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

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Accurate British English term for an oblong deck from shore out into a lake where you tie your rowing boat

This is a typical image of the structure in question: There are also some variations, shown in this Google image search. But I'm after the often not very wide, some 20-30 feet long wood ...
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7answers
1k views

What’s “maiden name” all about?

I was pondering the term maiden name when talking with British English speakers recently. They don’t seem to have that term. So my question is two-fold: Is there another term for maiden name, ...
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3answers
330 views

What were the British equivalents of Webster's dictionary and the Simplified Spelling Board that standardized spelling and usage?

I am familiar with questions about when to double 'l' and differences between British and American spellings. However, I stumbled across this image. As you can see, several words end in the double ...
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2answers
5k views

What would be the British Equivalent Words to “Freshmen” “Sophomore”

I know that to describe which year you're in, with American English, people usually use words like: Freshmen - 1st year college/university student Sophomore - 2nd year Junior - 3rd year Senior - ...
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4answers
605 views

Is “ringing somebody up” exclusive to telephone use in British English?

Is ringing somebody up exclusive to telephone use, or can it be used to say you made a call on somebody's person? EDIT: Note that my question is specifically asking about British English; I would ...
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4answers
757 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 ...
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1answer
205 views

Why use “constitutionality” instead of “constitutional”? [closed]

This morning I heard the word "constitutionality" being used by a journalist with regard to the debate over the legality of health care reforms here in the US. This grates on my British ears as I ...
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3answers
3k views

Second name or Surname in British English

I have recently been told by a Londoner that "second name" is the most common way of referring to one's surname. She explained that it arose from the fact that most people just use their first and ...
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3answers
9k views

Does the interjection “steady on!” mean something to a Brit?

More from the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House. In this particular scene, one character, Sergeant George, is infuriated at another character, Mr. Smallwood, his petty landlord come to ...
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3answers
696 views

“Never mind” in AmE and BrE

Reading some forum pages about the meaning of this phrase, I realized that there's a difference in usage of it, between American and British English. What's the difference in meaning of "never mind" ...
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5answers
6k views

What does it mean to be “hard done by” - a phrase I heard from a Canadian friend

From the context of discussion, I took "hard done by" to mean "taken advantage unfair of" as in "He felt hard done by by former friends." I had never heard the phrase before and have not heard it ...
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3answers
17k views

Usage of “shall we?”

What does it mean and where would I use it?
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2answers
579 views

The children are creating

In the lyrics of Friends Will Be Friends by Queen: Another red letter day So the pound has dropped and the children are creating. What does the phrase highlighted in bold mean?
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2answers
372 views

Meaning of Down to the?

What is the meaning of down to the? E.g. in this statement: In order to use this feature, the statements must be exactly the same - down to the number of spaces, tabs, capital/small letters. ...
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2answers
307 views

Cockney wh-dropping

The Cockney accent typically, or at least stereotypically, drops the initial /h/ from many a word. Does it drop the initial /h/ from who, whole, whore, and whose? Wikipedia says yes, but I seek a more ...
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3answers
1k views

Pinpointing British accents

After having watched British TV and movies for a while, I came across several accents I liked. But I'm not completely sure what they are, so I need your help :) David Tennant as The 10th Doctor ...
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2answers
1k views

Why are promiscuous women known as “slappers”?

Women who aren't interested in much more than sex are referred to as "slappers" in British English. British informal, derogatory a promiscuous or vulgar woman. Why is this? I can't find any ...
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2answers
187 views

Is “raises question marks over” a correct and common phrase?

Is a sentence like Dynamic method invocation raises question marks over the way existing instances should be handled. correct in a technical paper (computer science)? (I think it is in the ...
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2answers
855 views

Sapu Lidi: A broom made of many wooden sticks

For many Indonesians, the name sapu lidih or sapu lidi is somewhat familiar. Well, this "sapu lidih" is actually a broom made of many wooden sticks. If you translate the name directly to English, it ...
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2answers
4k views

Should you always start a new paragraph when starting a new speaker even if the sentence directly before that is directly related?

When a new speaker starts a new line of dialogue you start a new paragraph at the same time. Does this rule still hold true if the sentence before the dialogue starts relates directly to the dialogue? ...
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3answers
623 views

Should one stick to American style of placing punctuation marks within quotes if one uses the American spelling?

According to Wikipedia, there are two ways to use punctation marks when it comes to quoting. Basically, we have the British style, where punctation marks that don't come from the quoted material "is ...
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1answer
2k views

Why does there exist a difference in spelling between British English and American English?

I understand that the use of different terms for the same item (e.g., "car park" vs. "parking lot") has already been discussed, but I'm interested to know why we spell the same words differently in ...
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2answers
10k views

“Interfere in” vs. “interfere with”

I was taught that when interfere is followed by in, it means to get involved in something that doesn't concern you; when followed by with, it means to prevent something from being done. And this is ...
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3answers
716 views

Spelling protocol (American/British/Canadian) for an International conference

If I'm a Canadian who'll be presenting in an international conference, should I use my country's spelling, which is the Canadian/British spelling like "grey" or the more used American spelling like ...
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3answers
925 views

Where did the phrase “Give it some wellie” originate?

I've heard this a few times, and I would presume that it comes from Wellingtons, with the meaning of put some boot to it. Is there an origin for this phrase?
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2answers
1k views

Are any of the t-glottolization, th-fronting, h-dropping, etc. in English a phonological complex?

Wikipedia gives the following, with plenty others ommitted by me, as some of the features of Cockney English: T-glottalisation: Use of the glottal stop as an allophone of /t/ in various ...
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1answer
234 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
301 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, ...
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3answers
4k views

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

Which of the following is correct? If both are correct, do they have different meanings or usage? Take a taxi/bus/train OR Get a taxi/bus/train
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2answers
784 views

“22 Acacia Avenue” British idiom

What is the meaning of this British idiom? I was watching BBC's Top Gear and the presenters were cracking jokes about people who live in the 22 of the avenues. And that the people who live there like ...
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1answer
826 views

What does “to have a little form” mean?

In the article, "Not nein...but TEN reasons why we should love Germany", the following phrase is being used: LET’S face it, Britain and Germany have a little form over the past century. ...
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2answers
849 views

Does modifying a collective noun with a number make the subject plural?

The word dozen is a collective noun, i.e., singular when we think of them as groups and plural when we think of the individuals acting within the whole. So we might say: Talking about eggs: "A ...
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2answers
496 views

Etymology of “nutmeg”?

What's the etymology of the British informal usage of the word "nutmeg" as a verb to mean "kicking a ball through a player's legs", usually used in football? It doesn't seem to bear any relation to ...
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2answers
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Is the term “city boy” a commonly used appellation for London bankers? Does it only apply to them, or is it colloquial for other London denizens?

I was watching the British series Sherlock Holmes and I noticed a couple of times they referred to bankers Sherlock was investigating or talking to as city boys. How common is this usage? Would the ...
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1answer
71 views

Must cookies contain chocolate in BrE?

In British English, my friend informed me that my use of the word cookie was incorrect in referring to a baked item having no chocolate bits in it. Instead the appropriate term would have to be ...
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2answers
697 views

What is the origin of 'cash'?

What is the etymology of 'cash'? According to the OED when it is used in 'cash-box' it descends from the French 'casse', and presumably Italian 'cassa'. However the word meaning 'loose change' is from ...
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2answers
359 views

Have American English speakers always used the term “last name” instead of surname?

I am aware that speakers of British English generally use the term "surname" and AmE speakers use "last name." What I want to know is how long it has been this way, i.e. if AmE speakers ever used the ...
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2answers
650 views

What's a “right old roarer” in British English?

I was reading an Amazon review just now, and came across someone (Tchaikovsky) being described as a right old roarer. I'm guessing this is familiar slang to Brits, but I'm not getting good search ...
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3answers
12k views

When to use “Well” or “Good” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why do so many people get this wrong? “How are you? / I'm well.” How would you answer the question "How are you?" I'm well. or I'm good. I ...
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3answers
557 views

What is the origin of gully and googly in cricket?

The OED supplies no clue to the origin of either gully or googly. It does not in fact mention etymology of the cricket sense of gully, which has led me to infer that it is from the ordinary meaning of ...
4
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1answer
390 views

Is it acceptable to omit “I” when it's the subject? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it acceptable to begin a declarative sentence with “Am”? Is it correct English to omit I from the beginning of a sentence when it's clearly implied? For example... ...
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4answers
3k views

“Wednesday week”

I know that the English will say "Wednesday week" to mean a week from Wednesday. Is there a name for this sort of construction? Also, I have a friend from India who will say "today morning". Is ...
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1answer
14k views

“Lunch” vs “luncheon” [closed]

What is the difference between lunch and luncheon? Is it just American spelling vs British spelling, or do they have some sort of formal/professional touch to them, say, a casual midday meal with ...
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2answers
370 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!
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4answers
561 views

“Who him?” as a stand-in for “Who is he?”

I'm curious: is this valid under some rule of grammar I don't know? Was it ever valid, or was it slang or a personal idiosyncrasy? Or (I shudder to think) was it invented by later authors, as a ...
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2answers
963 views

Meaning of “it was gone 2pm”?

The chicken in the “chicken and egg” soba was so tough I swore that it had seen active service in the First World War. I was of course the only customer (well, it was gone 2pm). Please give the ...
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2answers
149 views

Brackets Vs Parenthesis

I came across this question on Meta Stackoverflow, where a discussion was going on in the comments about the terms brackets and parenthesis and the right usage of them. It seems there is a different ...
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1answer
751 views

What is the origin & meaning of “It used to drive me spare”? [duplicate]

While watching the eponymous documentary on Stephen Hawking, his wife described her husband's behaviour when he was deep in thought. She said he could be surrounded by children and not even notice ...
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3answers
1k views

Why is the Yorkshire dialect called 'Tyke'?

From Wikipedia: The Yorkshire dialect refers to the varieties of English used in the Northern England historic county of Yorkshire. Those varieties are often referred to as Broad Yorkshire or ...
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1answer
95 views

Dropping the '-ly' in adverbs used in a negative response to a question

Two British gangsters riding in London traffic. One says: 'Have you seen him?' Other says: 'Not recent. One says: 'do you still go there?' Other says: 'Not regular.' Is this a colloquialism, idiom or ...