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We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost

Much is said about the difference between the British and US language, often concentrating on differences of spelling or pronunciation. However, what about all those words which we have different terms for?

Bizarrely, I couldn’t find a decent list online – there were some short ones but nothing particularly details. So, with the help of a US colleague, I created one. And, thanks to Alexis, I learnt that a lot of differences (both ways) that we thought there were, no longer actually existed, with many US and UK words moving across the ocean.

Enough waffle, here is what we came up with. Feel free in the comments to let me know of any that you think aren’t correct.

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2 Comments

  1. If you’re interested in the differences between British and US English in a bit of depth, I’d highly recommend the blog Separated by a Common Language. (The same author has a Twitter “Difference of the Day” if you’re into that sort of thing, as well.)

    That said, she tends to focus more on subtle differences rather than general vocabulary differences like the ones in your list, so her work doesn’t fit so well into that list format. I feel sure I’ve seen a comparison like the one you put together, but that might just be the mental list I’ve kept over the years. 🙂 I’d argue with some of the differences in the list — some of the UK words you have are ones that I grew up with, and the US words are variations but not used exclusively. It can be hard to be definitive due to regional variations, as well.

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