English-American Dictionary

The comment Greg made  on Dave’snotes, that he needs and English American translator on his toolbar, got me thinking. Now I’ve been to the States, quite a few times, and had to learn some new words for common or everyday things, or sometimes just new pronunciations (tomato – tomato) so I’ve done a bit of research and came up with some translations

So let’s look at a few common words














Sorry guys what you do isn’t football, it’s akin to Rugby, but with lots of armour plating

central reservation



Expressway or Freeway


lady parts


menstrual cycle


For an American man in England to say “I’m wearing suspenders today,” to a male colleague, may result in the colleague stepping back a couple of feet, and looking worried, for a woman to say it may result in the very opposite happening – Suspenders in England hold up a womans stockings/nylons or hose.

Of course Americans hold up their trousers or pants with suspenders, or braces

For an English man in the states to say to a colleague, “would you lend me a rubber, I’m going out for a fag.” Would probably cause some consternation! (this actually happened to friend of mine visiting relatives in Massachusetts, Not the rubber bit, the rest though)

In English that phrase means “Would you lend me an eraser, I’m going out for a cigarette”

In American, “Would you lend me a condom, I’m going out for a gay man!”

Americans wear a fanny pack, you can see from the list why this would make kids snigger, English wear a bum bag (Actually we don’t anymore,  it was a passing fashion!)

In England a man would wear a vest under his shirt, in America a man would wear it over the top!

In America, if you tuck someone up – you make them cosy in bed.

In England you fiddle them or make them look stupid!





French fries


Potato chips






SMS (I think)






Elevator (thanks Bob)


A Car boot sale, is a little like the American garage sale but we take what’s in our garage and sell it somewhere in a field out of our car boot or trunk!

To make matters worse for you American’s/Canadians we also have

Cockney Rhyming Slang,



(“Just going up the frog and toad, or apples and pears”!) Sorry, guys, we don’t speak like that anymore,and probably never did, In anywhere but the East end of London and deffinitely not with that accent!!! But whilst we don’t all talk like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, we still use a certain amount of rhyming slang!

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,


Shakespeare as spoken by Dick van Dyke

But, soft! wot Isle Of Wight through yonder burnt cinder breaks?

it is the east, and juliet is the current bun.

arise, yogi bear current bun, and kill the envious moon,

who is already Uncle Dick and pale wif Omar Sharif,

(Yogi bear, Omar Sharif,  would NOT have been in there as they are comparatively recent additions, to Rhyming slang)


I might tell some one to “use their loaf”

“Loaf of Bread” C.R.S. for “head”

“he’s a bit ‘mutt’n” from Mutt and Jeff ….deaf!

“ Nice legs shame about the boat” from boat race …. face

“he’s been telling porkies” from pork pies …..lies

And what started me thinking  about all this in the first place ……………….“YONKS” an English expression for “AGES”

It is apparently modified back slang, (Rhyming slang turned around and abbreviated) coming from the Cockney Rhyming Slang “donkey ears” meaning years. or just from “Donkeys years” because they live long and fruitful lives!   


I’ve probably taken a few liberties here, please forgive any mistaken or wrong translations, also feel free to add any of your own colloquialisms!


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19 Responses to English-American Dictionary

  1. Bob says:

    Bloody well done me lass. Me thinks you have done a fine bit on givin us yanks a good whippin on the proper English that WE Americans have rendered into a blimey mess. I mean proper English did come from England not the other way round, you know.One add on: Lift elevatorFunny post Mandy, loved it.

  2. Mandy says:

    Lol Bob, I\’m not sure I understood any of that! (just kidding!) Do you have another word for escalater too?

  3. Rory says:

    Loved this post.When I was working in the States I asked a nice young lady for a hiny with honey, until a work collegue pointed out it\’s called a hershey.

  4. Mandy says:

    OOps! lol …. Speaking to a lady when we were in Florida, she sad how lovely England was with great shops, she particulaly loved the S & M shop, for underwear!

  5. Rory says:

    That is class. Ha ha ha ha.

  6. Jen says:

    A good Norfolk expression is to "go up the wooden hill" for stairs, usually to go to bed.

  7. Mandy says:

    Not just Norfolk, Jen …….. good one!

  8. Jen says:

    @Mandxx: Oh, is that right? I never heard the term before we moved here…

  9. X-Evolutionist says:

    How about napkin? I understand it is VERY bad taste to wipe your face with a napkin at a English restaurant.

  10. Rory says:

    >>In England you fiddle themAnd if it\’s in public, you sometimes get arrested 😉

  11. Mandy says:

    LOL X … I had to check that one! and yes it could be deemed to be such, as a napkin is also a sanitary towel! and probably where we get the word nappy from…… English for Diaper

  12. Rory says:

    Bad taste or tastes bad. Well, I\’m impressed and I\’m sure it will seem a whole lot more adventurous using a napkin in the future, I just used to let the soup dribble down me shirt!

  13. Mandy says:

    LOL @Rory!!

  14. Mandy says:

    Thought of another…..Americans have Bleachers (named for the fact that linen bleaches in the sun!)WE have stands (because it\’s to bloody cold to sit down!)

  15. Tracey says:

    On TV l hear the English folks say peckish for hungry.

  16. Tracey says:

    Lend me a rubber? l\’m going out for a fag??!! Really??!! LOLl would fall over laughing if l heard that! Damn! You\’re in bed now!

  17. Ray says:

    Great blog, yes we do say peckish Tracey.

  18. Happy says:

    One of my favs is whinjing (sp) for complaining. Just like the sound of the word. Hope you\’re having splendid week.

  19. Wheres says:

    Uk vs USA: "pavement", "sidewalk"; "flat", "apartment"; "lorry", "truck"; "tin", "can"…See you!

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