Confused woman.

16 British Terms That Confuse Americans to the Core

It’s been said that the United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language. These are some of the top British terms that baffle American English speakers. 

1: Making a Point

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According to one commenter, one of the most common British terms to confuse Americans is the word “bloody.” British posters were quick to point out that while it was once considered a mild swear word, nowadays “bloody” is used to provide extra emphasis. 

2: Financial Speak 

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An American questioned the use of “quid” versus “pound” when discussing money. A helpful British English speaker explained that “quid” is a casual monetary term like “bucks,” whereas “pound” is used in more formal settings, similar to “dollars.”

3: Joking Around 

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“Taking the pis*” doesn’t literally mean using the restroom in the United Kingdom. According to British commenters, the phrase can be used in a number of ways either to say “I’m just messing with you,” “Are you kidding me?” or as a way to express annoyance at a situation. 

4: So Many Meanings

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One British commenter wanted to clear up the word “cheers.” While it can mean anything from thank you to goodbye, some people in the U.K. also use it as a sarcastic way to say thank you.

5: A Spot of Breakfast 

British crumpet.
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Unsure of what a crumpet is, an American poster took to the internet to ask for clarification. One British commenter explained that the pastry is sort of like a thick pancake crossed with an English muffin; think light with lots of air holes throughout and the perfect vehicle for butter or jam. 

6: The Rhyming Game 

One red apple among green apples.
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After a classmate’s British dad explained that he referred to “stairs” as “apples and pears,” one American student asked the internet to elaborate. Apparently, it’s a common practice in Cockney slang to use rhyming phrases to describe what you’re actually talking about; this slang is a relic of Victorian-era street gang culture. 

7: An Informal Greeting 

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Upon realizing that “wotcher” isn’t just a term found in Harry Potter books, one British poster explained that the term is an informal greeting shortened from “What are you doing” or “How are you doing?” Similar to “howdy” in American English, the phrase is meant to be a greeting that doesn’t require a response. 

8: Family Business

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One American noticed that after explaining how to do something, many British folks will conclude with the phrase “And Bob’s your Uncle!” According to a few British posters, the phrase means to make something easy, referring to a former Prime Minister (yes, named Bob) who made his nephew Chief Secretary of Ireland. 

9: A Green Thumb 

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What Americans call a “yard,” the British refer to as a “garden.” While the garden refers to the entire front or back outdoor space around your house, various sections of landscaping are called “flowerbed,” “vegetable patch,” or “lawn.”

10: Dumb and Dumber 

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While the term “prat” may baffle Americans, British commenters are quick to point out that the term refers to an unintelligent person. Phrases like “He made you look like a prat” mean “He made you look unintelligent.” 

11: No Lorries Allowed 

18-wheeler truck.
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Ever wonder what the term “lorry” means? One American poster went to the internet to ask and received an answer: A lorry is a large truck, such as an 18-wheeler.

12: Rock the Baby 

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It turns out not all baby vehicles are created equal in Britain. A “pram” is designed for newborns and infants, while the strollers we’re familiar with stateside are used for older babies and toddlers. 

13: Wasting Time 

Clock in sand.
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A fairly common phrase, “mucking about,” may be more familiar to Americans who watch British TV shows. For those that don’t, the term simply means to mess around or waste time. It’s the kind of phrase your mom yells at you when you’re not doing your homework. 

14: Don’t Overexaggerate

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One American commenter asked for an explanation of the word “stonking.” Apparently, it’s a term meant to convey an extreme, like “I’ve got a stonking headache.” 

15: A Quick Hello 

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A British poster put out a PSA to Americans regarding the phrase “alright.” When used by a British English speaker, the term is just a quick hello, not an invitation to share how you’re feeling. 

16: Do You Have the Time?

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The way the British read off the time of day can be confusing for Americans. According to some British commenters, the phrase “half ten” is a shortened version of “half past ten” or 10:30.

Source: Reddit.

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