The **COMPLETE** us & uk confusions

Words that could be confusing and embarrassing in the UK & US

At long last, here is the complete list of anglo-american confusions.
The definitions have been cross referenced with the most recent edition
of the Oxford Dictionary, so if you dont agree with some of my definitions
take up the argument with them (unless I say otherwise in the text.)
I have made a few alterations, additions and removals too…

Thanks to the many people who have helped me compile this list, including:
Paul R. Montague, Jonathon Watkins, Darran Potter, Darlene Ollom &
her friend Liz, John Lovie, Gail thingy in alt.fan.british-accent, Kevin
Walsh, Suzi Howe, D Loomis, Kate Lingley, Martin Mazik, Ron Leech, Richard

If I have forgotten anyone, sorry!

The list is also available at my home page:


If you have any further suggestions please mail me at:


Who knows? There may be a second volume… (oh no!)


1) Buns. You know what these are. Youre probably sitting on them
now. Over here buns are either bread or cake rolls. Asking for a couple
of sticky buns in a bakery here will mean Mr Crusty the baker will give
you two cake buns with icing (frosting) on the top. If I went into a
deli in Manhattan and asked for a couple of sticky buns Id probably get

2) Fag. A goody but an oldie. Over here a fag is a cigarette. So in
the song Its a long way to Tipperary the line As long as you have a
Lucifer to light your fag is not a fundementalist Christians statement
that all homosexuals will burn for eternity in hell, but saying that if you
always have a match to light your cigarette…

3) Faggots. Meat balls made from offal (chopped liver) in gravy. Also a
small bundle of logs suitable to burn on a fire.

4) Pants. You call pants what we call trousers; pants are the things
that go underneath.

5) Rubber. In this country a pencil eraser. Dont be shocked if the
mild mannered new Englishman in your office asks for a pencil with a
rubber on the end. Especially when he says that he enjoys chewing it
when he is thinking.

6) Shit. To us, bodily waste. To you, practically everything as far
as I could figure, good or bad (and you certainly dont want us to touch

7) Fanny. To us the front bottom; to you the back one. In Britain, the
fanny pack is known as a bum bag for obvious reasons…

8) Muffler. To us what you call a muffler is called a silencer. In the
UK a muffler is a long scarf a la Dickensian Novels. A muffler was also a
derogatory name for a certain part of the female anatomy at my school,
though this was probably unique to us. Try explaining THAT to a upstanding
American when you are standing at the petrol (gas) station in fits of

9) Pavement. Sidewalk to you. I couldnt think of anything smutty to go
with this.

10) Pissed. To you its quite legal to be pissed in a car in a traffic
jam. In fact, in large cities sometimes you cannot help it. For us, it
means that you have been over doing it down the boozer (pub) and a kindly
policeman will shortly flag you down and arrest you.

11) Shag. To you a dance. To us sexual congress. In otherwords you may
have to summon up the courage to have a shag with someone, before you might
have a shag with them later on. Also a sea bird similar to a cormorant and a
type of rough tobacco.

12) Fancy. To be sexually attracted to or to desire. Also a tea cake.

13) Ass. To us a quadraped of the horse family or a stupid person. The
word you guys are looking for in English english is arse.

14) Sneakers. We call these trainers for some reason.

15) Waistcoat. You call them vests.

16) Football. A classic example of our culture gap. To us football is
what you call soccer. To you football is what we call pointless. You
probably think the same way about cricket…

17) Baseball. In England we play a game called Rounders which has
identical rules bar the bat being a short baton designed to be used with
only one hand. Its only played in schools. In the US, its a PROPER

18) Some food differences

english american
courgette zucchini
mars bar milky way
milky way three musketeers
opal fruits starburst
chips french fries
crisps chips

19) Knock you up. In our country, to wake someone up in the morning
so they wont be late. Slightly different meaning for our American

20) Pastie. A pastie is a meat and potato pastry that originates from
Cornwall, UK. In the guidebook I had for Michigan, it mentioned that some
cornish tin miners had come over and brought over the recipe with them
when they settled the Upper Peninsula. Even so, I had to taken aside and
carefully told what an American pastie was so I wouldnt embarrass
parents in front of children at the summer camp I was working at when I
was talking about my liking for Cornish Pasties…

21) Knackered. Im not sure if you have this word in the US. When I
said I was knackered I got puzzled looks. It means you are tired. It
comes from the fact that horses are often tired when they have testes
removed (their knackers) when they are castrated. (Sorry! I guess you
didnt want to know that…)

22) Fag. (Oh no not again!) When at a public (i.e. private – confused
you will be) school in the UK, you may have to fag for an older boy.
This usually involves shining shoes, cleaning up and performing other
favours for this older lad. In return for fagging, the older boy looks
after your interests and makes sure that you fit into the school and
promote the school spirit (bon vivre, not necessarily the alcoholic kind).
This may also be a fag (i.e. a tiresome thing).

23) Trunk. In the US what we in the UK call the boot of a car. In
the UK, the trunk is the front end of an elephant. Can be embarrassing if
you happen to be a pachyderm working as a taxi driver in NY. (Also a
large metal and wooden box much beloved of Edwardian travellers).

24) Spunk. In the US it is perfectly acceptable for a boss to ask
whether you are feeling full of spunk of a morning (i.e. full of get up
and go.) This situation in the UK may only arise when a director is
quizzing a male actor in the adult entertainment business.

25) Woody. In the UK, an acceptable description of a wine that
has taken on the flavour of the barrels it has matured in. In the US
*never* go a wine tasting and claim that this wonderful Californian
Chardonnay has an excellent woody flavour, unless you are the female
co-star of the aforementioned male actor and you are in the process of
filming an arty movie.

26) Hood. To our American cousins, the bit of a car that the engine sits
under or place where you might live if you are a rapper. To us Brits, the
part of a coat that is designed to cover your head when it rains. What
you call the hood we call the bonnet on a car.

27) Gas. To the citizens of the United Kingdom, an instrument of
warfare, the stuff that you use to cook your dinner on or a state of
matter that is neither liquid nor solid. To you guys, what we call petrol
and the gaseous by product of bottom burps (wind).

28) Pecker. To keep ones pecker up is a state of mind in the UK, an
athletic feat in the US and a way of life for the common or garden

29) Toilets. Although we have a lot of colourful euphenisms for the
lavatory experience in the UK (e.g. spend a penny, watering the daisies)
we lack the prissiness of our American chums. To us a toilet is a bog, a
kharzi, a shithouse (or alternatively an outhouse in more polite
company), a gents/ladies but mostly a toilet. It is perfectly acceptable
to be in the Ritz and request to use the toilet. However, you guys seem
ashamed of the t-word. Hence you go to the John (where no-one called
John is there) and the bathroom (where there is no bath). …And a word
of warning for English chaps in the US – never admit to eating baked
beans out of the can.

30) Beer. What you call beer, we call lager. What we call beer, you
call disgusting. This might be mutual.

31) Hard. In the UK, you might see an unshaven tattooed uncouth man with
big muscles in a pub. If you accidentally spill his beer, he might get
upset and request you to join him outside. He might say Come on then if
you think youre hard enough! Or even Im hard, me, so you better watch
your step, mate. He is not casting aspersions on your sexual
persuasion, nor does he have an erection. He is merely stating the fact
that unless you buy him another pint of lager in the very immediate
future he might beat seven shades of shit out of you. In the US, our friend
the male actor would probably say Im hard while sharing a bottle of woody
flavoured chardonnay with his co-star…

32) Flummoxed? Our US chums will be if you use this word. It means to be
confused. The typical reaction of the average Brit upon arriving in the US.
Then again you might be hit for six (i.e. upset to the point of falling
over) by it all. Which just isnt cricket, eh chaps?

33) Roundabout. Imagine you are travelling in the UK along the M3 into
Basingstoke (why I cant imagine – its a God forsaken place.) You have
already worked out that a motorway is the same as a freeway and you are
feeling pretty pleased with yourself. In front of you is the biggest rotary
you have ever seen. In the UK, we call them roundabouts. To instill a
morbid fear of these things in our children we force them to play on
minature versions of them in playgrounds (wooden disk that turns around with
bars to hold onto) and make them watch endless re-runs of the Magic
Roundabout. This program was originally a french satire on politics in the
late 1960s though it looks just like a animated kiddies show made by someone
on SERIOUS acid. Sugar cube eating dogs indeed.

34) Cookies. You eat these with milk and with great self control you
only eat two at a time (you dont? naughty!). We call them biscuits. You
call biscuits those dry crackery things that might go in soup (or at least
in the part of the US I went to).

35) Stuffed. To be full up after eating too many cookies. Also Get
Stuffed a cookery program for insomniac students and people on a low
income, where you are told how to make fancy versions of beans on toast
using everyday ingredients like baked beans, bread, butter and curry
powder. The recipies are invariably called things like
Currybeanytoasty-yum-yum-a-go-go. As well, get stuffed is
something you say to someone who isnt your best mate.

36) Randy. In the US a perfectly reasonable first name. Pity then, the
multitude of poor Americans given this unfortunate appellation when they
come over to old Blighty. Wherever they go, grimy street urchins snigger,
little old ladies try desperately to stifle guffaws and ordinarily quite
sensible members of society burst out in laughter. And why? In the UK,
saying Hi, Im Randy! is akin to saying to our American cousins Hello
friend, Im feeling horny. However, save your pity for poor soul Randy
Highman who introduced himself to my supervisor at a conference not so
long ago…

37) Aluminium. Over here we say al-u-min-i-um. You say aloom-i-num.
Neither nation can spell the word…. (Aluminiumiumium?)

38) Kip. In the UK to have a sleep or a nap. A kip house is
apparently a brothel. Being young and innocent I was unaware of this…

39) English Swear Words. Our chums across the Atlantic should be warned about
the following. If some English bloke comes up to you and uses one or
more of them when addressing you, please be careful. He may not be friendly…

i) Wanker. A charming little word that implies that the addresser is accusing
the addressee of onanism. Usually accompanied by the coital f-word and the
oedipal compound-noun. The addresser may also raise his right hand and portray a
chillingly accurate portrayal of the act in question…

ii) Bollocks. The round male dangly bits. Also, saying the dogs bollocks is
akin to stating this is the shit in the US. Not to be confused in agricultural
circles with bullocks which are bull shaped and go moo!.

iii) Nancy boy. A male who may express either a sexual preference for his
own gender or acts in a less than masculine way.

iv) Spanner. Not only a component of every good mechanics toolbox (see below)
but also someone not overly blessed with intelligence or savoir faire. A geek,
nerd, dork or a dweeb in other words.

v) Tosser. See wanker and then use your imagination… Also tosspot.

vi) Slag. A woman of uncertain worth and reliability. Also used in English
1970s police shows (e.g. The Sweeney) when describing a notorious criminal.
(e.g. Dosser Jenkins? That slaaaaag!). Originally used to describe a by-product
of the (now sadly nearly defunct) coal mining industry.

vii) Wanger. Many a Saturday night I have heard this word being shouted by rival
groups of young men at each other. The dulcit cries of Oi Wanger!! have
disturbed the peace of many a town centre. It is a word used to either describe a
penis or an attempt by the alcoholically challenged to say wanker.

viii) Plonker. Another willy euphenism. Immortalised in the TV program Only
Fools and Horses, starring David Jason & Nicholas Lyndhurst – You plonker

ix) Naff off. Go away. As used by the Princess Royal, Princess Anne. For a
while she was known as the Naff Off Princess in the tabloid press.

x) Wazzock – a fool or idiot.

Strange fact: British males often use wanker, bastard, tosser, plonker
etc as terms of endearment.

40) Cars. In the UK, only the luxury car market have automatic transmission – in
other words the Jaguars, Rolls Royces and Bentleys of the world. Most cars have
manual transmission. This is because our roads arent straight. As a
consequence all learner drivers have to learn how to drive using a car with
manual gears. I was told that in the States this is referred to as learning
how to drive stick. In the UK, asking your driving instructor whether he could
teach you how to drive stick may cause potential embarrassment…

41) Blowjob. Blowjob, although a word in common use now in both our countries was
referred to as Plating before the GIs came over during WWII. Hence the calling
card of Cynthia Plaster-Caster, the woman who made plaster casts of the erect
willies of Jimi Hendrix and the Dave Clark Five, amongst others, had Your
plater or mine? on her calling cards…

42) Jelly & Jam. In the UK, jelly is either the stuff you US-types call jello
or a seedless preserve made from fruit, sugar and pectin. To confuse things
further, fruit preserves are generically called jam over here too. Hence, if you
were in an English restaurant enjoying a piece of bread with peanut butter and
fruit preserve on it you would be eating a peanut butter and jam sandwich.
BTW, I used to enjoy peanut and jelly sandwiches when I was little in the UK
sense of the word… Sloppy, but very nice.

43) Stones. To you big rock things that geologists play with. To us also a
unit of weight. 1 stone is equal to 14 pounds. Also, English pints show
remarkable value for money compared to their US conterparts – 567ml compared to
430ml. Good thing to know when ordering beer.

44) Cheeky. In the UK to say someone is cheeky is to imply that they are awnry
or suggestively rude. Much beloved of the Carry On Movies which starred
Barbara Winsor and Sid James. Typical dialogue…

SJ: You dont get many of those to the pound! (Referring to BWs ample cleavage)

BW: Ooohhh! Cheeky!
SJ: Phoooarrr! I wouldnt kick her out of bed for eating crackers!
BW: Ooohhh! You are awful! (for a bit of variety…)
SJ: Loveliest pair of …eyes I ever saw!
BW: Ooohhh! Cheeky!

and so on ad nauseum…

45) Khaki. In the UK a light beige colour. In US khaki can also be
green when referring to army fatigues which are generically known as

46) Knickers. A similar problem to pants (cv). In the US they are knee-length
trousers like what the Brits call breeches. In the UK, they are the things
that go underneath. Typically British men wear pants under their trousers and
women wear knickers, unless of course, you are a Tory (Conservative) MP and then
anything goes… Also NORWICH was an acronym used by service personel during
WWII for (k)Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home. To be on the safe side when
visiting the doctors its best to keep your pants/knickers on…

47) Wellies. In the UK a type of waterproof rubberised boot named after that
Great Englishman, the Duke Of Wellington. You guys in the US would call them
gumboots or galoshes. In the UK wellies are much beloved of Tory MPs with
large country estates and farmer-types with sheep, particularly the Hunter
welly with the handy straps on the side.

48) Warm clothing. In the UK we wear warm woolly upper garments during the
winter which we call jumpers. You call them sweaters. Boring but true.
Also a long woolly dress is called a jumper in the US. I suppose both
nations have the joke:

What do you get if you cross a kangaroo with a sweater?
A woolly jumper.

Groan. Somebody carbon date that joke please…

49) Spanner. You see that long metal object in your tool kit that you use to
adjust bolts on your car? We call that a spanner, not a wrench.

50) Slash. In the US a line denoting a separation on the written page or on
a computer, or even a rip or tear in a piece of material. In the UK also a
euphenism for a wee, a jimmy riddle or urination. Also the name of a rather
well known guitarist who was born in England and hence should have thought a
little harder before choosing his nom de rocknroooolll, man.

51) Liberal. In the US someone who has enlightened and progressive views on
abortion, welfare, health care, racial and sexual issues, and sympathsizes with
the needs of those less fortunate than themselves. Or at least thats what they
say. Republicans probably wouldnt agree with this statement… In the UK,
someone is neither left wing nor right wing but somewhere in between. In both
countries, liberal can be used as an insult and a compliment. Although most
Americans liberals would probably balk at the idea, in the UK they might be
considered to be socialists. (Shock! Horror!)

52) Snogging. You know that thing you do when you are with your loved one when
you tickle each others tonsils? In the UK thats called snogging. Much beloved
of kids at school discos inbetween swigging illicit bottles of vodka and Special
Brew beer and getting on down to Take That (screaaaaammmmm!)
(popular beat combo in the UK much admired by girlies).

53) Git. An undesirable and miserable person. Between sod and bastard on
the are you going to get your head kicked in? scale.

54) Jock. In the US, big guys who like sport, women and acting macho. In the
UK, a Scottish person who probably also likes sport, women and acting macho but
in a Glaswegian (i.e. from Glasgow) accent. Which is probably more scary since
a lot of people have difficultly understanding them…

55) Lemonade. In the US, non-fizzy fruit drink possibly made from lemons that we
Brits call squash. Our lemonade is fizzy, akin to your pop or soda
(depending on what part of the US you are from.) I was most disappointed when I
found this out for the first time in a US cinema…

56) Crossing the road. In the UK we love our cute fluffy and feathery friends.
So much in fact that we name our road crossings after them. We have pedestrian
walkways that have broad black & white stripes (like on the cover of Abbey Road
by the Beatles) which we call Zebra Crossings. We also have crossings akin to
yours with the walk/dont walk signs on them which have a little red man
standing still and a little green man walking. These are illuminated when you
are supposed to stay where you are or walk respectively. For some inexplicable
reason this is called a pelican crossing. As for the little green man

57) Hotels. In the UK the floors in a hotel are numbered ground floor, first
floor, second floor etc. In otherwords the first floor is the second floor, the
second is the third and so on and so on. In the US, you have a more sensible
numbering system. A good thing to note if you are a US bell-boy(UK)/bell-hop(US)
looking for Take Thats (screaaaaammmmm!) suite on the eighth floor in a UK hotel.
(BTW Just follow the detritus of fluffy toys and soggy knickers (cv)…)

58) Waste disposal. In the UK our household waste is called rubbish and is
taken away by the dustmen or bin men in their dustcart. In the US you have
two types of household waste – garbage and trash. Also, you see that piece of
street furniture which you are supposed to put the packaging from your lunch?
We call them bins; you call then trash cans. I was sooo confused about this.

59) Merchant Banker. On both sides of the Atlantic an honourable and decent
profession. In the UK, cockney rhyming slang for an onanist (see wanker).
Possibly apt.

60) Buying a drink. Those establishments where you buy alcohol late at night
where you are not allowed to drink it on the premises are called Off Licences (or
Offies) in the UK and Liquor Stores in the US. Im over 21 and was repeatedly
carded(US)/ided(UK) when I tried to buy beer (this was before I tried American
beer). I thought that a British Passport was good enough ID for a liquor
store since it got me in the country, but no, I needed an in-state drivers
licence. Hellooo? Im a tourist with a British Passport and an English accent
who is wearing a t-shirt with UK tour dates on the back. Dont you think I
*might* be the genuine article? (Sorry. The incident still annoys me.)

61) Please and sorry. In the UK, no sentence is complete with either or even
both of these words. In the US, the former is said begrudgedly and
Whats the name of your lawyer? is said instead of the latter.

62) English. We speak english in the UK. So do you in the US. But yet we dont
speak the same language…

63) Womens things. Pads = US. Towels = UK. Tampons = everywhere. Do you have
the ones with wings too? Do you have a patronising Clare Rayner-type who does
the advert?

64) Crusty. In the US the state of a bread roll when it is freshly baked and
smelling yummy. In the UK, as well as this, a person of possibly no real fixed
abode who engages in an alternative lifestyle involving travelling around the
country, wearing alternative clothes (ex-army or hippie gear), having a
pragmatic attitude to drugs and has possibly dubious personal hygiene. They
would rather be called Travellers and I admire them for their stance against
straight society. (oooh a bit of politics there…)

65) Bum. In the UK, the definition of buns (cv) describes more than adequately
the biggest muscle in the body. In the US, a person whom we would call a tramp.
Also the act of being a bum. I have been reliably informed that Take That
(screaaaaammmmm!) have cute bums but only one (the scruffy git (cv) with the
dreadlocks) actually looks like one…

66) North/South divide. Ask anyone from the north of England where the North
ends and the South begins, they might say Worksop is the dividing line. Ask
anyone from the south and they might say north of Oxfordshire or even north of
London. These definitions differ by well over 100 hundred miles! In the north
the people have cloth caps, whippets (racing dogs, not aerosol cans of whipped
cream!), keep pigeons, speak in a funny way and drink bitter in grim working mens
clubs. In the south, the people are either country yokels who speak in a funny
way, or people with loads of money who speak like the Queen or brash Cockneys who
speak in funny way while engaged in dealings of a dubious nature and drinking
lager. That is, if you believe the stereotypes as portrayed in the media. It is
all utter bollocks (cv).

67) Pardon. As I said before, being sorry is all part of being English. We
apologise for things that arent our fault again and again and again. I am
convinced that the first word that an English baby learns to say after Mama
and Dada is sorry. Anyway, pardon me is a polite way of excusing your way
through a crowd or excusing yourself or if your bodily functions betray you in
public. The US equivalent, excuse me only seems to be used in a sarcastic way,
i.e. Well excuuuuuse me! while exchanging lawyers telephone numbers.

68) Lorry. A UK truck. A word used in the tongue twister Red Lorry Yellow
Lorry by parents to torture their kids. Try it. Youll hate me for it.

69) Irony. Along with sarcasm, the basis of English humour. Totally lost on
most of our American chums. Saying …NOT! is not sarcasm.

70) Easy. When an English girl says Im easy she is not saying Please sleep
with me. She is saying I dont mind what we do. Then again in the presence
of Take That (screaaaaammmmm!) who knows?

71) Bonk. In a similar vein, to bonk someone in the UK is to enjoy sexual
congress with them. It also means to hit someone, usually on the head. The two
might be related if you like that sort of thing…

72) Rumpty. The latest word coined by the British Tabloid Press for fun stuff in
the dark. Obviously they got bored with bonking… Anyway, a typical sex
scandal headline in the Sun (infamous tabloid paper owned by Rupert Murdock)
would read Robbie-ex-from-Take-That (screaaaaammmmm!) caught in four in bed
rumpty with Divine Brown, OJ and some ugly Tory Minister who will shortly be

73) Suspenders. In the UK those things that women hold their stocking up with.
You call them garters. Confusingly, when I was in Cub Scouts, the things
with the tags on them you used to hold your socks up were called garters too.
These were instruments of torture – ideal for pinging and causing yelps of
pain during prayer on church parade services. Some children are sooo cruel.
Anyway, what you call suspenders we call braces.

74) Aubergine. Frankly foul purple vegetable used in moussaka. You call them

75) Dinky. In the US something that is small or poorly made. In the UK
something small and cute. Im not sure if you had Dinky Cars in the US, but
these toy cars are now worth a fortune over here. And I gave all mine away
too (sob!)…

76) Table. Imagine you are in a boardroom. The chairperkin (note dubious PC
nomenclature) says I reckon we should table the motion about the McBigcorp
account. If you were American you would think Gee, I guess we can forget
about that for a while – i.e. the motion has been postponed. If you were
English, you would think Jolly good show old bean! I fancied (cv) talking
about that one!, i.e. the motion has been brought up for discussion. How do
people in trans-atlantic companies cope?

77) Twat. In the US, calling someone a twat is unwise since you are accusing
them of resembling a part of the female anatomy. In the UK, a mild insult
meaning idiot much beloved of school children who might get into trouble
with naughtier words.

78) Swank. In both countries to be swanky implies that you are showy and
vulgar, or to say that something is swanky could also mean that
it is posh or expensive. Comic book characters (e.g. those in UK comics
The Beano and Whizzer & Chips) are often seen going into the Hotel de Swank
after getting money for some good turn, where they promptly blow it all on a
plate of mashed potato with sausages sticking out of it. I have never seen
such a delicacy on offer in the hotels I have been in, much to my
disappointment. Anyway, I have also been reliably informed that Swank is
also the name of a US DIY magazine populated by young women who have great
difficulty keeping their clothes on or their legs together. They also wear
high heels in bed. Weird. I have a theory about how the magazine got
named. The editor was wandering around Soho, London (the red light
district) one day when he heard a Londoner shout S wank innit? (It is a
wank(cv) isnt it). Thinking, Aha – Im au fait with English slang: hence
Swank would be a great name for a porno mag he toddled off back to the US
and created said magazine. Unfortunately, in this context the Londoner
was probably referring to his job being pointless…

79) Potty. In both countries potty is that little plastic seat that kids are
forced to use when they need to expel bodily waste when they are too big for
nappies(UK) / diapers(US). Americans take the meaning of this word into adult
life unchanged. English chaps use potty to describe someone who is a bit
silly, dolalley or, to be frank, mad. After watching the film The Madness
of King George, I can see how the two meanings might have a common

80) Bloody. You guys might describe an item covered in blood as bloody. So
might we. Bloody is also a mild English swear word which is always
used in cheesy programs made by Americans about the UK. Hardly anyone over
here uses it anymore. Similarly, the word bleeding. We use fuck just as
much as you guys, the big difference being that we can use it on network
television after 9pm in a non-gratutious way, whereas you can only shout
fuck in the privacy of your own home. So there.

81) Grass. You can walk on it and you could smoke it (if it wasnt illegal).
In the UK you can also do it as well. To grass on someone means to tell on
them, usually to an authority figure like a policeman or a teacher. Someone
who tells on a lot of people is known as a supergrass – most often used
when describing IRA informers who do the dirty on their Republican chums.
Also Supergrass is the name of a pop combo who are rather more popular
over here than they are in the US. Whether they named themselves after this
definition or one more akin to why Green Day are called Green Day is

82) Policemen. UK policemen are unarmed. As a consequence I feel safer over
here than I did in the US. Anyway, the following are used to describe
policemen: bobbies, peelers, filth, cops, pigs, the old Bill (or the Bill),
rozzers, coppers, a plod or perhaps bastards if you are feeling lucky.
Im not sure how many of those you guys might use. Imagine you are a
tea leaf (thief) and you spot a car in good nick (reasonable condition) so
you decide to nick (steal) it. Along comes PC (Police Constable) Plod, puts
his hand on your shoulder and says Youre nicked mate! even though he isnt
your friend and he probably isnt wielding a knife. This is your cue to say
Its a fair cop! You got me banged to rights and make no mistake. Youll
find the rest of the swag (illgotten gains) in the sack! if you are stupid
or I aint done nuffink copper! if you are arent.

83) Crime and punishment. If you had been a naughty boy and taken to court,
you may find yourself confronted by a beak (a magistrate), who might send
you down for some time at her Majestys Pleasure. You would go to gaol
(or jail), or nick as it is sometimes confusingly called.

84) Banger. Three meanings in the UK: a sausage, an old car well past its
prime and a small firework that makes a loud noise. If you were repulsed by
the idea of eating a faggot (cv), the British banger would really make your
stomach turn since it makes even a Taco Bell meal look like it contains high
quality meat. The Tabloid press seem to think that the European Economic
Community (the UK is a rather reluctant member) wants to ban the British
Banger. WRONG! They just want to reduce the breadcrumb, eyes and goolies
(male genitals) content and put meat in instead…

85) Conk. A nose. Also conkers is a game were small children thread
horsechest nuts to lengths of string and hit the nuts together. The first
nut to break is the loser. A conker that beats many conkers is known as a
bully, as in a bully-niner is a conker that has beaten nine other
conkers. It has probably been soaked in vinegar, baked in an oven or
scooped out and filled with concrete. If such a conker hit you on the conk
you would know all about it.

86) Soldiers. On both sides of the Atlantic, members of the military who run
around shooting things while wearing khaki (cv). Also in the UK, soldiers are
pieces of buttered toast or bread that you dip in your soft boiled egg at
breakfast. Yum!

87) Half inch. To you, half an inch or 1.27cm. To us, to borrow without
asking first. The likely activity of a Tea Leaf (cv) in otherwords.

88) Cock. There are four obvious meanings that are common to both the
English and the Americans. A willy (penis), a male bird, to ready a gun and to
knock or place something off centre. In England there is a fifth. If a
person says Ello cock! they are greeting you as a close personal friend.
The first meaning may also apply if you are a very close personal friend
and the third may apply if the first makes its unwanted presence known in an
unsuitable situation…

89) Squash. To you a vegetable. To us a fruit drink similar to US
lemonade. Also called cordial, though how friendly a bottle of orange
squash can be is open to debate.

90) Mug. There are many meanings to this word, e.g. a vessel to contain your
cuppa (cup of tea). In the UK, a mug is a fool or an idiot and to mug up
is to learn. In the US a mug is a thug or a hoodlum (sortened version of
mugger I suppose). In otherwords, you better mug up on how not to be a mug
before you are mugged by a mug.

91) Drug slang. In the UK we have some great rock festivals like Reading,
Phoenix and Glastonbury (yeah!). You guys have Lollapalooza (okay) and
Woodstock (wasnt the second one a dodo or what?). Anyway, we have some
drug slang which you might hear if you were into such things at these events
(not that Im condoning them but…)

Vera Lynns (or Veras) – skins or tobacco papers (named after a WWII singer.)
Mandies – Mandy Smiths (very young ex wife of ex Rolling Stone Bill Wyman) or
Billy Whizz – speed or amphetamine – named after a comic character who could
run very fast.
E – ecstacy or MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Much hilarity ensues
when a contestant on the UK quiz show Blockbusters asks host Bob
Holness for an e. Ho ho.

There are many others…

92) Mean. In the UK to be mean implies you are frugal to the point of being
stingy. In the US you might be mean (i.e. aggressive) because of that English
guys inability to get his wallet out and buy you a beer (cv).

93) Autumn. My favourite time of year when the leaves turn orange, red and
yellow. You call it Fall. I prefer Autumn.

94) Candy. We call them sweets. Unless they are American confectionary,
then we call them candy too. I have met quite a few Americans girls called
Candy but never ever an English one called Sweets.

95) Cutlery. The impliments you eat with. You guys also call them flatware.

96) Sucker. In both countries a fool or a silly person. Also a piece of
candy on the end of a stick that us Brits call a lollipop or a lolly. We
also call money lolly too to make things just that little bit more

97) Z. The twenty sixth letter of the alphabet. You call it Zee; we call
it Zed. A whole generation in England has had to relearn the alphabet
after hearing the Alphabet song on Sesame Street. Sadder still, the song
doesnt rhyme with the English Zed. At least the Numbers song works
(1-2-3-4-5, 6-7-8-9-10, 11-12, do do-do do-do do-do do etc etc…)

98) Tire. When visiting the garage make sure you know the difference between
a UK tire (band of metal placed around the rim of a wheel designed to
strengthen it) and a US tire (pneumatic effort called a tyre in the UK).
If you make a mistake it could be a very long and bumpy ride home.

99) 99. In the US purely the number before one hundred. In the UK a yummy
variety of ice cream consisting of a scoop of vanilla soft-scoop ice cream in
wafer cone with a chocolate flake stuck in it. The cone is specially
designed to allow the melting ice cream to flow all over your hand before
you get to eat it.

100) Centennial. Dull but apt. You call the period lasting a hundred years
a centenary.

There you have it. One hundred definitions and quite a few extra along the
way. If anyone else has any more suggestions please drop me a line at:


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