Confusing words: British and American terms

British and American English often spell the same word differently, for example: labour/labor, enthrall/enthral, or centre/center. You can find out more about these differences here.

There are also many cases in which the two varieties of English use different terms to describe the same thing. Here’s a list of various British words and expressions together with their American equivalents.

British English American English
accommodation accommodations
action replay instant replay
aerofoil airfoil
aeroplane airplane
agony aunt advice columnist
Allen key Allen wrench
aluminium aluminum
aniseed anise
anticlockwise counterclockwise
articulated lorry tractor-trailer
asymmetric bars uneven bars
aubergine eggplant
baking tray cookie sheet
bank holiday legal holiday
beetroot beet(s)
bill check
biscuit cookie; cracker
black economy underground economy
blanket bath sponge bath
blind (window) shade
block of flats apartment building
boiler suit coveralls
bonnet (of a car) hood
boob tube tube top
boot (of a car) trunk
bottom drawer hope chest
bowls lawn bowling
braces suspenders
brawn (the food) headcheese
breakdown van tow truck
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
cos (lettuce) Romaine
cot crib
cot death crib death
cotton bud cotton swab
cotton wool absorbent cotton
council estate (housing) project
courgette zucchini
court card face card
crash barrier guardrail
crisps chips; potato chips
crocodile clip alligator clip
cross-ply bias-ply
crotchet (music) quarter note
current account checking account
danger money hazard pay
demister (in a car) defroster
dialling tone dial tone
diamante rhinestone
double cream heavy cream
draughts (game) checkers
drawing pin thumbtack
dressing gown robe; bathrobe
drink-driving drunk driving
drinks cupboard liquor cabinet
drinks party cocktail party
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
fitted carpet wall-to-wall carpeting
flannel washcloth
flat apartment
flexitime flextime
flick knife switchblade
flyover overpass
football soccer
footway sidewalk
fringe (hair) bangs
full board (in hotels) American plan
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
hob stovetop
holdall carryall
holiday vacation
holidaymaker vacationer
homely homey
hosepipe (garden) hose
in hospital in the hospital
hot flush hot flash
housing estate housing development
hundreds and thousands sprinkles (for ice cream)
ice lolly Popsicle (trademark)
icing sugar confectioners’ sugar
indicator (on a car) turn signal
inside leg inseam
jelly babies jelly beans
Joe Bloggs Joe Blow
Joe Public John Q. Public
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 Popsicle (trademark)
lollipop lady (or man) crossing guard
loo (toilet) john
loose cover slipcover
lorry truck
loudhailer bullhorn
low loader flatbed truck
lucky dip grab bag
luggage van baggage car
maize corn
mangetout snow pea
market garden truck farm
marshalling yard railroad yard
maths math
metalled road paved road
milometer odometer
minim  (music) half note
mobile phone cell phone
monkey tricks monkeyshines
motorway expressway; highway
mum/mummy mom/mommy
nappy diaper
needlecord pinwale
newsreader newscaster
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
quantity surveyor estimator
quaver (music) eighth note
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
room only European plan
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
sanitary towel sanitary napkin
self-raising flour self-rising flour
semibreve (music) whole note
semitone (music) half step
share option stock option
shopping trolley shopping cart
show house/home model home
silencer (on a car) muffler
silverside rump roast
skeleton in the cupboard skeleton in the closet
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
soya/soya bean soy/soybean
splashback backsplash
spring onion green onion
stag night bachelor party
Stanley knife utility knife
starter appetizer
state school public school
storm in a teacup tempest in a teapot
surtitle supertitle
swede rutabaga
sweet(s) candy
takeaway (food) takeout; to go
taxi rank taxi stand
tea towel dish towel
terrace house row house
tick check mark
ticket tout scalper
tights pantyhose
timber lumber
titbit tidbit
toffee apple candy apple
touch wood knock on wood
trade union labor union
trading estate industrial park
trainers sneakers
tram streetcar; cable car
transport cafe truck stop
trolley shopping cart
twelve-bore twelve-gauge
unalike unlike
underground subway
vacuum flask thermos bottle
verge (of a road) shoulder
vest undershirt
veterinary surgeon veterinarian
wagon (on a train) car
waistcoat vest
walking frame walker
wardrobe closet
water ice Italian ice
weatherboard clapboard
white coffee coffee with cream
white spirit mineral spirits
wholemeal bread wholewheat bread
windcheater windbreaker
windscreen windshield
wing (of a car) fender
worktop countertop
Yale lock cylinder lock
zebra crossing crosswalk
zed(letter Z) zee
zip zipper

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