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

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Is there a rule in British English about how to pronounce “either”?

There are two common pronunciations of "either": British /ˈaɪðər/ and American /ˈiːðər/. If Americans are more or less consistent in this regard, then the Brits seem to be freely using both. In fact, ...
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2answers
2k views

What is a “longstop”? (British, I think)

I've come across this word applied to God in a book by Julian Barnes but I don't understand it. And perhaps God doesn't mind being addressed only in emergency. It may seem to bystanders that ...
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6answers
4k views

British English equivalent of American English Internship

I've been trying to think of a good British English term for a summer job, the equivalent of American English Internship. I'm sure that when I've worked with students my company had hired over the ...
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3answers
4k views

How do “you” pronounce eczema?

/ˈɛɡzɪmə/, /ˈɛksɪmə/, /ˈɛksmə/ As I no longer live in the UK I don't usually hear how eczema is pronounced, so I've always pronounced it as ig-zee-muh but recently my English boyfriend told me that ...
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3answers
4k views

“Kebabs, fruit machines, and brasses” — what do these slang words mean?

More from the British movie The Football Factory. In the following dialogue, the main character, a Cockney English speaker played by actor Danny Dyer, waxes philosophical about why he enjoys being a ...
7
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2answers
355 views

What does the enterprise to “feed the duck on Epsom Downs” mean?

There is the following sentence in the ending part of Jeffery Archer’s “The Forth Estate,” which I waded to after months. In the showdown of the media owner Dick Armstrong and Sir Paul Maitland, ...
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2answers
6k views

Is “Should be *ing” a valid English phrasing?

I'm Portuguese and my girlfriend German. Because she is a Germanic-language native-speaker, she is constantly correcting my English. Though, often it is annoying that she corrects me in grammar ...
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3answers
51k views

Usage of “shall we?”

What does it mean and where would I use it?
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3answers
541 views

“cologne” and “aftershave” for “fragrance for men”

Per Farlex Trivia Dictionary, perfume or parfum is 20–40% oil and the highest concentration; eau de toilette is 10–18% oil, and cologne or eau de cologne is 3–9% oil. Leaving aside the technical ...
7
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2answers
189 views

How did the practice of identifying an object after using a pronoun evolve?

While watching Barclay's Premier League matches on the Fox Soccer Channel, the announcers often identify an object by name immediately after using a pronoun. For example, in a match occuring right ...
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4answers
13k views

French Letters and condoms

Repartee (inexact quote) from a TV show: Person A: Now, we're going to be getting some letters from French people. Person B: It could be worse. You might be getting French letters. (laughter) ...
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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 ...
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10answers
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Alternative to “a bunch”?

About two years ago I watched some old Monty Python interviews. In one of them, Graham Chapman, a Brit, makes fun of Terry Gilliam (the only American) for his lack of vocabulary. He specifically cited ...
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2answers
4k views

Meaning of “handbags” in the context of a fight

Apparently a tussle between two English footballers was described by an official spokesperson as 'I was there. There was no punches thrown. There was a lot of noise. Samir was talking in French, ...
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4answers
3k views

What is the proper adjective for the UK?

I've heard Ukonian used, and I must say I rather like it, but I don't think it's a fully accepted word yet. British leaves out Northern Ireland.
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4answers
211 views

“Tourists” for visiting sports team

In news about English and "Commonwealth" team sports (e.g., rugby, cricket), I occasionally hear the visiting team being referred to as "tourists" (e.g., "the tourists won the match ..."). This usage ...
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1answer
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Why don't Americans refer to Indians (and others from the subcontinent) as Asians?

I know there is a related question here, but I am not seeing an answer to "Why is there a difference?" Merely that an explanation of what is used in each country. I am a speaker of American English, ...
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9answers
372 views

BrEng expressions to describe a man who is becoming stupid

I'm searching for British English expressions describing a person who starts to be stupid, crazy or foolish. I mean something like the idiom to lose one's head and epithets like: You fool! Are there ...
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2answers
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Why do American and British English use different quotation marks?

American English uses double-quotes, while British English uses single-quotes: "This is a quote." 'This is a quote.' Why do we use different quotation marks? When did this difference ...
7
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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 ...
7
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1answer
8k views

Where does “three line whip” come from?

In parliament a three line whip is said to be applied when a party seeks to ensure every MP turns up and votes the party line. But why the term "three line" whip? And is there such a thing as a one ...
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3answers
14k views

Is “targetted” a standard British English spelling?

Wiktionary says that the difference between "targetting" and "targeting" is that the first one is a British spelling and the second one is American. Meanwhile, Oxford Dictionaries says that "...
7
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3answers
4k views

Origin of “old bag”?

What is the origin of the term old bag as a derogatory term for an older lady? In the UK it is exclusively used to describe females. There appears to be nothing intrinsically feminine about bags. ...
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1answer
324 views

Is “Jack of Christ” a common Britishism for Jesus Christ?

In his poem “If I Were Tickled By the Rub of Love”, Dylan Thomas refers to “Jack of Christ”: And what’s the rub? Death’s feather on the nerve? Your mouth, my love, the thistle in the kiss? My ...
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2answers
155 views

AmEng equivalent for BrEng “decorator”

Oxford Dictionaries Online defines [interior] decorator as follows: 1.1 chiefly North American A person whose job is to design the interior of someone’s home, by choosing colors, carpets, ...
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2answers
633 views

Can your use of Latin-derived words indicate your social class?

It is certainly true that educational level and social position usually walk together in most societies. Not considering that, however, and based only on how often one uses Graeco-Latin versus Anglo-...
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2answers
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Wedding invitations in British English

I'm an American calligrapher living in France, designing a suite of wedding invitations for a Spanish bride living in London! Complicated enough? I can't really go to the bride with questions ...
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1answer
43k views

Plural for “photo”?

What's the proper plural for "photo" - "photos", "photoes", or it is generally desired to rephrase the whole thing and stick with "photographs", "images", "shots", "pictures", etc? As for usage ...
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4answers
4k views

Is suffixing a personal name with “-azza”/“-azzer” a standard Cockney nicknaming rule?

In two British films I recently recalled, I noticed a trend in nicknaming that I'd like confirmation of, by someone familiar with spoken Cockney English. In the first one, Lock, Stock, and Two ...
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2answers
3k views

Was “tickle (someone's) fancy” originally a double entendre?

Recently, I asked users to provide modern-day equivalents of idioms and expressions that contained the words fancy and tickle. The question is titled Whatever tickles their fancy in the US? I was ...
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4answers
13k views

Usage of “and” and comma when writing numbers UK style

I am trying to understand the rules for writing numbers in words under the UK rules (with "and"). I understand how to write small numbers (up to a few thousands), but I am not sure when to use "and" ...
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3answers
3k views

What is the meaning and etymology of the adjective “jammy”, of Yorkshire English?

What is the etymology of the adjective jammy? As in, Thou art a jammy bugger! I confess I've never seen the word before. When I looked it up, I found confusing etymologies: one source says it ...
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3answers
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“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....
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2answers
4k views

Meaning and origin of British/Australian slang word 'tut'

About twenty years ago I overheard a girl from the north of England laughingly advise a friend to get ready for a night out by telling her to 'slap some tut on your face'. She clearly meant 'put on ...
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0answers
244 views

British Mass Nouns versus American Count Nouns

British English often employs mass nouns where American English would only employ count nouns. Count nouns are nouns which take pluralization and numerical quantifiers like 'many'. Mass nouns can't be ...
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4answers
1k views

Use of American-Indian “How” in British English

These are excerpts from Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Jerry Westerby screwed up his face in perplexity. 'That's what the boy wanted to tell me, you see, George. That's what he was ...
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8answers
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How to choose between British and American English for technical documents

I'm not a native English speaker. I'm Italian and I'm doing my thesis in the Netherlands. I have to write technical documents for non-native English speakers, so I didn't receive any advice for ...
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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 ...
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4answers
2k views

Pronunciation of 'cos' (as in the mathematical term)

What is the correct pronunciation for the mathematical abbreviation 'cos' when it is not pronounced in its complete form 'cosine'? I pronounce it as 'k-aw-ss', but a couple of Canadian friends I have ...
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8answers
4k views

What is the closest alternative to “rubbish” in American English?

What is the replacement for "rubbish" in American English? I would think "crappy" but it seems a bit stronger than needed.
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5answers
657 views

J. Oliver's usage of the word 'bog'

I have a question about the usage of the word 'bog' in the following sentence: Bog standard scoops of ice cream etc I understand that the meaning is 'form'; nevertheless, this is the first time ...
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5answers
572 views

Does quoting in British or American English depend on the quoted or the audience?

If you are quoting/documenting the conversation between two people — one is British and one American — do you use a consistent approach directed towards your intended audience or switch to ...
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7answers
6k views

“Viewer discretion is advised”

This program contains material that may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised. Is that 100% correct English? This is the text shown before some TV programs. When I first ...
6
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2answers
542 views

Odd British pluperfect subjunctive construction?

I read this sentence in the Guardian today, and I couldn't figure out if it was an error or a regionalism. (I did, however, figure out that I don't know my grammar too well!) [the mid-18th century]...
6
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5answers
14k views

“Dear Professor” vs “Dear Mr”: differences between British and American usage

In British English, is it acceptable to address a professor as "Dear Professor X" when writing a formal or informal letter? Does it sound natural? Why I am asking this question: I was looking ...
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2answers
6k views

Why English pronunciation differs so much from written language, compared to German?

Given that English is derived mostly from German, when Anglo-Saxons (German tribes) migrated to Britain, how do you explain that although German has a strict correspondence between written language ...
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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.
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3answers
27k views

In British English, should it be “licensee” or “licencee”?

We all know that "license" in American English is "licence" in British English. But what about the person to whom the licence is given? Various dictionaries show the 'c' version, e.g.: http://...
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3answers
7k views

What does a “man of leisure” do exactly? What is the definition and the connotation?

I watched the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit some weeks ago, and have happily remembered a question I had forgotten from it just now. In this dialogue, Mr. Clennam, a dashing and ...
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4answers
585 views

Using archaic (obsolete) words for decimal penny

So, is it possible to use words such as the "threepence", "elevenpence" etc. for sums in new pence (introduced after 1971)? For example, to read the value of £6.03 as "six pounds and threepence" (...