*plain simple english*

I had to do my fair share of adjusting when I moved to England. I survived the culture shock and the beans for breakfast. But it was the whole “You say tomAAAto , I say tomAHto” thing that took a while. If I’m honest, it’s still taking. (Last week I asked a concierge for directions to the rest room. He sent me to the lobby.)

So here we go. For the American novice (i.e. tourist, holidayer, vacationer) traveling to the mother land, a few pointers – because our English, isn’t always that of the Queen.

Bangers (n.) – Sausages. As in ‘Bangers and Mash’. An English meal.
Biscuit (n.) – Cookie or Cracker.
Brolly (n.) – Umbrella
Bum (n.) – A humorous term for a person’s backside. (Not vagrant.)
Butty (n.) – Sandwich.
Cheers (phrase) – Drinking toast. Also means goodbye and/or thanks.
Chemist (n.) – Pharmacist/Pharmacy
Chippie (n.) – Fish and chip shop. (Chips = Fries)
Cupaa (n.) – A cup of tea.
Football (n.) – Soccer
Gob (slang) – Slang for ‘mouth’
Holiday (n.) – Vacation
Knackered (phrase) – Tired
Lift (n.) – Elevator
Lorry (n.) – Truck
Nick (v.) – To steal
Pants (n.) – Underwear (Can also mean lame.)
Petrol (n.) – Gasoline
Pinch (n.) – Steal
Quid (n.) – Pound (As in money, not weight)
Snog (v) – To Kiss (thanks oob)
Stone (n.) – 14 pounds (weight)
Tea (n.) – A light early evening meal (also a drink of course)
Torch (n.) – Flash light
Underground (n.) – Subway

Am I missing anything?

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  • CoatMan
    May 30, 2006 at 21:27

    Buffy: surely cringing or being directed to the lobby are not the only two options; you could ask for the “lavatory”, could you not?

  • Buffy
    May 30, 2006 at 21:43

    Coatman, I’ve never used the word Lavatory in my life. It just seems so very English and I feel so very American sometimes that I’m never sure when its appropriate. Also it doesn’t seem to roll of the American tongue quite like it does the English. But if you’re certain…I’ll remember this for next time. ;). Thanks for the tip!

  • Serena
    May 30, 2006 at 22:10

    Thanks for looking out for us ; )

  • tallglassofvino
    May 30, 2006 at 22:45

    ah, the humorous (mis)translations…
    boot = trunk of a car
    knickers = pantaloons = panties

    cracks me up about ‘fannypack’ – when cycling with brit friends, one ceremoniously (and loudly) announced “it’s fun, but it sure is rough on my girly-bits!”
    Brits aren’t coy, I’ll give ’em that.

  • CoatMan
    May 31, 2006 at 9:03

    The only times that it’s inappropriate to say “lavatory” are those times at which it is inappropriate to refer to that sort of thing at all.

  • Peachy
    May 31, 2006 at 9:11

    Jam – Jelly

  • Freddy
    May 31, 2006 at 9:31

    Funny post! As a Brit I find it amusing to see Americans reactions when I travel over there and ask where the toilet is (must be equal to being in England and asking where the bog is!) 🙂

    Never asked for the “lavatory” in my life coatman….

    You could always ask for the “bathroom”…. Brits know what that is 😉

  • Jodi
    Jun 1, 2006 at 19:00

    OK, i’m a total idiot Buffy, I found you again. Do you know my link to you was for April’s posts only??? silly.

    anyway, you forgot shagging…my favorite 🙂

  • CoatMan
    Jun 2, 2006 at 17:57

    As to “bathroom”, we’ll know what you mean (unless there’s a separate bathroom and lavatory, in which case, you’ll get a room with a bath and a sink and nothing else), but we’ll know that you’re American if you use “bathroom” to mean lavatory.

  • Night Writer
    Jun 8, 2006 at 21:22

    At one of our first dinners in London we saw an item on the menu called “Bangers and Mash.” Not too difficult, I remembered bangers from my semester over there long ago, and mash was easy. Then we saw a further description of the entree as “mash with bubble and squeak.”

    I was completely flummoxed (don’t know if the Brits use that one or not). Thought it over a good long time and couldn’t figure it out. The waitress clued us in: mashed potatoes with cabbage.

    It was a good thing we asked; otherwise it would have gone over about as well as the Marmite did.

  • weeian
    Oct 30, 2007 at 18:34

    Hi guys i’m a scot, and our vocabulary is even more wildly varied. An old scottish word for kissing is winching.(can also mean the courtship stage of a relationship. ie. are you winching senga?)

  • John Rowley
    Jan 29, 2011 at 21:46

    Thanks for the post Buffy. Do Americans use the phrase ‘in the buff’? In case you don’t it means nude/naked.


    Bonce – head
    Barnet – hair
    Bobby dazzler – good looking something (often woman, somewhat archaic british english)
    Cor Blimey! – corruption of ‘God Blind Me’ and used as an exclaimation of surprise/amazement.
    Sweets – Candy

    I’ve a bottle of wine open and it needs drinking so that’s me lot.

    kind regards


  • Buffy
    Feb 2, 2011 at 13:53


    That’s going to be the title of my memoir.