It’s true that English is spoken in the U.K. and U.S., but a word that means something to Brits might mean something completely different to those in America.
Having grown up in England, music director James Lowe has encountered more than his fair share of words while working in America that aren’t used the same way back home. With the help of Spokane Symphony public relations manager Alison Highberger, Lowe has provided a list of American terms and the British equivalent:
line vs. queue
intermission vs. interval
orchestra vs. stalls (hall seating)
molasses vs. treacle
elevator vs. lift
restroom/bathroom vs. loo – “Now the Brits know and sometimes use ‘bathroom’ in the U.S. context, too, but I think when we first encountered it, our reaction was, ‘You’re off for a bath now? In a restaurant??!!’,” Lowe said in an email.
apartment vs. flat
flashlight vs. torch
truck vs. lorry
parking lot vs. car park
french fries vs. chips
potato chips vs. crisps – “Yep, I still trip up over this one,” Lowe said.
cookie vs. biscuit
zucchini vs. courgette
baked potato vs. jacket potato
hungry vs. peckish
kid in a candy store vs. child in a sweet shop
drugstore vs. chemist’s
car hood vs. bonnet
car trunk vs. boot
windshield vs. windscreen
blinker vs. indicator
sneakers vs. trainers
vest vs. waistcoat
suspenders vs. braces
And, finally, the different meanings of “momentarily”:
“We can add a true story to this: In British English, ‘momentarily’ means FOR a moment rather than IN a moment. I was once flying from Edinburgh to NYC, and the plane taxied to the end of the runway and just sat there for 20 minutes.
“The American pilot came over the intercom and said, ‘Apologies for the long delay. We’ll be taking off momentarily,’ which made all the Brits very nervous,” he said.
“I was hoping to go all the way to New York, not three fields over!”
Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter
Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.