The British English Dictionary

Words and phrases I use all the time that do not appear to be understood over here:

Fortnight (fort-nite).

=TWO WEEKS. From a contraction “fourteen-nights” presumably. Do not understand why it is not used here. Saying I’ll be paid “bi-weekly” to me sounds like twice a week!

Half-Eight(or half six, or half four, whatever)

=A contraction of “half past the hour”, ie:  8.30, NOT, half before the hour!?


= diapers.


= apparently called “suckers” here??? erm, what??


= the chair your child sits in that you push them around in. Far more logical than “stroller” IMO.

To Have A Natter

= to chat. Never realised this was a Britishism.

“playing silly buggers”

= usually used in conjunction with the debit card machine. As in, it’s being stupid, or not working.

“being daft”

= similar to the above, but to a lesser degree and usually applied to people rather than inanimate objects


A game in which eleven millionaire blokes dressed in corporate sponsorship logos, run round a muddy field trying to kick a ball into a net and feigning injury when unsuccessful. Similar, but not identical to “soccer” and bares no resemblance to ‘Canadian/American Football’ which seems inexplicably to revolve around public, all-male group hugs whilst wearing shoulder pads.


**retreats, having possibly started a war**





4 thoughts on “The British English Dictionary

  1. Good list! I was surprised to find Lollipop on the list, as I had quite a few as a child. Oh well, times change.

    I didn’t know “playing silly bugger” isn’t used here. I use it. Gosh, maybe nobody knows what I’m talking about! 🙂

    Pretty much the only way you can get away with using ‘fortnight’ here is when talking about the return leg of Champions League ‘football.’ haha.

    Now, Bel, can you please write an article about scones? Phonetically please. Maybe in a poem. Would the second line contain ‘phone’ or ‘gone’? I get a lot of strange looks when I talk about mine at the bakery.

    PS In August, a word or two about walking to the Farmers Market to try and buy a “tomahto” is in order. Or an aubergine. I’d love to see what they give you when you ask for an aubergine.

  2. Try a few posts backwards, there is a looooooooong, illustrated blog about scones already on here!! I think the following “joke” should explain my views on the word:
    “what is the fastest cake in the world?”
    Only works if you pronounce it right y’see.
    I do get plenty of weird looks when i repeat back people’s orders of “salad, no tomartoes” but I’ve yet to try aubergine. I have had to translate “courgette” though. How on earth is a zucchini more logical?? where does that word come from?? I also call Cilantro, coriander. Anyway, wouldn’t I be ok using those words with the Quebecois?

  3. North America and the UK are two places separated by the same language :o) I once went into Candian Tyre in Winnipeg and asked for a torch……I was shown a wonderful array of oxy-acetylene torches, welders and blowtorches and metal cutting torches…..when what I really wanted was a camping torch, a.k.a a flashlight. It was quite amusing!

    1. I think you’ll find its Canadian Tire. Costco have a “tire centre” – how’s that for a messed up language? In America that would be Tire Center, and in the UK it’d be Tyre Centre…

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