expats in britain

Speaking English not American, words and phrases that are different in England.

Language is a lot of fun. I knew what “bloody,” “dodgy,” “jumper,” “loo,” and “lorry” meant, but here are a few differences in speech and vocabulary:

Emphasis on the second word or syllable, for example, it’s not STONE-henge, it’s stone-HENge. It’s not WEEK-end, it’s wee-KEND.

When you cut your hair to sit above your eyebrows, it’s fringe, never bangs.

The first floor of a building is up one flight of stairs. The one level with the street is the ground floor.

Strong flour is bread flour in the states.

Surgeons are doctors, surgeries are clinics, solicitors are lawyers. Movers are removers.

It’s called a stroke (/) not a slash (/).

It’s rocket, not arugula. And coriander, not cilantro.

At work, when I do a quick sketchy mockup of a design, it’s a scamp.

And an off-license is where you buy booze, not the liquor store.

A movie theatre is a cinema or Odeon. 

Bonus: A cheeky ______ and “you alright?”
It took me forever to understand the nuance of this. A cheeky pint, for example, is a pint that maybe you had to be talked into, but you want and will enjoy. Like, “oh yeah, then I stopped in for a cheeky pint before going home.” Maybe you shouldn’t have, but you did, and no harm done.

You alright freaked me the fuck out the first time I heard it, looking nervous on my first day of work, my boss asked, “you alright?” and I was like, “UHHH yeah, i’m ok? What? Is something wrong?” “You alright?” is “How’s it going?” The correct response is “yeah, yeah, good. You?” Or if you’re extra British, you can say, “yeah, good. Pretty chilly out, today, yeah?”