INFORMATION
Guide to British English

The List - Notes - Links

The UK and the US have distinctly different varieties of English. Various other English-speaking countries follow one or the other of them, or sometimes both, just to complicate things. In connection with fanfic, this tends to lead to people having their British characters speak like Americans. It doesn't help that in some profic (Harry Potter comes to mind) books have been "Americanized" before being published in the US (it's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, thank you very much). In the case of Hogan's Heroes fanfic, this is most commonly relevant when writers make Newkirk speak like an American, which just feels wrong. Hence this list of terminology.

Now the problem: While the translations come from reputable online sources, they may be wrong for the era. It's very possible that some of the British versions of these words were not current in the 1940s. They may be more recent, and it's possible that some are older and were already replaced. I strongly suggest having any story using a variety of English you're not familiar with read by someone who is. This will avoid making a you (and me!) look bad.

The List

AmericanBritish
aluminumaluminium
antennaaerial
apartmentflat
appetizerstarter or entree
asphalttarmac
automobilemotorcar
awaken by knockingknock up
backpackrucksack
Band-Aidplaster
bathroomloo
bill (currency)note
billion (109)thousand million
blind (hunting)hide
bossgovernor
burner, cooktophob
candysweet
cannedtinned
carriage (baby)pram
cart (lunch, etc.)trolley
check marktick
checkersdraughts
cigarettefag
conductor (railroad)guard
cookiebiscuit (sweet)
cornmaize
cotton candycandy floss
courage, nervebottle, pecker
coveralloverall
crackerbiscuit (savoury)
cribcot
cuffs (trouser)turn-ups
cut in linejump the queue
dessertpudding or pud
detourdiversion
diapernappy
dining carrestaurant car
doing disheswashing up
doormanporter
downtown (shopping area)high street
dress (noun)frock
drugstorechemist
dump (rubbish)tip
Dumpsterskip
eggplantaubergine
elevatorlift
encumberlumber
engineer (railroad)engine driver
enlistedother ranks
eraserrubber
fall (season)autumn
faucettap
faucettap
fender (car)wing
first floorground floor
flashlighttorch
freight car (train)wagon
french frieschips
furnaceboiler
garterssuspenders
gasolinepetrol
gearshiftgear stick
grade (level)year
grade (paper)mark
graincorn
ground (electrical)earth
guyschaps
headloaf
highwaymotorway
hikerrambler
hood (car)bonnet
housing projectcouncil estate
inform, squealgrass
intermissioninterval
janitor, custodiancaretaker
junk, disused itemslumber
keroseneparaffin or paraffin oil
Klondike (solitaire)Canfield
lawyerbarrister or solicitor
leashlead
life preserverlife jacket
linequeue
liquor storeoff-license
mail (v)post
mailbox (incoming)letter box
mailbox (outgoing)post box
mommum
monkey wrench in the worksspanner in the works
movie theatercinema
moving vanremoval van
muffler (car)silencer
noiserow (rhymes with how)
office (medical)surgery
operating roomoperating theatre
pacifierdummy
pantstrousers
parking lotcar park
parlor car (train)saloon car
periodfull stop
phone (v)ring
phone boothcallbox
policemanconstable
Post OfficeRoyal Mail
potato chipscrisps
power (electric)mains
railroadrailway
raincoatmacintosh
raisin, goldensultana
refrigeratoricebox
rent outlet
renthire
row house, townhouseterrace
run (in stockings)ladder
rutabagaSwede
sales clerkshop assistant
second floorfirst floor
sedan (car)saloon
shipping & handlingpostage & packing
shot (medical)jab
sidewalkpavement
sneaker (shoe)trainer
soccerfootball
soda, popfizzy drink
solitaire (game)patience
stingymean
storeshop
stovecooker
stroller (baby)pushchair
study (a subject)read
study, reviewrevise
subdivisionhousing estate
subway carcarriage
subwayUnderground or tube
suspendersbraces
sweaterjumper
tailor-madebespoke
traffic jamtailback
trash canrubbish bin or dustbin
trillion (1012)billion
truck farmmarket garden
trucklorry
trunk (car)boot
turn signal (car)indicator
underpantspants
undershirtvest
uniformkit
vacuum tubevalve
warden (prison)governor
windshieldwindscreen
wrenchspanner
yardgarden
young femalebird
zipperzip

Other Notes

The British often use the measurement stone for people's. A stone is 14 pounds.

Rhyming slang, chiefley Cockney, requires an entire section of its own. In common with other slang, it's changeable, even downright ephemeral. Some elements of it have made their way into more common use, however. In its basic form, rhyming slang takes a word, picks a two-word phrase that rhymes with that word, and then drops the rhyming word (and any auxiliary words that came along). For example, "loaf of bread" rhymes with "head" so "head" becomes "loaf." Given its very time- and speaker-sensitive nature, it is not a good idea to try to incorporate rhyming slang without very thorough research into its validity and appropriateness to the character using it.

This is only a small sample of the ways in which these two countries are divided by a common language. For a more comprehensive list, try one of these:

Links

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