UK English vs US English

Kelly gave me a great blog post idea (ages ago by now!) – UK English vs US English! It all stemmed from me discussing giving Little Miss a dummy to help her sleep. So it seems appropriate to start with…

Dummy v Pacifier

In the UK we call them dummies but in the US they’re known as pacifiers. I see why as they are designed to pacify a baby. Not that it matters what word should be used because in our house it is simply referred to as “noonies”.

Jam v Jelly

Both words are used in the UK and in the US but have different meanings. In the UK, “jam” is used to refer to the stuff you spread on your toast. However in the US it referred to as “jelly”. If an American asked for jelly in the UK then they would get this, which I think is called “gello” in the US. Confused? I sure am!

Pavement v Sidewalk

I think this is one instance where I prefer the US version. It just describes what it is better! Although I would call if a “pafin” in Welsh.


This one is something I learnt from experience. In the UK we love our cups of tea! So when I went over to America for the first time I asked for tea with my breakfast. Imagine my surprise to find the waitress bring me a glass of tea with a straw! I was told that when you ask for tea in America they will always think you’re asking for iced tea. If you want what a Brit would think of as tea you have to ask for a “hot tea”.

One of the funniest things I saw whilst in New York in 2013 was a British couple in a diner asking the waitress what teas they had. The waitress went through a list of thing such as camomile tea, green tea, etc. The couple looked at her and asked if she had any PG Tips! I don’t think the waitress understood why both the hubby and I started laughing!


There’s probably loads more examples but these were the few things that came to mind.


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  1. 23rd Apr 2014 / 11:49 am

    Just to confuse matters even more, apparantly in America, “pavement” refers to the road! So I’ve been told anyway.

    The Germans drink all kinds of tea and have a tea for everything. If you want plain, normal tea here you have to ask for “Schwarztee”, meaning black tea. So obviously they say the same thing in English… nobody seems to believe me when I tell them if they offer an English person “black tea” they’re actually asking them if they want a tea without milk and not black tea as opposed to say green tea or fruit tea.

    • Becster
      25th Apr 2014 / 6:48 pm

      Really? I didn’t know that! It’s amazing how different the same language can be!
      So how would you ask for tea as we know it in Germany?

  2. Kelly
    25th Apr 2014 / 4:05 pm

    YAY I’ve once again been behind on blogging but SO glad you wrote this! It’s crazy how different words are between the US and UK. When a friend of mine from England said “snogging” I thought he was trying to say “Robbing”…had no idea that was how people in the UK said “making out.” So much more fun to say.

    And heck yes to the tea comment. While I don’t like tea – if you order it here they’ll ask if you want sweetened or unsweetened!

    • Becster
      25th Apr 2014 / 6:53 pm

      You’re welcome! I couldn’t think of anymore examples as I was writing it but I’m sure there’s more. I hadn’t realised what making out meant until rcently! I don’t know what I thought it was. I guess I thought it simply meant kissing! But yes snogging is so much more fun (to say and do! 😉

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