US vs UK English: How not to cock up

US vs UK EnglishA Brit asks an American for a fag at a club and gets a rather raunchy response . It may be all those residual tension from the American Revolutionary War or simply a US vs UK English confusion gone wild.

So how does one avoid this mortifying scenario? Make note of some commonly confused terms below to help you slither through sticky situations.

ALL RIGHT?  (UK) vs.  HOW ARE YOU? (US)

When a Brit asks you “All right?” it’s not because you look like you just came out of a crashed car, it’s their way of asking “How are you?”

ANTI-CLOCKWISE (UK) vs. COUNTER-CLOCKWISE (US)

It’s not a leftist campaign against clocks or even the clockwise direction, it’s simply the way they say counter-clockwise in Blighty.

BESPOKE (UK) vs. CUSTOMIZED (US)

The Brits have it this time. ‘Bespoke’ just rolls so nicely off the tongue. So classy.

BIGGIE (UK) vs. BIGGIE (US)

Biggie isn’t the word you’d want to be using in England when naming your products (*cough* Wendy’s *cough*), it’s baby talk for poop. Biggie, in American English, means large and has nothing to do with poop.

BOOB TUBE (UK) vs. BOOB TUBE (US)

Americans have it this time, boob tube in US English is far nicer than the UK counterpart where it means what it suggests. In US English, it means television, or as Brits call it, the telly.

CASHPOINT MACHINE (UK) vs. ATM (US)

Americans have it again, ‘cashpoint machine’ is just too wordy.

CHEMIST (UK) vs. DRUGSTORE (US)

If you find yourself with a massive headache in the UK and in desperate need of a paracetamol, don’t go asking around for a drugstore as you will never find relief, our British friends call the drugstore “chemist”.

COZZY (UK) vs. COZY (US)

Don’t mix these two up when making plans with a friend. In UK English, it means swimsuit while the US version connotes staying warm and snug.

DRESSER (UK) vs. DRESSER (US)

If an American is crashing on an English friend’s couch, he shouldn’t look for a shirt in the dresser, what he’ll find there are plates and cutlery.

POWER POINT (UK) vs. POWERPOINT (US)

A British power point won’t help you finish your report, except maybe provide electricity to your computer, it’s what the Brits call power sockets.

Freelance writers the world over are often asked if they are adept at US or UK English. For most Asian writers, the latter is quite confuddling.  (No, Asian neighbor, calling a flashlight “torch” doesn’t make you a UK English expert.) So,we at WhiteHat Copy, will give away US and UK writing tips that go beyond Hollywood and Harry Potter on our next post.

Until then, cheerio!

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