List of English words from A to Z that are not used in the United States
What will I learn from the book List of English words from A to Z that are not used in the United States?
There are a lot of words in the English language that are used in everyday life in the Great Britain that is not used in America or has a different meaning. This book is for teachers or people who have an high understanding of the English language already.
Who is the book of English words not used in America aimed at?
The List of English words from A to Z book is a reference book that has been written for students and the general reader. It will help you with any basic questions about spelling, punctuation, grammar and word usage that you are likely to ask. This page list all words and saying from A to Z and shows clear explanations with sentences where they are needed.
This is book should be used to help reference words or sayings. It is not to be used as a dictionary although, it is like a dictionary, as all the words are arranged alphabetically.
Words beginning with A
to descend on a rope (US: rappel). Take from German language abseilen.
calculating and tracking financial matters (US: accounting). In the UK accounting is explaining oneself or one's actions ("to give an account" or "accountability" in the U.S.A.), accountancy is the profession.
A toy similar to G.I. Joe.
viper, a species of venomous snake
advertisement (US and UK also: ad, commercial (on TV)).
the author of an agony column – a magazine or newspaper column advising on readers' personal problems. The image presented was originally that of an older woman providing comforting advice and maternal wisdom, hence the name "aunt". Better known to most Americans as a "Dear Abby" column or advice column. Similarly, agony uncle.
an Air Force officer of high rank (US: general)
announcement on train or bus on approaching the last stop (US: All out)
Generally still in wide usage in the UK, with the alternative among also used. Amongst is considered archaic in US usage, but is still occasionally used.
(originally from trademark Ansafone) automated telephone answering device (US and UK also: answering machine).
direction opposite to clockwise (US: counterclockwise).
(old-fashioned) school for juvenile delinquents; reform school. Such institutions have not been referred to officially as "approved schools" since 1969. Juvenile delinquents, depending on their age and level of malfeasance, may now be sent to Secure Training Centres (for ages 15 to 18) or YOIs (Young Offender Institutions – a prison for offenders aged between 18 and 21). (US: juvenile detention center, JDC, juvenile hall, (slang) juvie.)
(informal) a disagreement ranging from a verbal dispute to pushing-and-shoving or outright fighting.
buttocks, backside or anus, depending on context (US equivalent: ass); to be arsed: to be bothered to do something, most commonly as a negative or conditional (e.g. I can't be arsed, if/when I can be arsed). (Usage of the US equivalent "ass" as a verb is uncommon except in the expression "half-assed", meaning poorly, hastily, or sloppily done.) [to fall] arse over tit (vulgar) [to fall] head over heels. (US: ass over tea kettle).
artic (lorry) abbreviation of 'articulated lorry' (US: semi, semi-trailer truck, tractor-trailer).
(French) a solanaceous plant bearing a fruit of the same name, commonly used as a vegetable in cooking (US: eggplant). Also a dark purple colour resembling the colour of the fruit.
Auntie – sometimes 'Auntie Beeb' (see below) (affectionate slang) the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation).
a prompting system for television announcers (genericised trademark, after a leading manufacturer) (US: teleprompter).
Words beginning with B
(vulgar, though possibly not in origin) error, mistake, SNAFU. See also cock-up. (US: fuck up, screw up, mess up)
(1) a sausage (from the tendency of sausages to burst during frying); (2) a type of small firework; (3) an old car (allusion to their tendency to back-fire), thus the term 'banger racing' = stock car racing. (US: jalopy).
banknote (or note)
paper money issued by the central bank (US: "bill")
soft bread roll or a sandwich made from it; in plural, breasts (vulgar slang e.g. "a lovely pair of baps"); a person's head (Northern Ireland).
barmaid *, barman
a woman or man who serves drinks in a bar. Barman and the originally American bartender appeared within a year of each other (1837 and 1836); barmaid is almost two centuries older (circa 1658).
a small quarrel or fight. Not actually from Cockney rhyming slang, trouble, "Barney Rubble" (see Barney Rubble for the American animation character of the same name)
the only type of lawyer qualified to argue a case in both higher and lower law courts; contrasts with solicitor. Occasionally used in the US, but not to define any particular type of lawyer.
bedsit (or bedsitter)
one-room flat that serves as a living room, kitchen and bedroom and with shared bathroom facilities (US: see SRO; compare studio apartment (in British English a studio apartment - sometimes 'studio flat' - would have a self-contained bathroom)' efficiency)
Beeb, the Beeb
(affectionate slang) the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). See also 'Auntie' (above). The name is thought to have been coined by English BBC radio DJ and comedian Kenny Everett. English band Queen released an album called At the Beeb in the UK and it had to be called "At the BBC" for US release.
orange ball containing a flashing light mounted on a post at each end of a zebra crossing (qv); named after the UK Minister of Transport who introduced them in 1934.
the glans penis, (slang, vulgar) a male orientated insult.
a mildly derogatory term for a silly person. The word is an abbreviation of either 'Berkshire Hunt' or 'Berkeley Hunt' (it is uncertain which is the original phrase), rhyming slang for cunt. (Note that 'berk' rhymes with 'work', whereas the first syllable of both 'Berkshire' and 'Berkeley' is pronounced 'bark', in a manner rather similar to the pronunciation of 'derby' as 'darby'. Note also that it is considerably less obscene and insulting than its basis, cunt)
custom-made to a buyer's specification (US:custom-made)
a biscuit (US: "cookie")
a condescending and sometimes derogatory term for a woman (from the Arabic for 'daughter'). Usage varies with a range of harshness from 'bitch', referring to a disagreeable and domineering woman, to only a slightly derogatory term for a young woman.
/ˈbaɪəroʊ/ a ballpoint pen. Named after its Hungarian inventor László Bíró and the eponymous company which first marketed them.
bits and bobs
sundry items to purchase, pick up, et cetera (e.g. whilst grocery shopping)
(US: blood sausage)
(slang) to obtain or achieve by deception and/or ill preparation, to bluff, to scrounge, to rob, to wing it. A scam, tall story or deception. Derived from the French word blague.
derogatory term used in place of bloke ("what's that stupid bleeder done now?"); use has declined in recent years.
(informal) an exclamation of surprise. (Originally gor blimey, a euphemism for God blind me, but has generally lost this connotation.)
(informal) man, fellow. e.g. Terry is a top bloke. Also common in Australia and New Zealand. (US and UK also: guy).
blower is known as a telephone.
blues and twos
(slang) emergency vehicle with lights and sirens (emergency services in the UK generally use blue flashing lights and formerly used a two-tone siren) (US: lights and sirens or code)
police officer, named after Sir Robert Peel, the instigator of the world's first organised police force.
Bob's your uncle
"there you go", "it's that simple". Sometimes "Robert's your father's brother" (as used in the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) (Some areas of US do use the phrase Bob's your uncle and Fanny's your aunt)
something of low quality or (more commonly) someone who lacks ability at something, (e.g. "Our new striker is bobbins") From bobbins of cotton=rotten.
a cheap or poor (repair) job, can range from inelegant but effective to outright failure. e.g. You properly bodged that up (you really made a mess of that). (US: botch or cob, shortened form of cobble) See Bodger.
scientist or engineer, sometimes abbreviated to boff
(roll of) toilet ("bog") paper (slang). Occasionally 'shit roll' or 'shit rag' (vulgar). 'Giant bog-roll': kitchen towel.
completely ordinary, run-of-the-mill, unadulterated, unmodified. Originally from "British Or German standard", from a time when engineers wanting a certain quality would make such a specification. (US vanilla).
type of confection (US: hard candy)
(vulgar; originally ballocks, colloquially also spelled as bollox) testicles; verbal rubbish (as in "you're talking bollocks") (US: bullshit). The somewhat similar bollix is found in American English, but without the anatomical connotations or vulgar sense meaning 'mess up'. The twin pulley blocks at the top of a ship's mast are also known as bollocks, and in the 18th century priests' sermons were colloquially referred to as bollocks; it was by claiming this last usage that the Sex Pistols prevented their album Never Mind the Bollocks from being banned under British obscenity laws. Related phrases include bollocksed, which means either tired ("I'm bollocksed!") or broken beyond repair; bollocks up, meaning to mess up ("He really bollocksed that up"); and [a] bollocking, meaning a stern telling off. Compare dog's bollocks, below
bone-idle * is when someone is very lazy and does not want to work.
the panel which covers a vehicle's engine and various other parts (US: hood)
Separate rear storage compartment of a car. US: trunk
football/athletic shoes (US called cleats or spikes)
a type of men's hat (US: derby)
cold – from "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey". According to a popular folk etymology, this phrase derives from cannonballs stowed on a brass triangle named after a "powder monkey" (a boy who runs gunpowder to the ship's guns) spilling owing to the frame's contraction in cold weather. (This is however incorrect for several physical and linguistic reasons.) The phrase is a 20th century variant of earlier expressions referring to other body parts, especially the nose and tail, indicating that the brass monkey took the form of a real monkey.
(slang) synonym of breakfast
(musical) a note of two bars' length (or a count of 8) in 4/4 time (US: double whole note)
(vulgar, rhyming slang) breasts; from football team Bristol City = titty
brolly (informal) umbrella
(rhyming slang) dead; "You're brown bread, mate!"
Fed up, annoyed or out of patience.
bubble and squeak
dish of cooked cabbage fried with cooked potatoes and other vegetables. Often made from the remains of the Sunday roast trimmings. (Irish: colcannon)
(vulgar, literally a synonym for 'sodomised') worn out; broken; thwarted, undermined, in a predicament, e.g. 'If we miss the last bus home, we're buggered' (US: screwed). Also used to indicated lack of motivation as in "I can't be buggered". Uncommon in the US.
little or nothing at all; "I asked for a pay rise and they gave me bugger all"; "I know bugger all about plants"; damn all. US: zip, jack or (offensive) jack shit. Usage is rare in the US.
an institution, owned by its depositors rather than shareholders, that provides mortgage loans and other financial services (US equivalent: savings and loan association)
a bag worn on a strap around the waist (US: fanny [DM] pack)
to wander aimlessly or stroll/walk without urgency to a destination; usually synonymous with bungle when used in the US.
useless paperwork or documentation (from "bum fodder", toilet paper)
a windfall; profit; bonus
bureau de change
an office where money can be exchanged (US: currency exchange)
(originally colloquial, back-formation from burglar) to commit burglary (in the US, burglarize is overwhelmingly preferred, although burgle is occasionally found).
a sandwich (esp. 'chip butty' or 'bacon butty').
(US: special election)
a local law (US: ordinance)
Words beginning with C
(slang) faeces (feces); nonsense or rubbish: "what a load of cack" could equally be used to describe someone talking nonsense or as a criticism of something of poor quality. Also spelt "kak" as used in Dutch. Derived from an ancient Indo-European word, kakkos, cognate with German word Kacke, Welsh word "cach" and the Irish and Scottish Gaelic word "cac" which all mean 'shit'.
(informal) clumsy * ; left-handed. Derived from cack, meaning "fæces (feces)", with reference to the tradition that only the left hand should be used for cleaning the 'unclean' part of the human body (i.e. below the waist).
device for making coffee (US: French press)
abbreviation for a café; now used mainly for the old-fashioned establishment ("there's a proper caff up that side road") to distinguish from chain cafés.
type of lightweight hooded waterproof clothing (US: windbreaker)
(rare) telephone message recorder (US and UK also: answering machine; voicemail machine)
synonymous with candidacy
spun sugar confection (US: cotton candy)
travel trailer (US: RV)
area where caravans are parked (US: Trailer park for near-permanently-installed mobile homes, RV park or campground for areas intended for short term recreational vehicle parking. Trailer parks are typically low-income permanent residencies; RV parks/campgrounds are a holiday (vacation) destination.)
storage area of car (US: trunk). It also canan also mean car boot sale in the UK.
area where cars are parked (US usually parking lot if outdoor, parking garage if indoor).
the part of a road that carries the traffic; see also dual carriageway (US and UK also: lane)
carrier rocket (rare) a rocket used to place a satellite in orbit (US and UK usually: launch vehicle).
cash machine, cashpoint
automated teller machine. ("Cashpoint", strictly speaking, refers only to the ATMs of Lloyds TSB, although the term has become generic.)
reflector used to mark lane divisions and edges of roads, also written cat's-eye, genericised from the trademark Catseye (US: raised pavement marker; Botts' dots are similar)
central heating boiler
physical barrier (usually made from armco) dividing oncoming carriageways (only on dual-carriageways or motorways) (US: median strip)
(slang) an opportunist
(informal) tea. From the Chinese.
(informal) see charwoman
one authorised to certify financial statements; the equivalent of an American CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
(dated) a woman employed as a cleaner, especially as an office cleaner Tea lady or canteen staff.
(slang, often derogatory, used primarily in England) typically a nouveau riche or working class person of most of the time lowish intelligence who wears designer label (e.g. Burberry) copies, fake gold bling, and is a trouble-maker. "Chav" is used nationally, though "charv" or "charva" was originally used in the northeast of England, deriving from the Roma (people) word charva, meaning disreputable youth. The closest US equivalents to the chav stereotype are arguably wiggers, although the cultural differences are existent. To a lesser extent "Chotch" (reference sitcom character Charles "Chachi" Arcola), "chinstrap", or simply "douchebag".
impertinent; noun form, cheek, impertinence; a child answering back to an adult might be told "don't give me any of your cheek" (also there is the expression "cheeky monkey!" in reaction to a cheeky remark).
(informal, friendly) exclamation of farewell (similar to 'seeya!' and 'ta-ra!'). No connection to the breakfast cereal Cheerios.
A shop selling cosmetics, various personal products and over the counter medicines with an attached pharmacy. US: drug store.
(babysitter) a person who looks after babies and young children (usually in the person's own home) while the baby's parents are working. Babysitter is more common in the UK.
smoke-stack atop a house. But refers to the cylindrical topmost part. The part below is the chimney or chimney stack.
pencil designed to write on china, glass etc. (US: grease pencil, china marker)
a Chinese takeaway (commonly used in the north of England). "Im going to the chinky, do you want owt?" It can be considered offensive by some.
(informal) fish-and-chip shop (parts of Scotland, Ire: chipper), also chippy (see also List of words having different meanings in British and American English)
chip and pin
credit/debit cards in UK have a computer chip embedded on the card & require a pin (personal id number) number at time of purchase.
thrown out; expelled (US: kicked out)
(informal, becoming somewhat archaic, originally Liverpudlian) proud, satisfied, pleased. Sometimes intensified as well chuffed; cf. made up
a place to watch movies (US: a movie theater)
(sometimes chunner) to mutter, to grumble, to talk continuously; "What's he chuntering on about?"
(informal) a big mistake, blunder, bad joke or faux pas ('to drop a clanger') (US: lay an egg)
(informal) worn out (said of an object)
thin plastic film for wrapping food (US: plastic wrap, Saran wrap)
clock-watching * (plural clock-watchings)
continually looking at the time to see how much longer one has to work or study.
a government made up of two or more political parties (US: fusion administration)
cobblers shoe repairers * ; (slang) a weaker version of bollocks, meaning 'nonsense' (often "a load of old cobblers"), from rhyming slang 'cobbler's awls' = balls
cock-up, cockup *
(mildly vulgar) error, mistake. In traditional archery, describes cock feather misalignment prior to firing, resulting in a poor shot.
codswallop *, codd's wallop
(becoming old-fashioned) similar to bollocks but less rude, "You're talking codswallop". After Hiram Codd, the inventor of the Codd bottle, which was commonly used in the late 19th Century for fizzy drinks (Codd's wallop). (US: You're talking trash)
near obsolete term for the emergency brake on a train. Is nowadays simply an alarm handle connected to a PA system which alerts the driver.
(French) master of ceremonies, MC
the power of the governmental authority to take private property for public use (similar to US: eminent domain)
music school (US usually conservatory)
box for keeping food and liquids cool (US and UK also: cooler)
cop off with
(slang) to successfully engage the company of a potential sexual partner, to "pull"; to copulate (have sexual intercourse) with.
when referring to the leaves, often called "cilantro" in the US
see Gor Blimey
a seller of fruit and veg
wad of cotton wool fixed to a small stick, used for cleaning (US: cotton swab, Q-Tip)
Spun cotton, used for cleaning wounds or make-up (US: Absorbent cotton, cotton ball)
council house/flat, also council housing or estate
public housing. (US: projects)
stub of a cheque, ticket etc. (US: stub)
(French) the plant Cucurbita pepo (US: zucchini, from the Italian).
a wind deflector fitted to a chimney top.
whereas "crack on" may be used in a generalised sense as "[to] get on with [something]" (often, a task), to "crack on to [some person, specifically]" indicates one was, or planned to, engage in flirtation, to varying degrees
exclamation of surprise (once a euphemism for Christ's keys or perhaps Christ Kill Me. Popularized in the US by late Australian herpetologist Steve Irwin)
very thinly sliced fried potatoes, often flavoured, eaten cold as a snack (US: potato chips)
a musical note with a duration of one count in a time signature of 4/4 (common time) (US: quarter note; see Note value)
soft toy (sometimes used in the US; also stuffed animal, plush toy). Occurs as the title of the Monkee's song "Cuddly Toy".
[cup of] tea (never coffee or other beverage)
personal bank account used for everyday transactions (US: checking account)
Words begging with D
odd, mad, eccentric, daffy, crazy – often with the implication of it being amusingly so. "Don't be daft" and "don't be silly" are approximately synonymous.
(informal) a look, reconnoître "I'll take a dekko at it later." – British military slang derived from the Hindustani dhek/dekho meaning "to see". Also less commonly decco, deccie,deek, deeks.
wooded valley or seaside dune (mainly S W England)
dibble (or The Dibble)
Police. From 'Officer Dibble' in the early-1960s Hanna-Barbera animated television programme Top Cat. Most commonly used in Manchester.
(slang) a fool or idiot; adjective form, divvy, foolish or idiotic. Also abbreviation of diviner, a person with the ability to sniff out antiques at a distance (made popular by Jonathan Gash's character Lovejoy)
something accomplished easily - "It's a doddle", meaning "it's easy".
fun-fair or fairground bumper cars
unsound, unstable, and unreliable (US: sketchy). 'That bloke over there looks a bit dodgy'
someone who carries out menial tasks on another's behalf; a drudge (US: grunt)
the dog's bollocks
(vulgar) something excellent or top quality, the "bee's knees" (the business), the "cat's whiskers". Sometimes just "the bollocks." (US: the shit). In polite company this phrase may be toned down to "The mutt's nuts", or the phrase "The bee's knees" (the business) may be used as a polite substitute. The etymology of this expression is said by some to derive from printers' slang for the punctuation symbol ':-' when printing involved the use of carved metal blocks to form typesetting.[clarification needed]
(informal) welfare, specifically unemployment benefit. Sometimes used in the US, esp. older generation
(slang) money (US: dough) "how much dosh you got on ya?"
(from docile) to be lazy, "I've been dossing all day", also can mean to truant, "dossing off" (similar to bunking off). Additionally it can informally take the form of a noun (i.e. "that lesson was a doss", meaning that lesson was easy, or good (primarily central Scotland). Also "dosser", a lazy person, or a tramp (US bum); "to doss down", to find a place to sleep, to sleep on some substitute for a bed such as a sofa, the floor, or a park bench; "doss-house", temporary accommodation for tramps or homeless people, cheap dilapidated rented accommodation with low standards of cleanliness (US: flophouse)
an undergraduate degree where the candidate has gained First-Class Honours in two separate subjects, or alternatively in the same subject in subsequent examinations (see British undergraduate degree classification)
double parked *
(slang) having two drinks in your hand (or on the table) at once (US: double fisting). Could also mean, or even originate, from the term 'double park'; which involves parking a vehicle to the side of another parked vehicle, or being parked on double yellow lines/being parked illegally.
a dealer in drapery (i.e. clothing, textiles, etc.) (US: dry goods [DM])
the board game (US: checkers)
drawing pin *
pin with a large, flat head, used for fixing notices to noticeboards etc. (US: thumbtack)
the seats in the first balcony of a theatre (US: balcony or loge although dress circle is used in a few very large opera houses that have many levels of balconies)
operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol (US: drunk driving; DUI [Driving Under the Influence]; DWI [Driving While Intoxicated]; OWI [Operating While Intoxicated])
document authorising the holder to drive a vehicle (US: driver's license, driver license)
road, usually a major one, with each direction of travel separated from the opposing one by a traffic-free, and usually slightly raised, central reservation. Each direction of travel (carriageway) comprises two 'lanes'. (US: divided highway)
(sometimes used in the US) receptacle for rubbish, very often shortened to simply 'bin'. (US: trash can; wastebasket)
dustbin man or dustman
rubbish collector (US: garbage man; trash man; sanitation engineer)
rubbish/refuse collecting vehicle (US: garbage truck; trash truck)
Words beginning with E
an adhesive bandage placed on a minor cut or scrape (UK also: sticking/sticky plaster [DM]; US: Adhesive bandage, Band-Aid)
domestic electric heater (US: space heater)
tone indicating a telephone line in use, (US: busy signal)
estate agent *
a person who sells property for others (US: realtor, real estate agent)
a station wagon
(of a telephone number) unlisted; also informally of a person "he's ex-directory", meaning his telephone number is unlisted
Extension cable typically refers to mains power but may refer to other cables like telephones, (US and UK also: extension cord)
Words beginning with F
to dither, futz, "I spent the day faffing about in my room". Also related noun ("That's too much faff"). Mainly found in the North of England, but also popular in South Wales.
a gift, particularly one given or bought at a fair (obsolete); type of cookie (biscuit) made in Cornwall
a small sponge cake (US and UK also: cupcake)
(vulgar) mild expletive employed as an attenuated alternative to fuck (including fecker, fecking, etc.) (originally Hiberno English and popularized by the television series Father Ted).
requiring dexterity to operate ("the buttons on the tiny mobile phone were too fiddly")
short for Procurator Fiscal, name of the public prosecutor in Scotland (US: District Attorney, state prosecutor etc.)
(US: fish sticks)
five pound note (bill)
fizzy drink *
carbonated soft drink (US: soda, pop, coke depending on the region)
(US: apartment); also derived from are the British terms block of flats (US: apartment block), or high flats (to describe a high-rise apartment building - see also Tower Block below)
electrical lead (UK); electrical cord (US)
a road crossing over another road (US: an overpass)
(slang) football (US: soccer)
path that is only for use by those on foot that may or may not be alongside a road. Not usually used for paved or widened path that directly abuts the road at a kerb, which is referred to as pavement(US: Sidewalk).
a period of 14 days (and nights) or two weeks
a telephone number where the caller is not charged for the call (US: toll-free number)
bangs, as in describing collective strands of hair covering part or all of the forehead
a travelling fair with amusements, stalls, rides etc. (US: carnival or traveling carnival)
Words beginning with G
(slang) house, home. Also any other place: cheap music hall, theatre, pub, club, shop, hangout
(informal) old man; (informal) boss; football manager (US: soccer coach); Also in US: (professional) chief electrician on a theatrical or film set.
gaffer tape *
strong, woven, cloth adhesive tape, originally sourced from the gaffer on a film set. (US: gaffers tape, gaff tape)
a path between the rows of seats in a theatre or elsewhere (US aisle; gangway is a naval command to make a path for an officer)
A prison, mostly historical (US: jail)
system of gears in a vehicle or other machinery (US transmission)
In UK transmission typically refers to drive shafts.
gear-lever / gearstick
handle for changing gears in a vehicle or other machinery (US gearshift)
(informal) information, info (short for "intelligence") (US: intel)
get off with *
to engage in French kissing - does not usually imply sexual intercourse. (US: make out with)
(mildly derogatory) scumbag, idiot, annoying person (originally meaning illegitimate; from archaic form "get", bastard, which is still used to mean "git" in Northern dialects)
(slang), social security benefit payment (US: welfare), is derived from the largely obsolete Girobank payment system that was once used in Britain for benefit and state pension payments.
1. (n.) mouth, e.g. "Shut yer gob"
2. (v.) spit phlegm (US: hock a loogie)
Talkative, particularly when the user of the term does not agree with or approve of what is said.
(vulgar)(insult) slang term for a person who is being mouthy about something or someone
(slang) utterly astonished, open-mouthed
(slang) the highest level of seating in a theatre or auditorium, usually the "Upper Circle", hence the expression "we have a seat up in the gods"
confused (from a cricketing term for a type of delivery bowled, the googly; predates Google)
(slang), (British) The testicles, from goli Hindi for ball. (US: genitalia)
exclamation of surprise, also cor blimey (originally from "God blind me")
stupid or clumsy
a protest in which workers deliberately work slowly (US: slowdown or work to rule)
grated cheese *
cheese that has been shredded with a 'cheese grater' hand-held kitchen appliance which often has three or four different blade types/widths. (In the US, "grated" cheese tends to be finer than shredded cheese. One would grate a hard cheese such as Parmesan more than a soft cheese such as cheddar or mozzarella.)
disgusting, dirty, poor quality (originally from grotesque, though now rarely used with quite that meaning). In a scene from the 1964 film A Hard Day's Night, George Harrison has to explain the meaning and origin of the word; the impression is given that it was then considered modern slang, known only to trendy youngsters (this is no longer the case). George Harrison would in fact have been familiar with the word as well-established Liverpool slang.
greasy spoon *
a cheap diner or cafe, specialising in fried or fast food.
talent for growing plants (US: green thumb)
a retail trader in fruit and vegetables
a greengrocer's profession, premises or produce (US: Produce or Farmer's Market)
an Air Force officer rank (US: colonel)
(n.) (also known as a Brake Van or a Driving Van Trailer) the leading or trailing carriage on a train nowadays used for luggage storage (US: Caboose)
initiative, common sense, or courage
running shoes, tennis shoes, maybe from "gutta percha" old source of natural rubber
(slang) A contraction of "governor", used to describe a person in a managerial position i.e. "Sorry mate, can't come to the pub, my guv'nors got me working late tonight". Heard mostly in London and the South East of England.
Words beginning with H
[as in 'half-eight'] meaning thirty minutes past the hour (Standard English and US: "Half past").
(n.) Used mainly in Scotland a 'half' refers to a single measure of alcoholic spirits - usually Scotch whisky. In colloquial speech, it is usually appended with the name of the spirit ('half of vodka', 'half of brandy') if referring to anything other than whisky. It may also refer to half a pint of beer; a 'coming for a swift half?' is an invitation to the pub and significantly more than half a pint is generally involved.
hand brake *
Parking brake operated by a hand control, usually a lever (US: Emergency brake. In the US, the traditional "hand brake" is more often to be found on a bicycle or motorcycle as opposed to a car as in the UK.); handbrake turn, a stunt where the handbrake is used to lock the rear wheels and the resulting oversteer enables the car to be turned rapidly in a small space (US related: J-turn, bootleg turn, U-turn.)
(pronounced "HAY-penny" or "HAYP-nee") half a penny; a coin of this denomination belonging to the predecimal coinage which is no longer in circulation. There was also a half penny in the decimal coinage introduced in 1971 which was 1/200 of a pound. Ha'pennies stopped being legal tender in 1985 and were removed from circulation.
(pronounced "HAY-puth") halfpennyworth.
the symbol "#" (US: number sign, pound sign [DM])
headmaster, headmistress, headteacher, head *
the person in charge of a school (US: principal [DM]; headmaster and the like are usually used for private schools)
(of a machine or contraption) absurdly complex (see Rube Goldberg machine).
primary business and shopping street (US: main street)
(v.) to borrow for a set period of time (US: to rent), hence the British terms "car hire" or "bicycle hire"; distinct from the US usage which is "to employ".
a credit system by which debts for purchased articles are paid in installments (US: installment plan or layaway if the item is kept at the store until the final payment is made)
a panel used to display outdoor advertisements, such as on the sides of buildings, or alongside highways (US billboard)
the hot surface on a stove (US: burner)
a bag (US: duffel bag)
person on holiday [DM] (US: vacationer)
(informal) short for holidays [DM]
home and away
fixtures played at alternating venues (US: home and home). Also 'first and second leg' (US series).
vacuum [cleaner], to vacuum (archaic in the US) (genericised trademark, from The Hoover Company, the first main manufacturer of vacuum cleaners)
to become more exciting or intimate (US: heating up). Also a word in Rhyming slang which refers to theft, usually of the opportunist type (i.e. shoplifting)
coloured sugar sprinkles used for dessert decoration (US: sprinkles, non-pareils, jimmies)
Words beginning with I
frozen fruit juice on a stick; ice pop (US: Popsicle),
(US: powdered sugar)
(see article; US: job action)
quotation marks (see also American and British English differences – Punctuation)
person who monitors an examination (US: proctor [DM])
ironware, hardware; hardware store
Words beginning with J
(slang) police car. So called as, in the past, most UK police vehicles were white with a horizontal yellow-edged red fluorescent stripe along the entire length of their sides, giving a certain resemblance to a white bread sandwich with a coloured jam (jelly) filling. The majority of marked vehicle operated by the Metropolitan Police Service retain this livery, albeit the cars are now (mostly) silver. Some older vehicles are still in white, while the Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) use red vehicles. (US: black-and-white. In many cities of the US, police cars are painted black at the hood and trunk and white on the doors and roof.)
jammy (git, cow)
(slang) lucky (person, woman)
To break into a lock, from the tool that is used in such an occasion as burglary (US: jimmy)
(slang) pejorative term for a German or Germans, (US: Kraut)
Expertly tinker with something in a way that a non-expert or casual observer is unlikely to comprehend.
(Rhyming slang) urinate, as in jimmy riddle - piddle
(slang) Originally a minor clerical/government worker who refuses to be flexible in the application of rules to help clients or customers (as in "it will cost me more than my job's worth to bend the rules"). Also used more broadly to apply to anyone who uses their job description in a deliberately obstructive way.
(slang) a condom (US: rubber, Jimmy-hat)
Better known as slang for penis or "dick" (US: cock, dick, or johnson) From the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover
Term of abuse used of someone perceived to be foolish, stupid, incompetent, clumsy, uncoordinated, ridiculous, idiotic. Originated with the appearances of cerebral palsy sufferer Joey Deacon on children's TV programme Blue Peter; still a popular insult among adults who saw the programmes as children.
(see article; US: rummage sale)
a pullover *, sweater
booster cables used to jump-start a car (US: jumper cables)
Words beginning with K
a chaotic, ineffective team (usually: Fred Karno's Army) (related US: Keystone Kops, Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight)
(informal, also spelt keks) trousers or underpants
a disorderly outburst, disturbance or tumult; from Scots carfuffle
(slang) lavatory (numerous alternative spellings are seen, such as karzy, karsey, carzey etc.)
(slang) sleep. (US and UK: nap)
(slang) clothing: hence "Get your kit off": an exhortation to get undressed
(slang) exhausted, originally 'sexually exhausted', derived from an old use of the verb meaning 'to castrate'
premises where superannuated livestock are sent for rendering, etc. (glue factory). Sometimes refers to the same for vehicles, a scrapyard (US: junkyard)
girls' and women's underpants (US: panties): hence, "Don't get your knickers in a twist" (US: don't get your panties in a wad, keep calm, hold your horses, chill out)
Words beginning with L
red and black flying insect (US: ladybug)
self-service laundry (US: laundromat )
(informal) lavatory, toilet; also, lavvy (in the US, airplane restrooms are typically called lavatories)
lead (electrical, as on an appliance or musical instrument, microphone etc.)
electrical cord (US)
past tense of "learn" (US: learned)
funds left in a budget (US: funds remaining)
classes (class used more common in US English)
(n.) a means of evading or avoiding something
1. a slot in a wall or door through which incoming post [DM] is delivered (US: mail slot, mailbox)
2. (less common) a box in the street for receiving outgoing letters and other mail (more usually called a postbox or pillar box) (US: mailbox)
See also Letterbox (US & UK): a film display format taking its name from the shape of a letter-box slot
(US and also occasionally UK: life insurance)
illegal gathering in a pub at night to drink after the pub is supposed to have stopped serving alcohol, where the landlord "locks in" his guests to avoid being caught by police. Unless the landlord charges for the drinks at the time, the people in the pub are considered his personal guests; if money is exchanged beforehand or afterwards then it is considered a gift from the guest to the landlord for the hospitality. Since the introduction of the smoking ban in England and Wales in 2007, a "lock in" can now mean a landlord locking the pub doors and allowing smoking inside the premises. (US: may refer to a large and highly chaperoned "sleep over" at a church, school, etc.)
tenant renting a room rather than an entire property; typically lives with the renter and his/her family
lollipop man / woman / lady
a school crossing guard who uses a circular stop sign
1. lollipop /ice lolly (US: popsicle); (q.v.)
2. (slang) money
toilet (usually the room, not just the plumbing device) (US: bathroom, restroom)
a large goods-carrying motor vehicle (US and UK also: truck)
megaphone (US: bullhorn)
the lower of two floors at ground level (for example, if a building is built on a slope). See "ground floor". Also used as a euphemism for "basement" when trying to sell a flat [DM].
(hard 'G') 1. An imaginary illness allegedly passed on by touch—used as an excuse to avoid someone. (c.f. US: cooties) From an episode of the Goon Show. 2. (slang) A fictitious, yet highly infectious disease; often used in the phrase "the dreaded lurgy", sometimes as a reference to flu-like symptoms. Can also be used when informing someone you are unwell but you either do not know or do not want to say what the illness is.
Words beginning with M
pipe that carries gas or water. "The water main has burst!" (US: line: e.g gas line, water line etc.)
mains power, the mains
230-250V (Typically denoted on domestic electricals as the rounded 240V standard) AC electrical current, provided by the electricity grid to homes and businesses; also attrib. ("mains cable") (US: 120 volts AC, variously called: line power, grid power, AC power, household electricity, etc.)
(slang) feeling ill, rough, out of sorts; filthy, dirty, rotten. (poss. from French "manqué" - missed, wasted or faulty)
(derogatory, mainly Northern and Central England) describes someone who is in a bad mood, or more generally a crybaby or whiner or "grumpy, difficult, unpredictable". Used, for example, by children in the rhyme "Mardy, mardy mustard...", and in the title of the Arctic Monkeys song "Mardy Bum". The verb to throw a mardy means to display an outburst of anger.
mathematics (US: math)
MD (managing director)
equivalent of US CEO (Chief Executive Officer), also used in the UK
simply called The Wave in the US
mentioned in despatches
identified for valour or gallantry in action (US: decorated)
one thousand million, or 1,000,000,000 (US: billion or 1,000,000,000) Now superseded by the internationally standard usage of billion (1,000,000,000).
1. ground meat, especially beef (US: ground beef, hamburger meat, mince typically describes a chopping style)
2. Walk daintily or effeminately.
3. Mince your words -- to obfuscate or conceal when talking or writing * (US: "He/She doesn't mince words.")
(vulgar) (rhymes with singe) female genitals or pubic hair
(from Scots language ming "to smell strongly and unpleasantly", rhymes with singer) someone who is unattractive
(from Scots language "smelling strongly and unpleasantly", rhymes with singing) dirty, rotting, smelly, unattractive etc. "The girl I pulled last night was minging". His friend replies, "yeah I know mate, I saw you leave with her, she was a right minger
a musical note with the duration of two counts in a time signature of 4/4 (US: half note; see Note value)
mither, also moider, moither
trans. To bother, pester, worry, irritate; intr. To ramble, be delirious; to 'go on'; to complain, make a fuss, whine. Alternative version in Chambers: to confuse; to work hard; to wander in thought; See also mither, moider and moither at Wiktionary
(informal) non-pedigree cat; alley cat; any cat regardless of pedigree; Morris Minor car; Morgan car
(slang) disgusting, dirty, foul, idiotic person, possible derivation from mongoloid, now obsolete term for someone with Down's syndrome
(slang) being incapable of constructive activity due to drug use, alcohol consumption or extreme tiredness
MOT, MOT test
(pronounced emm'oh'tee) mandatory annual safety and roadworthiness test for motor vehicles over 3 years old (from "Ministry of Transport", now renamed "Department for Transport")
A controlled-access highway, the largest class of road on the British road network, designed for fast, high volume traffic, usually with three or more lanes in each direction. In reference to a specific motorway may be abbreviated to M, as in M25 or M1. (US: equivalent to freeway)
shouting, ranting or swearing a lot about something or someone. e.g.: "that guy was just mouthing off about something" (US [DM]: backtalk; often shortened to mouth ["I don't need your mouth".])
move house, move flat, etc.
to move out of one's house or other residence into a new residence (US: move, move out)
short for multi-storey, used mainly in Eastern Scotland to denote a tower block of public housing (see below)
an ugly woman (rarely, man); similar to minger
an incompetent or foolish person
casual term for friend, mate, pal. As in "'Ere mush, what's going on?"
Words beginning with N
(slang) lame, tacky, cheap, low quality (origin uncertain – numerous suggestions include backslang for fan, an old term for a vagina), also gay slang for a straight man (said to mean "Not Available For Fucking")
(dated slang) shove it, get lost, go away – a much less offensive alternative to "fuck off" (originally obscure Polari slang, made popular by prison sitcom Porridge and famously used by Princess Anne)
1. (v.) (informal) irritate; also narked, the adjective.
2. (n.) (slang) police informer (US: narc, derived from narcotics agent, but often used in a general sense)
absorbent garment for babies (US: diaper)
compulsory payments made to the Government from earnings to pay for welfare benefits, the National Health Service (see below) and the state pension fund. (US: Health Insurance)
strictly a shop owner or shop that sells newspapers, usu. refers to a small shop, e.g. corner shop, convenience store, newsstand, or similar (US: newsdealer)
someone who reads the news on TV or radio. See news presenter for a description of the different roles of a newscaster, a British newsreader and an American news anchor.
(slang) a way of thanking someone, or congratulating them. ("nice one for that pint, mate")
1. (v.) to steal
2. (n.) a police station or prison
arrested ("you're nicked") - related to "the nick", above (US: up the river)
(colloquial) 1 pound, maintains singular form when used in a plural context ("it cost me 2 nicker"), rarely used in the singular
an unpleasant smell
hemicylindrical building of corrugated metal. Named for the designer. (US: Quonset hut, named for the place of US manufacture)
the National Health Service, the state run healthcare system within the United Kingdom
2. a person of wealth or social standing nobble
(v.) to sabotage, attempt to hinder in some way. E.g. "Danny nobbled my chances at the pub quiz by getting Gary to defect to his team."
1. (slang) paedophile, pimp, child molester, idiot
2. the present time or occasion – now usually encountered only in the compound nonce word, only used in literary circles, meaning an ad hoc word coinage, and the somewhat old-fashioned phrase for the nonce, meaning "for now". See also the Wiktionary definition.
1. food, meal; also "nosh up", a big satisfying meal ("I could do with a good nosh up") Cf US usage, where nosh means "snack" or "to eat" as in the original Yiddish (i.e., "He's noshing on the shrimp cocktail.")
nosy (or nosey) parker
a busybody (similar to US: butt-in, buttinski, nosy)
Good sense; shrewdness: "Hillela had the nous to take up with the General when he was on the up-and-up again" (Nadine Gordimer). Rhymes with "mouse" or "moose".
nothing; not anything. "I've got nowt to do later." Northern English. (see also 'owt' - anything; as in the phrase "you can't get owt for nowt" or "you can't get anything for nothing")
vehicle registration plate (sometimes used in the US; also license plate or license tag)
(originally Scottish, now more widespread) a stupid person
(informal) a crazy or insane person, often violent; also used as a more light-hearted term of reproach ("Oi nutter!") (occasionally used in the US) (US and UK also: nut, nutcase)
Words beginning with O
Old Age Pensioner (qv) (US: Senior Citizen)
off-licence / offie
shop licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off the premises (US equivalent: liquor store). Known in some parts of N England as "selling-out shop".
of clothes etc., ready-made rather than made to order (US: off-the-rack)
the entrails and internal organs of a butchered animal.
coarse exclamation to gain attention, roughly equivalent to "hey" ("Oi, you!" = "Hey you!")
the Old Bill
(slang) The police - specifically the Metropolitan Police in London, but use of the term has spread to the surrounding Home Counties.
something that happens only once; limited to one occasion (as an adjective, a shared synonym is one-shot; as a noun ["She is a one-off"; US: one of a kind])
on the piss
(vulgar) drinking heavily; going out for the purpose of drinking heavily; at a slight angle, said of an object that should be vertical
used to describe the origin of a person from East Asia (China, Japan etc.) (US:Asian - N.B. In BrE, Asian is generally reserved for people from around the Indian sub-continent: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc.)
less common alternative to orient, deprecated by some as an unnecessary back-formation from orientation
members of the military who are not commissioned officers. (US: Enlisted ranks)
money used on a bank account making a debit balance ; the amount of the debit balance, an 'overdraft facility' is permission from a bank to draw to a certain debit balance.
on the other side of the page
anything. Northern English. "Why aren't you saying owt?" See also 'nowt' - as in the phrase "can't get owt for nowt" meaning "can't get anything for nothing."
Words beginning with P
a holiday whose transport, accommodation, itinerary etc. is organised by a travel company (US and UK less frequently: package tour). Cf holiday [DM]
a Pakistani person; often loosely applied to anyone from South Asia, or of perceived South Asian origin. Now considered racist.when used in England and the UK.
a newsagents run by a person of Pakistani or other South Asian origin. No longer considered an acceptable term. Not to be confused with "packie", used in some areas of the US such as New England, short for "package store", meaning "liquor store".[unreliable source?][unreliable source?]
(informal) police car. Small police car used for transport, as opposed to a patrol or area car (analogous to US: black-and-white) Derives from a period in the 1970s when UK police cars resembled those of their US counterparts, only with blue replacing black.
(the job of making) a regular series of newspaper deliveries (US: paper route)
a common and widely available drug for the treatment of headaches, fever and other minor aches and pains (US: acetaminophen, Tylenol)
(informal) cold, usually used in reference to the weather
pasty, Cornish pasty
hard pastry case filled with meat and vegetables served as a main course, particularly in Cornwall and in the north of England
usually in the phrase "to go pear-shaped", meaning to go drastically or dramatically wrong (possibly from the idea of a ball deflating). cf tits-up
pedestrian crossing with traffic lights operated by pedestrians (formed by analogy with "panda crossing" etc. Could also be from Pedestrian Light-Controlled;)
people mover or people carrier
a minivan or other passenger van
fastidious, precise or over-precise (US: persnickety)
Trade name for Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), a transparent thermoplastic sometimes called "acrylic glass" (US: Plexiglass; earlier form dated in the US)
refined mixture of hydrocarbons, used esp. to fuel motor vehicles (short for petroleum spirit, or from French essence de pétrole) (US: gasoline, gas). Also variously known as motor spirit (old-fashioned), motor gasoline, mogas, aviation gasoline and avgas (the last two being a slightly heavier type designed for light aircraft)
someone with a strong interest in cars (especially high performance cars) and motor racing (US: gearhead or motorhead).
payphone, public phone. See also "telephone kiosk" (infra) (US: phone booth)
a pejorative slang term, used originally to refer to Irish Travellers. Now refers to anyone whose lifestyle is characterised by itinerancy, theft, illicit land occupancy with destruction of amenities, and disregard for authority, without reference to ethnic or national origin.
box in the street for receiving outgoing mail, in Britain traditionally in the form of a free-standing red pillar; also called postbox or, less commonly, letter box (US: mailbox)
See also Pillar box (film): an aspect ratio named for a supposed resemblance to the dimensions of the slot found on a pillar box.
the traditional bright red colour of a British pillar box (US: fire engine red or candy apple red)
(slang, very mildly derogatory) foolish person, used esp. in northern England but also common elsewhere. Derived from the Northern English term pillicock, a dialect term for penis, although the connection is rarely made in general use.
(vulgar) someone who regularly gets heavily drunk..
pissing it down [with rain]
(slang, mildly vulgar) raining very hard (sometimes "pissing down" is used in the US, as in "It's pissing down out there.") Also "pissing it down the drain" or "pissing it away" * meaning to waste something.
braid, as in hair
(derogatory) person of lower class *, from plebs; similar to townie. Also commonly used to mean idiot.
(US and UK: guitar pick)
a type of shoe with a canvas upper and rubber sole, formerly the typical gym shoe used in schools (US: sneaker or Tennis shoe)
policeman - from PC Plod in Enid Blyton's Noddy books.
a disparaging term for cheap wine, especially cheap red wine, is now widely known in the UK and also to a lesser extent in the USA. Derives from French vin blanc and came into English use on the western front in World War I.
(very mildly derogatory) fool *. Used esp. in the south-east of England, although not unknown elsewhere. Derived from a slang term for penis, and sometimes used in this fashion, e.g. "Are you pulling my plonker?" (to express disbelief) (US var: "Are you yanking my chain?")
(n.) mechanical crossover on a railway, (US: switch), hence the term "points failure" is a very common cause of delays on railroads and the London Underground.
(n.) (slang) someone with overly affected airs and graces; an effeminate posturing man; a pimp. Originates from Maltese slang. (related US: poncey)
(v.) (slang) to act like a pimp; to cadge, to borrow with little or no intention of returning, often openly so ("Can I ponce a ciggie off you, mate?")
(v.) (slang) to act like a fop, to wander about aimlessly without achieving anything
(v.) (slang) to mooch, to hit up, to leave in a pompous manner
(n.) (slang) a strong unpleasant smell; (v.) to give off a strong unpleasant smell; (adj.) pongy
pop, fizzy pop
(chiefly in the north) sparkling lemonade or any soft drink - the 'pop' was originally the glass stopper in the bottle
(derogatory) a male homosexual (US equivalent: fag, faggot)
pouffe, poof, poove
A small drum-shaped soft furnishing used as a foot rest (related US: hassock, Ottoman)
slang for a lie or lying, from rhyming slang "pork pies" = "lies"
postage and packing, P&P
charge for said services (US: shipping and handling, S&H; the word postage is, however, used in both dialects)
a money order designed to be sent through the post, issued by the UK Post Office (US: money order, or postal money order if the context is ambiguous)
postbox, post box
box in the street for receiving outgoing mail (US: mailbox; drop box); see also letter box, pillar box
alphanumeric code used to identify an address, part of a UK-wide scheme. (US equivalent: ZIP Code)
service whereby mail is retained at a post office for collection by the recipient (from French) (US: general delivery)
(slang) something that is unsatisfactory or in generally bad condition.
wheeled conveyance for babies (US: baby-carriage)
(slang) an incompetent or ineffectual person, a fool, an idiot
a conditioning exercise in which one lies prone and then pushes oneself up by the arms (outside Britain: push-up)
glue stick, from the trademark of a common brand.
Real or very much something. "He's a proper hero" (US: "He's a real hero")
provisional licence, provisional driving licence
a licence for a learner driver, who has not yet passed a driving test (US: learner's permit)
short for public house (US: bar)
the landlord of a public house.
(informal) short for "pudding", which may mean dessert or occasionally a savoury item such as Yorkshire pudding or black pudding; a fool (informal term usually used good-naturedly between family members). pulling his pud, means male masturbation.
legitimate, the real thing, of good quality (usually Southeastern England term, recently more widely popularised by Jamie Oliver, but dating back to the 19th century). From Hindi-Urdu .
(n.) A flat tire on a vehicle, as in "I had a puncture on my bicycle".
small basket for fruit, usually strawberries
(informal) bicycle (pre-dates modern safety bicycle q.v. velocipede)
forward-facing baby carriage (US: stroller)
Words beginning with Q
quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation. A semi-public (supposedly non-governmental) advisory or administrative body funded by the taxpayer, often having most of its members appointed by the government, and carrying out government policy.
a musical note with the duration of one half-count in a time signature of 4/4 (US: eighth note). Also compound nouns semiquaver (US: sixteenth note), demisemiquaver (US: thirty-second note), hemidemisemiquaver (US: sixty-fourth note); see note value).
(informal) the pound sterling monetary unit; remains quid in plural form ("Can I borrow ten quid?") (similar to US buck, meaning dollar)
(informal) a financially positive end to a transaction or venture "After all that, we'll be quids in!" (US: money ahead)
used in the phrase "quieten down" (US: quiet down)
forelock (initially Hiberno-English); a hairstyle (from the 1950s onward).
(vulgar slang) female genitalia, the vagina
Words beginning with R
(informal) having sexual desire, lustful, horny (now more common in the US because of the Austin Powers franchise)
an enlisted soldier or airman or (more rarely) a commissioned officer who has been promoted from enlisted status ("the ranks" * )
cuts of bacon
(slang) extremely drunk
(informal) reconnoître, reconnaissance (pronounced recky) (US: recon)
reel of cotton
in the US is spool of thread
Register Office, Registry Office
official office where births, marriages and deaths are recorded; usu. refers to local Register Office (in each town or locality). General Register Office is the relevant government department. In England and Wales until 2001, almost all civil (non-church) marriages took place in the local Register Office; different laws apply in Scotland and N. Ireland. "Register Office" is the correct legal term, but "registry office" is in common informal use. (US: Office of Vital Statistics)
A ticket that is valid for travel to a destination and back. A round trip ticket.
Right of way
path (usually an old one) upon which one has the right to travel regardless of land ownership. (Americans are likely to misunderstand the phrase to mean correct way although right-of-way is in use in the US.)
upgrade or repairs of roads (US: construction; roadwork [singular])
hard candy in cylindrical form often sold at holiday locations and made so that the location's name appears on the end even when broken. (US: no exact equivalent, but similar to a candy cane)
(vulgar) to engage in a sexual act, or suggest it. e.g.: "I'd give her a good rodgering!"
(informal) chancy; of poor quality; uncertain (see dodgy). Can also mean unwell when used in the form to feel ropey
a fight or argument (rhymes with cow)
reverse charge call
a telephone call for which the recipient pays (US and UK also: collect call); also v. to reverse [the] charge[s] *, to make such a call (dated in US, used in the 1934 American film It Happened One Night – US usually: to call collect)
a roll call or roster of names, or round or rotation of duties
a circular multi-exit road junction. (US: rotary junction; traffic circle)
1.(rare slang) Police ("Quick, the rozzers! Scarper!") – possibly from Robert Peel, who also gave his name to two other slang terms for the police: peelers (archaic) and bobbies (becoming old-fashioned).
a pencil eraser (US: eraser. The word eraser is additionally used in the US to refer to a blackboard eraser. "Rubber" in the US is a slang term for a condom.)
worthless, unwanted material that is rejected or thrown out; debris; litter (US: trash, garbage)
a lesbian. also carpet muncher.
sexual intercourse, used jokingly. (Popularised by its usage in The Black Adder and subsequent series; the suggestion of actor Alex Norton of a Scots term.)
Words beginning with S
to release from work "I've been sacked! The boss just gave me the sack!" (US: fire)
a four door car (US: sedan)
(informal) sarcastic (abbrev.) "Why are you being so sarky?" (US: snarky)
sarnie, sarny, sannie
(informal) sandwich (abbrev.)
a person from Liverpool, or the singular scouse to describe anything or anyone from either Liverpool or Merseyside.
a prison guard
a lower class, (usually young) woman of low morals
cloudy cider, often high in alcoholic content
action of stealing apples from an orchard; also v. to scrump
gardening tool for pruning plants (US:garden shears, pruners or clippers)
(/sɪˈkɒndmənt/) the assignment of a person from his or her regular organisation to temporary assignment elsewhere. From v. second (/sɪˈkɒnd/)
from Cellophane, transparent adhesive tape (genericised trademark) (US: Scotch tape)
a musical note with the duration of four counts in a time signature of 4/4 (US: whole note; see Note value)
send to Coventry
ostracize, shun (US: send to Siberia, vote off the island)
(from French) table napkin [DM]. Regarded as a non-U word, but widely used by non-U people. Frequently encountered in Canada.
broken beyond repair - can also be used to describe extreme exhaustion
To have sexual intercourse
a drink consisting of lager or beer mixed with a soft drink, originally ginger beer but now more usually lemonade, in near equal parts.
on foot, walking – as in "The car's broken down, so it's shanks's pony I'm afraid".
(vulgar) variant of shit
in the sense of "retail outlet" (US: store)
sixes and sevens
crazy, muddled (usually in the phrase "at sixes and sevens"). From the London Livery Company order of precedence, in which position 6 is claimed by both the Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors and the Worshipful Company of Skinners.
skewed, uneven, not straight
(informal) out of money (US: broke)
industrial rubbish bin (US: dumpster)
(informal) to sneak off, avoid work; to play truant (US: play hookey)
similar to 'slut', a woman of loose morals and low standards.
slag off *
to badmouth; speak badly of someone, usually behind their back
(informal) bald man
(vulgar) similar to slut but milder.
a partner in business, often an investor, who is not visibly involved in running the enterprise (US: silent partner)
mound built into a road to slow down vehicles (UK also: hump [DM]; US & UK also: speed bump)
(slang) smooth, wet, with no friction or traction to grip something (US: slippery)
(slang) a slow person (US: slowpoke)
underclothing, underwear, particularly underpants
(slang) idiot; a general term of abuse (for discussion of origin, see smeg (vulgarism)). Popularised by its use in a 1980s BBC sitcom, Red Dwarf.
(slang) a 'French kiss' or to kiss with tongues (US [DM]: deep kiss, not necessarily with tongues)
one who is thought to lack personal hygiene
(vulgar, moderately offensive) go away; get lost
spacker, spacky, spazmo
(vulgar, offensive to many) idiot, general term of abuse: from "Spastic", referring in England almost exclusively (when not used as an insult) to a person suffering from cerebral palsy. (variant forms spaz/spastic, are used in American English) See also Joey.
(slang) an idiot, a contemptible person (US: a less pejorative synonym for tool.) "He's as stupid as a bag of spanners." (US var.: "He's dumber than a bag of hammers".)
(informal) very good (old-fashioned, or consciously used as old-fashioned, associated stereotypically with upper-class people) (US: spiffy)
a dealer in black market goods (during World War II). The term wide boy is also often used in the same sense
(slang) a hand-rolled cigarette containing a mixture of marijuana and tobacco, also 'a joint.' (Also used in US, j or blunt more widely used)
spot on *
exactly (US: right on)
an English steamed suet pudding containing dried fruit (usually currants) commonly served with custard.
(informal) a non-commissioned soldier (US: grunt)
an Air Force officer rank (US: major)
(informal) soft and soggy (US: squishy)
(informal) intoxicated (popularly but probably erroneously said to be from British Prime Minister (Herbert) Asquith, a noted imbiber). The word can also be synonymous with skew-whiff.
(rare) look, most often used in the form to have a squiz at...
(slang) National Insurance payments (e.g.: I have not paid enough stamps to get my full state pension)
large sheet of thin, soft, coloured plastic that is sticky on one side; see Blue Peter (US similar: contact paper)
a seller (as a retailer) that stocks merchandise of a particular type, usually a specified brand or model (US: dealer)
stone the crows
exclamation of surprise (US holy cow)
immediately (sometimes used in the US; also right away)
to move your hand slowly and gently over something e.g. stroke a dog. (US: pet)
(informal) bad mood or temper
stroppy, to have a strop on
(informal) recalcitrant, in a bad mood or temper
An underground walkway normally under a road. Not to be confused with the US for an underground railway.
suck it and see
to undertake a course of action without knowing its full consequences (US: take your chances)
suss [out] *
(informal) to figure out (from suspicion)
a ladies' undergarment to hold up stockings (US: garter belt)
1. v. to study for an exam (US cram)
2. n. (derogatory) aloof and unpopular schoolchild or student who studies to excess
the same term for candy in US
(slang) nothing (from "Sweet Fanny Adams", alternative: "Sweet Fuck All"), "I know sweet FA about cars!" (US: jack shit)
swimsuit or bathing suit; also cozzy for short.
Words beginning with T
(informal) thank you
nickname for a Welshman
food outlet where you can order food to go (or be delivered) (not usually applied to fast food chains). Usage: "we had a takeaway for dinner", "we went to the local takeaway". [DM]; (US: takeout)
take the piss (vulgar) * / take the mickey
(slang) to make fun of somebody; to act in a non-serious manner about something important (also: take the pee). Can also mean to transgress beyond what are perceived as acceptable bounds, or to treat with perceived contempt - "the increases in car tax are taking the piss", "the new boss is really taking the piss with this mandatory car-sharing scheme".
receipts of money
loudspeaker (a proprietary brand name), PA system
in professional team sport, attempting to persuade a player contracted to one team to transfer to another team without the knowledge or permission of the player's current team (US: "tampering")
(informal, friendly) exclamation of farewell (similar to 'seeya!' and 'cheerio!' (above)). Originally from Merseyside (see Scouser, above) but now common throughout the UK.
payphone, public phone. See also "phone box" (supra) (US: phone booth)
a cloth which is used to dry dishes, cutlery, etc., after they have been washed. (US: dish towel)
a recording of a live television broadcast made directly from a cathode ray tube onto motion picture film. The equivalent US term is kinescope.
ten pound note
a member of the Territorial Army (US: Army Reserve)
person of low intelligence.
throw a wobbly
(informal) to lose one's temper, throw a tantrum
(rhyming slang) breasts/tits (from thrupenny bits, obsolete British coin)
canned as in "tinned soup" or "a tin of tuna"
a dump or to throw something away
white tape or liquid used to make corrections of ink on paper (US: Wite-Out)
very small; tiny (from tich or titch a small person, from Little Tich, the stage name of Harry Relph (1867–1928), English actor noted for his small stature)
(rhyming slang) hat (from tit-for-tat)
[go] tits up
(mildly vulgar) to suddenly go wrong (literally, to fall over. US: go belly up). cf pear-shaped (appears in the US mainly as military jargon, sometimes sanitized to "tango uniform")
batter-baked sausages, sausages baked in Yorkshire Pudding
(slang) member of the upper classes
a sugar-glazed apple on a stick eaten esp. on Guy Fawkes Night and Hallowe'en (US: caramel apple or candy apple)
anti-social in a pretentious way, stuck up
Tommy Atkins, Tommy
common term for a British soldier, particularly associated with World War I
(informal) to hit hard, sometimes used in cricket to describe a substantial boundary shot: "he tonked it for six". In Southern England can also mean muscular. (US: ripped or buff).
(slang) Largely equivalent to "wanker" but less offensive; has the same literal meaning, i.e. one who masturbates ("tosses off"). (US: jerk).
(colloquial, archaic) a drunkard; also used in the sense of "tosser".
(informal, offensive to some) sexually alluring woman or women (more recently, also applied to males). Originally a term for a prostitute in the late 19th century.
usually in the context "ticket tout"; to re-sell tickets, usually to a live event. Verb: to tout, touting. Ticket touts can usually be seen outside a venue prior to the beginning of the event, selling tickets (which may well be fake) cash-in-hand. Known as scalping in the US.
high rise public housing building. In recent years the US term apartment building has become fashionable to create the distinction between the often stigmatised public run high-rises, and those containing desirable private accommodation.
training shoes, athletic shoes. (US: sneakers).
a police officer's weapon (US: nightstick or billy)
two pence, also infantile euphemism for vagina. cf twopenn'orth
bookmaker for horse races (US and UK: bookie)
direction-indicator light on a vehicle (US: turn signal)
A place where you can turn off a road. Not generally used where the turn would take you onto a more major road or for a crossroads. (US: turn). "drive past the post-office and you'll see a small turning to the right, which leads directly to our farm"
an arrangement at the bottom of trouser-legs whereby a deep hem is made, and the material is doubled-back to provide a trough around the external portion of the bottom of the leg. (US: cuffs)
excessively cute, quaint, or 'precious'
idiot. Probably a portmanteau construction of twat and plonker. Used by Timothy Spall in an episode of Red Dwarf.
twopenn'orth, tuppenn'orth, tup'en'oth
one's opinion (tuppenn'orth is literally "two pennies worth" or "two pence worth", depending on usage); (US equivalent: two cents' worth, two cents). cf tuppence
Words beginning with U
short for university, used much like US college
(informal) someone who is stand-offish, stuck-up, snobby. "He's a bit up himself." Euphemistic variation of up his own arse. (US: snotty)
(US: pull up stakes)
Words beginning with V
verger (virger, in some churches)
someone who carries the verge or other emblem of authority before a scholastic, legal, or religious dignitary in a procession; someone who takes care of the interior of a church and acts as an attendant during ceremonies.
a wart which occurs on one's foot. (US: plantar wart)
a gourd-like fruit (treated as a vegetable) (US: squash [DM])
vertically opposite angles
(US: vertical angles)
Words beginning with W
wives and girlfriends, common in headlines referring to the spouse of a footballer.
weekly employee payment (usually in cash) (US: paycheck)
(informal) buffoon, fool; milder form of idiot.
(offensive) literally, a masturbator (although use in this context is uncommon); more likely to be used as a general insult or term of abuse
toilet (short for Water Closet). (US: bathroom [DM], US old-fashioned washroom). See also loo.
dish washing, "the dishes": "it's your turn to do the washing up"; hence washing up liquid: dish washing detergent (US: dish soap, dishwashing liquid)
an idiot. popularised by the 1981 song "Capstick Comes Home" by Tony Capstick
Extremely, very. "He's well rich" (US: "He's very rich")
Wellington boots, wellies
waterproof rubber boots, named after the Duke of Wellington.
(informal) effort (e.g.: "Give it some welly" to mean "put a bit of effort into an attempt to do something" US: elbow grease (also UK), oomph); also the singular of "wellies", for Wellington boots (US: gumboots, rubber boots)
(slang) condom; stems from "Wellington boots" which are also known as "rubbers".
(interj.) Hello! (warmly)
while (US and UK); 'whilst' is in common use in Yorkshire (UK) where 'while' is used colloquially to mean 'until'; (archaic in US)
(informal) complain, whine, especially repeated complaining about minor things (e.g. "Stop whingeing" meaning "stop complaining"); a different word from whine, originated in Scottish and Northern English in the 12th century. Hence whinger (derogatory), someone who complains a lot.
coffee with milk or cream.
(informal) to continue to talk trivially about a subject long after the audience's interest has gone (assuming there was any interest in the first place). "He wittered on." wide boy
see spiv, above
windscreen The window on the front of a vehicle(US: windshield)
the external mirrors on a vehicle – though no longer normally attached to the 'wings' (US: fenders) but to the doors (US: sideview mirrors, side mirrors)
(slang) childish term for a penis (US: winkie) wobbler, wobbly (to have or to throw) (informal) tantrum
(slang) when cost of repair of a damaged asset (usually a car) is not feasible or exceeds its insurance value (US:total loss, totalled) Is also used formally in the context of accounting.
(offensive, term of abuse) member of an ethnic minority. The word can refer to a wide variety of non-Europeans, including Arabs, sub-Saharans (and those of sub-Saharan descent), Iranians, and Turks.
Words beginning with Y
men's briefs with an inverted-Y-shaped frontal flap; originally a trademark (US: jockey shorts/briefs; US slang: tighty whities)
lout, young troublemaker (origin: boy spelt backwards)
to move on foot across rough terrain carrying heavy amounts of equipment and supplies without mechanised support (Royal Marines slang popularised by the Falklands war, army equivalent is to tab). Also used informally for any walk across rough ground.
a long time, ages. "I've not seen her for yonks." (colloquial)
Words beginning with Z
last letter of the alphabet, pronounced "zee" in United States