When I want to refer to a (rural) vacation home, what would be the most appropriate term in BrE? I know in American English cabin and camp are used for those, but what would correspond to those in British English? What I've come up with are summer house or summer cottage, but I want to avoid the connotation of those small buildings in gardens.

For visual reference, this would be something I'm after here. http://cedarcottagebc.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/cedar_cottage_exterior.jpg

edit: I got the term wrong, thank you for making me realize it!

  • 1
    Your notion of what American English words are used for a rural vacation home comes from what sources? People who have "cabins" call them cabins, but that's rare. They would be more likely to say "my country house". A "camp" is something entirely different from a rural vacation home. Why summer home or cottage? Do you think that people in the UK don't go their country houses in the winter? – user21497 May 23 '13 at 9:24
  • My notion of the American English words mainly come from exchange with speakers of American English. But as you can see, that is not relevant here at all. Summer in this case is optional with cottage, but I wanted to include it, especially in summer home to distinguish between seasonal getaways and permanent homes. – Heidi May 23 '13 at 9:52
  • Looking at the image, in British English we would tend to call that a cabin. Cabin is often used to refer to small building, usually of wooden construction. If this is situated in a garden (and therefore not the main building), it would be a summer house in addition to being a cabin. – Sam May 23 '13 at 10:34
  • If what Americans call them isn't relevant, then you shouldn't have mentioned it in your question. After all, what you're looking for is how BrE speakers refer to the entities you're asking about. – user21497 May 23 '13 at 10:57

The generic term in British English is holiday home (this is more common than summer home) - this covers all types of building. Cottage and cabin are types of building. A camp is a place/area where people stay, rather than a building or home.

  • Thank you! I'm aware of what a camp is, but in some areas in the US they use the word to describe a cottage. – Heidi May 23 '13 at 10:21

I'm not clear whether you're suggesting that summer home/cottage suggests small buildings in gardens, or whether you're referring to cabin & camp in that respect. We certainly wouldn't use the latter two terms (unless cabin were an accurate description of the type of building).

[Edit in response to OP's comment: Summer house might mean a small building in a garden (something which I overlooked and which, I think, would probably be more commonly used in the context of a large house with a large garden), but summer home wouldn't mean that.]

I think we would often just refer to it as a second home or even something like They've also got a place in [village/town/county/country name]. Both terms could also apply to places abroad, particularly places in more southern parts of Europe, which may be used more in our winter than in our summer.

  • Oxford Dictionaries Online define summer house as follows: "noun a small building in a garden, used for sitting in during fine weather" in British and World Englishes. That lead me into thinking that I should avoid using that word for it. However, in US English they also have "(usually summer house) a cottage or house use as a second residence, especially during the summer". – Heidi May 23 '13 at 10:06
  • See my edited response. I also agree with holiday home as suggested by Soccem. – TrevorD May 23 '13 at 10:21
  • Yes, I noticed my error, which probably caused some of the confusion. Thank you. – Heidi May 23 '13 at 10:30

I have what you have pictured in the link... and i certainly call it a cabin, because a cabin is what it is and i guess more specifically it serves as a summer house, although summerhouse might be misunderstood by non BrE to mean a house you travel to in the summer, like a holiday home, you only live in during the summer, and return to another domicile in the winter, aka here as second home. Old thread, i realise, but someone else might be reading it nowadays, so for their interest, i post.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.