The Difference Between American and British “slang” and Different Word Meanings

  ·  25th July 2018

The UK and the US are very different in terms of living a day-to-day life. In the UK, people drive on the left side of the road. In America, we drive on the right. People in the UK say “tuh-MAH-toh” but in America, it’s pronounced “tuh-MAY-toh”. There’s so many word differences and sayings between the British and Americans. Let’s convert some British “slang” and phrases to see what they’re equivalent to in American terms.

“Bob’s Your Uncle!” = “WALLA”

  • I’m assuming this term is used pretty often in the UK meaning “the finished piece.” or “that’s it”. If this is true, there’s a similar term that we use in America meaning the same thing and it is “Walla! (wal-lah)” For example: “ All you need to do is add the sauce to the noodles and WALLA, you have a bowl of spaghetti.” Yea.. it’s cheesy, I know.

“Cheerio” = “Later” or “See Ya” maybe “ After A While Crocodile”  

  • Cheerio, used as a way of departing or the ending of something. I’ve always heard this term around and surprisingly a lot of people in America say this, but in more of a humorous way in my opinion. The word “later” and the phrase “See ya later” are equivalent to the meaning of “cheerio”. An American might say something like “Ok, later guys.” or “Alright, see ya later kimmy.” or even “Alright, after a while crocodile.”

“All right?” = “What’s Up” or “Are you good?”

  • I’ve heard this term almost every time I walked in the door of my internship office. Initially, I thought it was an actual question of interest of well-being. Now that i’ve lived in London for a little of a month, I’ve noticed it’s similar to how Americans say “What’s up” or “You good?” These meanings don’t intentionally mean “interest of well-being”, although they could. Most of the time, these words are used to greet friends or family. For example, someone might say “What’s Up Jill.” or “You good Ben?”

“Holiday” = “Vacation”

  • In the UK, holiday means a day or few away from any work or school functions. In America, the word “holiday” has a whole different meaning. When we have time away from work or school activities, we say “vacation”. It’s typically used like this, “I can’t wait to go on vacation this summer.” The word “holiday” is used as a title for special times of the year (example: 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc). It would most likely be used in a sentence similar to this, “Come shop with us this holiday season.” or “My favorite holiday is Christmas.”

“Trousers” = “Pants”

  • So in the UK, “trousers” and “pants” are NOT the same. “Pants” actually mean “undergarment” and “trousers” are the bottoms. I tried so hard not to make this mistake upon arriving to London but one day it slipped out and I immediately noticed my mistake. In America, you will rarely hear the word “trousers” used, everyone says “pants” or “jeans”. Although, If you do happen to say “trousers”, no one’s going to be upset or look at you weird. I think it’ll just be obvious that you’re either not from America or you just have different lexicon. To Americans, the words “pants” and “trousers” are equivalent so don’t be afraid to say either one.