Varieties of English Vocabulary

This page shows major differences in vocabulary between different varieties of English‏‎.

The vocabulary differences here are mainly between American English‏‎ (AmE) and British English (BrE), the two most prevalent varieties of English‏‎. However, bear in mind that there is a great deal of overlap between the two (often due to cultural influence) and the differences are not as clear-cut as might be imagined.

Note that in the lists below Australian English‏‎ & New Zealand English ‏‎are the same as British English unless noted otherwise.

Meanings

In many cases there is a direct correlation between the words. For example, AmE uses the word cab and BrE uses the word taxi and yet both refer to exactly the same thing.

However, there are sometimes differences in meaning between the same word. For example in AmE quite works as a intensifier:

He was angry before and that was ok, but now he’s quite angry so we’d better leave!

In BrE, however, quite works to reduce the intensity of the word.

He was angry before and I was thinking of leaving; he’s still quite angry but I think it’s safe to stay.

Miscellaneous Meanings

Word – Meaning

first/ground floor – in the US the first floor is equivalent to the UK ground floor; the US second floor is equivalent to the UK first floor and so on.
quite – in AmE intensifies; in BrE de-tensifies

Semantic Fields

The lists below are divided into several general semantic fields. The words here are almost all nouns.

Road/Traffic

American English – British English – Australian English – New Zealand English
automobile – car
cab – taxi
detour – diversion
divided highway – dual carriageway
expressway – motorway
fender – bumper, mudguard
flat – puncture, flat tyre
freeway – motorway
gas – petrol
gearshift – gear-stick, gear-lever
highway – main road
hood – bonnet
intersection – crossroads
motor – engine
muffler – silencer
oil pan – sump
patrolman – (traffic) policeman
drug store – chemist’s – chemist/pharmacy
elevator – lift
eraser – rubber
faculty – staff (university)
fall – autumn
pavement – road surface
sedan – saloon car
shoulder – verge
sidewalk – pavement
traffic – circle roundabout
trailer – caravan
truck – van, lorry
trunk – boot
turnpike – toll motorway
windshield – windscreen
wreck – crash.

Clothes/Accessories

American English – British English – Australian English – New Zealand English

billfold –  wallet
coin-purse – purse
cuffs – turn-ups (on trousers)
diaper – nappy
pants – trousers
pantyhose – tights
pocketbook, purse – handbag
shorts – underpants, pants
sneakers – trainers
suspenders – braces
undershirt – vest
vest – waistcoat
zipper – zip

Miscellaneous

American English – British English – Australian English – New Zealand English

afternoon – afternoon – arvo – afo/arvo
alumnus – graduate
anyplace – anywhere
apartment – flat – apartment/flat
attorney – barrister, solicitor – lawyer
baby-carriage – pram
bar – pub
billboard – hoarding – billboard
broiler – grill
burglarize – burgle
call-collect – reverse charge
can – tin
candy – sweets – lollies
checkers – draughts
closet – cupboard
cookie – biscuit
corn – maize – corn
crib – cot
dishtowel – tea-towel
drug store – chemist’s – chemist/pharmacy
elevator – lift
eraser – rubber
faculty – staff (university)
fall – autumn
faucet – tap
first – floor – ground floor
flashlight – torch
garbage – rubbish
hobo – tramp
janitor – caretaker
kerosene – paraffin – kerosene
liquor store – off-licence – bottle shop
mail – post – mail
math – maths
mean – vicious
no place – nowhere
optometrist – oculist, optician – optometrist
pacifier – dummy (for a baby)
pitcher – jug
potato – chips – crisps – chips
private hospital – nursing home
railroad – railway
Realtor – estate agent
rest room – toilet
rubber – condom
rubbers – Wellington boots – gum boots – gum boots
school – school, college, university
someplace – somewhere
spigot – tap
sponge – off sponge – off bludge
spool – reel
store – shop
stove – cooker
stroller – push-chair – pusher
subway – underground/tube – loop
thumbtack – drawing pin
trash – rubbish
vacation – holiday

Expressions

American English – British English – Australian English – New Zealand English

I could care less.  – I couldn’t care less.

Useful Links

Varieties of English‏‎ – a look at the different types of English around

Varieties of English Spelling – major spelling differences between different types of English

Varieties of English Grammar – major grammar differences between different types of English

American English‏‎ – a look at American English or AmE

British English – a look at British English or BrE

Australian English – a look at Australian English or AuE

New Zealand English – a look at New Zealand English or NZE

Maltesers and Whoppers; they look the same, some say they are the same… but are they?

Posted in Varieties Of English.

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