British English and American English

While English speakers will normally have no problem understanding each other no matter where they come from in the English speaking world, it’s worth knowing some of the main variations between British English and American English.

British English and American English


British and American English

The differences between British English and American English are mainly to do with vocabulary and spelling. In this post we’re giving you a list of some of the main vocabulary items that are different.


British English

American English



aerofoil airfoil
aeroplane airplane
aluminium aluminum
aniseed anise
anticlockwise counterclockwise
aubergine eggplant
baking tray cookie sheet
bank holiday legal holiday
beetroot beet(s)
biscuit cookie; cracker
black economy underground economy
blanket bath sponge bath
block of flats apartment building
boiler suit coveralls
bonnet (of a car) hood
bottom drawer hope chest
bowls lawn bowling
braces suspenders
breeze block cinder block
bridging loan bridge loan
bumbag fanny pack
candyfloss cotton candy
car park parking lot
casualty emergency room
catapult slingshot
central reservation median strip
chemist drugstore
chips French fries
cinema movie theater; the movies
cling film plastic wrap
common seal harbor seal
consumer durables durable goods
cornflour cornstarch
cotton wool absorbent cotton
council estate (housing) project
courgette zucchini
court card face card
crotchet (music) quarter note
current account checking account
dialling tone dial tone
diamante rhinestone
double cream heavy cream
draughts (game) checkers
drawing pin thumbtack
dressing gown robe; bathrobe
drink-driving drunk driving
driving licence driver’s license
dual carriageway divided highway
dummy (for a baby) pacifier
dust sheet drop cloth
dustbin garbage can
earth(electrical) ground
engaged (of a phone) busy
estate agent real estate agent, realtor (trademark)
estate car station wagon
ex-directory unlisted
faith school parochial school
financial year fiscal year
fire brigade/service fire company/department
first floor second floor
fish finger fish stick
flat apartment
flexitime flextime
flick knife switchblade
flyover overpass
football soccer
footway sidewalk
fringe (hair) bangs
full stop (punctuation) period
garden yard; lawn
gearing (finance) leverage
gear lever gearshift
goods train freight train
greaseproof paper wax paper/waxed paper
green fingers green thumb
grill (noun) broiler
grill (verb) broil
ground floor first floor
groundsman groundskeeper
hairslide barrette
hatstand hatrack
hen night bachelorette party
hire purchase installment plan
hoarding billboard
holiday vacation
holidaymaker vacationer
homely homey
hosepipe (garden) hose
in hospital in the hospital
icing sugar confectioners’ sugar
indicator (on a car) turn signal
inside leg inseam
jelly babies jelly beans
jumble sale rummage sale
jump lead jumper cable
jumper sweater
junior school elementary school
kennel doghouse
ladybird ladybug
a lettuce a head of lettuce
level crossing grade crossing
lift elevator
lolly lollipop
lorry truck
loudhailer bullhorn
low loader flatbed truck
lucky dip grab bag
marshalling yard railroad yard
maths math
metalled road paved road
mobile phone cell phone
mum/mummy mom/mommy
nappy diaper
noughts and crosses tic-tac-toe
number plate license plate
off-licence liquor store; package store
opencast mining open-pit mining
ordinary share common stock
oven glove oven mitt
paddling pool wading pool
paracetamol acetaminophen
parting (in hair) part
patience solitaire
pavement sidewalk
pay packet pay envelope
pedestrian crossing crosswalk
peg clothespin
pelmet valance
petrol gas; gasoline
physiotherapy physical therapy
pinafore dress jumper
plain chocolate dark chocolate
plain flour all-purpose flour
polo neck turtleneck
positive discrimination reverse discrimination
postal vote absentee ballot
postbox mailbox
postcode zip code
potato crisp potato chip
power point electrical outlet
pram baby carriage; stroller
press stud snap
press-up pushup
private soldier GI
public school private school
public transport public transportation
punchbag punching bag
pushchair stroller
pylon utility pole
queue line
racing car race car
railway railroad
real tennis court tennis
recorded delivery certified mail
registration plate license plate
remould (tyre) retread
reverse the charges call collect
reversing lights back-up lights
right-angled triangle right triangle
ring road beltway
roundabout (at a fair) carousel
roundabout (in road) traffic circle
rowing boat rowboat
sailing boat sailboat
saloon (car) sedan
sandpit sandbox
sandwich cake layer cake
semibreve (music) whole note
semitone (music) half step
share option stock option
shopping trolley shopping cart
skimmed milk skim milk
skipping rope jump rope
skirting board baseboard
sledge sled
sleeper railroad tie
sleeping partner silent partner
slowcoach slowpoke
snakes and ladders chutes and ladders
solicitor lawyer
spring onion scallion
state school public school
sweets candy
takeaway (food) takeout; to go
taxi rank taxi stand
tea towel dish towel
terrace house row house
tick check mark
ticket tout scalper
timber lumber
trade union labor union
trainers sneakers
trolley shopping cart
underground subway
vacuum flask thermos bottle
verge (of a road) shoulder
vest undershirt
veterinary surgeon veterinarian
wagon(on a train) car
waistcoat vest
wardrobe closet
worktop countertop
zebra crossing crosswalk
zip zipper

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