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Comprehensive list of Americanisms

(354 Posts)
12fromcold Fri 11-Jan-19 13:23:41

Some I love, some I hate. Let's try and get them all here! Especially interested in the ones that are only a slight variation from the British counterpart.

Macaroni AND cheese
Hide and GO seek

I'll remember more and come back.

12fromcold Fri 11-Jan-19 13:24:02


12fromcold Fri 11-Jan-19 13:24:31


Abra1de Fri 11-Jan-19 13:24:42


12fromcold Fri 11-Jan-19 13:27:49

I'd never heard of that one!

12fromcold Fri 11-Jan-19 13:28:52

What are coddled eggs?

Riotingbananas Fri 11-Jan-19 13:30:21

Surgeries as opposed to operations
Get as in 'can I get a coffee' rather than 'can I have a coffee' when when being served.
Pajamas is being used more and more.
'You've got this' no idea what that actually means

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 13:32:56

I live in the USA.

Gotten isn’t exclusively American - it’s used in Scotland too.

12fromcold Fri 11-Jan-19 13:32:56

I saw 'you've got this' on the marketing stuff at Greggs this morning while I was looking for a vegan sausage roll for the fifth time this week, it's a bloody stupid saying

insidecardboardboxes Fri 11-Jan-19 13:33:19

"pissed" instead of "pissed off" in the context of being angry

"could care less" instead of "couldn't care less" - never understood that one.

12fromcold Fri 11-Jan-19 13:33:50

@WaxMyrtle I'm sure all these sayings aren't exclusively American but are predominantly American. Also, it's not in anyway a negative thread

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 13:34:23

A coddled egg is similar to a poached egg but the egg is placed into a ramekin before being put into the water.

12fromcold Fri 11-Jan-19 13:35:08

@WaxMyrtle Thank you! I've only ever heard it said in an American accent but a google says it's international!

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 13:36:54

It didn’t say it was a negative thread hmm.

Gotten isn’t an American import into Scotland, it’s the other way round.

So although there are obviously more Americans that there are Scots it’s not really an “Americanism”.

AuntBessies Fri 11-Jan-19 13:37:21

Also, it's not in anyway a negative thread

YET. Give it a while and it'll have posts pulled. Interested why you thought this would be a great chat discussion though!

overmydeadbody Fri 11-Jan-19 13:37:48

If I/we can't rather than if I/we can

"Let's see if we can't get this tidying done in ten minutes" rather than "let's see if we can get the tidying done..."

Riotingbananas Fri 11-Jan-19 13:49:39

Another one I've noticed from watching to much Judge Judy is the use of 'exactly' rather than 'yes'.

amusedbush Fri 11-Jan-19 13:52:00

I'm Scottish and have always used "gotten", then saw on MN that it's a hanging offence. I thought I'd been making some huge faux pas so I'm glad to hear that it's a "thing"!

Parthenope Fri 11-Jan-19 13:54:48

'Could care less' where UK/Irish English would say 'couldn't care less'.
'Math' vs 'maths'

My favourite US usage of recent years is 'shitgibbon', as used of Trump:


Hey *@realDonaldTrump I oppose civil asset forfeiture too! Why don't you try to destroy my career you fascist, loofa-faced, shit-gibbon!
18:58 - 7 Feb 2017

though apparently he was inspired by Scottish people using it during Trump's visit there:

*Scotland voted to stay & plan on a second referendum, you tiny fingered, Cheeto-faced, ferret wearing shitgibbon.*
— Hamfisted Bun Vendor 🔞 (*@MetalOllie*) 24 June 2016

so probably not really American. More on it here on this blog, which is great on US/UK Englishes:

JustGettingStarted Fri 11-Jan-19 13:55:29

I wish Americans would learn to speak the language properly!

cooblanket Fri 11-Jan-19 13:57:19


JustGettingStarted Fri 11-Jan-19 13:57:38

(I'm American and just being silly.)

QuinionsRainbow Fri 11-Jan-19 13:58:28

The Americans have spelt pyjamas as "pajamas" since time immemorial.

Two nations divided by a common tongue.

steppemum Fri 11-Jan-19 13:59:29

gotten is old english.
In fatc many 'Americanisms' are old english. The language in UK (or just England) continued to change, but that phrase, once exported to US didn't change, and remained a valid part of speech.

fortnight is a uniquely Bristich phrase. Confuses many Americans!

BartonHollow Fri 11-Jan-19 14:00:49

ON accident instead of By Accident, no, you don't say I did that on mistake do you?

I'm PISSED (to mean annoyed not drunk)

Could Care Less Instead Of Couldn't - still not sure how that's a thing did someone mishear a British person and it caught on like a disease - WTF?

steppemum Fri 11-Jan-19 14:01:07

glad you posted you second post Just! grin

we use prepositions differently too.

English - I wrote to Jane
American - I wrote Jane

amusedbush Fri 11-Jan-19 14:04:09

ON accident instead of BY Accident

Oh yes, this is pretty much the only Americanism that I don't like. I use quite a lot of Americanisms so they don't bother me but my colleague says "on accident" and it makes me want to peel my skin off.

LooksBetterWithAFilter Fri 11-Jan-19 14:04:28

The thing is as Wax pointed out may of the things that end up on threads like these are not Americanisms at all and are in daily use in Scotland and Ireland. They are not Americanisms adopted in these places we took them over there along with guising/trick or treating at Halloween and calling him Santa. They never stay lighthearted.

BartonHollow Fri 11-Jan-19 14:05:37

Oh and John McEnroe at Wimbledon trying to persistently rebrand The Quarter Finals as

The Round Of Sixteen

No John, No.

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:07:39

Steppen I regularly confuse people with “fortnight” although my friends here smile atme indulgently much as they do when I say swimming costume rather than bathing suit.

The one we found most difficult on moving here was that Americans don’t use “and” with numbers.

Eg “one hundred four” rather than “one hundred and four”.

The children found it quite difficult as their teachers were very strict about not using the “and”.

BartonHollow Fri 11-Jan-19 14:09:41

Yes I hate the thing with the dropping the "and" it affects years as well and was worse between 2000-2010


Two Thousand One


Where's the AND?

JeremyCorbynsBeard Fri 11-Jan-19 14:10:02

The exact same instead of exactly the same.
Field of play instead of football pitch.

It's the stress on words that I particularly don't like.

MAGazine, CIGarette etc

Myimaginarycathasfleas Fri 11-Jan-19 14:10:14

Ones I hate
my bad
Excited for
Wallah! It’s VOILA! VVVVV

But I think the Americans are amazingly inventive when it comes to cooking up new and succinct expressions. 24/7. Genius.

Stupomax Fri 11-Jan-19 14:12:02

I've lived in America for more than a decade and have never heard anyone say 'on accident'. According to Wikipedia it's said more in the UK than in the US.

"In the US, on accident is about 1–2% as common, on average, as by accident (COCA). However, usage varies geographically; some regions use on accident much more than others.

In the UK, on accident is about 3% as common as by accident (BNC)."

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:12:10

Barton I still haven’t quite worked out American usage regarding “quarter”.

They talk about “quarters” for 25 cent pieces (obviously quarter dollars) and quarter pounders but fractions are definitely fourths.

In the other hand they talk about “quarts” of milk (quarter US gallon)

FVFrog Fri 11-Jan-19 14:13:07

The pavement is the road, that tripped me up on my theory test when the question began “You are driving along the pavement and...” I was totally confused, why on earth would I be driving along the pavement?

Stupomax Fri 11-Jan-19 14:13:16

And I see this 'not in anyway a negative thread' thread has turned into people listing the American phrases they hate.

steppemum Fri 11-Jan-19 14:14:07

well, fourths is the preferred American way of saying quarters isn;t it?
So maybe John Macenroe was confused!

FVFrog Fri 11-Jan-19 14:14:39

And cattercorner which means diagonally opposite in the US. It is now one of my favourite words 🙂

TrendyNorthLondonTeen Fri 11-Jan-19 14:15:33

The snobbery on MN about "americanisms" is embarrassing.

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:15:34

I’ve never heard “on accident” either.

Perhaps it’s regional.

BartonHollow Fri 11-Jan-19 14:16:19

I heard it on a US talk show literally the other day.

The other one I find quite amusing is that they think that American Independence is a really sensitive subject for British people and a sore point long remembered of that time we were bested.

This came up a lot in relation to Hamilton

Literally no one cares

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:20:01

The pavement is the road, that tripped me up on my theory test when the question began “You are driving along the pavement and...” I was totally confused, why on earth would I be driving along the pavement?

I had a sudden lightbulb moment when studying for my Texan driving license FV about exactly the same thing. grin.

It’s about like tap/faucet. It’s not that “Tap” isn’t used, it just has a specific meaning which suffered from U.K. usage.

Trendy it can be, especially when the sneering OP gets it wrong (see any one of a million Halloween threads with Scots and Irish posters frothing at the mouth)

hardheadedwoman Fri 11-Jan-19 14:20:41

Born and raised

Myimaginarycathasfleas Fri 11-Jan-19 14:22:43

The whole jelly thing was immensely baffling to me as a child. Their jelly was, it seems, jam. Our jelly was their Jello. Most confusing.

Oh, and fanny packs. <snort>

mimibunz Fri 11-Jan-19 14:24:57

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Tony2 Fri 11-Jan-19 14:25:27

Call out, double down, raincheck, touch base, throw shade, ballpark figure, burglarized, home invasion, parking lot, woke, negatively impact and on and excruciatingly on. Can I get? No I'm the barman. I had an accident Thursday. My name's not Thursday, you had an accident on Thursday. And on ha!

steppemum Fri 11-Jan-19 14:25:59

is it cattercorner?

I thought it was kittycorner?

Although writing that I think I have it wrong.

Stupomax Fri 11-Jan-19 14:28:08

The other one I find quite amusing is that they think that American Independence is a really sensitive subject for British people and a sore point long remembered of that time we were bested.

It's funny how things have reversed. Now Americans don't really give much of a shit about British people or what they say/do, while Brits are up in arms about Americanisms taking over their culture and language.

Myimaginarycathasfleas Fri 11-Jan-19 14:29:52

Just like to point out that I’m not here for any American bashing. But it’s true we are two nations divided by a common language.

Would love to hear from some Americans about any of our linguistic quirks that grind their gears but I suspect they don’t get in such a froth about it grin

DadJoke Fri 11-Jan-19 14:30:34

Fanny for bum.
"meet with" vs "meet"
Pavement vs road
Trunk vs boot
Elevator vs Lift
Pantyhose vs Tights
Suspenders vs Braces
"to go" vs "take away"

JustGettingStarted Fri 11-Jan-19 14:31:10

American jelly isn't jam. Jam is cloudy, jelly is clear. There's bramble jelly in Scotland that is clear.

Choccywoccyhooha Fri 11-Jan-19 14:31:52

My absolute favourite is burglarized. I find language differences fascinating.

chemenger Fri 11-Jan-19 14:32:22

I’ve never heard “on accident” in the USA, or maybe I haven’t noticed. Elevator/lift catches me out all the time, especially since Lyft is an Uber type thing we use all the time and we live in a high rise. I’m not reliable on bathroom/restroom vs toilet (which is offensives here). I’m getting used to the Boston “all set” which is a useful phrase meaning a transaction is complete, I can’t think of an English equivalent. Maybe “good to go” is the nearest.

FVFrog Fri 11-Jan-19 14:33:43

Well, I’m not American bashing in the slightest. I lived there for 8 years, I have met some absolutely amazing, intelligent and lovely people and also some complete and utter twats both here and in the US. There is a lot they are hugely better on than us(disabled access to public amenities and their high school facilities are two which spring to mind). And some things we lead the way on, treasure and appreciate your NHS, and strict control of firearms.

NiteFlights Fri 11-Jan-19 14:33:50

I like the different meanings of names for items of clothing, eg

Vest v waistcoat
Tank top v vest
Purse v handbag
Apparently in the US a jumper is what we would call a pinafore dress!

Differences in language are so interesting. I always thought ‘can I get’ was common in Scotland actually, and not really an Americanism.

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:33:57

It's funny how things have reversed. Now Americans don't really give much of a shit about British people or what they say/do

I think that’s increasingly true Stupomax. Before Prince Harry’s wedding British friends were asking if “the Americans were going wild about the wedding”

grin No.

There was obviously stuff in the media about it but in real life I don’t know anyone who was in the least interested.

Even among the local British expats the one lady who tried to organise a flag waving wedding watching breakfast party was met with blank stares. grin

troubleswillbeoutofsight Fri 11-Jan-19 14:34:18

I say meet with. I thought it correct English English

Parthenope Fri 11-Jan-19 14:35:05

many of the things that end up on threads like these are not Americanisms at all and are in daily use in Scotland and Ireland.

The exact same instead of exactly the same.

Yup. I grew up saying that, and I'm Irish.

Some UK vs US preposition usages are quite different --
'I visited with Jane' instead of 'I visited Jane'
'I talked to her' vs 'I talked with her'
'He crushed on his teacher' vs 'He had a crush on his teacher'
'Write me' vs 'Write to me', as already said.
'On the weekend' vs 'at the weekend'
'They were hating on the new girl' vs 'They hated the new girl'

Though some of these are blurring into a sort of transatlantic internet English.

pixilatedpenguin Fri 11-Jan-19 14:35:29

Deplane instead of disembark
Momentarily which in the uk means for a short time but In the US means soon

FVFrog Fri 11-Jan-19 14:35:58

Yes, yes on pants and the US pronunciation of khaki (cacky) which has my then 6 and 8 year olds rolling with laughter and horror at an Old Navy advert for khaki trousers (referred to as cacky pants!)

pixilatedpenguin Fri 11-Jan-19 14:36:34

Cremains instead of ashes

BartonHollow Fri 11-Jan-19 14:38:55


I have NEVER heard that!

That's awful it doesn't even sound real!

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:39:02

myimaginary “jelly” as “justgetting” says is old Scottish usage. Have you never heard of a “jeelie piece” (jam sandwich)?

They do have jam in the US also.

Myimaginarycathasfleas Fri 11-Jan-19 14:39:18

I also think that people forget how quickly we assimilate Americanisms. No-one turns a hair now at “cheated on”. It is very much part of the British lexicon.

reallybadidea Fri 11-Jan-19 14:39:59

I love "Americanisms". I think American English is an amazingly rich and creative language.

chemenger Fri 11-Jan-19 14:40:18

I say meet with for a meeting, when we all go somewhere to sit down and discuss but meet for joining up to go out or do something. So “I’m meeting with the HR team to discuss bonuses” but “I’m meeting Jane to go shopping”.

Myimaginarycathasfleas Fri 11-Jan-19 14:40:49

jelly” as “justgetting” says is old Scottish usage. Have you never heard of a “jeelie piece” (jam sandwich)?

I haven’t, but it sounds lovely! See what I mean, still baffled! grin

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:41:17

and the US pronunciation of khaki (cocky)

confused. how would you say khaki FV? Kaah-key?

It’s cacky in my accent.

BartonHollow Fri 11-Jan-19 14:42:19

It's funny this thread

I have thought that if I was ever on a US Talk Show and I was asked

"What's the number one thing that the British criticise America for?"

My answer would be

"Spelling And Grammar"

It winds British people up way more than the big and obvious differences

LemonBreeland Fri 11-Jan-19 14:42:28

Whenever instead of when, as in 'Whenever we went to Disneyland we had a great time' whilst talking about a single visit to Disneyland.

DulciUke Fri 11-Jan-19 14:42:54

is it cattercorner?

I thought it was kittycorner?

It's both. Depends on the region of the U.S.

Myimaginarycathasfleas Fri 11-Jan-19 14:43:24

*@WaxMyrtle*. In my accent (non rhotic) it would sound like car key.

pixilatedpenguin Fri 11-Jan-19 14:44:51

@bartonhollow I learnt it from CSI 😂

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:44:55

You might enjoy this song myimaginary grin

PurpleAndTurquoise Fri 11-Jan-19 14:46:19

Ahem. Fanny instead of bum.

Also when we say trump we mean a gaseous emission from the derrière. They mean their president, although perhaps the words are starting to blur together for them.

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:46:44

Do you see an “r” in khaki myimaginary <rolls eyes> grin

In my (Scottish) accent it’s cacky.

steppemum Fri 11-Jan-19 14:47:03

we have jelly in UK too.
Not as common now to put on bread, but blackcurrant jelly, redcurrant jelly, crabapple jelly, mint jelly etc.
They are jams which have been put through a muslin cloth while hot to strain them, remove the chunks of fruit, seeds and bits etc. The result is clear and set and jelly like, and is used like jam, or with meat.

So again, that came before jello style jelllies and it is a word that went TO the US and kept its meaning, whereas we then added jello style jelly and called it jelly, thus creating 2 things with the same name in UK!

CrookedMe Fri 11-Jan-19 14:48:18

Urgh, these threads are so cringey. They always fill up with provincial snobs going 'oh I just can't bear the way people speaking an entirely different language sound, you know, different'.

Well they would wouldn't they?!

chemenger Fri 11-Jan-19 14:48:38

I think the two types of Trump are pretty much interchangeable, hot air that makes you disgusted.

Myimaginarycathasfleas Fri 11-Jan-19 14:48:38

I can see it, Myrtle but I can’t for the life of me say it! grin

CrookedMe Fri 11-Jan-19 14:49:45

PS: it comes from cater-corner.

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:50:44

I love the Southern “fixin to do”
“I’m fixin to repaint the house” or “I’m fixin to go surfing” or “I’m fixin to go and watch the Rockets” (basketball team)

Frazzlesareheroes Fri 11-Jan-19 14:51:09

Film adverts.

"Coming to a theatre near you on March 16"

I always find myself going "" grin

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 14:52:10

Actually Crooked I think this thread has been nicer than most.

CrookedMe Fri 11-Jan-19 14:54:03

Yes I agree but I'm sure it will descend, they tend to.

Xiaoxiong Fri 11-Jan-19 14:55:47

Some more for your list of awful Americanisms:

Stiff upper lip
Get together
Double decker

kenandbarbie Fri 11-Jan-19 15:00:04

Deplane instead of disembark - that's amazing I am going to start using that!!!
Beverize - what does that mean?

When I did camp America the Americans used to piss themselves at me saying 'swimming costume' like it was fancy dress or something. They also used to make me ask people in neighboring cars on the 'freeway' - 'do you have any grey poupon?' Which I think is a type of mustard. I think it has an advert and the person has a very posh English accent - even though I've got a really strong northern accent - they couldn't tell the difference!

WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 15:00:26

Xiao grin

Myimaginarycathasfleas Fri 11-Jan-19 15:01:53

That song was a real treat Myrtle, thank you!

JaneJeffer Fri 11-Jan-19 15:01:56

I want to know what collard greens are.

Imnotswallowingthat Fri 11-Jan-19 15:02:25

Two-times, three times and so on instead of double, triple etc

As in we'd say Mo Farah was a double Olympic champion where they'd say he was a two-times Olympic champion.

The other one I really hate is their use of "season" for a TV series.

BitOutOfPractice Fri 11-Jan-19 15:03:53

For once Xiaoxiong nobody has said they're awful, just different. So you can unclench grin

Putting the dates the different way round confuses me every single time. eg today's date in the UK would be 11/01/19 but in the USA it'd be 01/11/19

Literally every single time I have to stop and think really hard about it. Though that's probably just an indication of my dimness

Myimaginarycathasfleas Fri 11-Jan-19 15:07:01

Can someone clear up some pronunciations for me?
Coyote springs to mind.

chemenger Fri 11-Jan-19 15:09:03

BitOut OfPractice I’m the same with dates, it takes me ages to work it out and now with the added stress of remembering it’s 19 not 18 I’m virtually paralysed when faced with writing the date. Are you another Archers fan in the USA, by the way?

NannyR Fri 11-Jan-19 15:13:10

Legos, as in playing with a box of legos (US), rather than playing with a box of Lego or just Lego bricks (UK).

BitOutOfPractice Fri 11-Jan-19 15:13:35

No I'm in the UK but have dealings with American companies at work

BitOutOfPractice Fri 11-Jan-19 15:14:14

Hence my requent date panics!

BitOutOfPractice Fri 11-Jan-19 15:14:26


WaxMyrtle Fri 11-Jan-19 15:14:30

Jane Collard greens are a type of brassica. Same family as kale I believe. They’re nice.


Kai- oty

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