English with Nab

British vs American Vocabulary

Here are some of the main differences in vocabulary between British and American English. 

This page is intended as a guide only. Bear in mind that there can be differences in the choice of specific terms depending on dialect and region within both the USA and the UK.

Given the number of places around the world that English is spoken, differences are bound to emerge. 

Despite how much the USA and UK have in common, there are enough differences between their two versions of the English language that someone may not always understand exactly what someone from the other country is saying. 

Not only are there 160 distinct dialects of the English language, but there’s also different spelling and even words, used to describe one or other thing. Fortunately, the US State Department has created a series of these useful graphics to help clear things up between the British English Vs. American English usage. 

Did you know that the difference between spelling words like American color and British colour, or humor and humour, comes from the Brits adopting their now called British words, from Old French language? 

When it came to America later, the spelling was simplified. And so is with many other American English and British English differences, as the adaptation of grammar took its part. 

The US and the UK’s imperial histories and modern influence over the world have changed the English wording forever. Because it was exported to countries all over the world, it has been forced to accept different variations of the same language, the most known one to be the British Vs. American.

Even if you’re a native speaker of UK or US English, there’s a good chance you’ll learn something new here. Check the brilliant graphs about British Vs. American English language differences below.

British English American English
accelerator gas pedal, accelerator
aerial (TV, radio) antenna, aerial
Alsatian German shepherd
American Indian Native American
anorak jacket, parka
at the weekend on the weekend 
aubergine eggplant
bank holiday national holiday, federal holiday
barrister, solicitor lawyer, attorney
base rate prime rate
to bath to bathe
beetroot beet
bill check
bin, dustbin garbage can/trash can 
biro ball-point pen
biscuit cookie
bonnet hood
boot trunk
braces suspenders
(round) brackets parentheses
candy floss cotton candy
car park parking lot
caravan trailer
caretaker janitor
catalogue catalog
centre center
chemist’s shop drugstore, pharmacy
chips French fries
city centre downtown, city center
cloakroom checkroom, coatroom
clothes peg clothespin
colour color
cooker stove
(bathing) costume swimsuit
cosy cozy
cot (Baby) crib
cotton wool cotton ball 
courgette zucchini
crisps potato chips
crossroads crossroad (in the country)
intersection (town and country)  
curriculum vitae (CV) résumé
curriculum vitae  
dinner jacket tux, tuxedo
directory enquiries directory assistance
diversion detour
double cream heavy cream
draught draft
draughts checkers
drawing pin thumbtack 
dressing gown (bath) robe
drink driving drunk driving
driving licence driver’s license
dummy pacifier
duvet comforter
earth wire ground wire
engaged busy
enquiry inquiry
everywhere everyplace, everywhere
expiry date expiration date
fancy dress costumes
Father Christmas Santa Claus
favourite favorite
to fill in to fill out
film film, movie
fire brigade fire department
first floor second floor
fish-fingers fish-sticks
flannel face cloth, wash cloth
flat apartment
(flat: apartment with a single floor)  
flavour flavor
football soccer
fortnight two weeks
fringe bangs
from Monday to Friday from Monday to Friday
from Monday through Friday (Friday included)  
full stop period
garden yard
gear lever gear shift
Gents Men’s Room
goods train freight train
ground floor first floor, ground floor (in public buildings)
harbour harbor
headmaster, headteacher principal
to hire to rent
hire purchase installment plan
hockey field hockey
holiday vacation
hoover vacuum cleaner
humour humor
icing sugar powdered sugar
indicator blinker, turn signal
inverted commas, quotation marks quotation marks
jacket potato baked potato
jewellery jewelery
Joe Bloggs Joe Blow
jumble sale yard sale
jumper sweater
kilometre kilometer
ladybird ladybug
to lay the table to set the table
letterbox, postbox mailbox
lift elevator
litre liter
lorry truck
lost property lost and found
mackintosh raincoat
managing director CEO (chief executive officer)
mashed potato mashed potatoes
match game
maths math
mobile (phone) cellphone
motorbike motorcycle
motorway freeway, highway, expressway, interstate
mum mom
nappy diaper
national insurance number social security number
neighbour neighbor
note bill
notice board bulletin board
number plate license plate
a pack of cards a deck of cards
a packet of cigarettes a pack of cigarettes
pants underpants
paraffin kerosene/kerosine
pavement sidewalk
pedestrian crossing crosswalk
pepper bell pepper
petrol gas
phone box phone booth
plane airplane
polo neck turtle neck
post mail
post code zip code
postman mailman
pram, pushchair baby carriage, baby buggy, stoller
prawn shrimp
primary school elementary schoolgrade school
programme program
to queue to line up
quid buck
railway railroad
reception front desk
to ring to call
road way pavement
roundabout traffic circle, rotary
rucksack backpack
rubber eraser
rubbish garbage
share stock
shop store
shop assistant sales clerk
sick nauseated
single ticket one-way ticket
Sorry. Excuse me.
spanner wrench
sports day fields day
public school private school
stock inventory
subway underpass
sultana raisin
sweet shop candy store
tap faucet
taxi cab
term semester
theatre theater
timetable schedule
tin can
toilet, loo bathroom, rest room
town centre downtown, city center 
torch flashlight
trainers sneakers
tram streetcar
travelled traveled
trolley cart
trousers pants
tyre tire
underground, tube subway
underlay carpet pad
undertaker mortician
vest undershirt
waistcoat vest
wallet billfold
wardrobe closet
to wash wash up
wing fender
year grade
zebra crossing crosswalk
zip zipper
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