Expat Life: British Words I Just Can’t Shift!

When I emigrated to America, I managed to land myself a job in a school!  But there’s a slight problem…there are words we say in England that aren’t used in America which has resulted in several strange looks from students wondering what on earth I’m talking about!  I’m trying my hardest to say the ‘correct’ word but there’s some that are just stuck and I say the British word out of habit!

British = American

  • Trousers = pants

In England, pants are what is worn UNDER trousers, I just can’t get the hang of saying pants when quite rightly at school they aren’t technically on show!

  • Jumper = Sweater

Self explanatory.

  • Bin = Trash Can

Lets face it, bin is a much quicker word to say that trash can!

  • Rubbish = Trash

So leading on from a bin…rubbish goes inside it!

  • Throw Away = Dump It Out

I’m sorry, dump is slang for having a poo, I can’t help but think of poo whenever I hear ‘dump’.

  • Half 10 = 10:30

In England, when telling the time I’ll often say half 10, 20 past 10, quarter to…whereas here it’s more 10:30, 10:20, 10:45…it’s said more in its number form.

  • Play Time = Recess

I guess recess sounds like a more grown up/mature version of playtime?

  • Path = Sidewalk

I can see how sidewalk is logical, you walk to the side of the road/grass, but I’m still stuck saying path!

  • Crisps = Chips

Crisps are crispy potatoes…not chips…

  • Chips = Fries

…chips are fries.

  • Tissue = Kleenex

OK, so they are still tissues but it seems like more people refer to them as Kleenex, the brand, rather than just calling it a tissue.

  • Plaster = Band Aid

Again, I THINK Band Aid is a brand?  Either way I still keep calling it a plaster.  They do seem to have a lot more stick than the English counterparts.  Stick on a plaster in England, if it gets a tiny bit wet it’ll probably fall off…stick a ‘Band Aid’ on in America and it is likely to pull off 5 layers of skin at the same time.

When it comes to my home life, I still talk the way I always have.  Technically I feel like I should adapt to my new country because this is where I’m living but then I still want to stay true to myself!  I’ll just try REALLY hard while I’m at work!

Are you an expat? Are there any ‘home land’ words you still say in your new country?

Kylie Signature

British to American Translations - British words I can't stop saying in America!

9 thoughts on “Expat Life: British Words I Just Can’t Shift!

  1. Two words have been really hard for me: ‘diaper’ instead of ‘nappy’ and ‘bangs’ instead of ‘fringe’ for the short hair on your forehead. I have recently been told that Americans are now calling it a fringe too which is good news for me!


  2. Working in a school probably confronts you with “rubber” a lot too. It’s an eraser!!! A few that my American husband likes – star jumps (jumping jacks), the hob (stove top), and – his favorite – jacket potato (baked potato).


    1. A kid pulled me up today on skipping rope being a jump rope! I think my other half is getting used to my strange words now, he even says Lorry instead of ‘semi’!


  3. Haha I’ve started saying a lot of Aussie words and I feel like they’re gonna stick for a while now I’m home!

    Interestingly we used to say ‘half 5’ etc when we were working with Germans and they got really confused because they say it too but it means 4.30 not 5.30! So that was weird.


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