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In the States, we use the term "pharmacy" or "drugstore," but what is the equivalent in the UK? I checked two sources, but came up with nothing.

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    Where all have you looked? Just curious, say. (I came in late, the down vote is bad enough, but this comment ought not to hurt the OP, this one's in good faith, sure.) – Kris Dec 6 '14 at 5:11
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    In the future, try looking for something along the lines of "American vs. British English". – miltonaut Dec 6 '14 at 5:38
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    "you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." --Douglas Adams, THHGttG – user1873 Dec 6 '14 at 15:35
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    They always use "chemist" on those BBC detective shows. – Hot Licks Dec 6 '14 at 19:30
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    Please reconsider the accepted answer, I can confirm from direct experience that "drugstore" would sound extremely unnatural to my British ears and I have never once heard it used in any area of England. However chemist's and pharmacy are both in common use, a nuance would be that a chemist's is almost always a standalone shop where a medicine counter in a larger shop would almost always be called a pharmacy. – Vality Dec 7 '14 at 7:19
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It's a chemist's, though drugstore is starting to creep into standard UK usage too.

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    I've never heard "drugstore" in British English. "Pharmacy" sounds like a much more natural alternative to me. – David Richerby Dec 6 '14 at 10:53
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    Agree with @DavidRicherby. Pharmacy is the term which has been coming in. – Colin Fine Dec 6 '14 at 11:18
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    In the UK 'Drugs' are narcotics and would only be understood as medicines if explicitly stated. The term 'Drugstore' would not be used, but like most American terms (faucet etc.) would be understood when used by an American. A British person using these terms would probably be made fun of. – Niall Dec 6 '14 at 13:35
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    This answer is nonsense. I live in the UK and the most common word to use is "pharmacy". I've never heard it described as a "drugstore". – Jez Dec 6 '14 at 23:08
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    Upon what basis do you claim that "drugstore is starting to creep into standard UK usage too"? Your profile says your location is the United States. As a UK resident "drugstore" sounds very American to me. – Martin Smith Dec 7 '14 at 17:35
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Chemist, chemist's, chemist's shop or, sometimes, pharmacy. I've never heard "drugstore" in the UK, though one of the big chains is called Superdrug.

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    Two of the largest UK chains that I know of contain the word pharmacy, ABC Pharmacy and Boots Pharmacy. Pharmacy is fully understood and recognised here, and in my view it's become more prominent than chemist mainly thanks to Boots. – Dom Dec 7 '14 at 9:00
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    @user Um. Boots refer to themselves as Boots the Chemist, though they do use the word "pharmacy" to describe the parts of their business that sell medicines. And, as far as I can see, ABC actually refer to themselves as ABC Drugstore (!) but they're far from being one of the largest UK chains: they only have a few shops, all of which are in London. They don't even seem to have a website! – David Richerby Dec 7 '14 at 10:24
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    Aha! The answer underneath this holds the key to my confusion - chemists contain pharmacies. The chemists around my area all have pharmacy on a big sign with or next to the name. Today's fact has been learnt! :) – Dom Dec 7 '14 at 10:28
  • Chemist is still the de facto name. Pharmacy would be widely understood, Drugstore would usually be understood, but neither would often be used by a native speaker – Jon Story Dec 8 '14 at 9:59
  • Definitely not the "House Of Fun" youtube.com/watch?v=GJ2X9SANsME – Jodrell Dec 8 '14 at 15:53
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Technically a chemist's [shop] will contain a pharmacy, which is the counter where prescription drugs can be obtained. Because it may be necessary to get these when shops are closed, there is a rota (published in the local paper, for example) of out-of-hours pharmacies; some of these are in supermarkets or 24-hour shops.

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I think that the answer to this has changed over the last thirty years or so. When I was a kid, chemist's was invariably the term I heard, though pharmacy wouldn't have been incorrect. But recently, I don't think I've heard anyone say chemist's: it's always been pharmacy.

I've never heard a Brit say drugstore. Although we have a chain called Superdrug, I distinctly recall thinking the name was weird and slightly creepy when I first encountered it. I still do when I think about it, though of course one gets used to the anomaly.

I can't say how localised or typical this experience is. I'm from middle class southern Britain, but your kilometerage might vary.

  • I agree that pharmacy is now a widely accepted term in Britain, though people still say would you be kind enough to pop into the chemists for me please. Particularly in supermarkets they refer to the pharmacy counter. The problem with the use of drugstore in Britain, is that drugs are nasty illegal substances, which Americans call narcotics - but we seldom do. – WS2 Nov 30 '15 at 21:15
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The most common (and one that would be understood by 99.9% of people living in the UK), will call it a pharmacy.

Although, you'd get away with calling it a chemist.


People mentioning 'Boots' or 'superdrug' should note that that is a full shop, not just a pharmacy or chemist.

~Source Me (as an Englishman)


In order to clarify the terms chemist and pharmacy (although in the UK, people might/will interpret these differently (apparently)), i have included a 'comparison' for you:

A chemist is a scientist who develops drugs, and a pharmacy is a store that sells drugs. However, in Britain the word chemist is commonly used to denote a pharmacy

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    This appears to be exactly the wrong way around. For example, Boots refers to itself as "Boots the Chemist" and their shops, which sell snacks, cosmetics, hair care products and all kinds of other things, contain a pharmacy counter. – David Richerby Dec 8 '14 at 15:43
  • I'm pretty sure locally it's known as 'Boots', plus one of my parents is a Pharmacist. Boots is a shop which contains a chemist. – jbutler483 Dec 8 '14 at 15:46
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    Just google it, its "Boots the Chemist" especially for older generations. google.co.uk/… – Jodrell Dec 8 '14 at 15:47
  • To be honest, I believe you to be 'spitting hairs' over whether boots is a chemist/pharmacy/shop/whatever. I'm saying that, in light of the question, it's either a 'pharmacy' or 'chemist'. i've never heard of 'Boots the Chemist', but i've heard of 'Boots' (as do the people working there). Plus, even if they did, this is just says their point of view. There's HUNDREDS of other 'drugstores', each of them selling very similar products, of whom call themselves differently. Secondly, Boots USED to be called a 'chemist', but have since changed their name after expansion. – jbutler483 Dec 8 '14 at 15:59
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    In sum: "Chemist", the British term for pharmacist, or its possessed form "chemist's", applies in popular (if not in corporate branding) usage to the entire shop, much of which contains goods irrelevant to health care, while in the U.S. "drugstore" has this broader denotation. In both contexts, however, the term "pharmacy" refers quite narrowly to the chemist's/pharmacist's specialized domain. This explains the otherwise paradoxical sign on the door of my local CVS Pharmacy listing different hours of operation for the "Pharmacy" (where prescriptions are filled) and the (rest of) the "Store". – H Stephen Straight Dec 9 '14 at 21:07

protected by tchrist Jun 16 '15 at 1:59

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