American English vs. British English.  What are the differences?   This discussion came about as a result of an AC chat box discussion about which Welsh version of the word milk (lleath – South or llefrith – North) you prefer to use.  I am not sure that we had much agreement either way.  At the end of the day, it can be concluded that while there are some differences in the varying dialects of Welsh (mainly North vs. South), they can understand each other.  When I brought up the question of whether or not American English was that much different than British English, Swansea Jack quickly pointed out a number of words used in American English that are different that the word used in Britain (e.g. AE – Truck, BE – Lorry).

After digging a little deeper into the topic, I have identified the following differences. 

Words Used:

British English                American English

anti-clockwise                  counter-clockwise

articulated lorry                trailer truck

block of flats                    apartment building

boot (car)                        trunk

chips                              fries, French fries

crisps                             potato chips

flyover                             overpass

gearbox (car)                   transmission

lorry                                truck, semi, tractor

mad                                crazy, insane

naughts and crosses        tic-tack-toe

pavement                        sidewalk

petrol                              gas, gasoline

pub                                 bar

rubber                             eraser

spanner                           wrench

underground (train)           subway

vest                                 undershirt

waistcoat                         vest

wallet                              wallet, billfold

wellington boots               rubber boots, rain boots

whisky                            whiskey, scotch

windscreen                      windshield

zip                                  zipper  


Word Spellings:


British English                   American English

Licence                              License

Enrolment                          Enrollment

Fufil                                   Fufill

Cheque                              Check

Racquet                              Racket


American English drops “e” from suffix and British English keeps the “e”

British English                   American English

Ageing                                  Aging

Arguement                         Argument


Sentence Structure


There are some differences in sentence structure as well.  However, I am not all that well versed in the difference.  I  need some help here.


Nevertheless, share what you know about the differences between British and American English.  Do you prefer one over the other? Is one version better than the other.  Please comment on the differences that you know exist.

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  • he wore Cor Blimey trousers 
    and he lived in a council flat 

  • One of my little bugbears (and there are so many!!) is the use of "yard" for "garden". I very much doubt that a British person hearing their much loved and tended garden described as a yard would be flattered. In the UK a yard is somewhere with a stone/concrete/earth floor, generally attached to a business (such as a garage) or stable, for example. I was watching The Mentalist the other week and he described a rather lovely formal garden with clipped hedges and flowers as "a yard"! A courtyard is of course a more formal space.

    • I've noticed that too. "Yard" can mean an enclosed industrial space in the US just as in the UK. Most people say "yard" when they are referring to their lawn--the grass covered area kept trimmed and manicured. "Garden" can have the same meaning as in the UK but when most people use it they are referring to the place where they grow vegetables. Out in Hollywood a yard and a lawn are the same thing: Concrete with the latter spray-painted green or covered with artificial turf. 

  • Feeding porkers food waste is strictly illegal today but I imagine they thoroughly enjoyed it!

    You would have to padlock the lid to keep raccoons out--but that wouldn't deter their weightier cousins the bears. We had a black bear visit Jefferson City in 1993 and where do you suppose he went? Straight to Walmart where he ripped the lids of the large commercial waste bins and sat down for lunch.

  • "tinnies" is Australian, surely?

    • And of course 24 cans = a slab lol

  • You may also remember Lonnie Donegan's "My Old Man's a Dustman".

  • GB: positive discrimination > US: affirmative action

    GB: nick (verb 1) > US: to steal

    GB: nick (verb 2) > US: to arrest

    GB: nick (noun) > US: jail (interestingly, the US organization setting standards for jails is called NIC) 


  • As a sign of the times, the term "trash collector" is being considered by some as a pejorative. Newspaper "help wanted" ads might use "environmental waste management engineer" instead. When I was a kid the common term for the job was "garbage man" which itself fell prey to the more lofty phrase of "trash collector." The general rule is: As soon as everyone figures out what the new term means you must change it. Oh, and by the way, in those insensitive times of the 1960's the garbage man hauled garbage to the town "dump."

    There was a time in America, too, when the primary component of household waste was coal "dust" or "ash" removed from the fireplace or coal furnace. The "dust" or "coal ash" was carted to the town dump and piled up in massive, highly radioactive (*according to some) mountains of refuse. Dickens wrote about this in his last completed novel. The good news is much of it was recycled into soap and provides a possible explanation as to why some facial cleansers were said to produce a glowing complexion.

    There are some who claim that "fly ash" produced from burning coal is 100 times more radioactive than the waste generated by a modern nuclear reactor:

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