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Be Careful! US and British English

Be Careful! US and British English

Date: May 31 2007

Topic: Vocabulary

Author: Jeffro


This is a quick lesson of four words that have completely different definitions in American and British English. While there aren't many huge differences (Except that the English tend to speak more proper than we Yanks), knowing the meanings of key words could save you an embarrassing moment.

1. Pants

If you told someone in New York that you were going to wear your "pants" to Central Park, they wouldn't be bothered. This is because "pants" in American English simply means trousers. However, if you told your friend in London that you had worn your "pants" to Buckingham Palace, he might think of you as a pervert. "Pants" in British English means underwear.

2. Fag 

In most English speaking countries, the word "fag" simply means a cigarette. If you asked someone in England if they would like to go out and have a "fag," they might join you. However, in American English, "fag" is an extremely offensive term used for someone who is gay. It's not a nice word and should be avoided in American English. 

3. Knickers

If someone in England tells you "not to get your knickers in a twist," it means the same as the American expression "don't get your panties in a bunch." Both expressions mean to calm down, and both "panties" and "knickers" are words for women's undergarments. However, while the word "knickers" means women's underwear in British English, "knickers" are short trousers worn by men in the late 19th century in America. The American usage is short for "knickerbockers." 

4. Garage

When I lived in Ireland, I told my friend that I slept in a room that used to be a "garage." He thought this was very funny because in British English, a "garage" is where you go to buy petrol. In American English, a "garage" is a place to park your car. It's not uncommon to renovate a "garage" (US) into another bedroom. 



Pervert: Someone who is sexually abnormal.

Undergarments: Underwear.  

Petrol: Fuel for an automobile. Gasoline (US).  


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hey guys it is really nice blog

05:44 PM May 21 2016 |



Russian Federation

Thanks for this remarkable lesson! I am going to the USA this summer and I am sure knowledge of such information will be very beneficial for me!!!

05:16 PM Jan 06 2008 |

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