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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

7
votes
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, ...
7
votes
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.
7
votes
4answers
210 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

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, ...
7
votes
9answers
354 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

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
votes
2answers
4k 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
votes
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 ...
7
votes
4answers
269 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
3answers
13k 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
votes
3answers
3k 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. ...
7
votes
1answer
319 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
153 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, ...
7
votes
2answers
610 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

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 ...
7
votes
1answer
39k 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 ...
7
votes
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 ...
7
votes
4answers
12k 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" ...
7
votes
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
15k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
18k 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
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 ...
6
votes
7answers
18k views

Does “pants” more commonly mean “trousers” or “underpants”?

In the UK, I've heard pants being used as slang for underpants (or was it in Bridget Jones' Diary?), whereas in India it almost exclusively means "trousers". Describing the meaning of "put your pants ...
6
votes
8answers
5k views

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 ...
6
votes
9answers
5k 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
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 ...
6
votes
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.
6
votes
5answers
641 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
533 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
531 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 ...
6
votes
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
18k 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.
6
votes
3answers
26k 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.: ...
6
votes
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 ...
6
votes
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
486 views

Is there an American English equivalent for the British “moggie” for a non-purebred cat?

I'm an American (and fond of cats). I'm familiar with the British term "moggie" for a non-purebred cat--basically the equivalent of "mutt" for a dog. I've never heard any American English equivalent ...
6
votes
4answers
584 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" ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Identifying accents of British actors

As an American, a large part of my impoverished experience of British accents comes from ancient BBC comedy imports on PBS. I'd very much like to identify the regional accents the following actors are ...
6
votes
3answers
6k views

Did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle coin the proverb “A change is as good as a rest”?

The proverb a change is as good as a rest is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: A change of work or occupation can be as restorative or refreshing as a period of relaxation Cambridge ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Would the “Cavendish drawl” be considered a dialect?

I was reading the biography Georgiana, by Amanda Foreman, and came across a description of what she calls the Cavendish drawl, an accent of sorts that was spoken by the Cavendish family. One blog ...
6
votes
1answer
8k views

Processor vs Processer

Is there any difference between "processor" and "processer"? Some spelling dictionaries only have the -or form, and some have both. Is it a US vs UK English thing? Or something else? More ...
6
votes
5answers
14k views

“Be mother” - Etymology and usage

I recently came across the idiom "Be mother" in a crossword. It is supposed to mean 'to pour tea'. I was surprised by the meaning, and want to ask if there is any etymology or history behind this ...
6
votes
4answers
19k views

Synonymity of “is that so” and “really”

Do these have the same meaning? Oh is that so? Oh really?
6
votes
4answers
8k views

Why did this Brit say “took a punt”?

Recently listening to a podcast, I heard someone (of unknown British origin) use 'take a punt' in the sense of 'take a chance.' Perhaps this is due to punting in American English referring to American ...
6
votes
5answers
9k views

Using “to my mind”

English is not my native language. I am curious about the usage of "to my mind". Is it a British English phrase? Is it used in American English? Is it formal/informal? I've found an interesting ...
6
votes
1answer
11k views

Is “weightage” an English word?

Is weightage an English word? We use it a lot in India, but I couldn't find it in my Oxford Dictionary.
6
votes
5answers
680 views

Is to “tell off” a particularly British expression?

I'm translating a short story from Spanish into English. A small child says (literally): Why don’t we knock?” I asked. “They’re gonna tell us off.” (The Spanish is: Nos van a regañar.) I've ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

What is a person if they are described as a “wet hen”?

In Terry Pratchett's Discworld books (Witches Abroad in particular), the character Magrat Garlick is often called a "wet hen" by at least one of her witch colleagues. Web searches only yielded the ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is it “knife” in the idiom, “Before you can say knife” though there are many shorter words than knife?

I saw the phrase, ‘before you can say Dow-Jones Index’ in the following sentence of JefferyArcher’s novel, “Not a penny more, Not a penny less.” Scotland Yard’s Fraud Squad Detective Inspector, ...