18 March 2009

I say al-yoo-min-i-um

Last week the lovely Shorty asked me a most interesting question. One that deserved it’s very own post as its answer. Shorty wondered if there are things I read about from American bloggers that I’m unfamiliar with. There are, surprisingly, loads of things that were, and sometimes still are, unfamiliar to me. Vocabulary differences for instance:

bachelorette party = hen party
zucchini = courgette
apartment = flat
what’s a condo?
elevator = lift
zit = spot
liquor store = off license
fall = autumn
truck = lorry
closet = cupboard
pants = trousers
highway = motorway
bangs = fringe
cookie = biscuits
sweater = jumper
TJ Maxx = TK Maxx
mom = mum
soccer = football
zip code = postcode

There are words that are “British English” but that we hardly ever use, for example ‘lame’, ‘covet’, saying something is ‘super –nice/cute/sassy’ etc.

Moving on from language there are things that we don’t have at all, for example escort cards, baby showers, peanut butter m&ms, american football, baseball, J-Crew, Anthropologie, drive-thru Starbucks, chick fil a, thanksgiving, Old Navy, Pottery Barn, sororities, Twibsession (twighlight obsession, ha) and so many more that I can’t remember at the moment.

British clothing and shoe sizes and weights are different too. The one thing that still confuses me is that we write our dates differently to you… I’d write 18/03/2009 for today’s date!

I have a car with a bonnet and boot, I stick plasters on cuts, Swedes, aubergines and coriander are healthy greens, I hoover my carpets, Mr B and I often go on holiday for a fortnight and we push trolleys round the supermarket and of course I say al-yoo-min-i-um.



  1. Too funny!

    I don't get "condo" either....I think the only difference is someone would own a condo and rent an apartment. (but don't quote me on that)

    note: I think "spot" sounds 100% better than "zit" ha!

  2. Thank you so much for your post. I love the details! Someday I hope to hear the pronunciations in person.

    One of my favorite authors is Rosemonde Pilcher who is from Scotland (I think). Her vocabulary really opened up the differences in our English usage many years ago and I've just found it so fascinating. I love watching British films and hearing the lovely accent from your part of the world!

  3. The differences make you seem so much cooler than us... You have more fun and sophisticated words! But it is really sad that you don't have J Crew, Chick-fil-a, or Pottery Barn!!!

    And yeah, the difference between condos and apartments is that they have individual owners (where apartments are all owned by the same person).


    Apparently the word for it there is commonhold?

  4. I am cracking up. I loved this post! Oh, and a condo is short for condominium. Which is basically an apartment that one buys as opposed to renting. I hope to get one of my own here soon!

  5. Great question, great response. "Jumper" amuses me, since it refers to a completely different article of clothing in the states. Jennifer is right though, your vocabulary sounds much more sophisticated!

  6. LOVED this post. Girl I need to send you some Peanut Butter M&Ms Right away!! Your are such a treat, thank you for making my day brighter!

  7. ooooo I wish I was Brittish! your words are so much more lovely than ours! but I am sending you Peanut Butter M&Ms ASAP... that is a tragedy.

  8. Great post! I'm always reading british chick lit and I never quite understood what a jumper was. I assumed it was a sweater but somehow I always imagined a dress like thing. I love learning stuff like this!

  9. jumper was the really clincher for me too. i always thought "who wears jumpers anymore these days? i thought saskia was so stylish, but perhaps i have missed a trend?"

    also i read the list to my fiance and we both said "wait, what IS a condo exactly!?"

    i am also adopting the terms spot, motorway, and lift into my i-wanna-be-a-brit vocab.

  10. lovely post! funny too! love your blog. just found out while checking my other daily reads!

  11. ha! i love this post! One of the hardest things about moving from American to the UK was getting used to all the new words! we may both speak 'english' but it is quite different! :)