Speaking British

I already covered a lot of the differences between American English and United Kingdom English in Speaking Scottish (along with some words specific to that country), but good heavens, there are so many more! Everyone talks about “biscuit” (which I talk about in The Biscuit Conundrum). There are so many other words that are spelled differently, so many phrases and sayings specific to the UK. I won’t go into those, but if you want to understand what the crap is going on around you and where you are going in London, check out these words:

Underground/Tube: the subway (completely underground, as the name indicates; not to be confused with the Overground or with the trains)

Circus: a roundabout (such as Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus)

Mews: a building once used to hold horses and the road leading to it (there’s a museum in the old Buckingham Palace Mews)

Arcade: a covered passage lined with shops (usually looks like an alleyway through some buildings)

Footpath: sidewalk

Queue: a line, and to wait in a line (queue in the queue, if you please!)

Flat: an apartment

Lift: an elevator (or a ride, as in, “Can I offer you a lift?”)

Post: the mail (you don’t mail the mail, you post the post)

Trainers: sneakers, tennis shoes

Jumper: a pullover sweater

Trousers: pants (I know we use the word trousers too, but they use it pretty much exclusively; I haven’t heard the word “pants” since I’ve been here)

Rail: they use rail as we use rack (hang the clothes on the rail, etc.)

Sticks: crutches

Taps: faucets (which are always positioned way to close to the edge of the sink)

Jacket potato: baked potato (I guess the skin is its jacket?)

Squash: a concentrated juice that you mix with water before drinking (much cheaper than real juice); also a game similar to tennis

Interval: intermission

Stalls: what we would call the floor seats in a theatre

They also always pluralize the word “math” into “maths.” Like, “He’s good at maths,” or “She studies maths.” Guess it makes sense, since there are multiple categories of math to be studied…


And my very favorite British word…

Snog: make out (as in, “Fancy a snog?” or “Look at those two, snogging like no one’s around. Get a room!”)

So throw on a jumper, hop on the tube, and grab a jacket potato for lunch at that place by the arcade. Know any British English words that I didn’t mention? Tell me in the comments!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Melody says:

    How brave to seek out your life rather than settle for either what was expected or required. I may just use your influence to venture out more than i have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Charlie says:

      My greatest desire is to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones, so thank you!


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