Teacher Exchange Series

A Handbook of British-English Words and Phrases

Irish playwright and wit George Bernard Shaw once remarked that "England and America are two countries separated by the same language." If you wonder what Shaw was talking about, just peruse this handy "translating tool" of words, phrases, and expressions in British and American English. Then when a British citizen points out a "sleeping policeman" in the street, you'll stay calm, knowing it's just a speed bump (not a body).

At School
At School
A3 large paper
A4 notebook paper
biro pens ballpoint pens
brackets ( ) parentheses
call the register call the roll, take attendance
contract bus school bus
creche (day nursery) day care
deputy head vice principal
diary calendar
dining hall, cafeteria cafeteria
drawing pins pushpins or thumbtacks
full stop (.) period (.)
headmaster, headmistress, head teacher principal
home education homeschooling
induction day orientation day
ink printer rubber stamp
journal diary
marks grades
mark books grade papers
mark scheme grading key
maths math
"mucking around" off task
one-to-one teaching one-on-one teaching
open evening open house
pin board bulletin board
plasticene modeling clay
play time (younger students) recess
plimsolls gym shoes
practicals labs
Pritt Stix glue sticks
rubbers erasers
schedule timetable
school's finished (expression) school's out
spellings spelling
staff room teacher's lounge
term semester
ticks, tick marks check marks
trialling (verb) field-testing
to truant (verb) to skip school, to cut classes
zed (pronunciation of the letter "z") zee (pronunciation of the letter "z")
Food, Cooking, and Cleaning
Food, Cooking, and Cleaning
aubergine eggplant
banger sausage
biscuit cookie
biscuit mixture cookie dough
caster sugar sugar
cooker stove
cookery book cookbook
cornflour cornstarch
courgettes zucchini
chips french fries
crisps potato chips
egg box egg carton
fairy cakes cup cakes
hoover, hoovering vacuum, vacuuming
hundreds and thousands sprinkles (on cakes)
ice lolly Popsicle
icing frosting
jam (a spread for bread) jelly or jam
jelly Jell-O, gelatin
jug pitcher
kitchen foil aluminum foil
pastry bowl mixing bowl
plastic film plastic wrap
polka dots chocolate chips
spring onions scallions
squash concentrate (as in Kool-aid)
sweets candy
tap faucet, tap
washing powder laundry detergent (powder)
washing-up liquid dishwashing detergent
Clothing and Appearance
Clothing and Appearance
bunches pigtails
fringe bangs
homely (pleasant) homely (unattractive)
jumper sweater or turtleneck
knickers (women and children) lingerie
nappy diaper
pinafore dress jumper
plait braid
swimming costume bathing suit
trainers sneakers, running shoes
trousers pants
vest undershirt
waistcoat vest
Wellingtons, Wellies rain boots
zip zipper
articulated lorries big rigs, semis
arctics (articulated lorries for refrigerated goods) refrigerated trucks
bonnet (of a car) hood (of a car)
boot (of a car) trunk (of a car)
buggy stroller
car park parking lot
contract bus school bus
hard shoulder pavement
lift elevator
lorry, lorry driver truck, truck driver
motorway highway, freeway
overtake a car pass a car
pavement sidewalk
pedestrian crossing crosswalk
petrol gasoline
petrol station gas station
pram baby carriage
carriage railroad passenger car
reverse a car back up a car
sleeping policemen (named after the appearance of the former London "bobbies" in their tall, rounded hats) speed bumps
transport transportation
American football football
back garden back yard
boot sale (selling goods from the boots, or trunks, of cars) n/a
cardboard plate paper plate
charity shop thrift shop, second-hand store
cot (child's bed) crib, baby bed
cotton reel spool
cotton-wool balls cotton balls
cutting (noun, news clipping) clipping (noun, news clipping)
day diary appointment book or calendar
DIY store hardware store, home building center
doctor's surgery doctor's office
dog basket dog bed
dummy (for a baby) pacifier
dustbin garbage can, trash can
elastic band rubber band
electricity board power company, electric company
estate agent real estate agent
first floor second floor
flat apartment
flex electric cord
football soccer
foyer (of a building) lobby
ground floor first floor
jumble sale rummage sale, garage sale, flea market
hire (v.) rent, lease
holiday (go on holiday) vacation (go on, or take, a vacation)
hose pipe hose
landslip landslide
lead (for a dog) leash
letter box mailbox, postbox
litter bin wastebasket, wastepaper basket
loo restroom
ministry (government body, e.g., Ministry of Agriculture) department (e.g., Dept. of Agriculture)
mum, mummy (for "mother") mom, mommy
newsagents newsstand
ordinary regular
packaging packing suitcases
packet carton, box
picture house movie theater
pitch field
post (verb) mail (verb)
postal code zip code
to queue to line up
ring (verb) call or phone (verb)
roundabout merry-go-round, carousel
rubbish garbage
skipping rope jump rope
skittles bowling pins
sleep-over slumber party
stick (verb) paste
take-away take-out
torch flashlight
Give it a go. Try it. / Give it a try.
I'm knackered. I'm tired.
Spot on! You've got it!
That's wicked! / That's wicked good! That's great!
"winding me up" or "taking the mick" "pressing my buttons" (teasing)
To suss somebody out To figure somebody out
Abbreviating Dates and Times
Abbreviating Dates and Times
Date: 9/8/00 (day/month/year) means 9 August 2000 Date: 9/8/00 (month/day/year) means September 8, 2000
Time: 10.05 (uses a period) Time: 10:05 (uses a colon)
aeroplane airplane
aluminium aluminum
analyse analyze
appertaining pertaining
artefacts artifacts
behaviour behavior
centimetre centimeter
centre center
coat-hanger coat hanger
colour color
defence defense
favourite favorite
forwards forward
jewellery jewelry
kilometre kilometer
metre meter
mould (as in "fungus") mold
programme program
tonnes tons
travelled traveled
traveller traveler
tyres tires

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