I'm looking for a word that is the 'opposite' of American/British English.

Is there a word such that

The word X is ???? = The word X is used both in the UK and in the US.

One possibility is region-free, but I don't think it is a proper word for the context. Possibly non-dialectical?

An additional question: is there a word to refer to words/phrases that are used irrespective of region but mean different things?

Note: I just mentioned UK/US since the difference is the most commonly discussed.

  • 1
    You mean for example 'computer' is spelled the same in US or UK spelling but unlike 'optimize' in US which is spelled 'optimise' in UK - you want a word that describes how 'computer' is spelled the same in US or UK?
    – BCLC
    Commented May 18 at 11:40
  • 5
    If you want to collectively refer to English-speaking regions, “Anglosphere” is available. Commented May 18 at 18:40
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    Pond-agnostic? Commented May 19 at 1:57
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    @YosefBaskin apondal Commented May 19 at 15:05
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    What about Canada or Ireland? They have their own usages and commonalities, as do India, Australia, the Carribbean, etc. Anglo-American is close but would exclude Scotland, Wales, etc, so name the countries.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 19 at 18:51

7 Answers 7



Oxford Dictionary of English

concerning countries on both sides of the Atlantic, typically Britain and the US: the transatlantic relationship.


of, relating to, or involving countries on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and especially the U.S. and Great Britain — transatlantic cooperation


On, spanning or crossing, or from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

  • 5
    The difficulty with transatlantic is (ironically) the same as "cross-pond". In BrE, transatlantic doesn't necessarily mean "on both sides" but rather "on the other side". Transatlantic English is American English, not "Both" English.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented May 20 at 7:20
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    @Andrew_Leach Yeah, good comment; transatlantic could mean either “on both sides”, “on the other side”, or even “somewhere in between the two sides” (e.g. a transatlantic accent). Hopefully the context would remove the ambiguity. Commented May 20 at 8:14
  • BrE is more likely to use "mid-Atlantic" for "somewhere between the two sides" (eg Loyd Grossman has a mid-Atlantic accent). I don't think we have a word for "on both sides".
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented May 20 at 8:16
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    @AndrewLeach: For me (a Brit) it can happily mean either depending on context: “…our translatlantic friends”, spoken between Brits, clearly means “Americans, but using “a translatlantic word” to mean “accepted on both sides” is also quite clear and natural.
    – PLL
    Commented May 20 at 15:25
  • 2
    If you wanted to coin a neologism I guess pan-Atlantic is available.
    – nekomatic
    Commented May 20 at 16:02

There is no need for such a word. Unless marked as British or American, it is assumed the word is used in both dialects.

If I wanted to emphasize use both places, I could use “cross-pond.”. Lookimg up “across the pond” gives you an idea of informal use.

  • 2
    I think "cross-pond" or "across the pond" are themselves British usage. In the USA it is rare to hear either, I think, except when used jokingly to refer to something exclusively British. Maybe "trans-Atlantic" fits better on both sides of the "pond". But your point that there is no need for such a word in a dictionary context is well taken.
    – Wastrel
    Commented May 18 at 14:49
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    @Wastrel While I agree that cross-pnd is odd, can't say that I've ever heard it used, would you also say the phrase "on both sides of the pond" is more British? I had always assumed that one worked well on, um, both sides of the pond.
    – terdon
    Commented May 18 at 15:09
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    I think calling the Atlantic "the pond" is not really American usage. It's more British. I've heard it used by Americans in a fake British accent to make fun of that. I think that most Americans understand the expression, but wouldn't casually use it.
    – Wastrel
    Commented May 18 at 15:22
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    @Wastrel I hear this usage of "the pond" quite often in the US.
    – alphabet
    Commented May 18 at 22:49
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    Calling the Atlantic “the pond” is just typical British understatement, which is so widely recognized that even The Korea Times ran an article about it. I never heard anyone talk about typical American understatement - that one feels more than a bit oxymoronic to me. Commented May 19 at 16:53

There is no such word. You have to say "used in both British and American English", or "used in all varieties of English" if that's the case. Or perhaps "not specific to any particular variety of English." As others have said, words are assumed to have this property by default.


"Global English" would make sense to someone reading the phrase. It is also known as International English or World English.

This would cover English as it is used all over the world, including the rest of the Commonwealth countries who have their own dialect or uniquenesses.

These phrases crop up in association with simplified English courses often marketed to those who are fluent in another language, but want a non-regionalised common base language.

Examples (no connection)

To be Global English the example would avoid idioms and contractions, both of which can trip up new speakers.

  • 4
    The trouble is that 'global English' is a term already in use, with different meanings. According to Wikipedia, one usage is, as you say, the set of all different varieties of the English language actually in use (the term ... 'may acknowledge the diversity and varieties of English spoken throughout the world'). Idioms and all. Which conflicts starkly with OP's request for a term describing the intersection (overlap) set not the union set. Commented May 18 at 14:03
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    @Lambie all language is "made up"
    – Criggie
    Commented May 19 at 19:17
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    @Fe2O3 Onomatopoeic words aim to evoke the sounds they're describing, but even so, they're usually more human invention than a reproduction of nature. For instance, the exact same sound is represented as "ngok" in Indonesian, "grrr" in Spanish, and "chrum" in Polish, and even though all of those are onomatopoeic formations I doubt many people unfamiliar with those languages would be able to pick the English equivalent. They're not "made up" in the sense of being completely arbitrary, but then neither are terms like "global English".
    – G_B
    Commented May 21 at 4:28
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    @G_B Here :D Have a "Far Side" day... :-)
    – user503257
    Commented May 21 at 4:33
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    @Fe2O3 I will see your "boing" and raise you a "tch tch tch" :-)
    – G_B
    Commented May 23 at 2:33

Case 1. Political

Hey sundowner, I'm not sure if you mean something political, but if ever there's always west, western world or occident. From Wikipedia:

The Western world, also known as the West, primarily refers to various nations and states in the regions of Australasia, Western Europe, and Northern America; with some debate as to whether those in Eastern Europe and Latin America[c] also constitute the West. The Western world likewise is called the Occident (from Latin occidens 'setting down, sunset, west') in contrast to the Eastern world known as the Orient (from Latin oriens 'origin, sunrise, east').


"Occident" is a term for the West, traditionally comprising anything that belongs to the Western world. It is the antonym of the term Orient, referring to the Eastern world. In English, it has largely fallen into disuse. The term "occidental" is often used to describe objects from the Occident but can be considered an outdated term by some. The term originated with geographical divisions mirroring the cultural divide between the Greek East and the Latin West, and the political divide between the Western and Eastern Roman Empires.

So to say some aspect of politics or culture is the same whether in the US or in the UK, like 'Americans love democracy' and 'The British love democracy', I'd say 'The West loves democracy.'

Case 2a. Spelling

If you mean for example 'computer' is spelled the same in US or UK spelling but unlike 'optimize' (US) it is spelled 'optimise' in the UK and you want a word to describe how 'computer' is spelled the same in the US or the UK, then I don't think there's a word for that.

You can try 'standard' if the context is clearly about spelling differences. If I wanted to talk about a list of words, each might differ in US/UK spelling, then I'd try as follows:

List US spelling of words

  1. Computer
  2. Optimize
  3. Banana
  4. Jacket
  5. Aluminum
  6. Spelled

And then indicate UK spelling differences like

'The following words are spelt the same in UK spelling, unless otherwise indicated'

  1. Computer
  2. Optimize - UK: Optimise
  3. Banana
  4. Jacket
  5. Aluminum - UK: Aluminium
  6. Spelled - UK: Spelt

Case 2b. Vocabulary

List US terminology of words

  1. Computer
  2. Apartment
  3. Banana
  4. Jacket
  5. Cracker
  6. Elevator

And then indicate UK terminology differences like

'The following words also used by the British, unless otherwise indicated'


'The following words are the same throughout Western English, unless otherwise indicated'

  1. Computer
  2. Apartment - UK: Flat
  3. Banana
  4. Jacket
  5. Cracker - UK: Biscuit
  6. Elevator - UK: Lift
  • 1
    (2) The -ise/-ize split is far from being UK vs US usage. For instance, Oxford University Press recommends realize etc (this is even called 'Oxford style and is preferred in OED) whereas the Oxford University style guide recommends realise etc. / (6) These Google 1-grams indicate that 'spelled' seems more common than 'spelt' even in the UK nowadays (and remember that the nounal homonym 'spelt' bumps up the figures for this variant). // But 'occidental' to mean ... Commented May 18 at 13:51
  • 'used in the US and UK alike' is far too woolly, and would confuse if used in linguistics without a stipulative definition. Commented May 18 at 13:51
  • For the spelling, the difference I was thinking could include that too, but as put in the comment, I was more thinking about difference in vocabulary. Re: political, isn't it too narrow to call the US and the UK alone "the West"? I thought when you say "the West", it includes at least some continental western countries.
    – sundowner
    Commented May 18 at 23:15
  • @sundowner Politics: Of course West is more than just US & UK. At the very least 'western europe' and 'north america' are the top regions in the economist democracy index. Spelling/vocabulary: Oh terminology that's common in the west whether US or UK like 'computer' is the same but cracker vs biscuit isn't ? I guess I'd the say the same. I'll edit.
    – BCLC
    Commented May 21 at 14:51
  • cracker (US) and cracker (UK) but it's normally cookie (US) and biscuit (UK), biscuit (US) and scone (UK)? No?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 21 at 23:34

Standard English implies this:


The English that with respect to spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary is substantially uniform though not devoid of regional differences, that is well established by usage in the formal and informal speech and writing of the educated, and that is widely recognized as acceptable wherever English is spoken and understood

  • 3
    That is not what "Standard English" means.
    – alphabet
    Commented May 18 at 5:00
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    – Community Bot
    Commented May 18 at 5:10
  • 2
    Meriam-Webster begs to differ: Standar English can mean "the English that with respect to spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary is substantially uniform though not devoid of regional differences ... and that is widely recognized as acceptable wherever English is spoken." I'd italicise 'vocabulary ... widely recognized'. And yes, I'm aware 'Standard English' is also if not primarily a relative term implying socio-linguistic judgment between core and periphery.
    – GOrr
    Commented May 18 at 5:11
  • But would you call US/UK-only words non-standard?
    – sundowner
    Commented May 18 at 6:05

How about:


as in uniting the different continents who speak the language in that context.

Ofc: if it also includes Australia, New Zealand, ...

Otherwise maybe:


or even


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