In American English revision is used in the sense of redaction, but in British English it’s used in the sense of studying for exams. So what do British English speakers say when they want to talk about “revisionist history” or “revised the terms of the agreement” or “revised his answer”?

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    I think OP is simply mistaken in supposing there's a UK/~US "split" for the meaning. It's true Americans tend to use review rather than revise more than Brits in some contexts, but I'd have thought we all know the different meanings perfectly well. – FumbleFingers Jul 28 '13 at 15:35
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    The meanings are the same in British English. The only slight departure from what you have written, is that if I was speaking about someone revising his answer, as in learning it, I would tend to say, rehearse his answer. – user48193 Jul 28 '13 at 16:30

Revision is still the word used:-

  1. the act or process of revising
  2. (Social Science / Education) Brit the process of rereading a subject or notes on it, esp in preparation for an examination
  3. (Communication Arts / Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) a corrected or new version of a book, article, etc.

where revise is defined to be:-

  1. to amend or alter: to revise one's opinion.
  2. to alter something already written or printed, in order to make corrections, improve, or update: to revise a manuscript.
  3. British . to review (previously studied materials) in preparation for an examination.

The meaning of study for an examination is only one of the possible meanings.

Edit: Revised is also used in British English in the sense of study for exam (I revised my physics course yesterday).

Revisionist is slightly different:-


  1. an advocate of revision, especially of some political or religious doctrine.

  2. a reviser.

  3. any advocate of doctrines, theories, or practices that depart from established authority or doctrine


  1. of or pertaining to revisionists or revisionism.
  2. attempting to re-evaluate and restate the past based on newly acquired standards.

While it has the general meaning of reviser, I have never heard it used in the second noun sense, only the first and third. One could, I suppose, call someone studying for an exam a revisionist, particularly if they were studying very hard, but it would sound odd or jocular.

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    It's not clear how this responds to the OP's particular words of 'revisionist' and 'revised', that is, is the meaning of those two words the same in AmE and BrE? (since they are different for the similar word 'revision') – Mitch Jul 28 '13 at 15:13

The simple answer, from all the above, is that we British use "revisionist" and "revised" precisely the same way as an American English speaker in the phrases “revisionist history” and “revised the terms of the agreement”. I do think in the final case ("revised his answer") we are more likely to say "rehearsed" or "reviewed" depending on what is meant, but would say "revised thoroughly for a physics test".

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About revise as used in the UK to describe revising or learning for an exam. My grandad (born about 1897) used to often ask me during my school days:"been lugging up?" I didn't know what he meant at first and my dad told me: "he means, have you been revising?" So, I presume 'lugging up'is old English slang for revising. I have never heard it used by anyone else since my grandad died (1980).

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  • Hello Stephen. This doesn't exactly answer the question being asked - we are a Q&A site, rather than discussion forum. Also we tend to prefer reference material rather than anecdotal evidence. – marcellothearcane 19 hours ago

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