There are a few terms I would like to use and am not sure if they are acceptable in American English. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  1. "the gormless expression on his face".

My US English MS Word is underlining "gormless" as being incorrect. Is this word used in the US?

  1. Imagine a very big house/mansion. At the back of the house there is a big back garden, but outside, between the house and the garden is a big area with slabs of stones where guests can mingle for example or you can have a barbecue. Would this be called a "patio"? Or is it an "esplanade" or something else?

  2. If there is a coffee shop with some seats outside in the open air, is this area called the "terrace"? E.g. "We sat on the terrace of the coffee shop."

  3. Is the room of the house that contains the washing machine/dryer and perhaps the mains switchboard and other tools or storage stuff called the "utility room"?

  4. There's a big gala and waiters are milling around with trays of drinks. Is "waiter" an appropriate word or should it be "server"?

  5. Are people who come to your house to do jobs (plumbers/electricians) called "workmen"? Or is it "tradesmen" or something?

  6. "As usual, he's acting like a dithering moron".

I don't recalled hearing "dithering" being used in US English. Would the above expression be acceptable?

  1. Is the rail around a balcony called a "balustrade" in the US? Would this word be understood?

  2. If there is a really huge house with lots of rooms, can you call the corridors in the house "hallways"?

E.g. "We walk down the hallway in silence before arriving at the bedroom."

While I appreciate any input, it would be most useful to only get advice from actual American English speakers.

Thanks so much!

closed as too broad by choster, Drew, Jim, Elian, user140086 Nov 30 '15 at 5:33

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.

  • gormless isn't a very common word. Patio is perfect. We sat outside at the coffee shop. If it's got laundry machines it it, it's "the laundry room". waiter is fine. workman is fine, so is just "I've got a guy here now, fixing the sink". I think you want "blithering/blathering". I think you've got it backwards, "hallways" are smaller than "corridors" - in my book anyway. And "hallway" in your sentence is perfect. – Jim Nov 22 '15 at 23:25
  • 2
    Please ask only one question at a time, and demonstrate your research. It would do you well to take the site tour and review the help center, particularly those sections on asking good questions. – choster Nov 22 '15 at 23:37
  • The questions all fall under the same theme and I don't think asking 8 separate questions at a time is a good idea. I've done a lot of research using lots of resources and am still not sure about the answers to these specific questions. I'm grateful that there are generous people willing to help other people with their English-related questions. – MoniqueH Nov 22 '15 at 23:41
  • @MoniqueH A ditherer can't make up his mind; a blitherer is a babbler. – deadrat Nov 22 '15 at 23:52
  • 1
    @MoniqueH By "mains switchboard" I suppose you mean electrical panel or fuse box. – deadrat Nov 22 '15 at 23:53
  1. gormless is rarely used in the US; if your listener is not an Anglophile, he will not understand it.
  2. patio can be, but doesn't have to be, associated with a big house. Garden apartments have patios. Esplanade is used less often, and usually means a walkway beside the sea.

3,4,& 5. Terrace, utility room and waiter are fine. Server is fine. You could also say laundry room for number 4.

  1. I'd say plumber, or electrician, or whatever the man/woman is -- for example, washing machine repairman; Heating/cooling expert.
  2. Dithering is rarely used, more widely understood. Moron gives the context. Personally, I'd say "utter moron" or "drooling idiot".
  3. In my mind, balustrade is a bit pretentious, and I'd use it only for a large, very strong railing. I think of balustrade as stone or stone-like.
  4. Corridor is in a building. A house, even a small house or a townhouse, has a hall. For example: Corridor: MIT has a very long corridor that runs the length of the main buildings." Hall: "I left the book on the table in the upstairs hall."

All this is from someone who has lived along the Boston-DC axis and in Berkeley. Iowa or Mississippi could be different in a few respects, but probably not to the point where you or your listeners will have any problems.

  • Thanks very much ab2. I'm going to apply all this. Just about the "workmen" thing, one of the sentences I want to use is something like, "I'm used to dealing with workmen." Is there some collective term for all types of tradesmen that come to the house? Also, what is the difference between a HALL and a HALLWAY? Can HALLWAY be like a corridor in a house if it's a huge house for example? Can you say, "the hall twists to the right" or would it be the "hallway twists to the right"? Thanks so much! – MoniqueH Nov 22 '15 at 23:36
  • @MoniqueH I'd say "workmen" if you want a single word. "Tradesmen" isn't commonly used in the US, and, if used, would not connote skilled workmen such as plumbers. "Hallway" is fine in the context you suggest. – ab2 Nov 22 '15 at 23:42
  • 'workers' instead of 'workmen', but if you actually know their profession that'd be better. – Mitch Nov 23 '15 at 0:14
  • @MoniqueH Mitch is probably right. You don't want to imply that plumbers, electricians etc are always men. But if you are going to say "workers", consider "skilled workers" if that is what you mean. Or "workers (e.g., plumbers)". As I get older, I employ more people to do things that I used to do myself, and I find that all of them who do a good job are skilled. – ab2 Nov 23 '15 at 1:00
  • Hi ab2. Do you mind if I pick your brain about a couple of vocab things I'm not able to ascertain online? I want to know if in the US you can say, "he looks off his face" to mean he looks really drunk or high? Also, can you say, "he's privy to that information" meaning he has access to/has the right to hear? Thanks so much for any advice! – MoniqueH Nov 25 '15 at 9:04

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