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List of British English words not used in American English
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List of British English words not used in American English

List of British English words not used in American English

See also main article: American and British English differences

For phrases in Britain that have no equivalent in America see Britishisms

British American
abseil rappel (to descend on a rope)
arse* ass* (buttocks)
aubergine eggplant (can also refer to an eggplant-like color in British English)
balls-up* (noun) screw-up (noun)
banger sausage, old car, loud explosive firework
barrister a lawyer who appears in court (distinction in English law)
Belisha beacon orange ball containing a flashing light, mounted on a post at each end of a zebra crossing
black pudding blood sausage
bloke guy
"bloody"*(for example, "This bloody car won't start.") "damned", often rendered as "damn"
bollocks* (testicles) "balls"*
bollocks* (nonsense, baloney) "bullshit"*
bonnet (of a car) hood
boot (of a car) trunk
bubble and squeak dish of cooked cabbage fried with cooked potatoes
buggery* sodomy
bugger off* get lost, scram
bugger up* mess up, screw up
bum bag fanny pack
busk to play music or perform some other entertainment in a public place and solicit monetary reward; American English doesn't have an exact equivalent for the verb, but the noun (busker) might be "street musician" or "street performer"
candy floss cotton candy
car park parking lot
chancer a person trying to get away with something they shouldn't
cheerio goodbye
(potato) crisps (potato) chips
"crumpet" one or more attractive women
current account checking account
dodgy dubious ("sketchy" in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast)
"dosh" money
draughts checkers
drawing pin thumb tack
dustbin trash can, wastebasket
duvet soft thick quilt used instead of an upper sheet and blankets (comforter)
engaged tone busy signal
ex-directory unlisted (phone number)
fairy cake cupcake
flat apartment
fortnight two weeks
gearbox [automobile] transmission
"gooseberry" (third person who intrudes on an intimate situation) "third wheel"
green fingers green thumb
high street main street
hoover (verb) to use a vacuum cleaner (in U.S. Hoover is still only a brand name); to vacuum
hosepipe garden hose
inverted commas quotation marks
'Inverted commas' are used in British English to quote text, while American writers use "quotation marks." But although the punctuation is different, the concept of quotation is analagous, especially since British English speakers sometimes refer to things formally (or ironically) by using the phrase "in inverted commas" in conversation.
invigilator proctor
laundrette laundromat
leisure suit business suit
lift (noun) elevator
loo toilet (restroom)
lorry truck (interchangeable in British English)
loudhailer bullhorn
mains power (or "the mains") house current, "the AC", "the wall"
maths math
''The British put the "s" at the end of "maths" because "mathematics" itself is plural. But this pattern is also found among US English speakers when referring to the academic field of statistics as "stats."
MD (managing director) CEO (Chief Executive Officer)
motorway freeway
naff uncool, useless
naff off a euphemism for "fuck off"*, often in the sense of to leave
nappy diaper (In American English, "nappy" can also be an adjective referring to twisted or kinky hair, esp. to the hair of Africans or African Americans. Generally considered insulting when used by anyone not of African heritage.)
oilseed rape rape plant, canola
to orientate to orient, most often seen in its noun form, "orientation". So while an American in a new city would try to "orient" himself, a British English speaker would feel the need to "orientate" herself instead.
pantechnicon (virtually obsolete) truck
pelican crossing pedestrian crossing with traffic lights operated by pedestrians (acronym for PEdestrian LIght-CoNtrolled crossing)
petrol gasoline
"plonker" (popularised by Only Fools and Horses) fool
"ponce" pimp (mainly northern English usage), fop, or effeminate man (derogatory). Can also be used to refer to someone with airs and graces.
to "ponce up" to improve the appearance of something or someone
to "ponce off" to help oneself to something uninvited - e.g. mind if I ponce a fag off you? (i.e. helping myself to a cigarette - plenty of scope for misunderstanding there!)
"poof/poofter" (derogatory) effeminate or homosexual man
pram, contraction of perambulator stroller or baby carriage
"pud" short for pudding
pushchair stroller or baby carriage
queue line (for waiting in)
"randy" "horny" (interchangeable in British English)
ring someone call someone (interchangeable in British English)
roundabout (in the road) traffic circle; rotary (roundabout is used in some parts of the US, including on signs)
roundabout (fairground ride) carousel; merry-go-round
to rubbish to verbally discredit
serviette napkin, as at a dinner table
settee couch (interchangeable in British English)
skip dumpster
"slag" (derogatory) "slut" (promiscuous woman) (interchangeable in British English)
to "slag off" to speak in a depreciating way about someone or something
"snogging" kissing, "making out"
"slapper" a promiscuous or vulgar woman
spanner wrench
sticking plaster, Elastoplast bandage, Band-Aid
ta (usually spoken rather than written) thanks
"telly" TV (also used in UK)
toad-in-the-hole dish consisting of sausages baked in batter
to "toss (off)"* to masturbate
waistcoat vest
to wank (off)* to masturbate
"wanker"* "jerk-off"* (masturbator; term of abuse)
whilst while (see Words only used in British English in American and British English differences)
your man/your woman (Irish) used for someone whose name has been forgotten or is unknown or unimportant ("Whats-his-name")
zebra crossing pedestrian street crossing marked with broad white stripes

*denotes vulgar expression