person at the gym who trains you to work out

20. Pants

UK: Underwear

US: Trousers

21. Bird

UK: Colloquial term for woman

US: An animal

22. Bog

UK: Toilet

US: Like a swamp

23. Chips

(As in, “Can I have some chips with that burger?”)

UK: Thin cut deep fried potato

US: Thinly sliced, deep fried, baked and kettle-cooked crunchy potatoes (crisps in the UK)

24. To give way

UK: To give the right of way (to vehicles, pedestrians)

US: To retreat

25. Shag

UK: Colloquial term for having sex

US: A type of carpet

Dynamic Language offers a range of language services to best serve the needs of companies seeking global expansion. Our localization and transcreation services will prepare you for global markets through every stage of development.  We provide language services in over 150 languages. We also test localized content in a complete range of platforms whether mobile, online or console-based to ensure compatibility in foreign markets.


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