View Full Version : Odds and Sods - part 3

September 5th, 2013, 08:21 AM
Naughts and crosses - What everyone does in boring classes/meetings etc - tic tac toe in America.

Note - A note is what we call our paper money. We don't call them bills. For example a five pound note is called a fiver and a ten pound note is called a tenner. Strangely a twenty is called a twenty.

O-Level - At 16, school kids used to take around ten O-levels (O for Ordinary). These were the qualifications that got you into the sixth form, where you studied for your A-levels (A for Advanced). O-levels have been replaced by GCSEs which cover a broader range of educational ability (General Certificate of Secondary Education). And in Scotland, they have another system altogether!

Over the moon - If you are over the moon about something it means you are delighted.

Oxbridge - A short way of referring to Oxford and Cambridge universities. When you are at school and planning your university applications you would say you were applying to Oxbridge if you were applying to both. Either way, you are a smart arse!

Pantomime - A Christmas tradition with no American equivalent. A pantomime is a show which takes normally mature, serious actors and actresses and sees them dressing up as members of the opposite sex to amuse children with popular stories. Usually has an evil man, a man dressed in drag as a widow and a dashing young male hero (really a woman in green tights). You spend most of your time shouting "It's behind you" and adults pretend they only go for the kids. A really disorganised event may also be described as something of a pantomime!

Parcel - This is what you call a package. For some strange reason it is always so much more exciting to receive a parcel than a letter.

Pay packet - This is what you get at the end of the week or month with a wodge of money in it. You call it a pay check. These days, of course, many people are paid electronically.

Pay rise - Not something you see very often - you would call this a raise.

Pence - The one hundred pennies that make up a British pound are called pence. The same as you have cents. However, you will often hear people calling them "p". So if you are asked for 50p you are expected to hand over fifty pence.

Penny farthing - I used to see an old chap cycling up and down our village street every day on a penny farthing. They are an amazing sight. You might call them high-wheelers, they are old bicycles with one huge wheel at the front and a tiny one at the back. When our currency had pennies and farthings the name would have made a lot of sense!

Photocopier - Copier or xerox machine to you. If you ask someone where you can Xerox something in England, expect a blank stare - you need to ask where you can make a photocopy.

Pictures - As kids we spent a lot of time at the pictures. It is another word for the cinema or the movie theater.

Pillar box - My Mum always used to send me to the pillar box to post the letter. It is another word for postbox or as you would say, mailbox.

Plaster - If you cut yourself you would put a plaster on it. Or to give it it's full name, a "sticking plaster". In America you have band aids.

Polystyrene - Styrofoam in the US. Same uses in both countries though we do have something against drinking tea or coffee out of polystyrene cups. It's just not cricket!

Polytechnic - This a kind of technical college. If you didn't get the grades to get into university, the second choice was to go to poly or polytechnic. Their degrees were the same as universities, but it was easier to get into them. Most polys are now converted to universities.

Pompey - I went to poly in Pompey. It is the colloquial slang for Portsmouth.

Pontoon - Also known as 21 or blackjack where you have to get 21 to beat the bank.

Post - The mail. The post arrives in the morning in the UK. It drops through your letter box onto your hall carpet. You can read it in bed before you go to work, with a nice cuppa. Very civilised.

Post mortem - Autopsy in American. Not a fun job in either language.

Postbox - Where you post things. They are on street corners as well as at the post office. You'd call them a mailbox.

Postcode - Zipcode to you chaps. Postcodes are in the form RG26 5AN where the first two letters tell you the main postal town (RG=Reading) and the rest narrows down your house to the nearest 6 houses. That means that with just your house number and postcode anything can be delivered anywhere in the UK. Many mail order companies just ask you your house number and postcode - the rest is printed by computer. Clever huh! The new 9 digit US zip codes will achieve the same thing.

Postman - This is the chap who delivers your post on his bike or his little red van. He will sign for stuff that you are supposed to sign for if he misses you and hide it in the garden and leave a note for you! Ours dresses up like Father Christmas at Christmas time.

Pram - Like a big stroller, sometimes the top lifts off the wheels and can be used as a cot. That would then be called a "carry cot". Short for perambulator.

Premium bonds - These are a government savings scheme that pay no interest. No - we're not all completely mad - instead of interest they pay out millions in prize money each month and keep their value exactly the same. In these days where bank interest rates are so low - they suddenly become a much more interesting way of saving! It's like a lottery where each ticket lasts a lifetime or until you cash them in. Cool huh!

Prep school - Short for preparatory school, this is the school that kids go to before they go to public school. Normally from ages eight to thirteen.

Primary school - From the age of 5 until 11, our kids go to primary school.

Property - We generally use the word "property" where you would say real estate. To us - that sounds like the opposite of "pretend estate" - like Disneyworld perhaps!

Pub - The cornerstone of British social life. Every village has a pub, or several. These tend to be friendly sociable places to go for a pie and pint, meet the locals, get a cheap meal and drink some of that nice British beer, we know you like so much. They usually have a beer garden and maybe a skittle alley, pool table and always a fruit machine or two. Town and city pubs come in several varieties. There are the drinking men's pubs, where the guys who leave the missus at home go, to chat to their mates and have a fag. There are the trendy, loud, expensive yuppie pubs. There are the family pubs which have separate rooms where kids can go, and they have lots of food and a playground (yuck!), and then there are the nice ones.

Pub crawl - Not quite as literal as it sounds, a pub crawl consists of drinking a pint at as many different pubs as possible, one after the other. Towards the end of the evening the "crawl" bit starts to take effect. Often followed by a curry! And more pints of course! Similar to your bar hopping.

Public convenience - You may still see "public convenience" signs around England. They are pointing you to the nearest public toilet or restroom.

Public school - Rather oddly, this is the name we give our private schools. For those that can afford to opt out of the state education system, this would be the alternative.

Purse - A woman carries a purse to contain her money - notes and coins. You may call this a wallet. Not to be confused with a handbag.

Pushchair - Stroller in American.

Pylon - This is what we would call a high tension tower which carries 11,000 volts of electricity.

Queue - Brits have never stood in line. But they have queued - at the post office, the deli, in traffic. We like to queue almost as much as you like to stand in line.

RAF - The Royal Air Force - our answer to Top Gun!

Railway - We refer to the railroad as a railway.

Rates - Rates are local taxes. Currently based on the value of your property, they are generally lower than your property tax and are payable monthly. For some strange reason this is the only bill payment that is only paid in 10 months of the year - maybe the council find dividing by twelve too difficult! Rates are now called "council tax" here in the UK.

Reception - This is the area in a hotel or business that you would call the front desk or the lobby.

Return - When you want to buy a round trip ticket, when visiting England, ask for a return.

Revise - Before an exam, we would revise the subject. I remember spending many unhappy hours revising for my A Levels. You might review your subjects in a similar situation or simply study.

Rise - You call this a raise. Not a common occurrence in either place, sadly! Also called a payrise.

Rounders - This is a game that kids play, which has almost exactly the same rules as baseball.

Rubber - In England you would never hesitate to borrow an old rubber from a good friend, or even a stranger, for that matter. They would probably have one on the end of their pencil. Most kids chew their rubbers then break them into pieces and throw them at each other. You call them erasers! This caused me immense embarrassment the first time I tried to borrow one in the US.

Rubber Johnny - This is a term for a condom. Usually shortened to just "Johnny".

Rubbish - Trash to you. Someone could be talking rubbish, or you might put the rubbish in the bin!

Saloon - When I was a kid, most pubs had a saloon bar and a lounge bar. The price of a pint was cheaper in the saloon and the decor was more your spit and sawdust style. The labourers drank in the saloon. These days both bars have been knocked into one and everyone shares everything.

School - This is either primary school (ages 5 to 11) or secondary school (ages 11 to 18).

Secondary school - Short for "secondary modern school", this is what you call high school. In the UK, if you failed your eleven plus exam, this is the kind of school you would go to instead of a grammar school. After this system changed to the current one, both these kinds of schools were replaced by comprehensive schools.

Sellotape - This is a brand of scotch tape, but we use it to describe all sticky tapes.

Semi - Short for a semi-detached house or a duplex in the US. If someone is being a bit dim you might also say they are semi-detached.

Serviette - Or "servie-what"? as I once heard in a Texas restaurant! I should have asked for a napkin!

Set down - You may see signs around London saying "set down only". This means you may only stop the car momentarily to drop off your passengers. No parking is allowed.

Shares - Stocks in a company are called shares.

Shop - Store. We go shopping, presumably you go storing? We will go to the shops the same way you will go to the mall. We don't have many malls, though they are beginning to appear. Some of them are created by putting a roof over an entire town centre - like the one in Camberley.

Shopping trolley - Shopping cart. These are used for collecting your shopping as you go around the supermarket. They also have another use, which to this day, is still unexplained. They have a habit of turning up in rivers. In fact, anywhere there is a large or medium amount of water, there will be a shopping trolley. Nobody knows why. They are usually many miles from the nearest supermarket. I'm not sure if the same phenomenon has reached America yet. What is the difference between a shopping trolley and a policeman? (or whoever else you like). Answer: the shopping trolley has a mind of it's own!

Shove-halfpenny - Pronounced "shove hape-knee", this is a an old pub game where you push polished coins, old halfpennies, along a polished board to score points. Still around in a few pubs but mostly replaced by newer games that take your money quicker.

Skip - What do you call a Skoda with a sunroof? Answer - a skip! In the UK, Skoda used to be the car to laugh about, cheap, ugly and nobody would be seen dead in one. A skip is a dumpster so now maybe the joke makes sense.

Skipping rope - Jump rope - no sane person would use one!.

Sledge - This what you would call a sled. We go sledging when you go sledding.

Snooker - Also played on a large table, with pockets. There are 15 reds and 6 other coloured balls, each with a different value. Players take it in turns to use the white to pocket a red, then a colour then a red and so on. Once the reds are all gone, the colours have to be pocketed one by one in the order yellow (2), green (3), brown (4), blue (5), pink (6) and black (7). Highest break is 147. Pool is also played but mainly in pubs.

Spondulicks - Another word for your money. This one dates back to the last century but the origin remains unknown. Some people say "spondulies".

Stag night - Before you get married, you and your buddies go out on a stag night, or a stag weekend. The object being to get as drunk as possible before the happy day, hoping to meet a bunch of girlies on a hen night! You call it a bachelor party.

Stand for election - This is what we do when you run for office.

Standing order - How utility companies etc take payments direct from our accounts without being able to change the amount. Cheques are not used much in England any more, just for giving your friends money. You may call it an electronic funds transfer or EFT.

Stone - When I told the man in the driving licence office I was 13 stone 10, he said that it must be close to a boulder! Very funny! A stone is 14 pounds which makes me about 192 pounds. Big enough to hit him!

Strimmer - Weed eater or trimmer in the US. A weed eater in the UK would be something like a cow or a goat! My American friend's house rental contract obliged him to "Weed eat the yard on a regular basis". In English this would cause stomach ache and possibly other illnesses!

Surgery - Apart from what happens in an operating theatre, we also call the local doctor's office, the surgery. Also, when members of parliament hold meetings for members of the public to raise questions with them, they often call them surgeries.

Swimming baths - We say we are off to the swimming baths when we are going to the swimming pool. We use both expressions to mean the same thing.

Telephone box - That lovely old red thing you see on every British street corner. Or DID until they were mostly replaced by modern phone booths. BT sold them off at a hundred quid each - now they are collectors items. Most drunks miss them as somewhere to pee after the curry! Called phone booths in America.

Telephone directory - We don't use the expression white pages like you do. We just refer to the telephone directory. However, we do talk about yellow pages in the same way as you.

Tenner - A tenner is a ten pound note. Our notes are all a different colour and different size. This, along with subtle but bold shapes on each note, helps partially sighted people and blind people to handle money as well as the rest of us. So if you are asked for a tenner in England - get out your dosh, not a fat man with a good singing voice!

Tick - When we fill in forms we are asked to tick the boxes. You check the boxes. When putting a tick in the box - be careful not to confuse this with the little biting insect, which is also called a tick!

Timber - Don't ask for lumber in England. Lumber is either a lolloping walk or the lower part of your back. Timber is any kind of treated wood. It is also something a lumberjack shouts when the tree starts to topple.

Time - The word "time" is the same in both countries. However the way we tell it is different. When I was first asked the time in a shopping mall in Austin I said it was "half ten". The very confused guy just looked at me and said "What, five o'clock?". We say "half ten" for ten thirty. We say "quarter past ten" when you would say quarter after ten or, more likely ten fifteen. We say "quarter to ten" when you would say quarter of ten.

Tippex - This is another brand name for a correction fluid. However, we generally say "tippex" in the same way that you say white out, which is your equivalent. Ours is a little thicker in texture.

Tire - Something you do when you are worn out or knackered. Best thing to do is to go to bed.

Torch - We uses torches when we go camping to see in the dark, in our tents. My American friends didn't believe we would do anything so dangerous. But that's because we were talking about flashlights, not a flaming stick!

Trolley - When you arrive at the airport the first thing you'll need is a trolley. Don't be tempted to ask for a cart.

Tube - The London underground system is called the tube. You have a subway in New York. In England it is also called the underground.

TV licence - These are the licences we buy in order to watch TV legally in the UK. There are detector vans that roam the country looking for TVs that are switched on at addresses that have not purchased a TV licence. If you are caught - you are made to watch TV commercials - because the licence fee means we don't have commercials on the BBC. Yippee!

TV programme - This is what we call a TV show, though you will hear both phrases used here these days.

Tyre - The rubber based thing that goes on a wheel. It is illegal to guarantee 50,000 mile usage in the UK as these tyres contain less rubber and more nylon. Nylon doesn't stick to wet roads, hence the usual pile-ups on I35 when it rains. Tire to you.

UK - The United Kingdon (UK) is not to be confused with either England, Britain or the British Isles. The UK is the three countries of Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland), plus Northern Ireland. See wikipedia for a very long explanation!

Underground - The underground is another word for the subway or as we like to call it, the tube.

University - Age 18 to 21 or so. You say school. Basically still free, entry being based on merit and exam results, rather than money. However, the government is gradually sneaking in more costs for students and it is unlikely to remain free for much longer, I fear.

VAT - Value added tax or sales tax in the US. The main difference is ours is included in the price you see, so nothing gets added at the till.

Wad - If you had a big fat wad, you would have loads of money.

Wallet - When I was 16 I had my wallet stolen in Boston airport. I was worried when the announcement on the plane was about a missing pocket book. But no. That's what you call a wallet. I also heard it called a bill fold.

Wash up - We do this after dinner and you do it before. We are talking about doing the dishes whereas you are talking about your hands!

Way out - I had to laugh recently when I was at the pictures with an American friend. She asked me what was outside that was so "way out"! There was a door with "way out" illuminated above it. It actually means exit, not that there is something groovy and way out through there.

WC - I'm often asked by my American chums about the good old WC. It is never said but often seen on signs, not just in England but all across Europe. It is short for "water closet" and simply means the loo, toilet or restroom.

Wedge - Your wedge, like your wad is another expression for your money.

White horse - Around Wiltshire there are a number of white horses. They are cut into the hillside and are visible from miles around. In fact, if you are visiting Stonehenge there is a leaflet there that describes a three hour driving tour of about 6 or 7 local white horses. Worth a visit on a sunny day. The reason they are white is that below the top soil the area is made of white chalk.

Wonga - Your wonga is your wad, or in other words your money.

Year - At school we refer to the grades as forms or years. We call the first year, "the first year". Cryptic huh? We also call it the "first form". We also use years to describe our progress through university.

September 6th, 2013, 05:51 AM
These should make you chuckle!