This tag is for questions related to English as spoken in Great Britain, and sometimes Ireland.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

7
votes
3answers
16k views

“shyer” or “shier”

My Longman dictionary states that the comparative of 'shy' is 'shyer'. However, at least two online dictionaries also give the form 'shier' as being acceptable: The Free Dictionary and Merriam-Webster....
7
votes
2answers
5k views

Different Meanings of 'Jumper' (Transatlantic embarassment)

I'm originally from Wales, now living in the USA, and as the cold weather is approaching I'm determined, this year, to start using the word sweater to describe the item of clothing I'm wearing, as ...
6
votes
1answer
4k views

Why is The Mall (Westminster, London) pronounced like mawl?

Why is The Mall pronounced differently even though it shares the same spelling as mall (shopping)?
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Dropped g's in upper-class 1930s Britain

‘Now take huntin'…’ ‘Oh, bull-fightin' — that's quite a different kettle of fish.…’ Italics bred italics. Dropped g's fell as thick as confetti. (Jan Struther, Mrs Miniver, 1939; 4th chapter, “The ...
4
votes
1answer
656 views

What is the reason that American English and British English use “Post” and “Mail” with different frequencies?

Common usage in the UK is that a postman of the Royal Mail Service delivers the post, and someone may post a letter (see BrE Ngram), whereas in the USA, usage has become equally common that a mailman ...
4
votes
4answers
12k views

Etymology of 'slap-up'

Apparently this is a peculiarly British term, but we'll sometimes use the phrase 'slap-up' to mean 'excellent', as in: That's a slap-up meal! or They held a slap-up do. What's the origin ...
4
votes
4answers
6k views

“Equal” versus “Equals” [duplicate]

I've seen variants of this question, but nothing explicitly like the one below: Three feet equals/equal a yard. Which is correct? Is there a definitive explanation? Please indicate BrE vs AmE ...
4
votes
3answers
12k views

In what English-speaking communities does “trump” refer to the breaking of wind?

It is clear from this site that the verb to trump has been used extensively across Britain to refer to the breaking of wind. It is especially the case in the North, in Wales and certainly in Norfolk, ...
4
votes
2answers
639 views

What is the origin of “oh noodles!”

Noodles are tasty. I like them, but why are they also used as an exclamation of dismay in the following? Oh Noodles!
2
votes
6answers
4k views

Similar words that change from “-ter” to “tre”

I just found out that luster in British English was actually lustre. This was something that I did not know before. Are there any other words that behave like this? Why? (According to what?)
1
vote
1answer
395 views

em-dash and comma, which comes first

I am confused about the preferred way to combine an em-dash insertion with a comma occurring in the outer sentence. Until now, I had preferred to write: The erosion responsible for residuals is ...
16
votes
3answers
119k views

Date format in UK vs US

Why is the most common date format in the US like mm/dd/yyyy, whereas in Europe (including the UK) it's more common to have dd/mm/yyyy? Looking around, I found that the US form is actually the more ...
10
votes
4answers
246 views

Did British chef Jamie Oliver redefine “pukka” in 1999?

Recently I've been watching cooking programmes: MasterChef Italia (addictive), MasterChef USA (awful), followed swiftly by Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, and then onto Jamie Oliver's acclaimed The ...
9
votes
4answers
6k views

Why is “bloody” considered obscene in the UK but not in the US?

Why is the word bloody considered obscene in the UK but not so in the US?
8
votes
4answers
298 views

We might have to do some “fiddling”

I like the word fiddle, and I quite like the musical instrument too. If you're fiddling with a device, it means you're trying to repair it. It might be tricky because of all the tiny bits and pieces ...
7
votes
5answers
15k views

Is it correct to use “got” when expressing the simple past tense in British English?

I'm an American and my daughter is learning British English in school, so when I help her with her homework, I have to know the British rules. She writes: I have got a horse poster. I ...
6
votes
2answers
19k views

“courgettes” vs. “zucchini” under a historical perspective

In this TimLymington's answer it is said: Interestingly, there is another vegetable with the same identity problem; what the British call courgettes and the Americans zucchini. What is the ...
6
votes
9answers
6k views

What could be the equivalent term in British or Australian English to the American English word “hillbilly”?

In Wikipedia, “hillbilly” is defined as: … a term referring to certain people who dwell in rural, mountainous areas of the United States, primarily Appalachia but also the Ozarks. Owing to its ...
6
votes
1answer
315 views

“Dawkins'” or “Dawkins's” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When did it become correct to add an 's' to a singular possessive already ending in 's'? I learned from school to use Dawkins', for example That is Mr. ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

How and when did “bash” and “do” come to mean party?

I am on my way to a faculty party at the university. The Head of Sciences is retiring and is throwing a huge bash, all his staff, selected external examiners like me and various scientists from ...
5
votes
6answers
3k views

“tag question” vs. “question tag”

I've just read this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_question So regarding this passage: The term "question tag" is generally preferred by British grammarians, while their American ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

In the cards or on the cards?

This seems to be a BrE/AmE distinction - is it? And do Americans use the phrase with more of a mystical Tarot card slant, compared to its British English meaning of simply 'likely to happen'?
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Is the phrase “all to c**k” considered profane?

I occasionally use the colloquialism "all to cock" to mean "disastrously wrong". I've always thought it a benign phrase, but recently I've wondered whether the use of the word "cock" in this situation ...
3
votes
1answer
816 views

Why are doctors addressed as Mr. in the UK?

In the US most physicians, surgeons and dentists are addressed as "doctor". Very few other professionals receive the same title. In the UK, however, surgeons and dentists seem to prefer to be ...
3
votes
1answer
261 views

Use of “ahoy” before “hello”

The word hello seems to have become popular with the coming of the telephone. Did our ancestors greet each other with ahoy before that?
3
votes
5answers
25k views

“ou” versus “o” in spelling words like “color”/“colour”

Often, I have to decide whichever is better in mail, forums, letters. For instance: colour vs color behaviour vs behavior humour vs humor rumour vs rumor honour vs honor armour vs armor The ...
2
votes
2answers
212 views

Usage of *what* for *that* or *than* in BrE

Occasionally, when watching British television or movies, I've come across a construct that isn't used in AmE. Using what as a replacement for that or than as a determiner or comparison. Here is an ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

What kind of rain is “sprinkles”?

It appears that MSN Weather has chosen an amusing adjective (from my British point of view) for the weather today: I'm assuming the precipitation (sadly) won't contain any hundreds-and-thousands. ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Where is the word “cutlery” in common usage

During a trip to the US I realised that many Americans have never heard the word cutlery before ... however some have. Where in the English speaking world (and in particular where in the US) is this ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

“Neither . . . nor” vs. “nor . . . neither”

In my native language we have a neither-nor-like structure which can be used either as: I neither like thing A and nor thing B. or as: I nor like thing A and neither thing B. Is it ...
1
vote
6answers
150 views

Looking for a word like “eulogy”, but for a person that has not died?

I was thinking of words like the "background" of a person? Their overall qualities summarised into a short form. Eulogy might be a bad example, as it implies praise. A word meaning "a summary of ...
0
votes
2answers
647 views

“Mobile” vs. “cellphone” in AE

I already heard Americans use the term "mobile" for "cellphone" -- which I thought was chiefly BE -- and so I wish you could tell if such usage of "mobile" has any currency in GAE? Unless it might be ...
0
votes
1answer
500 views

Pluralisation of sports teams in British and American English [duplicate]

Why do British and American English differ in this respect: British Southampton are eyeing up a ready-made replacement for Luke Shaw American Southampton is eyeing up a ready-made ...
15
votes
3answers
45k views

What's the difference between 'subway', 'metro' and 'tube'?

When I watched the "American Album" program, Susan and Henry talked about New York, and she used the word 'subway'. When I listened to BBC's '6 minutes English', I heard 'tube' used in the ...
44
votes
16answers
7k views

Is “act like a mensch” too localized for ELU readers (U.S. and/or British English)?

This question was motivated by an interesting comment that was made at http://academia.stackexchange.com/posts/comments/123681?noredirect=1 Part of Answer: I don't think that particular research ...
19
votes
2answers
60k views

“Successfull”/“successful” — is this a UK/US difference? [closed]

I would tend to write double-l, but Google gives me more single-l, so I'm guessing it's an Atlantic divide thing. And I guess all the other *full words.
37
votes
6answers
113k views

What is the difference between dialogue and dialog?

I am American, and I always thought the difference between dialogue and dialog was one of meaning, the way Merriam-Webster has them listed: 2 entries found: dialogue (noun) dialog box (...
33
votes
8answers
9k views

Why do Americans go 'downtown' whilst people in the UK go 'up town'?

People in London, who live in the suburbs, may tell you they work 'up town', meaning in the City or the West End. In other large cities in Britain, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds etc., I think people ...
16
votes
4answers
96k views

“flat” vs. “apartment”

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 8th edition Flat: noun. [ countable ] ( BrE ) a set of rooms for living in, including a kitchen, usually on one floor of a building. Apartment: noun. ( ...
12
votes
8answers
4k views

Identifying British accents

Are there rules of thumb for pinpointing British accents regionally? What other accents do Americans tend to mistake for British? Are there good online resources that can help with this? Audio samples ...
8
votes
5answers
10k views

What is currently the most obscene word in British English? [closed]

In a recent question, I realized that while I know what's currently considered the most obscene word in American English ("cunt"), I am told that word is much more unexceptional and workaday in ...
23
votes
9answers
39k views

Why is 'c*nt' so much more derogatory in the US than the UK?

What accounts for the strong disapproval of anyone using the word 'cunt' in the US, when the sentiment doesn't exist to the same extent in the UK? To be clear, it's still a strong word to use in the ...
21
votes
9answers
3k views

How can I translate the words for the two types of bathrooms found in Russia into English?

I work in real estate, and sometimes I have to translate respective inscriptions from my native Russian into English. I get stuck in some cases where not only linguistic, but cultural differences have ...
17
votes
7answers
4k views

Why are you a plonker?

The idiom, plonk (something/someone) down means to slap something down; to plop something down to sit or lie down on something in a careless or noisy way to leave someone somewhere to do ...
15
votes
2answers
6k views

“Oestrogen” and “oesophagus” — why are they spelled differently in British English?

Within Biology, there are some biological terms that differ in spelling between the British English and American English dictionaries. For example, oestrogen and oesophagus, as well as the word ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Difference between styles of English in technical communication

I have a collaborative software project with two other users. Nearly every technical report and documentation written goes through the following editorial changes to some of the sentences (examples ...
11
votes
6answers
4k views

Is a schwa ever stressed?

Is there a word in RP (Received Pronunciation) where the stressed vowel sound is a schwa?
6
votes
3answers
20k views

Difference between “take a taxi” and “get a taxi”

What is difference between the following sentences? I take a taxi/bus/train. I get a taxi/bus/train.
18
votes
4answers
12k views

Is it awkward to use the word “aubergine” instead of “eggplant”?

According to Google Ngrams eggplant is far more common (although in British English aubergine seems to have a small advantage over eggplant). So, not being a native speaker of English I wonder ...
16
votes
7answers
9k views

“to bath” vs “to bathe”

Recently, I came across the verb to bathe written as bath in two English coursebooks used by Italian students. The first time I saw it, I dismissed it as a typographical error and told my private ...