Thinking about the word "rubbish" which is widely used in the UK while non-existent in the USA, how do such words surface in Britain but not America?

I read somewhere that American English is closer to British English 300 years ago than British English today itself is. How does one explain this? Did English continue to evolve based on borrowing words from other European languages while America remained isolated? How big a role did British writers/poets that were popular only domestically play? Did technology entrepreneurs coin local words simultaneously (motorway, lorry)? I know there were language steering committees in America in the late 1700s but I doubt they would have abandoned words like "rubbish" for being too obscene as they did for some other words.

I know you can encapsulate the whole chaos in the term "culture" but this seems merely like a sophisticated way of saying "there was no systematic force, it was just chance" which isn't really insight.

Note I'm not focusing on terms that are more common in America than Britain. I'm talking specifically about British-only words.

Other words: autumn, knackered, nappy

EDIT - Those who can't answer but are finding entertainment in this can find more examples here:

closed as too broad by tchrist, user140086, Mari-Lou A, Chenmunka, michael_timofeev Nov 23 '15 at 14:11

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I (AmE speaker) think that your theory is rubbish. While we say garbage or trash instead of rubbish when speaking about the stuff we put in the trash cans/garbage cans (not dustbins or rubbish bins) we still use the word rubbish for other things. – Jim Nov 13 '15 at 0:35
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    Autumn is certainly also used. Knackered and nappy not so much. – Matt Samuel Nov 13 '15 at 0:42
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    And with regard to "nappy", perhaps you'd like to explain why those crazy Brits invented a new word ca 1920 when the perfectly good word "diaper" has existed since the 1500s. – Hot Licks Nov 13 '15 at 0:51
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    There's something wrong with this whole question. – Daniel Stowers Nov 13 '15 at 1:08
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    I think you’ve answered your own question. "Culture" encompasses psychology, sociology, economy; in fact, most of the humanities. I think each word would need to be evaluated individually, and even then we probably wouldn’t approach a generalized theory for why some words took off and some didn't. Conversely, I am sure we could find many examples of Americanisms that haven't made it to the UK. – Kyle Nov 13 '15 at 1:11

I think your Question needs to be rethought, as many of the comments indicate. See especially the comment from rogermue.

To me, the opposite of your Question might be more interesting. Why, in spite of an ocean, have British English and American English remained so close? (This may have already been discussed on ELU).

I scanned the list you added, and a large fraction of the words were familiar, although not ones I routinely use or hear.

Two of your assertions seem doubtful to me: (1) "there were language steering committees in the US in the late 1700s" and (2) "American English is closer to British English 300 years ago than British English today itself is."

(1) As deadrat said, "Speak to me of these late 18th century steering committees." If they existed at all (references ?), were they more than a few academics briefly holding forth?

(2) It is often stated that English as spoken in the more remote parts of Appalachia is close to 18th century English, but I have never seen this statement made about American English in general. And, going back to rogermue's comment, the English of the Deep South is not the English of Brooklyn or of New Hampshire or of Los Angeles.

  • I think it was either mother tongue or made in America by Bill Bryson. It's a bit difficult to go back and find the quote without spending hours going through so many pages. And when I make these observations to colleagues or friends their reaction is basically one of me just telling them what they already know. So I assumed people interested enough in the question would have done their own research or kept quiet. – Sridhar Sarnobat Nov 13 '15 at 19:29

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