List of words having different meanings in British and American English: A–L

List of words having different meanings in British and American English: A–L

This is the list of words having different meanings in British and American English: A–L.

For the second portion of the list, see List of words having different meanings in British and American English: M–Z.

  • Asterisked (*) meanings, though found chiefly in the specified region, also have some currency in the other dialect; other definitions may be recognised by the other as Briticisms or Americanisms respectively. Additional usage notes are provided when useful.



Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
AA The Automobile Association (US: AAA) Alcoholics Anonymous American Atheists
A&E the accident and emergency (casualty) department of a hospital (US: emergency room, ER)[1]   Arts & Entertainment (name of a television network)[1]
accumulator rechargeable battery (archaic)[2]

a type of bet [3] (US: parlay)

one that accumulates, as a type of computer processor register or a hydraulic accumulator[2]  
ace good, excellent (1980s slang)
a one in a suit of playing cards
someone who is very good at something. A term in tennis for a point won for the server without the opponent returning his or her serve.
fighter pilot who has shot down at least 5 enemy aircraft
(v.) to perform outstandingly *; esp., to achieve an A (on a school exam)
the best starting pitcher in a rotation on a baseball team
advocate (n.) Scottish also the Isle of Man, Channel Islands and South African lawyer who appears in higher courts (rest of UK: barrister) someone who supports or speaks for a particular position
generic term for a lawyer
(v.) to recommend or support
air marshal a senior air force officer (equivalent to a USAF Lt. General) an undercover law enforcement officer on board a commercial aircraft, also known as a sky marshal  
à la mode   fashionable with ice cream (ex. Apple pie à la mode)
alternate   (adj.) done or occurring by turns; every second, every other ("on alternate weeks")
(n.) one that alternates with another
(adj.) constituting an alternative, offering a choice (UK usu. & US also alternative) ("use alternate routes")
"alternative", unconventional ("alternate lifestyles")

(n.) an alternative *; a substitute

amber traffic light of this colour (US: yellow light) orange-yellow-

blue color
fossilised resin; a material used in the construction of some tobacco pipes' stems, female given name; (sealed in amber) state of being oblivious to changing circumstances

anæsthetist (UK), anesthetist (US) physician trained to induce anesthesia (US: anesthesiologist) someone who induces anesthesia. a critical care experienced graduate level educated Registered Nurse who is nationally certified to induce anesthesia
anchor   (1) a position in a tug of war team

(2) device for mooring ships by providing a firm fix to the seabed (3)(anchorman/anchorwoman) the last member of a relay team to compete

a type of radio or TV presenter ("a news anchor"). See news presenter for a description of the different roles of a newscaster, an American news anchor, and a British newsreader.
anorak a parka
(slang) a socially awkward person obsessively interested in something (syn. US: geek, nerd; dweeb; etc.)
hooded, rainproof outerwear that lacks a full-length zipper in the front of me brah (UK: cagoule)  
apartment suite of rooms set aside for a particular person (rare),

usu. rented housing unit in a larger building implying luxury (In other words a narrower definition than the US.) (Overlapping with the rare usage in reference to stately homes or historic properties which have been converted into residential units.)

  usu. rented housing unit in a larger building (usu. flat in UK)– cf. s.v. condominium
appropriate (v.), appropriation (n.) to take (money) to oneself, to filch or misappropriate to take and ass (money) (there is considerable overlap but difference of emphasis) to dispense (money), to budget
Asian originating from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka (South Asian) originating from the continent of Asia originating from East Asia or continental Southeast Asia
ass   donkey
slow-witted or stupid person, often in combination (dumb-ass)
(often vulgar) buttocks (UK: arse); also, by synecdoche, the person ("your ass is dead"); also (vulgar) anus (short for asshole)
(vulgar) sex ("get some ass")
(adv.) a postpositive intensive (i.e., to add emphasis to an adjective) ("He drove a big-ass truck")
kick-ass: to beat up or beat, e.g. "I am going to kick his ass" or, more positively, something that beat (did better than) everything else, e.g. "The opening band was kick-ass."
(vulgar) someone acting inappropriately or offensively ("That guy was an ass!")
athletics Sport comprising the events in track and field, cross country running, road running and racewalking   Athletic sports in general, (e.g. College athletics)
attorney   an agent or representative authorised to act on someone else's behalf ("attorney-in-fact", "power of attorney")
(Attorney General) main legal advisor to the government
(or attorney-at-law) a lawyer (UK: barrister (England, Northern Ireland, Wales)/advocate (Scotland) or solicitor, depending on the actual profession)
(District attorney, prosecuting attorney) local public official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminals (archaic in Br. Eng. for lawyer)
aubergine the plant Solanum melongena, or the fruit thereof (US: eggplant) an aubergine-like colour (US also: eggplant)  
awesome   inspiring awe, spectacular great, "cool" *(largely used in the 1980s, recently revived; can have various connotations depending on context – compare UK brilliant)


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
balmy (adj.) insane (although usually spelt barmy today) (usu. climate) pleasantly warm  
banger (n.) a sausage, as in "bangers and mash"
an old motorcar in a state of disrepair (US: beater)
a type of firework a particularly club-friendly beat or song
a gang member (gang-banger)
bang(s)   small explosions or reports;
(v.) have sexual intercourse with (vulgar slang) ( e.g. "bang some chick" or "he's banging her")
locks of hair on forehead (UK: fringe)
base   foundation, starting point; many meanings in sciences, architecture, politics, military installation, etc.; see base in baseball, one of the three places a runner can stand in safety; hence in many fig. senses, off one's base (crazy), to get to first base (esp. in neg. constr., to get a first important result); more recently (slang), a metaphor for one of three different stages in making out (q.v.) – see baseball metaphors for sex; more s.v. home run
bash masturbate (vulgar slang) (usu.Bash one out or Have a bash) (but Have a bash more often means the same as Have a go – to try to achieve something, as in "have a bash at this crossword")
an improvised shelter (shortened form of 'basha')
to strike physically
to attack verbally
a party or celebration "they're having a little bash this weekend" (orig. US, but now probably more common in UK than US)
bath (usu. pl.) swimming pool
(v.) to bathe, or give a bath to, example have a bath (US: take a bath meaning bathe)
(n.) plumbing fixture for bathing *(US: bathtub)
(n.) the act of bathing
a (financial) loss
(n.) a bathroom (esp. a half bath which has a sink and toilet but no shower stall or bathtub, or a 3/4 bath which has a sink, toilet, and shower stall, but no bathtub)
bathroom room containing a bath (US: bathtub) or shower, other washing facilities, and usu. (but not necessarily) a toilet   room, in a home or hotel room, containing a toilet, related washing facilities, and often, but not necessarily, a shower or bathtub (Hence "Going to the bathroom" is a euphemism for going to the toilet even in a setting where one would not expect to find a bath, e.g. a restaurant or shop *) (a room without shower or bathtub may also be known as a powder room, but this usage may be considered dated)
batty arse, homosexual (orig. Jamaican word) crazy, insane (slang)  
beaker drinking vessel without a handle, or one (with or without handles) made of unbreakable plastic for the use of children (US: sippy cup) flat-bottomed vessel, with a lip, used as a laboratory container.  
beater   person who flushes game from concealment so it can be shot at by 'the guns'
something or someone that beats
used car or bicycle in very poor condition (UK: banger)
(slang) wifebeater (q.v.)
a sleeveless undershirt (from the stereotype that poor men who wear them beat their wives, perhaps from Jackie Gleason in "The Honeymooners" TV series (50s/60s U.S.) or more likely from the costume of the character Stanley Kowalski in the play "A Streetcar Named Desire (play)") (UK: vest)
beaver beard; a bearded man (archaic slang) aquatic rodent known for building dams
woman's undepilated external genitalia (obscene slang)
female pubic hair (slang)
bender derogatory expression for a gay man, referring to the act of bending over to permit buggery. an expression for a binge drinking spree, referring to the act of bending over to vomit.  
bespoke (esp. of apparel) made to the customer's specification (US: custom-made, tailor-made) pret. of bespeak  
bill The bill=the police (slang, poss. from Old Bill) invoice; request for payment (also US: check, tab)
a proposed law before it is voted on by a legislature
a piece of paper money (UK: note/banknote)
billion (traditionally) a million millions (1012) (US: trillion) thousand million (109) (now most common in both UK and US) (traditional UK: milliard) (see also Long and short scales) 109
bin (v.) to throw away.
(bread bin) container for storing bread (US: breadbox)
(1) a waste container (2) a usu. large receptacle or container for storage ("a grain bin"; "Scrooge McDuck's money bin")  
bird (n.) one's girlfriend or any young female (slang; getting rarer[4] and considered derogatory by some)
prison sentence (slang)
avian creature
an aircraft
insulting hand gesture involving shaking one's fist towards someone with knuckles pointing towards the person being insulted and the middle finger extended (used chiefly in "flipping someone the bird") (slang)
biscuit (n.) baked sweet or savoury cake-like item, usu. flat, which is hard when baked and softens over time (colloquially bikkies for sweet biscuits) (US: cookie (sweet biscuit), cracker savoury biscuit)
(to take the biscuit) to be very surprising (US: take the cake)
  type of quick bread served with savory foods (UK: similar to a savoury scone, or similar in consistency to a croissant)
blinder (n.) excellent performance in a game or race (slang) "e.g. he played a blinder"   either of two flaps on a horse's bridle to keep it from seeing objects at its sides (UK: blinker, also used in US)

(wear blinders) (colloq.) state of being oblivious, unresponsive to changing circumstances. Myopic, tunnel vision.

blinkers leather flaps on a bridle used to restrict a horse's lateral vision*(US usu.: blinders)
  lights on a car that indicate the direction about to be taken *(UK: indicators)
block (n.) a building (block of flats, office block) a solid piece of something
to obstruct
(basketball) a blocked shot, or (plural) in the low post position near the basket, as in "on the blocks"
in a city, the portion of a street between adjacent intersections*or an informal rough unit of distance derived from the length of the same
bloody expletive attributive used to express anger ("bloody car") or shock ("bloody hell"), or for emphasis ("not bloody likely") (slang, today only mildly vulgar) *(similar US: damn ("damn car")) having, covered with or accompanied by blood considered a euphemism for more emphatic swear words
blow off to break wind to perform oral sex upon to not turn up to meet somebody (UK: blow out) ("I'm just too busy, I'll have to blow you off for this evening.")
bog (n.) toilet (slightly vulgar slang)
(bog off) go away (slightly vulgar slang, often jocular)
wetland that accumulates appreciable peat deposits A plot of artificially floodable farmland used to grow cranberries
(a cranberry bog)
bogey dried nasal mucus usu. after extraction from the nose (US: booger) (informal)
the score of one over par in golf an unidentified aircraft, often assumed to be that of an enemy

alternate spelling of "Bogie" (nickname of Humphrey Bogart)

boiler (n.) old fowl best cooked by boiling;

2. (derogatory) an ugly woman (usually in the phrase "old boiler")

1. device (usu. oil or gas-fired) for heating water for central heating or hot water *, "central heating boiler" (US furnace);

vessel in which steam is generated

A car (1930s slang)
bomb a striking success; used in the phrases "go (like) a bomb" and "go down a bomb"; Go like a bomb also means, when used of a vehicle, to go very fast an explosive weapon (v.) to be a failure ("the show bombed"); also as n.
(n., used with the) something outstanding ("that show was the bomb"); sometimes spelled da bomb
bombardier corporal in the Royal Artillery – see Bombardier (rank)   crew member of a bomber responsible for assisting the navigator in guiding the plane to a bombing target and releasing the aircraft's bomb load – see Bombardier (air force) (UK: bomb aimer)
bonk act of sexual intercourse, or to have sexual intercourse (slightly vulgar slang) (US: boink)
bonking off to masturbate.
blow to the head
(n. and v.) to suffer glycogen depletion in an endurance sporting event; see hitting the wall
bonnet hinged cover over the engine in a car (US: hood)
various types of Scottish or Irish soft hat
hat tied under chin worn by a baby or (archaically) a woman  
boob (n.) a mistake (slang); (v.) to make a mistake (US: blooper) woman's breast (slightly vulgar slang) stupid person
boob tube woman's shoulderless, strapless top (US: tube top)   (the boob tube) television (slang)
boost   to (figuratively) lift up; to improve, increase, revitalize. to (literally) lift up, especially a person: booster cushion*, a cushion used to increase the height of a seat (esp. in a car)
to steal, especially from a retail establishment (i.e., shoplift)
boot storage compartment of a car (US: trunk) footwear covering lower leg
to kick something hard
to start up a computer
(Denver boot, car boot) device used to render cars immobile (UK: wheel clamp)
to expel (UK: give someone the boot *)("I have been given the Order of the Boot", Winston Churchill)
to vomit (slang)
to shoot up (with intravenous drugs) (ex: to boot cocaine or heroin; slang)
boss   the person you report to at work cool, totally awesome (slang) e.g. "That is a boss Zefron poster"
bottle courage ("he's got some bottle") (slang) (US: moxie)
to fail to do something through fear ("he's bottled out", "he bottled it") (slang)
to attack somebody with a broken bottle (slang)

Give it some bottle=put some effort into it

container for liquids
(the bottle) alcohol, heavy drinking (synecdochical slang)
box a gift in a box, hence Boxing Day
genital protector used in cricket (US similar: cup)
(the box) television set (slang) (US: idiot box, boob tube)
a box stall in a barn
any of various box-like structures, such as:
signal box (US: switch/signal/interlocking tower)
telephone box (US & UK also: telephone booth), more at call box
witness box (US: witness stand)
either one of the two marked areas adjacent to the goalmouth on an association football pitch (see here)
see also box junction
(n.) rigid container
(v.) to attack using one's fists
(n.) general-purpose computer (e. g. "this box needs its hard disk re-formatted")
(think "out of the box") to be original, inventive, innovative (cliched phrase)
any of various areas on a baseball diamond (as for the batter, or the pitcher, the catcher, etc.)
female genitalia (obscene slang) *
(box canyon) a canyon with vertical walls
(boxcar) a type of enclosed railroad freight car (UK: goods van), a three-ball "frame" for one player in candlepin bowling (New England)the genital area kicked in the box
brace bracers braces over-the-shoulder straps to support trousers *(US usu. suspenders, q.v.)
support that steadies or strengthens something else

devices for straightening teeth

leg supports (UK: callipers)
tertiary enclosing punctuation: { } (UK: curly brackets)
brackets enclosing punctuation: ( ) (US & UK also: parentheses); more at braces supports for shelves, etc. attached to a wall secondary enclosing punctuation: [] (UK: square brackets)
brew (n.)   tea beer


brilliant excellent, of the highest quality (rarely sarcastic) very bright (of a light or a brain)
very intelligent
bud   undeveloped shoot which normally occurs in the axil of a leaf or at the tip of a plant stem marijuana (slang)
hand-rolled marijuana cigarette (slang), compare joint
shortening of 'buddy', used to address strangers assuming a non-existent familiarity (UK: similar: mate)
buffet railway carriage containing a refreshment counter selling snacks and drinks, esp. on a train on which a full restaurant car (US: dining car) service is not provided refreshment counter or bar;

a meal set out on a table, etc. for diners to serve themselves

a type of sideboard
bug   insect of the order Hemiptera
pathogen, bacteria, germ
covert listening device (orig. US)
defect in software (orig. in a machine) (orig. US)
an enthusiast of something (orig. US)
Volkswagen Beetle
(v.) to apply a covert listening device (orig. US)
any of various insects *(nontechnical usage)
an important person ("a big bug"); also, someone crazy (as in "firebug", a pyromaniac)
(v.) to annoy (colloquial) *
to go away, depart, also from a responsibility (used with out)
(bug off) to go away (often as a command) (from UK bugger, q.v.)
bugger to engage in or someone who engages in anal sex
a form of address for either a person or item, either jocular ("he's a generous bugger") or less so ("he's a mean bugger") (slang)
(buggered) 1. broken, not working (typically of mechanical devices, e.g. "the engine's buggered") (slang); 2. syn. for bothered (e.g. "I didn't do it. I couldn't be buggered.") (slang)
(bugger up) to make a mess of something (slang)
(bugger off) (imperative) go away, leave me alone (slang)
  term of endearment, often used for children (slang)
(in spoken English, the British "bugger" is sometimes misheard by Americans as "booger")[citation needed]
buggy 2-wheeled horse-drawn lightweight carriage
baby transport vehicle also called (UK) pushchair (US: stroller)
any of various light cart or cars ("a golf buggy")
(slang) an automobile (orig. US)
see baby transport for details
see also dune buggy
4-wheeled horse-drawn lightweight carriage
baby transport vehicle also called (US) baby carriage (UK: pram)
regional (esp. South) for shopping cart (UK: trolley)
(marsh/swamp buggy) a type of motor vehicle for marshland
(slang) caboose
(horse and buggy) something obsolete (as from before the invention of the automobile)
bum to engage in anal sex (vulgar slang) (1)to cadge ("can I bum a cigarette off you?") (slang)

(2) buttocks (slang) (US: butt)

hobo, homeless person
poor quality (slang)
to sadden (often used with "out")
bumps a type of rowing race
a method of marking someone's birthday (see Birthday customs and celebrations)
a set of small protuberances  
bunk to be absent without authorization:

bunk off, to play truant from school (US: play hooky)
do a bunk, to abscond (US: go on the lam)

type of bed, where two small beds are stacked on top of each other (UK bunk (up) with implies sharing a bed, rather than merely a room)
nonsense as in "History is bunk" (from bunkum)
group of plain beds used as no-frills lodging (UK: dormitory, qv); also used as a verb ("I bunked with them in their room"; "The cabin could bunk about 18")
bureau a type of writing table a public office or government agency a type of chest of drawers
burn (n.) (Scotland and Northern England) narrow river, stream – more s.v. creek
(the act of smoking) a cigarette
wound caused by heat, or chemical agents, etc. clearing (as in a forest) made by burning vegetation
bus (v.)   to travel by bus to clear (as tables) in a restaurant; to work as a busboy
butcher (have a butcher's) to have a look (rhyming slang: butcher's hook=look) to kill and cut up an animal for meat
to kill messily, or someone who does so
one who cuts and sells meat
to make a big mess of things; botch ("butcher it up"; "I butchered the spelling")
butchery (n.) slaughterhouse, abattoir a cruel massacre
a butcher's trade
a botch
butt (n.)   (n.) the (larger) end of anything, a stub; also, a cigarette
a sudden blow given by the head of an animal
a large wooden cask
a person mocked by a joke
(v.) to strike bluntly (as with the head)
(butt in) to interfere when uncalled for (orig. US)
(colloquial) buttocks (UK usu. bum); hence butthead *
(n.) (butt-in) one who butts in
(v.) to cut off the end (of a log)
(butt out) to stop interfering
buzzard a hawk of the genus Buteo   vulture (slang)


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
callbox (n.) telephone booth (UK also telephone box)   roadside emergency telephone
call for (v.)   to require or advocate to predict or anticipate ("The forecast calls for rain")
can (n.)   small metal container can (v.): to fire someone from a job (UK: sack)

can (n.): bathroom (slang), jail (UK: gaol)

canteen (n.) basic food service location usually at a work place or institution (US:Cafeteria). a box with compartments for storing eating utensils, silverware etc.

a military mess kit water bottle, typically used for military or camping purposes.

campsite (n.) area or park for people to camp in (US: campground)   spot for a particular person or group to camp, often within a campground (UK: pitch)
candy (n.) (candy floss) heated sugar spun into thin threads and collected into a mass, usually on a stick; something pleasing but having little worth (US: cotton candy for both senses) (v.) to sugarcoat, or boil with sugar (as fruit)
to sweeten

edible, sweet-tasting confection containing sugar, or sometimes artificial sweeteners, and often flavored with fruit, chocolate, nuts or artificial flavours; a piece of candy (UK: sweets, confectionery)

(eye candy) (derog.) someone particular who is physically attractive (See also arm candy.)
canfield (n.) a patience (solitaire) card game (US: Klondike)   a patience (solitaire) card game (UK: Demon)
car (n.) railway vehicle, only in combination (e.g. "restaurant car", except London Underground "carriage")

(archaic) street tramway vehicle
motorcar (n.) (UK, q.v.)/automobile nonpowered unit in a railroad or railway train ("railroad car"; "a passenger/freight/parlor/dining/baggage etc. car") (see s.v. motor car, trolley; UK: cf. s.v. carriage, coach, wagon)
elevator (q.v.) cage
caravan towed recreational vehicle containing accommodation (US: travel trailer)
to take such a vehicle on holiday
overland trading convoy a type of minivan sold in the United States (see Dodge Caravan)
caretaker (n.) one who takes care of a building, usu. a state-owned building, i.e. school (US: janitor; cf. s.v. custodian)
one put in charge of a farm after eviction of tenant
one who takes care of someone or something
stopgap government or provisional government
one who takes care of real estate in exchange for rent-free living accommodations *
carnival (n.) the festive days just preceding Lent (US: Mardi Gras) (adj.) suggesting a festive atmosphere (n.) a travelling circus or fair (UK: funfair) comprising amusement rides
carousel (n.)   a moving luggage/baggage display unit, most often at airports a rotating fairground ride (UK: merry-go-round, roundabout)
carriage (n.) railway coach (q.v.) designed for the conveyance of passengers
the conveying of goods or the price paid for it ("carriage-paid"); "handling"
4-wheeled horse-drawn private passenger vehicle (baby carriage) baby transport vehicle featuring the infant laying down facing the pusher (UK: perambulator, pram) – more s.v. buggy
a shopping cart (primarily in North Atlantic states)
carry-on, carryon (colloquial) carrying-on, unruly behaviour   luggage that can be carried aboard an aircraft, bus, or train (UK: hand luggage or baggage)
cart a difficult or embarrassing state ("he was put in the cart") usu. 2-wheeled one-horse vehicle (as that used in farming) a lightweight wheeled vehicle, as for shopping, serving, carrying baggage, etc. (UK: trolley)
cartridge (primarily related to video games)
casket (n.) a small box, as for jewels, particularly an antique   The type of coffin with upholstery and a half-open lid, any coffin
casualty (person) often, someone who has been wounded; hence casualty department (US: emergency room) generally, someone who has been injured or killed often, someone who has been killed; see also casualty insurance
catapult small Y-shaped handheld projectile weapon often used by children (US: slingshot) a type of medieval siege engine
an aircraft catapult
(v.) rise quickly
chaps [?] men or boys (but increasingly used for people of either sex; in the singular it still almost exclusively refers to a male, "Guys" has become a more popular phrase in the UK) (US & UK: guys)
one's friends ("the chaps") (US & UK: the guys)
cheeks – as in Bath Chaps – stewed pigs' cheeks, a delicacy
  leather leggings worn by cowboys and designed to protect the legs against thorns (sometimes pronounced shaps), short for "chaparajos"
check   examine for a particular purpose
a pattern of coloured squares
a warning given in chess
leave items in the care of someone else (e.g. at a cloakroom; hence checkroom)
(also check mark) mark used to denote 'correct' or indicate one's choice (UK: tick, q.v.)
request for payment, especially at a restaurant; bill
written order for a bank to pay money (UK: cheque)
checker   one that checks (e.g. an inspector) a store or shop cashier (almost always a grocery store)
(checkers) a popular board game (UK: draughts)
to mark with alternating colored squares (UK: chequer)
cheers (interjection) said to express gratitude in England, or on parting (slang). Also cheerio. used as a toast or valediction  
chemist pharmacist, pharmacy (US similar: druggist, drugstore) student or researcher of chemistry  
chink an expression of incredulity, similar to crap in American English[dubious ] a crack, fissure (A chink in one's armor)weak spot, vulnerability
a racial slur for those of Chinese or east Asian ancestry
chip in to express one's opinion (as in a conversation); to "chime in" to contribute (as money) (orig. US)  
chips (food) Long cuts of deep fried potato, usu. thick cut resembling American steak fries
French fries, in (orig. UK) phrase fish and chips thin slices of fried potato*(UK: crisps)
chippie, chippy carpenter (slang);
fish-and-chip shop (slang) (Scot, Ire: chipper)
(adj.; chippy only) aggressively belligerent, especially in sport loose woman (dated slang);
the N. American bird Chipping Sparrow
chum A popular brand of canned dog food (officially Pedigree Chum)
bum chum a derogatory term for a male homosexual sex-partner.
friend (sometimes sarcastic) (n.) waste products from fish processing (heads, tails, blood etc.) often used for shark fishing

(v.) to spread fish entrails etc. in the hope of luring sharks. "We chummed the water all morning, but never spotted any dorsal fins." Has some cross-over usage metaphorically in non-fishing situations.

cider an alcoholic drink derived from apples (US: hard cider)   a nonalcoholic drink derived from apples
Cinderella a team which underachieves, or is overshadowed by successful neighbouring rivals* fairy tale character a lowly sports team or individual which enjoys an unexpectedly good run in a tournament
city a large town, in particular a town created a city by charter and containing a cathedral
"The City": the City of London, London's financial centre, hence financial markets and investment banking more generally (c.f. US Wall Street)
  a usually large or important municipality governed under a charter granted by the state (however most smaller towns in the US are cities); an element of a standard mailing address (UK "postal town")
clerk   administrative worker (or salesclerk) store or shop worker (UK: shop assistant)
hotel employee at the reservation desk (UK: receptionist)
closet any small room (esp. Northern England, Scotland, & Ireland); hence water closet, a room containing a flush toilet, later the toilet itself a private chamber for retirement
in secret; (come out of the closet) to reveal what was secret (especially in relation to homosexuality)
a cabinet or wardrobe, as for utensils or apparel; in the latter case oftenest built-in; hence e.g. walk-in closet, linen closet, and skeleton in the closet *(UK also: in the cupboard) *
coach bus with of higher standard of comfort, usually chartered or used for longer journeys*
tutor, usu. private, who prepares pupils for examinations *
railway carriage *
enclosed horse-drawn passenger carriage
sports trainer
extracurricular sports teacher at a school (UK: PE teacher)
lowest class on a passenger aircraft (UK: economy)
cob (mainly Northern & Central Eng.) a type of bread roll ("Chip cob", "ham cob", "pack of six cobs please")
(pl.) large globules of sweat ("I'm sweating cobs")
The portion of a corn plant around which the kernels grow.
a building material
a type of horse
a male swan
cock (n.) form of address to a man to gain attention or greet e.g. "Wotcha cock!"
a popular personage e.g. Cock o' the North
(v.) (cock up) *to make a mess of things; cock-up (n.) is the act or the resulting state of affairs
(n.) a male bird; esp., an adult male chicken (US oftenest rooster)
(n.) penis (vulgar slang)
(v.) to set the hammer or firing pin of a loaded firearm ready for firing; likewise, to "cock the shutter" of an old, spring-activated camera
(n.) A type of tap, faucet, or valve (e.g., a stopcock).
collect To win a bet (from the idea of picking up the winnings) (v.) to gather together, to pick up; (orig. US) to pick up a person or thing
(n.) short prayer read during the first part of a church service as practised by certain parts of the Christian faith; mainly Anglican and Roman Catholic.
(adj., adv.) charged to the receiver ("to call collect", to reverse the charges) ("a collect call") [from collect on delivery]
college part of the name of some state secondary schools (US approx.: high school) and many independent schools (US approx.: prep school)
educational institution between school and university (e.g. sixth form college, technical college, college of further education)
vocational training institution
constituent part of some larger universities, especially ancient universities professional association which usu. grants some form of professional qualifications, mostly in the medical field (e.g. Royal College of Surgeons, American College of Surgeons)

an independent institution of higher education (as a small university or a division of a university) granting bachelor's degrees
generic term for higher education, but only at the undergraduate level

comforter a baby's dummy (q.v.) one who comforts quilted bedspread (UK: duvet)
commissioner professional head of the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police (US: chief of police)   political head of a police department
member of any commission
commode small cabinet portable toilet for use in a room without plumbing normal toilet, in a bathroom (q.v.)
compensation   the act of compensating
damages awarded for a legal wrong
(workers' compensation) payment to injured workers
remuneration received by employees
(unemployment compensation) compensation paid to an unemployed person (as a laid-off worker), arising from government resources
concession reduction in price (discount) for a certain category of person the action of conceding
in politics, the action of a candidate yielding to another
an area within one country that is administered by another
a lease or grant of premises or land for a particular use, or the so contracted-out service, as in concession stand, i.e. a counter, stand or area at public entertainment venues where snacks or drinks are sold, often at inflated prices
a concession stand
condominium a political territory (state or border area) in or over which two sovereign powers formally agree to share equally dominium (in the sense of sovereignty) and exercise their rights jointly (also condo) a type of joint ownership of real property (as an apartment building) in which portions of the property are commonly owned and other portions are individually owned; an apartment in a condominium
constable technically, a police officer of any rank, but usu. understood to mean a police officer of the lowest rank (one who holds no other more specific rank) (US: officer or patrolman)   peace officer in a township without an organised police department
official who serves summonses (UK: bailiff or sheriff's officer)
construction   the act or process of building or constructing; a structure; the construction industry
from construe: the assigning of meaning to ambiguous terms
road construction and maintenance work; roadwork ("a construction area/zone") (UK: roadworks)
cooker an appliance for cooking food (US: cookstove, stove, range); see also AGA cooker
a cooking apple, a large sour apple used in cooking
a pot or utensil for cooking in ("pressure cooker", "rice cooker", "slow cooker") a person who cooks (UK always cook)
cookie a bun (Scotland)

a biscuit of a particular variety, usually containing chocolate chips (often referred to as a "chocolate chip cookie")

a small packet of information stored on users' computers by websites a small, flat baked cake *(UK usu. biscuit, q.v.)
fellow, guy *("a tough cookie"); also, an attractive girl *
(that's the way the cookie crumbles) that's how things go
(to toss one's cookies) to vomit
(cookie-cutter) trite, banal
a cook (army slang)
cop to take ("cop a look at this", "cop one of these") (slang)
to be blamed for, be caught ("he'll cop it!") (slang)
police officer (short for "copper") (slang)
(cop a feel) to grope (slang)
(cop a plea) (law, orig. slang) to plead guilty to a lesser offence to not be tried for a graver charge; compare plea bargain
(cop a squat) to take a seat (slang)
copper low value coin, brown or 'copper' colored (currently 1p and 2p coins)
large copper vessel used for heating water and washing clothes (archaic)
the metallic element copper
police officer (slang, orig. UK)
coriander the leaves of the coriander plant, used as a herb (US: cilantro or Chinese parsley) the plant Coriandrum sativum
dried seeds of this plant
corn wheat in England, oats in Scotland and Ireland

any of various cereal plants or grains (US usu.: grain), also in combination (e.g. cornfield, a field of any cereal)
(see also US)

in both dialects, the principal crop cultivated in a particular region
Indian corn, in corn on the cob, corn flakes, popcorn
horny swelling on the foot
Zea mays; originally known as Indian corn (q.v.; UK usu.: maize or sweetcorn); hence cornfield, cornstarch (UK: corn flour), cornbread, cornball, cornblade, etc.
something corny *, hence cornball
cot infant bed; hence cot death (US: crib) camp bed  
coulee   a (solidified) stream of lava (chiefly Western, orig. Canadian) a deep steep-sided ravine formed by erosion, or a small valley or stream
court shoe a women's dress shoe with a heel (US: pump, q.v.)   a type of athletic shoe used for sports played on an indoor court, such as volleyball or squash (UK similar: plimsoll or regionally pump)
cowboy an unscrupulous or unqualified tradesman a legendary archetype found in Wild West genre works

(derog.) one who is reckless, uncontrollable.

a cowhand working with livestock (UK: drover)
cracker small parcel that makes an explosive report when pulled from both ends, traditionally pulled at Christmas
attractive woman (slang)
anything good ("the new product is a cracker") (slang)
thin, hard, unsweetened biscuit (formerly chiefly US, now common everywhere) an unsophisticated, typically rural white person (also white cracker; derogatory slang, southeastern US); also, someone from Georgia or Florida
crèche day care, day nursery   nativity scene, manger scene, crib (q.v.) *
creek tidal channel through a coastal marsh (orig. sense)   any inland stream of water smaller than a river (other terms: UK: rill, gill; N. Eng. & Scot.: burn; Eng. & New Eng.: brook; Midland US: run)
crew   body of people manning a vehicle of any kind
gang of manual workers (e.g. road crew)
group of friends or colleagues ("I saw him and his crew at the bar")
rowing as a sport
crib (n.) nativity scene, crèche (q.v.) *
a manger or rack, or stall for cattle
a plagiarism, as of a student ("crib sheet")
small enclosed bedstead for a child; hence crib death (UK: cot)
(informal) one's house or apartment
a bin for storing maize
a structure of logs to be anchored with stones; used for docks, dams, etc.
(orig. Canada) a small raft of timber
crisp fried potato slices with salt, sometimes with flavour (US: potato chips) when something sounds clear and dry. a term to sunburning. For example: Because he didn't have sunscreen, Jack was burnt to a crisp.
crumpet an attractive female (slang) A savoury waffle-like cake made from flour or potato and yeast  
cubicle A compartment in a bathroom with low walls that contains a toilet. (US: stall)
A compartment in a larger area separated from similar adjoining compartments by low walls, such as in an office area.  
cuffs   The ends of a garment's sleeves, furthest from the wearer
short for handcuffs
An arrangement at the bottom of trouser-legs, in which the material is folded back upon itself to form a trough externally around the bottom of the leg. (UK: turn-ups)
cunt offensive (or sometimes indulgent) term often applied to men vagina (usu. obscene) offensive, obscene term usu. applied to women
custodian an association football goalkeeper a keeper or guardian of a person or thing one who cleans and maintains a building; a building superintendent, a janitor


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
daddy longlegs, daddy-long-legs crane fly daddy long-legs spider Opiliones
davenport a type of writing table * [both prob. from the names of their resp. manufacturers; both old-fashioned] a type of couch, often convertible into a bed
dead (of a cup, glass, bottle or cigarette) empty, finished with
very, extremely ("dead good", "dead heavy", "dead rich")
completely, perfectly ("dead straight", "dead on", "dead right")
extremely quiet (e.g. business or nightlife)
(dismissive usage) boring
dead beat, deadbeat exhausted (slang) (US: dead tired)   an idler; someone who does not pay their debts, often in construction ("deadbeat dad") (slang)
DC Detective Constable, a police officer who works in or with a branch of CID. direct current
(see also other expansions)
District of Columbia
deck   (n.) the floor or level of a ship or other types of vehicles
the roadway of a bridge
a recording device
(v.) to decorate for a festivity ("deck the halls with boughs of holly", "decked out with flags")
to hit a person hard enough such that they fall to the floor (orig. US)
a pack of cards
a wooden, raised platform adjoining a house, usu. enclosed by a railing
a packet of narcotics (slang)
(v.) to pile up (logs) on a deck of logs or a skidway
(on deck) in baseball, the hitter due up next ("Albert is on deck, so they must be careful to not walk this batter."). A general usage connotes availability, e.g. "Who's on deck?" (Who is available to do this?). Occasionally used to indicate who is next in line.
Dennis the Menace a character and comic strip developed by Ian Chisholm and Davey Law, debuted in March 1951 (US: Dennis)   a character and comic strip developed by Hank Ketcham, debuted in March 1951
depot a location (large building or piece of land) where buses, trams or trains are stored when not in use and maintained
(pronounced /ˈdɛpoʊ/)
a storehouse or depository; a location for the storage of military or naval supplies
(pronounced /ˈdɛpoʊ/ in BrE, /ˈdiːpoʊ/ in AmE)
A slow-release drug injection (usu. psychiatric)
(pronounced /ˈdɛpoʊ/ in both dialects)
a railroad station or bus terminal or station; also, an air terminal
(pronounced /ˈdiːpoʊ/)
DI Detective inspector (police)   Drill instructor (military)
diary personal calendar *(US: appointment book, appointment calendar, datebook) personal journal  
digital radio   any radio that receives a digital signal a radio with a digital display
die (n.)   tool used in metalworking to form a part under pressure singular of dice, numbered cube used in games of chance (UK: dice for both singular and plural)
dim (trans. v.), dimmer (switch)   to reduce the intensity of a domestic, industrial or other light; hence dimmer (switch) to lower a vehicle headlight's beam, typically when approaching vehicles travelling in the opposite direction at night (UK: dip); hence dimmer switch (UK: dip switch)
diner   one who dines ("a picky diner") railroad dining car (UK: restaurant car)
a type of restaurant, traditionally but not necessarily often resembling a dining car
dip (trans. v.), dip switch to lower a vehicle headlight's beam, typically when approaching vehicles travelling in the opposite direction at night (US: dim); hence dip switch (distinguished from DIP switch) (US: dimmer switch)
(n.) a pickpocket (slang)
to lower into a liquid; esp., a sheep or dog in chemical solution; to lower and then raise to use smokeless tobacco
dirt   substance(s) rendering something unclean
incriminating evidence ("we've got the dirt on him now")
earth, soil *
diversion circuitous route to avoid roadworks (US: detour) deviation; recreation; tactic used to draw attention away from the action  
dock water between or next to a pier or wharf (US: berth, also used in UK, or slip)
section of a courtroom where the accused sits during a trial *
(v.) to reduce an employee's wages, usu. as discipline constructed place to moor a boat or engage in water sports (largely interchangeable with pier or wharf, although often with a modifier, such as "ferry dock", "swimming dock", etc.)
docker dockworker, stevedore *(US: longshoreman) one that docks (as tails of animals)  
dogging various kinds of public sexual activity pursuing diligently as a dog would insulting in a persistent fashion, often referring to the dozens
pursuing someone persistently
dollar 5 shilling coin or equivalent amount (obsolete; used in slang until early 1970s, especially in "half-dollar"=half-crown, but some re-stamped Spanish dollar coins were used in the UK in the late 18th/early 19th century) major unit of currency of the USA  
dormitory, dorm (n. or usu. adj.) (part of) a town where commuters live, usually dormitory town (US: bedroom or bedroom community) (n.) large sleeping-room with many beds,*typically in a boarding school ("a sleeping dormitory"; usu. abbreviated to dorm) building with many small private rooms, as for housing the students of a college (UK: hall(s) of residence, hostel)

dormitory car — railway sleeping car

drape   (v.) to hang limply (n., usu. pl.) curtain
draw (n.) cannabis (slang) an act of drawing, or something drawn
a game result in which no player/team wins (also tie)
a ditch that draws water off an area of land
a shallow valley or gully
dresser (furniture) a type of cupboard or sideboard esp. for kitchen utensils *   a chest of drawers, usu. with a looking glass (mirror) (UK: dressing-table)
drop (of liquid) several (fluid) ounces ("just a drop of tea, please") (meiotic usage) droplet (less than a milliliter)  
duck a score of zero by a batsman in cricket, supposedly derived from the zero-like shape of a duck's egg. Hence to "break one's duck": to score one's first run. c.f. US: "get the monkey off one's back"

a term of endearment

(n.) a bird of the family Anatidae

(v.) to lower the head or body suddenly, to dodge
(v.) to plunge under the surface of water
(n.) a heavy cotton fabric

duff of poor quality
(up the duff) pregnant (slang, originally Australian)
a type of pudding
coal dust
vegetable matter on the forest floor *(also in Scotland)
buttocks (colloquial)
dummy rubber teat for babies (US: pacifier) mannequin, especially for automobile crash tests
fake, usu. legal
idiot (slang)
the contract bridge player who faces his hand after the bidding/auction
dungarees   sturdy protective bib trousers (cf. s.v. bib overall) (slightly dated) jeans (blue denim jeans)
duplex   composed of two parts
two direction (electronical signalling)
(or duplex house) an often vertically divided two-family dwelling *
(or duplex apartment) an apartment on two levels *
(duplex locomotive) a large steam locomotive with two sets of driving wheels


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
earth safety connection of an electrical circuit, or to connect (an electrical device) to this (US: ground) the planet Earth
the burrow of some animals
efficiency   the quality of being efficient (or efficiency apartment) a minimal often furnished apartment, similar to a studio apartment (UK: compare bedsit)
el (L) letter identifying a learner driver; see L-plate the letter L an elevated railway (as that of Chicago or the now-defunct Third Avenue El in New York City)
elevator   flap on the back of an aeroplane used to control pitch
moving belt to transport grain, hay bales, etc.
platform or cage moved vertically in a shaft to transport people and goods to various floors in a building (UK: lift)
building for grain storage (in full grain elevator) (UK: silo)
elk moose (Alces alces), the largest species of deer   wapiti (Cervus canadensis), the second largest species of deer
engaged (adj.) in use – of a toilet/bathroom stall (US: occupied; but the opposite is vacant in both); of a telephone line (US & UK also: busy), hence engaged tone (US: busy signal) committed; involved in something
English   of or pertaining to England
the English language
(adj.) the foot-pound-second system of units[citation needed] (UK: Imperial)
English (n.) spin placed on a ball in cue sports (UK: side)
engineer a technician or a person that mends and operates machinery one employed to design, build or repair equipment
practitioner of engineering
one who operates an engine, esp. a locomotive (UK: engine driver)
entrée starter (q.v.) of a meal (traditionally, the course served between the fish and the joint, but now used for any starter) (usu. "the entrée") right of entry, insider-type access main course of a meal
estate any defined area of real property, as in housing estate (US: subdivision), council estate (US: housing project) or trading estate (US: industrial park)
car with van-shaped body (US: station wagon)
grounds of a large piece of real property which features a mansion and beautiful landscaping
property left by a deceased person
evergreen   non-deciduous, a non-deciduous plant
eternally youthful, new etc.
(n.) branchlets or sprigs of an evergreen tree, usually a conifer such as pine, spruce or fir, often used as a Christmas decoration wrapped around human-made structures


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
faculty   division of a university, dealing with a specific group of disciplines (e.g. faculty of arts) academic staff of a school, college or university
fag cigarette (slang) *
(in England; obs.) young public schoolboy who acted as a servant for older pupils
drudgery, chore ("it is such a fag – I come back tired to death" – J. Austen)
male homosexual (short for faggot)
faggot kind of meatball (see faggot (food)), bundle of sticks, usu. for use as firewood (old-fashioned; often spelled fagot)
Male homosexual vulgar slang (see faggot (slang))  
fall to become pregnant. (Either as in 'I fell pregnant' or as in 'She fell for a baby.'); descend or tumble
become sick, come down with an illness ("he fell ill") (uncommon in US)
prove attractive ("fall for someone", "fall in love")
fancy (v.) (v.) exhibit a fondness or preference for something; exhibit an interest in or willingness to: date/court someone, commit some act, or accept some item of trade   US colloq. equiv. of "to fancy" is "to like" something or someone (or regarding tastes and preferences, "to love"); "fancy" as a verb is now used in the US almost solely by UK ex-pats, but was once oft-used by Southern gentility (landed gentry)
fancy dress a costume worn to impersonate a well-known character, animal etc., typically at a fancy dress party (US: costume party)   (colloq.) "formal" wear (usu. tuxedos for men and ball gowns for women.)
fanny vagina (slang), vulva (vulgar slang)
(fanny about or fanny around, vulgar slang) to mess about or procrastinate ("Stop fannying about and hit it with the hammer")
  buttocks (colloquial); hence fanny pack (UK: bum bag)
featherbed bed or mattress stuffed with feathers (usually 2 words)
(v.) to pamper, to spoil
to require that more workers are hired than are needed, often by agreement with trade unions quilt, or comforter, stuffed with feathers for use on top of the mattress (but underneath a sheet and the sleeping person) (UK: mattress topper)
fender   a fire screen
a cushioning device to protect the side of a boat, ship, or dock
fender (vehicle): the part of an automobile, motorcycle or other vehicle body that frames a wheel well (UK: mudguard or wing)
a frame fitted in front of a vehicle (locomotive or automobile) to absorb shock (UK: bumper – see Bumper (automobile))
fifth   ordinal number 5
one of five equal parts into which something is divided
bottle of spirits ("a fifth of bourbon"), traditionally 1/5 of a US gallon, now the metric near-equivalent of 750 mL

to "plead the Fifth (Amendment)", i.e. refuse to testify against oneself in an incriminating manner

filth (the filth) the police (derogatory slang) dirt, disgusting substance
obscene material
first degree   the least serious category of burn (see article) the most serious category of a crime; of murder, carries a lifetime prison- or death-sentence (also informal murder one; see article)
first floor (of a building) the floor above ground level (US: second floor)   the floor at ground level (often, but not always, the same floor as a building's lobby) (UK: ground floor)
fit (adj.) (of a person) attractive, sexy (slang) (of a person) in good physical condition
suitable for some purpose (usu. followed by for or to)
fix (v.) to make firm, fasten, or attach *(the original sense, no longer very common in US)
to set or arrange (as a date) *("A time has been fixed")
to repair (orig. US)
to sterilise (an animal)
to manipulate usually underhandedly ("To fix a fight by paying a boxer to take a dive.")
to adjust or prepare, esp. food or beverage *("I'll fix you a sandwich")
(esp. South) to get ready ("I'm fixing to retire")
to get even with (someone) [5]
(fix up) to provide
flapjack flat oat cake (US: granola bar)   pancake
flannel a cloth for washing the face or body (US: washcloth) particular type of fabric/material used for the manufacture of trousers or suits, but more commonly recognised in America as a fabric used in warm winter night clothes and sheets  
flat (n.) self-contained housing unit (US: apartment)
(adj., of a battery) discharged, exhausted, dead
(adj.) level and smooth
structured at a single level, not hierarchical
(n.) a flat tyre/tire *
an apartment that occupies the entire floor of a small building (upstate New York and San Francisco); used also in phrases such as railroad flat
flip-flop   a type of footwear
a type of electronic circuit
an about-face or U-turn (UK also: about-turn), as in politics
fluid ounce (fl. oz.) liquid measure equal to 28.41 millilitres   liquid measure equal to 29.57 milliliters
flyover elevated road section (i.e. long road bridge, US: overpass)   ceremonial aircraft flight (UK: flypast)
an elongated left-turn ramp passing over or under the whole highway interchange
Flyover country is a term for (unsophisticated, poor, rural) middle America, as distinct from the 'coasts'.
football (usually) Association football (US: soccer). Less frequently applies to Rugby football (espec. Rugby union in English private schools).   American football
footpath a paved strip for pedestrian use, especially along the side of a road (US: sidewalk) a narrow trail suitable only for foot traffic  
forty (40)   the number 4 × 10 a 40-acre (160,000 m2) parcel of land, specifically one sixteenth of a section, constituting the smallest unit of agricultural land commonly surveyed ("back 40", "front 40").
an undeveloped plot of land (as on a farm, ranch, etc.) of unspecified size.
in an urban or youth setting, "a 40-ounce beer".
forward one who plays in a forward position in rugby, i.e. one who takes part in scrums. an area to the front

an outgoing disposition
a position in football (soccer) in front of midfielders
a collective term for the ice hockey players whose main role is to score goals, consisting of two wingers and a centre/center

a position in basketball, nowadays split into power forwards, who tend to play closer to the basket, and small forwards, who tend to either shoot from the perimeter or drive from the perimeter to the basket.
  next after third (e.g. the fourth person, fourth floor)

A musical interval

one of four equal parts into which something is divided (UK & US sometimes also quarter, q.v.).
(proper noun, used with the) short for The Fourth of July (America's Independence Day)
fringe arrangement of locks of hair on the forehead (US: bangs) the outer area of something
a decorative border e.g. on clothing
holding an extreme political position ("lunatic fringe")
(rare vulgar; chiefly 1980s) vulva ("He's gonna get some fringe.") q.v., US: trim
frock (or smock-frock) outer garment formerly common in rural Europe, see also overall

(also short frock) indoor garment for children and young girls *
a woman's dress or gown (dated) *

habit of monks and friars

(also frock coat) a style of gentleman's jacket or coat, cut at knee length, usually worn as an outer garment.

frog French person (insulting slang)* an amphibian  
full stop punctuation mark used at the end of a sentence, sometimes used in speech for emphasis ("Whom does he support? Arsenal, full stop!") (US: period, q.v.)   the state of automobiles barely moving in heavy traffic (also, a "dead stop") [6]
furnace   large hearth or container for heating or melting metal, usually for an industrial process principal domestic heat source in central heating. (UK: boiler)


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
gagging (especially as in gagging for it) desperate, especially for sex choking
fighting the urge to vomit ("that was so disgusting, I was gagging")
gallon 4.54609 litres (about 6/5 of US gallon)   3.78541 litres (about 5/6 of UK gallon)
gangbanger a participant in a "gang bang", a group sex activity   gang member; group rapist
(see also pronunciation differences)
fuel filling station, e.g. "a Texaco garage" (also petrol station, US: gas station)
a genre of music
place where vehicles are repaired
building attached to or in the grounds of a residence for storing a car
(parking garage) building serving as a public parking facility (UK: multistorey car park or just multistorey)
garden (n.) area around a residential structure (US: yard)   area within a yard (land) for growing plants or vegetables (UK: vegetable garden, vegetable patch)
garnish   (n. (v.)) (to add) decorative or savory touches to (food or drink)
(v.)to furnish
(v.) to take (as a debtor's wages) by legal authority
gas   state of matter (see gas)
natural gas
gasoline, hence gas station (UK: petrol)
gas pedal (UK: accelerator)
air trapped in the stomach or intestines (UK: wind)
geezer gangster, man (esp. Cockney)   old person (derogatory; UK: old geezer [not derog.])
general The second highest rank in the British army (second to Field Marshal). The basics of a subject. The highest rank in the US Army.
give way to give the right of way (to vehicles, pedestrians, etc.);[7] hence give way sign (US: yield [the right of way] sign) to retreat; to break down  
glaze   general term for thin shiny coatings applied to food, painted surfaces, clayware, etc.; a glossy surface a slippery coating of ice (also known as sleet, q.v.); a stretch of ice
gob (n.) mouth; (v., slang) to spit lump a large amount ("gobs of")
(slang—little used since the 1940s) a sailor
go down (fig.) to leave a university (as Oxford)
to come down (with an illness)
to be accepted or remembered (e.g. go down in history)
to fail, esp. of a computer
go down on, to engage in oral sex
to go on, happen (often a major event, e.g. a drug bust "it's going down right now!" or "it went down last week". But also used as a greeting, "What's going down?")
goods items to be transported (as by railway) ("a goods train") (US & UK also: freight) useful objects or services; products; merchandising; personal property
incriminating evidence ("we have the goods on him")
gooseberry supernumerary third person preventing a couple from courting (US: third wheel) a green hairy summer fruit
(Ribes hirtellum in the USA),
(Ribes grossularia in Europe)
governor boss (sometimes shortened to guv'nor), colloquial a local official the top official in a US state
government the cabinet or executive branch (US: the administration)
the political party supporting the cabinet in parliament
the act or office of governing the collective agency through which government is exercised (UK: the state)
all such individual agencies (UK: the public sector)
grade (education) a level of music examination ("Guitar grade 4". Usually refers to ABRSM. (n. & v.) teacher's assessment of a student's work (UK also mark) level or year of a student in elementary, middle, or high school ("in 10th grade") (UK equiv.: year); hence grader, a student in a specified grade ("a 10th grader")
(grade school, the grades) elementary school
see also Grade Point Average
grade (other)   (n.) a rating, degree, or level; (v.) to lay out in grades
[US meaning generated grade separation and the idiom make the grade]
(n.) slope, gradient, or elevation; also ground level ("at grade", "over grade"); hence grade crossing (UK: level crossing)
(v.) to level (as a roadbed), hence grader, construction machine for doing this *
graduate (v.) (education)
graduate (adj.) (education)
to finish university with a degree
relating to a student at the point of gaining, or who has recently completed, a degree
to move from a lower to higher stage; to effect change in steps; to mark with units of measurement or other divisions. to finish studying at any educational institution by passing relevant examinations
relating to a student taking a higher degree (UK equiv.: "postgraduate"), e.g. graduate school
graft hard work to join or connect two separate but similar items (typically in biology, especially medicine and horticulture) a form of political-economic corruption
grass an informant (often to the police)
(to grass on) to tell on somebody (US: to squeal)
green ground cover
grazing; to feed (livestock) with grass (UK: at grass, to put out to grass)
grammar school a type of secondary school, normally a selective state funded school   elementary school (less common today)
grill to cook directly under a dry heat source (US: broil) to question intensely (informal).

to interrogate.

to cook over a gas or coal fire (UK and US: barbecue)
a flat cooking surface
a restaurant (freq. as "bar and grill")
ground floor (of a building)   the floor at ground level (US usu.: first floor) lower of two floors that are each at a different ground level due to sloping terrain (UK: lower ground floor)
guard the official in charge of a railway train (US & now UK also: conductor) to watch over for security
one who guards
a protective device

one of two positions in basketball, usually players who are the best ball-handlers and shooters. Usually smaller than the forwards or center. Most common division is between point guards (playmakers) and shooting guards (more often score-first).

military division used to help the country after a disaster

in (American) football, one of two offensive positions on either side of the center or a defensive position across from the center (nose-guard)

guff extraneous or useless things, ideas, or paperwork/documentation; also to break wind ("Have you guffed, Dr Watson?")   nonsense, insolent talk, back talk
gum cement consisting of a sticky substance that is used as an adhesive (US usually: glue) a type of confectionery composed of chicle used for chewing
the soft tissue around the teeth, or to chew something with no teeth (also, gum at)
gutted disappointed and upset (informal) past tense of gut: eviscerated; plundered; despoiled; made powerless or ineffectual
(of a building) stripped of interior structure, leaving only frame and exterior walls ( fire)
gyro (see also giro) gyroscope a sandwich, the Greek gyro, more familiar to Americans than the similar Turkish döner kebab, which is more common in Britain


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
haberdasher a dealer in small items and accessories, as for sewing; hence haberdashery (US: notions)   a dealer in men's apparel and accessories; hence haberdashery
half half pint of beer, cider or lager fifty percent/0.5 times.  
halfway house a place where victims of child abuse, orphans or teenage runaways can stay, a shelter drug rehabilitation or sex offender centre. (Archaic) An inn half way between two towns, still seen in many pub names.  
hamper large basket for food (especially picnic hamper, Christmas hamper) to impede or hinder basket for clothes that need washing (UK: Linen basket or laundry basket)
hash number sign, octothorpe (#) (US: pound sign). Also 'to make a hash' of something is to mess it up. hashish
Hash (food), beef and other ingredients mashed together into a coarse paste
highway (chiefly in official use) public road; see Highway Code (highway robbery) something too expensive; see also highwayman main road (as between cities)
(divided or dual highway) a road with two roadways and at least four lanes (UK: dual carriageway)
(highway post office) in the past, a bus transporting mail that was sorted en route
hike   a usu. recreational walk an increase in amount (as in wages) *
(to take a hike) to go away (also used as a command)
hire to rent moveable property (e.g. a car) *; rental
(hire purchase) a purchase carried out over time by making regular payments (US: installment plan)
to employ, recruit * a person who is recruited
hob the flat top surface of a cooking stove (US: cooktop)
a part of a fireplace
an elf
trouble (as in "raising hob" – chiefly US)
    (UK has less common "playing hob")
hock a German wine ("down their four-and-twenty throats went four-and-twenty imperial pints of such rare old hock" – Charles Dickens) (US: Rhine wine)
Hocktide, an ancient holiday
hock (zoology) pawn (n. & v.) ("I can borrow a dime from the barber, an' I got enough junk to hock for a blowout" – Jack London); prison (both from Dutch) *
the end of a smoked ham *
to hock-a-loogie, to spit (esp. mucus as opposed to saliva).
hockey hockey played with a ball on grass (field hockey) * hockey played on a hard surface (e.g. concrete) or indoors hockey played on ice with a puck (ice hockey) *
hog (dialect) a yearling sheep to take more than one's fair share of something
(road hog) motorist who holds up other traffic by driving slowly or out of lane; any bad driver
adult pig
motorcycle, especially a large one such as a Harley-Davidson (derived from Harley Owners Group, a club for Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners.)
hole-in-the-wall automated teller machine, cash machine (informal)   a small, out-of-the-way place, as a restaurant, with a negative connotation. However, often used to preface a compliment, e.g. "just a hole-in-the-wall place you've never heard of, but they serve the best steak in the city."
holiday see Bank holiday
(often pl.) time taken off from work, school, etc., including the period between school terms (US: break, vacation)
recreational trip away from home (US: vacation)
day when people are generally exempt from work, school, etc. see Federal holidays in the United States
(the Holidays) the days comprising Christmas and New Year's Day (and Hanukkah), and often also Thanksgiving (used esp. in the phrase "happy Holidays")

festival, whether or not generally entailing a public holiday: "Halloween is my favorite holiday"

home (noun): condition of domesticity, or one's permanent and regular shelter, but not the physical structure or property.   In AmE widely used also to mean the physical structure and property, and references to them, e.g., "home loans", "homeowners", and "tract homes". This usage is overwhelmingly predominant in commercial language and public discourse, e.g. "the home mortgage crisis".
home run final part of a distance, final effort needed to finish (US: homestretch) a success (from baseball) (also homer) a four-base hit in baseball
(slang) sexual intercourse; more s.v. base
homely (of a house) comfortable, cozy, rustic (US: homey)
(of a person) home-loving, domesticated, house-proud
  (only used of a person) plain, ugly
hood the folding fabric top on a convertible car (US: convertible top) head covering forming part of a garment
component of academic regalia
hinged cover over the engine in a car (UK: bonnet)
a contraction of neighborhood, especially regarding a poor neighborhood
short for hoodlum, a tough, destructive young man, or generically any criminal
hoo-ha argument   female genitalia
hooker in rugby football, the player position in the centre front of the scrum   prostitute (informal) *
hooter steam whistle or siren in a factory or other large workplace sounded as a signal for beginning or ceasing work
car horn
  (hooters) female breasts (vulgar slang)
hull (Hull) Kingston-upon-Hull, a large city in the north-east of England* the outer skin of a ship, tank, aeroplane, etc. the seed-case of various edible plants (maize, nuts, etc.)
(v.t.) to remove the seed-case from (a nut, etc.)
hulled (adj.) (of a nut, etc.) having the seed-case removed (UK: shelled)
hump a state of depression (dated) ("to be in a hump")
a state of annoyance ("to get the hump")
a traffic calming tool ("a speed hump") *(US & UK: speed bump)
to move a heavy load by human effort a short distance
a rounded mass sticking out from its surroundings
(v., vulgar slang) engage in sexual intercourse, animals breeding or trying to breed
see also Glossary of rail terminology
(n. & v.) (to make) a vigorous effort ("hump yourself", "to get a hump on") (regional)
(n.) a mountain barrier to be crossed (as by air)
(hump day) Wednesday


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
icebox   cabinet containing ice for food refrigeration refrigerator
ice pick   ice axe, a tool with a pointed end used by climbers on ice small awl-like tool for breaking ice into small pieces for drinks
immediately (conj., informal) as soon as ("I await your call immediately after you get this message") (adv.) directly; in no time  
Indian corn   Zea mays (historical or technical; usually, UK maize or sweetcorn, US corn, q.v.) A particular variety of maize/corn, with multicolored kernels, used for decorations
indicator direction-indicator light on a vehicle (US: turn signal) one that indicates  
inspector (police) lowest supervisory rank above sergeant (rough US equivalent: lieutenant)   senior rank in some police departments (rough UK equivalent: superintendent)
intern  replacement (v.) to confine (as during a war, or to a hospital)
(adj., archaic) internal
(n.) one (as a graduate or college student) temporarily employed for practical training, e.g. in the science, engineering, or technology fields; esp., in the medical field, a physician (rough UK equivalent: houseman) in their first year of postgraduate training
(v.) to work as an intern
international   Pertaining to or common to more than one country. Foreign, not from the USA. ("International version of software for country xxx", in British English this is a contradiction in terms.)
interval break between two performances or sessions, as in theatre (US: intermission) a gap in space or time; see interval (music), interval (mathematics), interval (time) (esp. New England, also spelled intervale) low-lying land, as near a river (US also bottomland)
inventory   itemisation of goods or objects (of an estate, in a building, etc.) the stock of an item on hand in a store or shop
the process of producing an inventory in a store or shop (UK: stocktaking)
IRA Irish Republican Army [not abbreviated in U.S. without context]   Individual Retirement Account


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
jab an injection with a hypodermic needle, as in the case of an inoculation (US: shot) (informal) to stab, thrust, or penetrate. biting remark, sarcasm.  
janitor an officer in a Masonic Chapter (specialist language) a person employed to oversee the cleaning and security of a public building, e.g. a school. a person employed to oversee the cleaning and security of a building (UK: caretaker, especially for private residences; for schools etc. janitor is also used in the UK)
jelly a fruit flavoured dessert set with gelatin (US: Jell-O (trademark) )
a type of condiment, e.g. mint jelly
a clear or translucent preserve made from the liquid of fruits boiled in sugar and set with pectin, specifically without pieces of fruit (e.g. 'crab apple jelly') (occasionally) fruit preserve with fruit pieces (UK: Jam)
Jesse (often as Big Jesse, derogatory insult for a man) Non-macho, effeminate, sometimes gay. A male name (uncommon in the UK).
A shortening of the female name Jessica.
jock a Scotsman or a Scottish Terrier (Scottie) (slang)
a private soldier (slang) (UK: squaddie)
  slang term for an athlete
slang term for the undergarment called an athletic supporter or jockstrap
joint piece of meat for carving *
(slang) hand-rolled cigarette containing cannabis and tobacco
connection between two objects or bones
an establishment, especially a disreputable one ("a gin joint"; "let's case the joint") (slang, orig. US)
(slang) hand-rolled cigarette containing only cannabis
(slang) prison ("in the joint")
jolly very (informal) (as in jolly good) happy; jovial  
jug any container with a handle and a mouth or spout for liquid (US: pitcher) (jugs) breasts (slang) large container with a narrow mouth and handle for liquids (similar to UK pitcher)
jumper a knitted upper body garment (US: sweater) jump shot in basketball
Non-permanent electrical connection, especially on a PCB
pinafore dress
jump suit
just (When used at the end of a sentence, as in: "I survived, but only just") barely fair, equitable
merely, simply, exactly, barely (when used before word it modifies)


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
kebab commonly a döner kebab (sometimes doner or donner kebab), strips of meat (usu. lamb or chicken) cooked by being heated on a revolving device and served stuffed in a pita bread (In the US, the Greek varieties souvlaki or gyro are better known than the Turkish döner) (often spelled "kabob" in the US) meat served on a skewer together with onions, tomatoes, etc. (e.g. shish kebab)  
keen eager or intent on, example: he is keen to get to work on time.   desirable or just right, example: "peachy keen" – "That's a pretty keen outfit you're wearing." (slang going out of common usage)
keeper a curator or a goalkeeper one that keeps (as a gamekeeper or a warden) a type of play in American football ("Quarterback keeper")

a person well-suited for a successful, usu. romantic, relationship. (Don't let him go—he's a keeper)
something of significance ("that's a keeper"). Can be used in many contexts. Often used in sports fishing to refer to a fish not released.

kit clothing, esp. a sports uniform (e.g. football kit) any of various sets of equipment or tools
a set of parts to be assembled, e.g. into a scale model
a group of person or objects ("the whole kit and (ca) boodle/billing")
kitty   affectionate term for a housecat

collective source of funds (esp. for a group of people)

piggy bank
vagina (vulgar slang) ("Singin' 'hey diddle diddle' with your kitty in the middle" – Aerosmith, Walk this Way)
klaxon (slang) a fool, idiot[dubious ] Trademark (somewhat generic) for a mechanical alarm or horn used in submarines and early automobile models  
kleenex   specific brand of disposable paper handkerchief (Kleenex) any disposable paper handkerchief (from tradename, example of a Genericized trademark)
knickers women's underwear (US: panties) or men's underwear (US: briefs)   knickerbockers
knob The penis, or specifically the glans (slang, vulgar) ("polishing the knob" * ) a rounded door handle

fool, idiot, dim-witted person

knock over   to tip over something

to cause an object to fall over.

to rob (esp. a store, slang) ("He knocked over a gas station.")
knock up to practise before tennis
to awaken or summon by knocking
to prepare quickly ("Knock us up something to eat"L.M. Alcott) to impregnate*(slang, sometimes vulgar)


Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
ladder a run (vertical split) in the fabric of tights a vertical or inclined set of rungs or steps.  
lavatory toilet closet in passenger vehicles (e.g. trains) containing a toilet and washbasin/sink. washbasin, place for washing
lay by (v.), lay-by (n.) (n.) roadside parking or rest area for drivers (v.) to lay aside
to stow
(n.) a last cultivating in the growing of a crop
(v.) to cultivate (a crop) for the last time
lead (rhyming with "speed") a cable (US: cord), or a dog's leash to guide through (n.) a clue or potential source of information (esp. in context of journalistic investigation) *
leader newspaper editorial
main violin in an orchestra (US: concertmaster)
see also Leader of the Opposition
one who leads a pipe for carrying water ("rain water leader")
lecturer the entry-level academic rank at a university (below Senior Lecturer, Reader, and Professor) someone who gives a lecture  
lemonade clear, carbonated, lemon-flavoured drink similar to Sprite and 7 Up (lemon and lime flavoured)   non-carbonated drink made by mixing lemon juice, sugar, and water (UK: traditional lemonade)
let to rent (as real property) *("rooms to let")

(n.) the act of renting; rented premises
(let out) to reveal

allow, give permission.
leave (as in let him be or let it be)
ease (as in let up on the accelerator)
indicate (as in don't let on)
a first bad serve which is allowed to be retaken, as in tennis, table tennis, and volleyball
(let out) to end (of school, meetings, etc.)
levee an early afternoon assembly held by the King or Queen, to which only men were admitted (Always levée, with accent) a reception in honour of a particular person an embankment on a river (as the Mississippi River)
the steep bank of a river, or border of an irrigated field
(esp. Southern & Western US) a landing place or quay
leverage   mechanical advantage of a lever
take advantage of a capability (business)
the use of debt finance (UK: gearing)*
knowledge not immediately revealed to be used to one's advantage *
liberal (politics) a person who generally supports the ideas of the UK Liberal Democrats, a centre left-party a person who holds the political ideals of Liberalism. a person who advocates modern liberalism; see also Liberalism in the United States for historic background
life preserver a type of weapon for self-defence (US: blackjack)   life vest, personal flotation device (UK: lifebelt or lifejacket)
lift (n.) platform or cage moved vertically in a shaft to transport people and goods to various floors in a building (US: elevator) ride as a passenger in a vehicle (as in, to give someone a lift)
item placed in shoe to increase the height of the wearer, normally plural (lifts, elevator shoes)
an elevation in mood, "I got a lift just talking with her."
line (see also track) a breadthless length a group of persons, usually waiting for something, arranged in order of arrival (UK: queue)
a lie, short for a line of bull
a phrase used for hitting on women, short for pickup line
to hit a line drive (a hard straight shot) in baseball
liquor the broth resulting from the prolonged cooking of meat or vegetables. Green liquor is traditionally served with pie and mash in the East End of London   a distilled beverage *
(hard liquor) strongly alcoholic beverage; spirits
(liquor store) retail establishment selling liquor (usu. for consumption off the premises) (UK similar: off-licence) ("I held up and robbed a hard liquor store" – Paul Simon)
(malt liquor) a type of beer with high alcohol content
loaded   the state of a firearm with bullets or shells in its firing chamber.
bearing a load.
(slang; of a person) rich
drunk or high
lolly Frozen water-based dessert on a stick (US: popsicle). (short for lollipop) candy on a stick.  
lot (a lot) a great deal
a number of things (or, informal, people) taken collectively
fate, fortune
a prize in a lottery
(the lot) the whole thing
a measured plot of land; a portion of land set for a particular purpose ("a building lot"), e.g. for parking ("parking lot") or selling ("used car lot") automotive vehicles. But also a "vacant lot"
a film studio
lounge a room for relaxation and entertainment in a house
(lounge bar) part of a pub
a room for relaxation in a public place a bar
love (in addressing people) informal term of address beloved person, darling (often a term of endearment)  
loveseat a seat which accommodates two people facing in opposite directions. Can be wooden or padded.   a two-seater couch
lox   liquid oxygen (engineering) thin-sliced smoked salmon, commonly consumed on bagels; Yiddish from German 'Lachs', salmon.
lugs (n.) ears (lugholes) a small projection (engineering) a lug nut fastens a wheel to the hub, (UK wheel nut).
a "big lug" is usually a term of endearment for a large shy, goofy man.
lumber (n.) disused items (as furniture)*; hence lumber room
(v.) to encumber (as with such items) ("I was lumbered with work")
(v.) to move awkwardly or heavily ("he lumbered out the door") (n.) timber that has been sawed and (partly) prepared for construction or woodworking; hence lumberyard (UK: timberyard), lumber camp, lumberjack, lumberman, lumber wagon, lumber town, etc.
(v.) to log and prepare timber
to make a rolling sound (dated)
lush (slang; of a person) attractive (usu. used by women in reference to men – principally West Country) luxuriant an alcoholic *especially female

See also


Further reading

Note: the below are general references on this topic. Individual entries have not yet been audited against the references below and readers looking for verifiable information should consult the works below unless individual entries in the article's table are properly sourced.

  • Bickerton, Anthea (1985). American-English, English-American : a two-way glossary of words in daily use on both sides of the Atlantic. ISBN 0 902920 60 X. 
  • Davies, Christopher (2005). Divided by a Common Language: A Guide to British and American English. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9780618002757. 
  • Hargraves, Orin (2003). Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions: Making Sense of Transatlantic English. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195157044. 

External links

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