Emily’s English-American Dictionary


We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.
[Oscar Wilde]

My vocabulary and pronunciation are changing. I still can’t speak with an actual British accent, but words and phrases are popping up in my speech that have never been there before. Yesterday I ate lunch with my classmate Anya, and in answer to a question, I said, “You could do.” She and I bother burst into giggles because not only was the phrasing very British but so was my intonation.

Thus, I give you a list of words and phrases I have compiled over the last two weeks. Words marked with a + I have never heard before, while those marked with a * are words I have used at some point since arriving in London. American definitions are provided.

    Alright? – adv. How are you?; “Alright?” “Yeah, you?”

    bank holiday* – n. national holiday; Next bank holiday, I’m off to Paris.

    barking – adj. crazy, mad; She was a barking lunatic.

    biscuits – n. cookie; Would you like some tea and biscuits?

    chat* – n,v. talk; We’ll have a little chat about it later.

    chat show+ – n. talk show; David Tennant’s on that chat show later tonight.

    chemist+* – n. pharmacist; I need to pop over to the chemist for some paracetamol.

    chips* – n. french fries; Would you like chips with that?

    chuffed – adj. pleased, happy; I passed my exam; I’m well chuffed.

    coach* – n. bus; Next time, I’ll take the coach to Cheltenham.

    cookies+ – n. a soft-centred “biscuit,” like a chocolate-chip cookie; I’d rather have a cookie. (I had no idea that the term “cookie” was used here since I’ve always been told that cookies are biscuits.)

    crisps* – n. chips; I’ll have the soup and a packet of crisps.

    could do/have done* – This one is a bit tricky: in American English, I don’t think we have an exact “translation,” so to speak, for this one. Basically, if I were to say, “I think I’ll write my paper tonight,” a response would be, “You could do, or we could watch telly.” In American English, we just don’t use this expression. It sounds simple when you read it here, but when I hear it spoken, it is definitely very British.

    curry* – n. any dish that can fall under the label of Indian cuisine; We’ll have a curry for dinner tonight.

    fag – n. cigarette; He’s outside smoking a fag.

    hiya* – int. hello, hi. “Hiya!” “Hiya, Emily.”

    holiday* – n. vacation, trip; After this course, I’ll be on holiday in Barcelona.

    innit?* – isn’t it, ain’t it; This course is hard, innit?

    internee+ – n. intern; She’s an internee at the office.

    mobile* – n. cell phone; I’ve lost my mobile.

    paracetamol* – n. pain reliever found in Tylenol

    pop over/pop out – head over, go over, go out; I’ll pop over to the shop and buy it.

    quid – n. pounds, like how we call dollars “bucks”; It ended up costing me fifty quid.

    shop* – n. store; He’s just up at the shop.

    top up+ – Adding credit to your pay-as-you-go cell phone; I’ve just got to top up my mobile.

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