Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zed (and other "odd" words)

"Zed" is how the British pronounce the last letter of the alphabet..."X, Y, and Zed".

But that's not the only language quirk between British and American English.  Here's a pretty comprehensive list if you're curious, but I've outlined a few I commonly encountered.

The British tend to pull from the French whereas Americans tend to pull from Italian, so what
Americans would call a "zucchini" is a "courgette", and an "eggplant" is an "aubergine".  "Arugula" in American English becomes "rocket" in British English.

A shopping cart like you'd use in a grocery store is called a "trolley", though I've heard a fair number of variations in the states as well ("buggy", "carriage", etc.).

A cash register is called a "till".

If you're injured and need to go to hospital (not "the" hospital in the UK...just hospital), you'll be taken to the A&E, not the ER.  A&E stands for "accident and emergency".

Done with your restaurant meal and you want to pay? Ask for the bill, not the check.  A check (or cheque) would be something you'd pay the bill with.

Want to bring food home instead of eating it in the restaurant?  You'll be getting "carry out" or, more commonly, "take away" rather than "take out".  I like this one so much, I still ask my husband if he wants take away for dinner.

Here's an odd one...when you're in the UK and have to use the toilet, ask for that.  Asking someone where the toilet is isn't uncommon; a "bathroom" is considered to be a fully equipped bath (toilet, sink, bath tub, shower) that you'd use to bathe in.  It may sound crude, but just ask for, or follow the signs for, the toilet.

This list could go on forever!  Do you have a favorite?  Maybe one I missed?

Thank you so much for hanging out on my blog this whole month.  Each and every one of your comments has made me smile.  Please check out my past posts, especially those in my Editing Tips from a Real-Life Editor series, and stay tuned for future posts on writing and all sorts of related topics.

Until next time!

xoxo Sarah


  1. Lol - of course to us, asking for the toilet is just plain speaking, and asking for a bathroom - bonkers. Although most people would ask where the 'loo' is. The trickiest is - we don't use the word 'eraser' much... we call it a rubber! ~Liz Congrats on getting to the end! (don't use Twitter of Blogger links, they don't work!)

    1. Haha, Liz--I have a friend whose daughter went to a British school for a couple of years (reception through year one). She asks for rubbers and we giggle a bit. :-P