American and British terms

American readers of British writing are well aware of the spelling differences that exist between the two varieties of English. For example: labor/labour, enthral/enthrall, tire/tyre, or center/centre—to name just a few. There are also many cases in which American and British English use different terms to describe the same thing.

Here’s a list of various American words and expressions together with their British equivalents:

American English

British English

a head of lettuce

a lettuce

absentee ballot

postal vote

absorbent cotton

cotton wool

accommodations

accommodation

acetaminophen

paracetamol

advice columnist

agony aunt

airfoil

aerofoil

airplane

aeroplane

Allen wrench

Allen key

alligator clip

crocodile clip

all-purpose flour

plain flour

aluminum

aluminium

American plan

full board (in hotels)

anise

aniseed

apartment

flat

apartment building

block of flats

appetizer

starter

baby carriage; stroller

pram

bachelor party

stag night

bachelorette party

hen night

backsplash

splashback

back-up lights

reversing lights

baggage car

luggage van

bangs

fringe (hair)

barrette

hairslide

baseboard

skirting board

beet(s)

beetroot

beltway

ring road

bias-ply

cross-ply

billboard

hoarding

bridge loan

bridging loan

broil

grill (verb)

broiler

grill (noun)

bullhorn

loudhailer

busy

engaged (of a phone)

call collect

reverse the charges

candy

sweet(s)

candy apple

toffee apple

car

wagon (on a train)

carousel

roundabout (at a fair)

carryall

holdall

cell phone

mobile phone

certified mail

recorded delivery

check

bill

check mark

tick

checkers

draughts (game)

checking account

current account

chips; potato chips

crisps

chutes and ladders

snakes and ladders

cinder block

breeze block

clapboard

weatherboard

closet

wardrobe

clothespin

peg

cocktail party

drinks party

coffee with cream

white coffee

common stock

ordinary share

confectioners’ sugar

icing sugar

cookie sheet

baking tray

cookie; cracker

biscuit

corn

maize

cornstarch

cornflour

cotton candy

candyfloss

cotton swab

cotton bud

counterclockwise

anticlockwise

countertop

worktop

court tennis

real tennis

coveralls

boiler suit

crib

cot

crib death

cot death

crossing guard

lollipop lady (or man)

crosswalk

pedestrian crossing

crosswalk

zebra crossing

cylinder lock

Yale lock

dark chocolate

plain chocolate

defroster

demister (in a car)

dial tone

dialling tone

diaper

nappy

dish towel

tea towel

divided highway

dual carriageway

doghouse

kennel

driver’s license

driving licence

drop cloth

dust sheet

drugstore

chemist

drunk driving

drink-driving

durable goods

consumer durables

eggplant

aubergine

eighth note

quaver (music)

electrical outlet

power point

elementary school

junior school

elevator

lift

emergency room

casualty

estimator

quantity surveyor

European plan

room only

expressway; highway

motorway

face card

court card

fanny pack

bumbag

fender

wing (of a car)

fire company/department

fire brigade/service

first floor

ground floor

fiscal year

financial year

fish stick

fish finger

flatbed truck

low loader

flextime

flexitime

freight train

goods train

French fries

chips

garbage can

dustbin

gas; gasoline

petrol

gearshift

gear lever

GI

private soldier

grab bag

lucky dip

grade crossing

level crossing

green onion

spring onion

green thumb

green fingers

ground

earth (electrical)

groundskeeper

groundsman

guardrail

crash barrier

half note

minim (music)

half step

semitone (music)

harbor seal

common seal

hatrack

hatstand

hazard pay

danger money

headcheese

brawn (the food)

heavy cream

double cream

homey

homely

hood

bonnet (of a car)

hope chest

bottom drawer

(garden) hose

hosepipe

hot flash

hot flush

housing development

housing estate

in the hospital

in hospital

industrial park

trading estate

inseam

inside leg

installment plan

hire purchase

instant replay

action replay

Italian ice

water ice

jelly beans

jelly babies

Joe Blow

Joe Bloggs

john

loo (toilet)

John Q. Public

Joe Public

jump rope

skipping rope

jumper

pinafore dress

jumper cable

jump lead

knock on wood

touch wood

labor union

trade union

ladybug

ladybird

lawn bowling

bowls

lawyer

solicitor

layer cake

sandwich cake

legal holiday

bank holiday

leverage

gearing (finance)

license plate

number plate

license plate

registration plate

line

queue

liquor cabinet

drinks cupboard

liquor store; package store

off-licence

lumber

timber

mailbox

postbox

math

maths

median strip

central reservation

mineral spirits

white spirit

model home

show house/home

mom/mommy

mum/mummy

monkeyshines

monkey tricks

movie theater; the movies

cinema

muffler

silencer (on a car)

newscaster

newsreader

odometer

milometer

open-pit mining

opencast mining

oven mitt

oven glove

overpass

flyover

pacifier

dummy

pantyhose

tights

parking lot

car park

parochial school

faith school

part

parting (in hair)

paved road

metalled road

pay envelope

pay packet

period

full stop (punctuation)

physical therapy

physiotherapy

pinwale

needlecord

plastic wrap

cling film

Popsicle (trademark)

ice lolly

Popsicle (trademark)

lolly

potato chip

potato crisp

private school

public school

(housing) project

council estate

public school

state school

public transportation

public transport

punching bag

punchbag

pushup

press-up

quarter note

crotchet (music)

race car

racing car

railroad

railway

railroad tie

sleeper

railroad yard

marshalling yard

real estate agent, realtor (trademark)

estate agent

retread

remould (tyre)

reverse discrimination

positive discrimination

rhinestone

diamante

right triangle

right-angled triangle

robe; bathrobe

dressing gown

Romaine

cos (lettuce)

row house

terrace house

rowboat

rowing boat

rummage sale

jumble sale

rump roast

silverside

rutabaga

swede

sailboat

sailing boat

sandbox

sandpit

sanitary napkin

sanitary towel

scalper

ticket tout

second floor

first floor

sedan

saloon (car)

self-rising flour

self-raising flour

(window) shade

blind

shopping cart

shopping trolley

shopping cart

trolley

shoulder

verge (of a road)

sidewalk

footway

sidewalk

pavement

silent partner

sleeping partner

skeleton in the closet

skeleton in the cupboard

skim milk

skimmed milk

sled

sledge

slingshot

catapult

slipcover

loose cover

slowpoke

slowcoach

snap

press stud

sneakers

trainers

snow pea

mangetout

soccer

football

solitaire

patience

soy/soybean

soya/soya bean

sponge bath

blanket bath

sprinkles (for ice cream)

hundreds and thousands

station wagon

estate car

stock option

share option

stovetop

hob

streetcar; cable car

tram

stroller

pushchair

subway

underground

supertitle

surtitle

suspenders

braces

sweater

jumper

switchblade

flick knife

takeout; to go

takeaway (food)

taxi stand

taxi rank

tempest in a teapot

storm in a teacup

thermos bottle

vacuum flask

thumbtack

drawing pin

tic-tac-toe

noughts and crosses

tidbit

titbit

tow truck

breakdown van

tractor-trailer

articulated lorry

traffic circle

roundabout (in road)

truck

lorry

truck farm

market garden

truck stop

transport cafe

trunk

boot (of a car)

tube top

boob tube

turn signal

indicator (on a car)

turtleneck

polo neck

twelve-gauge

twelve-bore

underground economy

black economy

undershirt

vest

uneven bars

asymmetric bars

unlike

unalike

unlisted

ex-directory

utility knife

Stanley knife

utility pole

pylon

vacation

holiday

vacationer

holidaymaker

valance

pelmet

vest

waistcoat

veterinarian

veterinary surgeon

wading pool

paddling pool

walker

walking frame

wall-to-wall carpeting

fitted carpet

washcloth

flannel

wax paper/waxed paper

greaseproof paper

whole note

semibreve (music)

wholewheat bread

wholemeal bread

wife-beater

singlet (undershirt)

windbreaker

windcheater

windshield

windscreen

yard; lawn

garden

zee

zed (letter Z)

zip code

postcode

zipper

zip

zucchini

courgette

 

See also:

Commonly confused words

American and British spelling

 


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