25 English Words That Have Different Meanings In The UK and US


25 English Words That Have Different Meanings In The UK and US

25 English Words That Have Different Meanings In The UK and US
25 English Words That Have Different Meanings In The UK and US – image via outhbourneschool.co.uk

English has become the ‘lingua franca’ of the world today, there’s no denying it. If you ever find yourself stranded in any part of the world without knowing the language there, your best bet is to start speaking English. But like with every other language since the dawn of man, it changes.

The English spoken today is not the same as the English spoken during Shakespear’s time, and his English is not the same as the one used four centuries earlier. Given enough time and isolation, the same language spoken by different people in different places, changes. And if enough time passes, it changes beyond recognition, with the people ending up not understanding each other.

This phenomenon can be seen with every language and English is a perfect example of it. Let’s take a look at what a couple of centuries have done to it and how it changed in the UK and the US. Here are 25 words and how they ended up meaning different things. What do you think will happen to the language after another 200 years?

1. A jumper

UK: A woollen pullover worn in the winter

US: Someone who commits suicide by leaping from a building or bridge


2. A rubber

UK: An eraser for a pencil

US: A condom


3. Nappy

UK: Something a baby wears (noun)

US: Frizzy or hairy (adjective)


4. The first floor

UK: The floor above the ground floor

US: The ground floor of a building


5. Blinkers

UK: Flaps attached to a race horse’s face to restrict its vision

US: Indicators on a car


6. A casket

UK: Another word for jewellery box

US: Another word for coffin


7. Fancy dress

UK: Informal party wear, dressing up as a well-known character

US: Formal party wear, including ball gowns and black tie


8. A flapjack

UK: A flat oatmeal snack

US: A type of pancake


9. A geezer

UK: A gang member, tough guy

US: An old man


10. Homely

UK: Used to describe a comfortable, cosy house

US: Used to describe someone who is plain or ugly


11. A hoo-ha

UK: An argument or disagreement

US: Female genitalia


12. A moot point

UK: Something that is up for debate

US: Something that is irrelevant


13. Nervy

UK: Nervous or prone to fidget

US: Bold or confident


14. Peckish

UK: Slightly hungry

US: Irritable or angry


15. A run-in

UK: The end of a race

US: An argument or dispute


16. Shattered

UK: Exhausted

US: Emotionally devastated


17. Solicitor

UK: A legal representative

US: A door-to-door salesman


18. Through

(As in, “The shop is open through lunch”)

UK: During (lunch hours)

US: Up until (lunch hours)


19. Trainer(s)

UK: Shoes

US: Person at the gym who trains you to work out


20. Pants

UK: Underwear

US: Trousers


21. Bird

UK: Colloquial term for woman

US: An animal


22. Bog

UK: Toilet

US: Like a swamp


23. Chips

(As in, “Can I have some chips with that burger?”)

UK: Thin cut deep fried potato

US: Thinly sliced, deep fried, baked and kettle-cooked crunchy potatoes (crisps in the UK)


24. To give way

UK: To give the right of way (to vehicles, pedestrians)

US: To retreat


25. Shag

UK: Colloquial term for having sex

US: A type of carpet