Potentially Embarrassing Differences Between British and American English

In the classroom one is seldom taught those embarrassing words that might cause English speakers to laugh when you say them, but you don’t know why. There are also potentially embarrassing differences between British and American English. Here are some of the most common ones. 

A. What is the difference between the following expressions in British and American English? (note: one of each is very embarrassing if you get it wrong).

  1. ‘Could I have a box of rubbers please?’
  2. ‘Get your fanny over here’.
  3. ‘He was really pissed yesterday.’
  4. ‘I love a fag after dinner.’
  5. ‘I will knock you up tomorrow morning.’
  6. ’You have lovely buns’
  7. ‘The manager is out to lunch’ (hint)

B. What do the following mean in British and American English?

  1. biscuits
  2. bum
  3. football
  4. shag
  5. stones
  6. suspenders
  7. pants

C. Which spelling is British and which is American?

  1. center and centre
  2. theatre and theater
  3. tire and tyre

D. Which is the British and which is the American word?

  1. boot and trunk (of a car)
  2. cutlery and flatware
  3. gas and petrol
  4. hood and bonnet (of a car)
  5. pavement and sidewalk
  6. attic and loft
  7. cellar and basement

E. What is the difference between British and American hotel floor numbers?

F. Why might the following names raise a smile in English speakers?

  1. Fanny
  2. Titti
  3. Randy
  4. Dick

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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