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European English

Irish English

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"Euro-English terms"



Some vocabulary differences between European and American English


In addition to spelling variations, there are differences in vocabulary between European and American English.

Most of these differences are unimportant for casual interactions — though there are some that are quite important.



European

American


Anticlockwise

Counterclockwise


Aubergine

Eggplant


Balaclava

Ski mask


Bin

Trash can


Bin liner

Trash bag


Biro

Ballpoint pen


Biscuit

Cookie


Bollocks

Balls

Also a general-purpose swearword — see "Cursing in Ireland"

Bonnet

Hood

(of a car)

Boot

Trunk

(of a car)

Braces

Suspenders

(for a pair of pants. [A "suspender," in Europe, is a garter belt.)

Brush

Broom


Building society

Savings and loan company


Call

To visit, pass by


Called

Named

(Personal or family name.) As in "a lad called Joe"

Canteen

Break room, cafeteria


Caravan

Travel trailer


Car park

Parking lot


Catapult

Slingshot


Chemist

Pharmacist, pharmacy, drugstore


Chips

French fries (sort of...)

Chips are thicker than fries

Cling film

Saran wrap

The U.S. term is proprietary (derived from a brand name.)

Clothes peg

Clothes pin


Collect

Pick up (somebody)


Cooker

Stove


Coriander

Cilantro

In U.S., "coriander" is the seed of this plant.

Coss

Romaine

(Lettuce)

Courgette

zuchinni


Crisps

Potato chips


Cunt

Guy, fellow

(Irreverent — yes, vulgar — but not obscene.) See Irish joke about Charles Haughey.

Custom

Patronage, business

"Thank you for your custom," in courteous business signage. Conversely, a "customer" is normally called a "punter."

Cutlery

Silverware


C.V.

Résumé

(Curriculum vitae)

Dear

Expensive


Different to

Different from


Dodgy

Sketchy

(Or "bad," as in "a dodgy pint"

Dressing gown

Bathrobe


Drink driving

Drunk driving


Dummy

Pacifier

(For infant)

Earthed

Grounded

(Electrical)

Estate agent

Realtor

In European, also "auctioneer"

Fag

Cigarette

Not to be confused with an American homophobic term

First floor

Second floor

(First floor above the ground floor.

Flat

Apartment


Flyover

Overpass

(On a road)

Football

Soccer

"Soccer" is the preferable term in Ireland, which also plays a game called "Gaelic football."

Fortnight

Two weeks


Full stop

Period

(Punctuation at end of sentence)

Garden

Yard

In America, "garden" is specific to the area where one grows food plants.

Good job

Good thing

("It's a good job [that...]")

Graft

Effort, labo(u)r, work

Usually if not always used as part of the term "hard graft."

In American, "graft" connotes political-business corruption.

Half-four

Four-thirty

See "dawn chorus" (Ireland)

Happy as Larry

Satisfied


Herb

Herb (silent "h")


Hire

Rent

(A car, etc.)

Holiday

Vacation

Often informally abbreviated as "hols."

"If you like"

"If you will"

(As a polite way of using unorthodox terminology)

Jumper

Sweater


Knackered

Tired, worn out


Knickers

Underpants


Knocked down

Run over

(By a car etc.)

Lead

Cord (electrical;) or leash (for pet)


Lift (n.)

Elevator


Lift (v.)

ride (in a car, e.g.)

"Ride" has a sexual connotation in European English...

Lorry (n.)

Truck


Management reserve the right...

Management reserves* the right...


Mangetout

Snow peas


Marks

Grades

(In school)

Maths

Mathematics


Mean

Stingy, tight


Mince

Ground beef (or "hamburger")


Mobile 'phone

Cell 'phone

In European, usually simply "mobile"

Move house

Move (from one house to another)

In American, the speaker's intention is clear within context.

Nappies

diapers


Naught

zero


Off licence

Liquor store

(There seems to be no hyphen "off licence" — at least not in Ireland.)

Overtake

Pass

(In traffic)

Pavement

Sidewalk, footpath


Petrol

Gasoline, gas


Pissed

Drunk, drunken

This has an important difference of meaning compared to the American.

'Phone box

'Phone booth


Pitch

Field

(Sports)

Post (n.)

Mail


Post (v.)

To send by mail


Potter (v.)

Putter (about)


Pram

Infant stroller


Pressurise

Pressure (v.)

(Try to convince or compell)

Pull

Pick up

(For sexual interests)

Punter

Customer

(Patron in a shop, bettor in a bookie, sports fan at a stadium etc.)

[Made] redundant

Laid off

(From a job)

Return

Round-trip

[Ticket, or journey]

Reverse-charge call

Collect call


Ride [n. or v.]

F*ck

One of those important differences in the two languages...

Ring (v.)

Call

(On telephone)

Ring road

Beltway, bypass


Risible

Laughable, ludicrous

(Used only rarely in U.S. English)

Rob

Steal

In American, you would "steal" a car. In European, you'd "rob" it. To rob a car in American is to steal something from inside it.

Rocket (eruca sativa)

Arugula


Roster

Schedule

(At work.) Also "rota" in Euro-English

Rubbish (n.)

Trash, garbage


Rubbish (v.)

Disparage


Sack (v.)

Fire

(From a job)

Salamander

Broiler


Scarper

Slip away, escape


Secondary school

High school


Serviette

Napkin


Shite

shit

(Literal or figurative)

Shop (n.)

Store

"Retail shop" = department store

Shop [v.]

Rat out, turn in (somebody)


Skip

Dumpster


Skive

Goof off

(doss, in Irish English)

Skirting board

Baseboard

(At bottom of wall)

Socket

Outlet

(Electrical)

Solicitor

Lawyer, attorney


Sorry

Excuse me

In conversation or pedestrian traffic

Sort of

Um

(Approximately equivalent, most of the time. [Does not usually mean "in a way" or "kind of," but instead works to briefly delay and compose the sentence.])

Slag, slag off


To insult, criticize, talk down

Slapper


Disparaging (or hopeful) reference to a "loose" woman

Spanner

Wrench


Sport

Sports


Stone

14 pounds (unit of measurement)

Antiquated, but still used in discussion of personal weight in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Store

Storeroom


Suspender

Garter belt

("Suspenders," in Europe, are called "braces.")

Take-away

To go

(Food, e.g.)

Tap

Faucet


Take the piss

Lampoon

Satirize, be ironic. Also, take advantage of an opportunity in a cheeky way.

Tarmac

Asphalt

(Short for tarmacadam)

Taste (n.)

Flavour

In America, you could say that somebody has "good taste" (in music, e.g.) But you wouldn't say that food has "a good taste," but "a good flavor." You can say that in Euro-English as well — spelling it "flavour."

The

Ten a penny

A dime a dozen

The

excluded in some European phrases

"In hospital;" "in future" (but "in the past")

Tippex

White-out

"Tipp-ex" is proprietary.

Thousand million

Billion


Toilet

Restroom, bathroom


Torch

Flashlight


Trainers

Sneakers

(also "runners" in European.) Don't wear them to an Irish late-club.)

Trolley

Cart

For shopping

V.

Vs.

(As abbreviation for "versus.")

Wellington boots

Galloshes

Usually "Wellingtons" or "Wellies"

Whinge

Whine, complain


Windscreen

Windshield

Of a car, etc.


__ ___ __

*When refering to a group — an affiliation or an organized body — American will use the singular case, European the plural. An example: "Denver wins Superbowl;" but "Kilkenny win All-Ireland."

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