The Index

In The Prodigal Tongue I was unable to mark all of the Americanisms and Britishism that came up in passing as I wrote. The index in the book includes only those words and phrases that are substantially discussed. This is a supplementary index of British/American expressions that aren’t in the book index.

As discussed in the book, it’s difficult to say which words are “Americanisms” or “Britishisms”. Are we talking about current usage? Or where the word started? I’ve got a mixture of both here—if you see an expression that you say in the other country’s column, then it’s more than likely that I’m just pointing out that it didn’t originally come from your country. Most words here will be familiar to most readers.

To build this index, I looked in particular at words or meanings that were likely to have arisen after 1750 (when the English-speaking population of the future US was sizable). Not all of those expressions are here; in some cases, the evidence of who said it first is just too tenuous to call. For example the OED’s first citation for dentistry is in 1838 Edinburgh. But the word took off faster in the US than in the UK, according to Google Books Ngrams, and that OED entry has not been updated since 1895. So I’ve just left it out, rather than picking a side. Transatlantic was similar; slightly different uses of the word seem to have sprung up in different places around the same time. It’s interesting, but requires too many caveats to fit in this table. So in such cases, I’ve tended to err on the side of non-inclusion.

The list includes:

  • expressions I’ve used in passing as part of the “LynneMurphyish” that the book is written in. These are in bold.
  • expressions that are raised (briefly) as examples, but not included in the book’s index. These are in italics. (If it’s in the book’s index, it’s probably not here.)
  • only spellings that are not part of a general pattern. That is, artefact/artifact is here, but not centre/center, theatre/theater
  • only expressions originating in the UK or US. There are, of course, phrases in the book that originated in Australia, Canada and Ireland. Sorry, Commonwealth words; you’re not what my book is about.
  • no pronunciation differences (you’ll just have to read the book to find out about them!)
  • few grammatical differences (because they’re hard to describe and put into an alphabetical table)

For many items, I’ve given a short explanation or first citation date (usually from the OED, sometimes from Green’s Dictionary of Slang or Merriam-Webster).

Where a clear US/UK equivalent exists for a bold or italic word in the list,  but that equivalent is not mentioned in the book, it’s given in plain roman.

This was a rather overwhelming task, so I have probably missed things. If you spot something in the book that you think should be on this list, please get in touch.

0 American Englishpossibly coined by Noah Webster
0 British Englishmid-1800s 
1talking heads first used in UK in 1960s; almost immediately taken up in US too
1 chutzpahfrom Yiddish
1 wrecking ballgeneral English now, but first used in US
2management-speak 1980s
2superhero first OED citation = UK 1899
2 fast food1950s
2 gobbledygook1940s
2 ground zero1940s
2 hip-hoplate 1970s
2 kidult1940s
2 sign up for (something)early 20th c
2 teenager1940s
2 tween1940s
3grumpy late 1700s
3psychologize first OED citation = Coleridge in 1810
3technologize this word has probably been re-invented many times, but the 1st OED cite is UK 1900 (with -ise)
3 Americanismcoined by Rev. John Witherspoon, 1781
3 globalizethis word has probably been re-invented many times, but the 1st OED cite is US 1937
3 go-getting1920s or earlier
3 leverage (v.)in the financial sense,  1970s
3 microwave (v.)orig. tech jargon 1960s
3 personal computerorig. tech jargon 1950s, though it came to be used more in UK than US (see ch. 3)
3 pop (adj.)meaning ‘popularized’ (frequently implying ‘dumbed down’)
3 reach out‘to contact’
3 suitmeaning ‘business executive’, 1970s
3 unfriendonline culture early 2000s
3 unlikein its modern, online sense, 2000s
3 uploadThe OED’s first citaton for this noun is from a NATO document, following ones US in origin
4Chicken LickenChicken Little 
4tut (v.) in the ‘to express disapproval’ sense, 1970s
4 Public Enemy Number 1circa 1930: the first person on a list of wanted criminals
6 co-author (v.)first OED citation by Groucho Marx, 1948
6 stew (over)fret’ first OED citations are US, from early 20th c
7 uppityself-important’; mid-/late-1800s
8déclassé turn of 20th c
8working class mid-1700s
8 immigrant late 1700s (also discussed in ch. 7)
8 kick in‘take effect’ (as of drugs); 1980s (after other US senses)
8 nitwitearly 20th c
9towardstowardboth are used in both countries—click link to read more; These occur in passing on several other pages, but I won’t repeat it here.
9 belittlepossibly coined by Thomas Jefferson
9 moosefrom an Algonquian word
9 playermeaning ‘influential person’, 1930s
10fairy cakecupcake the US term is now used in UK, sometimes to refer to a more American-style one
10knob-shrivelling in the quoted context, it means something like ‘horrifying’ (knob=’penis’)
10 political correctness1800s
10 t-shirt1920s
11cabby/cabbie mid-19th c
11 Britfor a person, first OED citation is from Texas
11 expatriationin the sense of ’emigration’ (rather than exile), first known use by Thomas Jefferson
12boardroom seems to be orig. UK, mid-1800s
12filmmovieFilm is used in US too, but tends to be reserved for more “serious” or “arty” ones. 
12news, the for a radio or tv broadcast, seems to be UK first
12television programmetelevision showThough show has been used in this way in UK since the 1930s, it’s used about twice as much in US.
12wirelessradioThe US term has completely overshadowed the UK one now. 
12 blah blah blahearly 20th c
13rubbishgarbagegarbage was used in Britain since the 1400s, but now sounds “American”
14anorak 1980s ‘obsessive or uncool type of person’ (from a UK term for a parka) 
14boffin ‘expert’: originally Royal Air Force scientists
14pavementsidewalksidewalk originated in London
14poopoopsee the link for the tricky story of these two
14swot mid-1800s ‘person who studies (BrE revises) a lot’ 
14 nerd1950s
15brilliant as a general positive evaluation, popularized in UK in 1970s
15Special Relationship, the Winston Churchill is credited with coining this, though references to UK & US having a special relationship predate him by 45 years.
15standfirstsubheadjournalism jargon
15 Anglo-AmericanFirst OED citation of this word is by Benjamin Franklin
15 groovyjazz slang from 1930s
16chest of drawers/drawsdresser 
16fortnight from fourteen nights
16pal late 1700s
16 okearly 1800s, probably from a jokey ‘orl korrect’
16 peanut butter 
17have a looktake a look 
17July the fifthJuly fifth 
17 ahead ofmeaning ‘before’; this is used more in American, but there are plenty of old UK examples of it
17 fess up‘confess’; mid 19th c
18one-off 1930s
18presenter  for a television/radio announcer, orig. & chiefly UK
18scare quotes appears to have first been used in UK in 1950s
18 folksorig. British, but more US in usage since early 19th c
19half an hourhalf-hour, aUS says both, UK prefers one
19towardstowardboth are used in both countries—click link to read more; These occur in passing on several other pages, but I won’t repeat it here.
20greygrayboth spellings go way, way back
20programmeprogramthe computer sense is program in both countries
20 baby-talklate 1700s
20 Britishismmeaning ‘a British word’, first cited in Texas 1879
20 Britishnessthis word has probably been re-invented many times, but the 1st OED cite is US 1857
20 public televisionnon-commercial television, funded through government grants and donations
21 cutethe ‘adorable’ meaning is 19th-century US (orig. meant ‘acute’); now common in UK
21 parking ticket1920s
21 singles bar1960s
22league table ‘ranking’
22 sexy turn of 20th c
24standard (English, etc.) for a variety of language; early 19th c
26car bootcar trunk 
26tyretirefor the round, rubber thing
26 go-to (adj.)1980s
27not be having any of that  
29bookstall for a place to buy books, 1700s
29bum bagfanny pack 
29earplug mid/late 1800s
29knock me up in the morning to mean ‘wake me with a knock’—as discussed in the book, I’ve never heard anyone say it seriously
29 kookyGreen’s Dictionary of Slang has this as orig. US, but the OED has UK examples pretty soon after coining
29 PIN (number)Personal Identification Number’; 1970s
29 stump oratorpossibly coined by Thomas Jefferson
30pepper (or sweet pepper)bell pepper 
30pub short for ‘public house’
30 quiz (n. & v.)well-used in the UK now, the ‘test’ sense is 19th century US
30 second-guess1940s
31council estateprojects 
31eaterieeaterythe word is more American, but the French-like spelling is more British
31estatedevelopment, subdivisionan area of uniform housing, including grouped apartment buildings or  what might be called ‘a subdivision’ in the US
32off-licenceliquor store(there are also regional US terms)
32shopstoreIt’s not that the two words aren’t used in both countries, but shop is used far more in UK
13rubbish at (something), bestink at (something)to be bad at’ (doing something)
36afterwardsafterwardThe story is more complicated—see the link!
36trendy 1960s
37couldn’t care less* The claim (in the first printing of this book) that this is originally US is an error. It is originally 1940s UK. My apologies!
37dead goodreal goodThat is, adverbial usages of adverbs.
37proper (adv.) as in proper drunk
37toodle-pip Also mentioned on this page, cheerio.
37 could care lessCouldn’t care less is still more common in American English.
38car parkparking lot 
38me (possessive) The more ancient pronunciation of my
38 kind of (adv.)as in they kind of did that; late 1700s
38 right back at ya 
39cartoonist UK 1880s; US soon followed
39laddish refers to a stereotyped kind of young men’s behavio(u)r 
39Morris-dancing the kind of folk-dancing that Dick van Dyke did in the fair scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
39 one-man (adj.)this word has probably been re-invented many times, but the 1st OED cite is US 1842
40brollybumbershootslang terms for umbrellas
40school tie This is quoted from an American source, where they’re probably using <i>school tie</I> to mean <i>old school tie</I>: a signal of having gone to an elite ‘public’ school
41bag of tripe doesn’t seem to make sense in Powers’ sentence, but it has been a British put-down for an unpleasant person
41chuffed as nuts ‘extremely pleased’
41J. Arthur Rhyming slang: J. Arthur Rank = ‘wank’ (masturbation). Green’s Dictionary of Slang’s first citation is from Australia, but it quickly spread to UK
41nudge, nudge, wink, wink a catchphrase from Monty Python’s Flying Circus
41pork pies meaning ‘lies’, rhyming slang
41rumpy-pumpy ‘casual sexual relations’
41todger ‘penis’
41 comicto mean ‘comic strip’, early 20th c.
42argie-bargie ‘argument, row’; also argy-bargy
42bonkers ‘crazy’, 1940s
42gobsmacked ‘shocked’–that is, smacked (‘slapped’) on the gob (‘mouth’), 1950s
42kerfuffle ‘commotion, to-do’, started as curfuffle in 19th c Scotland
42wankerjerkwanker, like jerk, is a word for a contemptible person that literally refers to masturbation—but wanker is applied to more types of contemptible
42 bullshit20th c
42 cross-dressingfirst found in US academic works, early 20th c.
42 eat ’em upeat meaning ‘devour a performance’ is orig. UK Americans seem to have added the up.
42 poppycockfrom Dutch for ‘doll’s farts’ or ‘doll’s poo(p)’
42 scouring padearly 20th c. 
43bookshopbookstorebookshop is also used in US, but tends to be for smaller places
43codswallop ‘nonsense’ (1950s)
43dogsbodygofer‘person who’s low on the pecking order and does menial tasks’ 
43gobby ‘mouthy’
43How’s your father? ‘sexual relations’ (very dated)
43impulse (purchase) Use of impulse to describe a type of shopping seems to have originated in 1950s Britain
43sprog ‘offspring’
43toff ‘upper-class person’ (disparaging)
43tosh ‘nonsense’ (1890s)
43 chainas in chain store; as a noun mid-1800s, as an adj. early 20th c.
44bare ‘very’, ‘a lot of’ (recent slang)
44bladdered ‘drunk’
44china (plate) ‘friend’, from Cockney rhyming slang
44cotch ‘relax’ (or a place to relax)
44dodgy geezer ‘untrustworthy man’
44hairdresser orig. 2 words, seems to be from late 18th c Britain
44half-cut ‘drunk’
44knackered ‘tired, exhausted’
44risqué used earlier in UK than US, mid-1800s (from French)
44secret servicesecret servicementioning this one because the OED notes that the ‘specifically national security’-oriented meaning is US; the original British meaning just had to do with anything the government didn’t disclose.
44shag ‘sexual intercourse’
44squiffy ‘mildly intoxicated’
44trollied ‘drunk’
44well-oiled ‘drunk’
44willy ‘penis’ (childish)
44 inner-city1960s
44 networkmeaning a ‘nationally broadcasting television company’ (orig. British television usage referred to a network of transmitters)
44 party animal1970s
44 skatepark1970s; quickly picked up in UK
44 soapmeaning ‘soap opera’, 1940s (soap opera also US, slightly earlier)
45bollocks in the meaning ‘insulting nonsense’
45camp (adj.) early 20th c.; my US editor wanted to change this to campy (which also seems to be orig. UK)
45cheeky ‘impudent, often in a charming kind of way’; 1830s
45cheeky monkey late 1800s 
45hygienic seems to be from UK medical literature, early 1800s
45lovely jubbly 1980s
45mad as a box of frogscrazy as a loon 
45pillock ‘penis’ (16th c Scotland) ‘idiot’ (1960s UK)
45 billboard1850s
45 bloviate‘talk at length, emptily’
45 catchphraseIt’s likely this is orig. US 1840s (Merriam-Webster), but it quickly caught on in UK.
45 discombobulate‘put out of sorts’
45 gonzo‘a subjective style of journalism’
45 hootenanny‘improvised folk concert’
45 lickety-split‘quickly’
45 mugwump‘independent politician’
45 plug (v.)meaning ‘promote’, early 1900s
45 recombobulation‘put back into order’
48 at full blastearly 1800s
49P.E.gym class 
50have a bathtake a bath 
50toilet (i.e. public toilet)restroom 
50toilet, loopowder roombut note that toilet in the current UK sense is originally US
50 go to the bathroom‘urinate or defecate’
50 shitloads1950s (or earlier) 
51ladies’, thewomen’s room 
51lavatory This is used some in US, but note that usual southern English pronunciation differs markedly from US: LAVatrY versus LAVaTORy
52back passage ‘rectum’
52make-up ‘cosmetics’; from UK theatre mid-1800s
52spend a penny ‘urinate’
52water closet/W.C.  
52waterworksplumbingin the sense ‘urinary tract’
52 peethough in the book it’s quoted in a UK context, first citations are US (GDoS) & it’s often thought of as the ‘American’ alternative to UK wee.
53cockroosterrooster probably came to US from an English dialect
53cockerel increasingly used as a synonym of cock (bird) though it technically means ‘young cock’
53 roachshortening of cockroach
54arse over titass over elbow/tea kettleThe US phrases here are also used in arse form in UK and probably came from there.
54bowdlerize after Englishman John Bowdler
54Gordon Bennettdoggone it; gosh darn it 
54ladybirdladybugladybug came to the US from Britain
54tit (bird)chickadeesome species are called tit in the US
55action (v.) ‘to take action on’; first OED citation = 1960 UK
55bleedin’ heck euphemistic for bloody Hell
55by George, by Jove euphemistic for by God
55cor blimey euphemistic for God blind me
55crikey euphemistic for Christ
55incentivise (incentivize) First OED citation = 1968 UK
55my goodness British origin; used in US too; euphemistic for ‘my god’
55 business school, business (as a subject of study)mid-1800s
55 cussing‘cursing, swearing’
55 gee whiz, Judas priest, jeepers creeperseuphemistic for Jesus Christ
55 gosh, gollyeuphemistic for God
56 boss (n.)from Dutch baas
56 can-do attitudeearly 1900s
56 flip side, themetaphorical usage, after the sides of a grammophone record
56 get into bed with meaning ‘do business with’, late 1800s
56 go-getterturn of the 20th century
57 A-lister1970s
57 action-packed1920s
57 doom-sayer1950s
57 fixer-upper1930s
57 fund-raise1950s—now usually hyphenless
57 high stakes1920s, from gambling
57 hit pay dirtmid-1800s, from gold-mining
57 maverick 
57 pan out (=succeed)mid-1800s, from gold-mining
57 saloona drinking bar, esp. in the old west
57 stiff upper lip1815
57 strike it richmid-1800s, from mining
57 table-hop (v.)1940s
57 time-share  (v.)1950s
57 win bigpost-verb use of adverb big seems to start in early 1900s
58American footballfootball 
58close of play a sport idiom, used in business-speak
58cowboy (builder) 1970s; for someone who unscrupulously does shoddy work
58demonize ‘portray as wicked’ meaning: early 1800s
58goodiesgood guys 
58hospital pass a sport idiom, used in business-speak
58it’s a game of two halves a sport idiom, used in business-speak
58knocked for six a sport idiom, used in business-speak
58sportsportssport activities collectively
58 blue jeansmid-1800s
58 drink the Kool-Aidmeaning ‘follow blindly’; 1980s, alluding to the Jonestown massacre
58 frontierspeopleafter frontiersman
58 groundbreaker1940s
58 group-think1950s or earlier; often groupthink
58 passel‘group, lot’. Orig. UK (a variant of parcel), it is now more associated with US.
58 pathfindermid-1800s
58 trailblazerIt’s possible this one was Canadian first–referring to Europeans’ westward expansion. 
59rugby (football) mid-1800s
59touchdown originally from rugby, mid-1800s
59wash updo the dishes 
59wash-up meeting business meeting in which a project is finished up and reflected upon
59 ballpark figurebaseball idiom, used metaphorically
59 basketball1892
59 contact (v.)‘get in touch with’, 1920s
59 gridiron (football)late 1800s 
59 hail-Mary (pass)US football idiom, used metaphorically
59 hall passa note or token that gives a school student permission to be outside the classroom
59 hit a home runbaseball idiom, used metaphorically
59 home platethe place where the batter stands in baseball
59 inside baseball‘having expert knowledge’
59 it’s a game of inchesUS football idiom, used metaphorically
59 knock it out of the parkbaseball idiom, used metaphorically
59 lay-upbasketball idiom, used metaphorically
59 slam-dunkbasketball idiom, used metaphorically
59 spiking the ballUS football idiom, used metaphorically
59 step up to the platebaseball idiom, used metaphorically
59 touch basebaseball idiom, used metaphorically
59 wash up‘wash one’s hands (and maybe face)’
60360° thinking business cliché with UK origins
60across the piece business cliché with UK origins; ‘affecting everything/everyone’ (e.g. in an organization)
60at the end of the day business cliché with UK origins
60at this moment in time business cliché with UK origins
60borough councilmunicipal government 
60buffling originally meant ‘to puzzle’, but seems to have been revived or reinvented to refer to bamboozling business-speak
60cradle-to-grave business cliché with UK origins
60flag it up business cliché with UK origins
60looking under the bonnet business cliché with UK origins
60not letting the grass grow business cliché with UK origins
60singing from the same hymn sheet business cliché with UK origins
60thought showerbrainstormthe US-origin term is used more in both countries
60 blue-sky thinkingUS origin, now used more in UK
60 pro-activeUS origin, now seems to be used more in UK
60 thinking outside the boxUS origin, now seems to be used more in UK
61expatriate (n., adj.) early 1800s; seems to be UK origin
61junctionintersectionon roads
62half a dozenhalf dozen, aboth are possible in both countries, but prefered forms differ
62know your onionsknow your stuffUK phrase is from US, but now mostly unknown there
62peak (v. ‘reach its maximum’) seems to originate UK 1950s
62pen pusherpencil pusherboth come from US, but pen pusher is now used more in UK than US
62secondary schoolhigh schoolUK secondary school starts earlier (around age 11) than US high school
62shambles the metaphorical usage ‘chaos’ seems to originate in US, but it’s now a UK phrase
62skiveplay hooky the US one is usually specific to skipping school
62 datedin the sense ‘outmoded’, early 20th c.
64 hype  (v.)‘promote’; from hypodermic, i.e. to stimulate, as if with drugs
65 never mind (conjunction)meaning ‘let alone…; not to speak of…’,  OED’s first use of this meaning is US from 1907. 
65 uh-ohearly 20th c
66shifty early 1800s
66suffice to saysuffice it to say 
68on show ‘on display’
68turn out meaning ‘to turn over to empty out’
70bicarbonate of sodabaking soda 
70tinpanboth countries have both words, but apply them to somewhat different ranges of things
70 bakewaresee this link for related terms
71cocktail sticktoothpickthe things called cocktail stick in the UK would almost always be called toothpick in the US, toothpick has more restricted use in UK
71tongue-in-cheek 1930s
71 measuring cupmid-1800s
72American-style muffinsmuffins 
72cake mixturebatterbatter is used much more broadly in US than UK
72cookery bookcookbookcookbook is far more common in the UK nowadays
72How long is a piece of string? i.e. ‘Who can count that?’
72pancake (English type)crêpeWhat Americans call pancakes are often called American pancakes in the UK.
72Yorkshire pudding another British culinary triumph
72 quick breada category of baked good that’s not used in the UK; many, but not all, would be called cake in the UK
73in a streeton a streetfor example, you might live in/on a certain street
73roadstreetBoth exist in both places, used a bit differently. Click on link for more. 
74 Americanize17th c.
76Go on, then ‘yes please, I’ll have some of what you’re offering’
76instrumentalist (n.) seems to originate in UK, early 1800s
76 alreadysentence-final already expresses impatience
76 pop musicthis phrase seems to originate in Variety magazine, early 20th c.; used a bit differently in US/UK
76 publicistin the ‘publicity officer’ sense, seems to be early 20th c US
77sadly died something you don’t read in US news stories the way you read it in UK news stories…
78plonk (v.)plunkplunk may have come to the US from Scotland, but it came to be considered an Americanism
78 breakfast is the most important meal of the day1917, in a magazine edited by Mr. Kellogg
79 caribou from Algonquian languages
79 chipmunk from Algonquian languages
79 hominy from Algonquian languages
79 opossum from Algonquian languages
79 pecan from Algonquian languages
79 persimmon from Algonquian languages
79 powwow from Algonquian languages
79 raccoonfrom Algonquian languages
79 skunkfrom Algonquian languages
79 succotashfrom Algonquian languages
80bank holidaypublic holiday 
80embankmentleveea dike; from French
80knobhead a term of disparagement (18th century)
80lovey a term of endearment (17th century)
80maize, sweetcorncorn Originally, ‘corn’ generally meant ‘grain’
80 bluffa kind of cliff; from Dutch
80 buttea kind of plateau; from French
80 clapboard 
80 deputizeSeems to have been first used in Britain, but then used more in America
80 dime’10-cent piece’
80 Episcopalian 
80 mesaa plateau; from Spanish
80 moccasin from Algonquian languages
80 prairiefrom French
80 rapids 
80 squatterUS origin, now seems to be used more in UK
80 wigwam from Algonquian languages
81head start mid-1800s 
81standardi{s/z}ation  late 19th c
81turn (of the century) mid 19th c
81 twinkle in (your daddy’s) eye, athe phrase (which I’ve changed) comes from a musical film, Dames 1934
82American War of IndependenceAmerican revolution 
82train (on railway) early 19th c
82 automobilelate 19th c
83 constitutionality 
83 presidential 
84 spellerto mean ‘spelling book’, early 19th c 
85 Anglophobiacoined by Thomas Jefferson
85 electioneeringcoined by Thomas Jefferson
85 indescribablecoined by Thomas Jefferson
90you lotyou guys, y’all, youse, yinzinformal/regional second-person-plural pronouns
91fish-and-chip shop informally, this can be called a chippie
91 retiree1930s
96 badmouth (v.)mid 20th c
97digs  meaning ‘abode’, late 19th c
98cupboard, wardrobeclosetcloset came to US from Britain, then mostly forgotten in UK
98tapfaucetfaucet came to US from Britain, then mostly forgotten in UK
98Yankee (=’American’) the word originated in the US, but the ‘American’ (rather than “New Englander’) sense was orig. a British thing
99footballsoccersoccer came to US from Britain, then mostly forgotten in UK
99lurgy, thecootiesfor the playground malady
102pop over to using pop as a motion verb is a much more British thing to do
103riding/horse ridinghorseback riding 
103way inentranceon signage
103way outexiton signage
103 bit (comedy/performance) 1950s
104do the trick the ‘be what’s needed’ sense from thieves’ jargon, early 19th c
104 jazzorig. African-American English, early 20th c
104 romance (v.) in the sense ‘pursue romantically’, 1930s
104 sassafrasa tree
104 semesternot, strictly speaking, an Americanism, but its use in UK universities is mostly due to US-influenced reform
104 standard (n.)in the ‘song of established popularity’ sense, 1930s 
104 terminally illboth the ‘leading to death’ use of terminally and the phrase terminally ill seem to stem from US medical usage, early 20th c
105 leaf peeperstourists who look at the fall colo(u)rs in the US northeast
106mature cheese, strong cheesesharp cheeseUK uses ‘strong’ or ‘mature’ for a ‘sharp’ cheddar
106note (bank note)billbill came to US from Britain, then mostly forgotten in UK in this sense
106trendsetter often with a hyphen; 1960ish
106 brush (=cut-down branches)orig. British but noted as an Americanism in early 19th c
106 hickoriginated in Britain; now mainly American
106 sharp dresserfor fashion; UK smart is a possible synonym
107 smartsfor ‘natural intelligence, acumen’; US 1960s or earlier
108smart casual  
109 Americano (coffee)Italian & Spanish—as an English word, first cited in US 1960s
109 guythe word is British, but using it generally to mean ‘man’ is US, mid-1800s
111dandy (n.) late 18th c for ‘fashion victim’
111estate agentreal estate agentalso in AmE: realtor
112 finickyfrom northern England or Scotland to US back to UK
112 jaggerW Pennsylvania dialect from Scots-Irish 
112 nebW Pennsylvania dialect from Scots-Irish 
112 Old Countryreferring to one’s pre-immigration land; first citation is Benjamin Franklin 1751
112 whenever (meaning when)W Pennsylvania dialect from Scots-Irish immigrants
113jugpitcherfor the vessel
113posh early 20th c
113 buck (v. trans.)‘to butt against; to oppose’, mid-19th c
113 hamburgerturn of 20th c (orig. hamburger steak)
113 hillbilly 
114sub-editorcopy editor sub-editor is more used in newspaper publishing, not so much for books, etc.
114 beat the s(hit) out of 1920s
115go about (VERBing)go around (VERBing) 
115haitch, aitchaitch 
116niggling in the current ‘annoying’ sense, UK 1850s; found in US, but not as much
123Establishment, the early 20th c
123 fan in the ‘keen spectator of a sport’ sense, orig US late 19th c
124kick your arsekick your assthe British version is older
125matchgamewhen referring, e.g. to football/soccer
125 damn (adj.)instead of damned; late 18th c
126expiryexpirationBritish origin; now considered American 
126physicality British origin; complained about as an Americanism
126rail stationtrain stationBritish origin; now considered American 
126transporttransportationBritish origin; now considered American 
126zedzeezee probably originated in Britain
126 alphabetizeBritish origin; now considered American 
126 crush (romantic)late 19th c
126 learn (=’teach’)British origin, now used mostly jocularly in US
126 oftentimesBritish origin; now considered American 
126 troupeas in dance troupe; earliest (19th-c) uses in OED are all US
126 turn (an age)British origin; now considered American 
126 twerkthe dance meaning is US origin, but the word originally comes from Britain, meaning ‘to jerk’
126 wait on meaning ‘wait for’; British origin, now considered US 
127 frenemyfriend + enemy; 1950s
128 gussy upmeaning ‘smarten up’ (clothing, etc.); US 1950s or earlier
129 heave-ho, the as in give the heave-ho; mid-20th c
130on the tableon the floor (in meetings); discussed in more detail in chapter 7
130 egghead‘intellectual, scientist’
131humourist* *this made it into the UK edition, but the usual UK spelling is humorist, according to the OED
132 granddaddynot orig. US, but now chiefly US in usage
132 science fictionearly 20th c
134mucked up this originally meant ‘clean up’ (now usually muck out), but now it’s mostly used to mean ‘mess up’ (literally and figuratively)
135slap on (something) orig. from turn-of-20th-c theatre (where make-up = slap)
135 primary educationfirst known usage, Virginia early 19th c; now a more common phrase in UK referring to the first 7 years of formal schooling
136rejig(ging) originally a mining term, the figurative ‘rearrange, refashion’ sense is from mid-20th c.
137chequecheckfor the monetary object. Other meanings are mostly spelled check in both Englishes.
137take decisionsmake decisions 
140 airportoriginally aeroport in UK, but now airport there too
143 douchebagas an insult, 1960s
147 learning disability1930s; it’s come to mean somewhat different things in US & UK (see link)
148 spellcheckerwhether to spell it with a hyphen or not is another matter…
151do the roundsmake the rounds 
151spoof coined by a British comedian in the late 19th c
155centre stagecenter stagelate 19th c, seems to be orig. US
155haricot beankidney bean, navy beanwhich bean haricot refers to has changed in the UK
155mange-toutsugar pea, now mostly snow pea
155 get one’s goatearly 20th c
157pet (adj.) as in pet project; early 19th c.
158 get medieval on your (ass)from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction
159 hangoverearly 20th c
162 hassle (n.)1940s or earlier
163Beeb, the the BBC
163caff short for café, usually referring to the type of place where workers would have their breakfasts
163cardie short for cardigan (1960s)
163dust sheet for protecting floors or furniture from paint (Americans might just call it a sheet)
163spag bol short for spaghetti bolognese, which would usually be ‘spaghetti with meat sauce’ in US
163 tarpshort for tarpaulin
164patchturf‘the area one has rights to/responsibility for’; the first citation for the British variant here is Australian
165 rapperin the ‘performer of rap songs’ sense, 1970s
165 super as an adverb meaning ‘extra, very’, it’s more American. As an adjective and interjection, it’s more British
166out of the windowout the windowBritish is more apt to use the ‘of’
168fliesflyon trousers/pants
168zip (n.)zipper 
169mashed potatomashed potatoes 
169scrambled eggscrambled eggs 
170a McDonalds, a Burger King a meal from’ one of these establishments
170Biroballpoint (pen)the US generic term is also used in UK
170Hoovervacuum (cleaner)the US generic term is also used in UK
170Lego: a piece of Lego/a Lego brickLego: a Lego 
170murder a Chinese for ‘devour an order of Chinese food’
170plaster (i.e. sticking plaster)Band-Aidif avoiding the brand name, Americans would say (adhesive) bandage
170ring (v.)call (v.) meaning ‘to telephone’
170scream blue murderscream bloody murder (p.171) 
170Tannoypublic address system 
170tissueKleenexthe UK generic term is also used in US
170 watch outto mean ‘look out, be cautious’, mid-1800s
171a coffeea cup of coffeethe UK form is increasingly heard in US
171runner beansstring beans 
171tin (of dog food)can (of dog food) 
171trademark orig. trade mark 1830s
171two pints of milkquart of milkthe words exist in both countries, but how we talk about milk measures differs
171 genericide1970s
175acclimati{s/z}eacclimate, acclimatizethe two forms have slightly different meanings in US; UK uses same word for both
175obligedobligatedin US ‘be obliged’ is used to mean ‘be grateful’—e.g. I’d be obliged if you’d read this
175orientate/to orientorient 
175pressuri{s/z}e (someone)pressure (someone) 
175specialityspecialtyin general usage; in medicine, it’s specialty in both
175 normalcymid-1800s; normality is used in both countries
177 television set 
178menopause, the menopausefor other cases of present/absent the, see the in the book’s index
179pupil, studentstudentUS uses ‘student’ for a learner of any age/level
179 summer campas a place to send children, US late 1800s
180 medal  (v.)medal was already a verb when US added the particular sense ‘win a medal’
180 podium  (v.)to win a medal at the Olympics’
183range (of goods)line, collection 
184 head up (a committee)the ‘up’ is noted as American
184 visit withmeaning ‘to go and spend some time chatting with’
185appeal against (a verdict)appeal (a verdict) 
185protest atprotest (something)see link for more details
185 run into (someone)meaning ‘encounter’; late 19th c
186 write (someone)meaning ‘write to someone’
187 coffee shopin the sense ‘a place where coffee and snacks are served’, 1940s US
187 copy machine1950s
187 sitcom1960s
188octogenarian I’m calling this one for the Brits, since the first 80 years of 19th-c citations are from the UK
189stymie golfing term originating in 19th c Scotland
190 bat an eye atbat was a regional British word for ‘blink’ or ‘wink’; the figurative expression is 19th c US
191hoodie ‘hooded sweatshirt’
191 brooriginally Caribbean; used widely in US
191 chillax 
191 hipmeaning ‘cool, with-it’, early 20th c
191 white-bread (adj.)meaning ’embodying the values of the white middle-class’
193sadface frown/frowny faceemoji names
196crumpet both a British thing and a British word. The best thing to put in a toaster.
196first floorsecond floor 
196ground floorfirst floor 
196 noodlesee the link for the different meanings in US and UK
197liquidizeblend (in a blender) 
197refectorydining hall 
197 chunky1700s
197 matzo ballfrom Yiddish
198bits UK uses this much more than US to mean ‘small pieces’
198starterappetizer‘first course’
199crispspotato chips 
199savourysavoryUK uses this much more than US does as an opposite to ‘sweet’
199 chowder1700s
199 English muffinbears only a superficial resemblance to the traditional ‘muffin’ in UK
199 open-face(d) sandwichearly 20th c
200bapbun (as for a hamburger)a type of soft roll; regional usage
200beef minceground beef, hamburger 
200brown saucesteak saucethese aren’t really the same thing, but they’re as close as one country has to the other’s sauce
200butty meaning ‘sandwich’
200saucecondimentcondiment is used in US and UK, but with different coverage—see link
200 hot dog 
200 in my book‘in my opinion’; early 20th c
200 patty‘a cake of ground food’, US turn of 20th c
201 frankfurterfrom German
202illegal immigrant first referred to Jews entering Palestine without permission during the British mandate
204BME, BAME Black, (Asian), and Minority Ethnic’
204 people of colorfirst use in OED is by Thomas Jefferson
205benefitswelfare (checks) 
205degreecollege degree 
205 burger-flippingafter the US use of ‘flip’ for ‘turn over in a pan/on a grill’
206food shoppinggrocery shopping 
206 barbecueAmerican colonies, 1600s
206 consumerismearly 20th c
206 put-down‘insult’, mid-20th c
208 catch-22coined by Joseph Heller
209jacket potatobaked potatobaked potato is perfectly understandable in UK, but tends not to be the term used
209 boss (someone) around 
209 bossylate 1800s
209 servercertainly not orig. US but as a way to avoid saying the gendered terms waiter/waitress, much more common in US
210shop assistantstore clerk 
212charity shopthrift store 
212cheers to mean ‘thanks’
212hang abouthang around 
212ta ‘thanks’
212 customer service early-mid 20th c
213bus conductor in the US, conductors are on trains; in the UK the train kind are traditionally called guards
214strike (n.) meaning ‘success’, unlike a baseball strike
214 department storeUS late 19th c, but the British took easily to this idea and have some great ones
214 get a strikemeaning ‘fail’
214 starterthe sense ‘something which is good to start with’ is orig. US (mid-19th c), but it’s used very much in the UK, esp. in the sense of a starter question in a quiz game
215armed forcesmilitary 
215go down a bomb a bomb meaning ‘a success’ is originally US, but now mostly displaced by the ‘failure’ meaning’; the go down a phrasing is very British
215moot meaning ‘up for debate’
215nervy ‘nervous’
215 bomb (v.)meaning ‘fail’; US 1960s
215 homely‘plain looking’
215 mootmeaning ‘not worth debating’
215 nervy‘over-confident’
216post (v.)mail (v.) 
216slutty meaning ‘slovenly’ (be careful—the newer meaning has taken over)
219bumf ‘toilet paper; unimportant papers’ from bumfodder; late 1800s
219naff ‘unfashionably vulgar’; 1960s
219plonk (n.) ‘inferior wine’ 1920s
219 kitty-corner/cater-corner/catty-corner‘diagonally across from’
219 nickel-and-dimed‘overcome by tiny expenses’
219 snit‘fit of temper/bad mood’
220jobsworth someone who’ll only do ‘as much as their job’s worth’
220 make nice with (someone)  
220 push it meaning ‘to go too far’ seems to be US from 1960s; the one UK example before that is from 1840s—doesn’t seem to have developed there
221dodgysketchymeanings similar, but not the same
221marmite of something people either love or hate; after a yeast-based spread
221tizztizzyUK borrowed US tizzy and shortened it.
221 101‘the basics of a subject’ (after US college course numbering system)
221 bus tables (v.) 
221 family style‘with dishes in the middle of the table for sharing’
221 on the side meaning ‘not as part of the dish’; late 19th c
221 over easy/medium/hardways of preparing fried eggs
221 sunny-side upway of preparing fried eggs
222gap year  
222holiday (v.)vacation (v.) 
222vet (a candidate)  
222 bake-offsee link for more of the story
222 staycation 
222 wonk 
224rained offrained out 
224 frazzledlate 19th c
224 hit on‘to make romantic/sexual advances on’ 1950s
224 policymakerearliest (19th & 20th c) examples in OED are American
224 who’s who (n.)I’m calling this one for US: the original book is British, but all the 19th c. figurative uses in the OED are from the US
225hobnob a type of sweet oat biscuit (US cookie)
225Jaffa cake a baked good with no US equivalent
225jellyjello, gelatin 
225 cakewalkorig. a contest in graceful walking, then a dance, in African-American communities
225 snickerdoodlea type of cinnamon-and-sugar-coated cookie
226dressing gownbathrobe 
226terry (towelling)terrycloth 
228broad church, a for something that’s inclusive
228 divvy up‘to divide up, portion out’
230grammar schoolLatin school, classical school 
230independent/public schoolprivate school 
230primary schoolgrammar/elementary school 
231stonerockthe range of things called rocks is larger in US
231 cookie-cutter [adj.]‘standard, from the same mo(u)ld as others’
232top hat probably originally UK, mid 19th c
232 business suitmid-19th c
233post (n.)mail (n.) 
234alternative comedy/comedian 1980s
234River Thames, the see link for discussion
235daft far, far more common in UK
235John Lewis a ‘middle class’ department store
235National Trust charity that looks after historically important properties
235teaching stafffaculty members 
235 take a back seat tofigurative use, late 19th c
237vox popman-on-the-street interview 
237with hindsightin hindsightUK also uses in
237 down-home (adj.)‘unpretentious’; 1930s
237 serial killer1970s
237 talking out of one’s hat‘talk nonsense’, orig. talking through one’s hat; late 19th c
240pay risepay raise 
240 monster truck1970s
240 spelling bee 
242half a dozenhalf dozen, aboth are possible, but prefered forms differ
243 graduationapplied to school years, this is US; in the UK you only graduate if you’re getting a university degree
243 term paperUK uses the general term ‘essay’
244 pocketbookhere used metaphorically to mean ‘financial means’
245mark (n.)grade (n.)what’s given to schoolwork
246 basics, themid 20th c
247first-year student, fresherfreshman 
247mark (v.)grade (v.)what teachers do to students’ work
247 liberal artsnot orig. US, but OED lists as ‘now chiefly N. Amer.’ 
247 no picnic‘not easy’; late 1800s
253 bestsellerOED says: “The particular association of the word with books follows its widespread adoption in U.S. bookselling contexts from the late 19th cent.”
255 irregardlessconsidered to be a non-standard usage 
257 sell (n.)a hard sell is orig. US, 1950s. An easy sell comes later.
257 wannabe1970s
258 jaywalking1910s
259 maven‘expert’; early 20th c, from Yiddish
262chat showtalk show 
262 host (of a television show)now used widely in UK, but orig. US
262 reality televisionorig. US, now huge in UK
263mush ‘a pulpy or formless mass’ meaning from early 19th c, based on other regional meanings
264stuffy in the ‘conceited’ sense, looks to be orig. UK late 19th c
264 hang out ‘spend unstructured time in a particular place’; mid-1800s
264 School of Hard Knocksearly 20th c.
265 pollster1930s
266pinch of salt, take with agrain of salt, take with atranslation from Latin; the now-US translation is the older one
266superpower seems to appear a few decades earlier in UK (20th c)
267over-the-top 1930s
267 phoneylate 19th c
269 hate on (v.)orig. African-American usage; 1990s or earlier
269 zombie rulescoined by US linguist Arnold Zwicky
270different todifferent thanboth are considered non-standard
270 eye-roll (n.)1920s
271 let your [freak flag] fly 
272 Go team!using go to encourage is not orig. AmE, but this phrase has a definite mid-20th c. US feel. 
274ironmongerhardware storeironmonger is a bit old-fashioned (but still common on signs)
274plasterboardsheetrockalso US: drywall
274skirting boardbaseboard 
274 earthie-crunchiesvaguely ‘hippies’
274 wet noodleineffectual, uninteresting person’
275babygroonesieBabygro was orig. an American trademark (1959)
275coachbus  (Greyhound type) 
275health visitor a public health nurse who visits people at home
275lay-byrest area/pull-out/turn-outthe terms are  regional in US
275muslinburpclothnot the same thing, but the same purpose
275platform 8track 8where a train arrives
275return (ticket)round trip (ticket) 
275snag (v.), snag list  
275 hospitalizeAmE origin, used in both
275 mileageAmE origin, used in both
275 monobrowAmE origin, used in both
275 out (someone) (v.)AmE origin, used in both
276alcopopflavored malt beverageThe US term doesn’t have the currency that the UK one does.
276awaydaywork retreat 
276bestieBFFboth now have currency in the other country
276BOGOFBOGO‘buy one get one (free)’
276boyf short for boyfriend
276chipsfries, french fries 
276chugger from charity + mugger
276chunky chipssteak fries 
276detectorist ‘someone who does metal detecting’
276fnarr fnarr onomatopoeic for lecherous laughter
276gobsmack (v.)  
276hot-desk  (v.)  
276house-share (v.)  
276longlist  (v.)  
276mobile phonecell phonethe UK version is US in origin, but not used much there
276moobsman boobs 
276overspend (n.)  
276pap short for paparazzo
276subwaypedestrian underpass 
277banging [adj.] meaning ‘exciting, happening’
277banoffee pie  
277breaking up (from school)  
277crep check youth slang: check out someone’s shoes
277dead-leg (v.)  
277E-fitpolice composite (sketch)the E-fit uses a computer program(me)
277fit meaning ‘attractive’
277half-termmid-term break 
277happy-slap (v.)  
277joined-up writingcursive 
277minger ‘ugly person’
277pull (v.) meaning ‘get lucky with (a potential sexual partner)’
278baby bump  
278bespokecustom-madeBespoke has been gaining currency in the US in recent years. 
278credit to… business/sports cliché
278joy ,to get no  
278knock-on effect  
278long game, the  
278on the back foot  
278punch above one’s weight  
278run-up (to an event)  
278sack (v.) ‘to fire (a person)’
278second (v.) accent on the 2nd syllable, meaning ‘to temporarily reassign’
278spoilt for choice  
278trainerssneakers, tennis shoes, etc. 
278 Anglocreep 
278 calling cardliteral calling card (=visiting card) is orig. UK (1800s), but use as a metaphor for ‘a definitive characteristic’ seems to be orig. US (1930s)
279boots, footballcleats 
279Boxing Day sales  
279kituniform(in sports)
279panto short for pantomime; a traditional type of comedic play (not mime)
279pitchfieldfor some sports
280talk totalk withUS makes a distinction between to & with in this context
280television programmeTV show 
280 publicity stuntearly 20th c
281wot a spelling of ‘what’ indended to show ‘non-standardness’
281 post-truth 
281 talkiei.e. ‘talking picture’
282 park (v.) 
285grime (music)  
285 het up‘heated; excited’ orig. Britishdialect, now US
287school yeargrade 
288 strut [one’s] stuff1920s
290 come late to the party1940s
294 ace (v.)‘win, achieve high marks/grade’; 1950s
294 coolas a term of approval, orig. African-American usage early 20th c
294 too close to callca. 1930
296 have got it made1940s or earlier
296 sideline (v.)particularly in the figurative sense ‘to remove from the cent{er/re) of action’
297up-and-comer 1940s
298brunch (v.)  
298nil ‘zero’; used in sports scores 
298road-tripper 1st known use 1930
298sell-by date; best-before dateexpiration date 
298 raceof a heart, ‘beat fast’ sense is US 19th c
298 speeding ticket 
301clunk orig. Scotland
302sod meaning ‘sodomist’
302Sod’s LawMurphy’s Law 
304guv’nor mid 19th c
305hen partybachelorette party 
305pornpornoporn is used in both places now.
305star in the ‘popular actor’ sense, late 18th c
305 cocktailin the ‘drink’ sense, orig. US early 1800s
305 gawkerUS gawk is late 18th c; gawker doesn’t show up till 20th c.
305 gayto mean ‘homosexual’; 20th c
307building workconstruction work 
307doctor’s surgerydoctor’s office 
307propertyreal estate 
313 drive-thru1940s
314vicevise (tool), vice (sin) 
315 PSA‘public service announcement’