Definitions

get to first base

List of words having different meanings in British and American English

This is a list of words and phrases having differing meanings in British and American English.

  • Asterisked (*) meanings, though found chiefly in the specified region, have also some currency in the other dialect; other definitions may be recognised by the other as Briticisms or Americanisms respectively. Additional usage notes are provided when useful.
  • Certain words are limited to regional or specific dialect use in either usage. They will, however, be recognised and understood by most native English speakers in the country concerned. These are marked with their usual area of use.

A

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
accommodation housing ("residential accommodation") something supplied; a compromise; a loan
see also accommodation (eye); lodging (as for travellers) but often used in the plural in US for this meaning
(esp. in the past) a local public conveyance, esp. a train
see also accommodation (law)
accumulator rechargeable battery (archaic)
a type of bet (US: parlay)
one that accumulates, as a type of computer processor register or a hydraulic accumulator  
ace good, excellent (1980s slang)
a one in a suit of playing cards
someone who is very good at something
fighter pilot who has shot down a certain number of enemy aircraft
(v.) to perform outstandingly *; esp., to achieve an "A" (on a school exam)
the best starting pitcher in a rotation on a baseball team
advocate (n.) Scottish also Jersey, Channel Islands lawyer who appears in higher courts (rest of UK: barrister) someone who supports and/or speaks for a particular position
generic term for a lawyer
(v.) to recommend or support
 
aerial (n.) a radio antenna to transmit or receive electromagnetic waves (US: antenna) (adj.) of, in or from the air, as in aerial photography
a dance move in Lindy Hop or e.g. "front aerial" in acro dance
a type of skateboarding trick
 
air marshal a senior air force officer (equivalent to an Army general or Navy admiral) an undercover law enforcement officer on board a commercial aircraft, also known as a sky marshal  
à la mode   fashionable with ice cream
alternate   (adj.) done or occurring by turns; every second, every other ("on alternate weeks")
(n.) one that alternates with another
(adj.) constituting an alternative, offering a choice (UK usu. & US also alternative) ("use alternate routes")
"alternative", unconventional ("alternate lifestyles") (n.) an alternative *; a substitute
amber traffic light of this colour (US: yellow light) orange-yellow colour
fossilised resin; a material used in the construction of some tobacco pipes, female given name
 
anaesthetist (UK), anesthetist (US) physician trained to administer anaesthesia (US: anesthesiologist)   nurse or technician trained to administer anaesthesia
anchor   (1) a position in a tug-of-war team (2) device for mooring ships by providing a firm fix to the seabed
anchorman/anchorwoman, the last member of a relay team to compete
a type of radio or TV presenter ("a news anchor"). See news presenter for a description of the different roles of a newscaster, an American news anchor, and a British newsreader.
anorak a parka
(slang) a socially awkward person obsessively interested in something (syn. US: geek, nerd; dweeb; etc.)
hooded, rainproof outerwear that lacks a full-length zipper in the front (UK: cagoule)  
apartment suite of rooms set aside for a particular person (rare)   a set of rooms in a building constituting a usu. rented housing unit *(implies luxury in UK; UK usu. flat) – cf. s.v. condominium
appropriate (v.), appropriation (n.) to take (money) to oneself, to filch or misappropriate to take and assign (money) (there is considerable overlap but difference of emphasis) to dispense (money), to budget
Asian originating from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka (South Asian) originating from the continent of Asia originating from East Asia or continental Southeast Asia
ass   donkey
slow-witted or stupid person, often in combination (smart-ass)
(often vulgar) buttocks (UK: arse); also, by synecdoche, the person ("your ass is dead"); also (vulgar) anus (short for asshole)
(vulgar) sex ("get some ass") (note: the American usage of ass is becoming more common in British English)
also used as a suffix to add emphasis to an adjective ("He drove a big-ass truck")
kick-ass: to beat up or beat, e.g. "I am going to kick his ass" or, more positively, something that beat (did better than) everything else, e.g. "The opening band was kick-ass".
athlete one who participates in running, throwing, and jumping competitions   one who participates in sports in general
athletics running, throwing, and jumping competitions (US: track and field)   sport in general
attorney   an agent or representative authorised to act on someone else's behalf ("attorney-in-fact", "power of attorney")
(Attorney General) main legal advisor to the government
(or attorney-at-law) a lawyer (UK: barrister (England, Northern Ireland, Wales)/advocate (Scotland) or solicitor, depending on the actual profession)
(District attorney, prosecuting attorney) local public official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminals (archaic in Br. Eng. for lawyer)
aubergine the plant Solanum melongena (US: eggplant) an eggplant-like colour (US also: eggplant)  
awesome   inspiring awe, spectacular great, "cool" * (largely used in the 1980s, recently revived; can have various connotations depending on context – compare UK brilliant)

B

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
banger (n.) a sausage, as in "bangers and mash"
an old motorcar in a state of disrepair (US: beater)
a type of firework a particularly club-friendly beat or song
bang(s)   small explosions or reports;
(v.) have sexual intercourse with (vulgar slang) (eg. "bang some chick" or "he's banging her")
locks of hair on forehead (UK: fringe)
base   foundation, starting point; many meanings in sciences, architecture, politics, military instilation, etc.; see base in baseball, one of the three places a runner can stand in safety; hence in many fig. senses, off one's base (crazy), to get to first base (esp. in neg. constr., to get a first important result); more recently (slang), a metaphor for one of three different stages in making out (q.v.) – see baseball metaphors for sex; more s.v. home run
bash a party or celebration "they're having a bit of a bash this weekend"; masturbate (vulgar slang) (usu.Bash one out or Have a bash) (but Have a bash more often means the same as Have a go - to try to achieve something, as in "have a bash at this crossword") to strike physically
a party (usu. a large one)
to attack verbally
 
bath (n.) plumbing fixture for bathing * (US: bathtub)
(usu. pl.) swimming pool
(v.) to bathe, or give a bath to
(n.) the act of bathing
a (financial) loss
(n.) a bathroom (esp. a half bath which has a sink and toilet but no shower stall or bathtub, or a 3/4 bath which has a sink, toilet, and shower stall, but no bathtub)
bathroom room containing a bath (US: bathtub) or shower, other washing facilities, and usu. (but not necessarily) a toilet   room, in a home or hotel room, containing a toilet, related washing facilities, and often, but not necessarily, a shower and/or bathtub (Hence "Going to the bathroom" is a euphemism for going to the toilet even in a setting where one would not expect to find a bath, e.g. a restaurant or shop *) (a room without shower or bathtub may also be known as a powder room, but this usage may be considered dated)
beaker drinking vessel without a handle, or one (with or without handles) made of unbreakable plastic for the use of children (US: sippy cup) flat-bottomed vessel, with a lip, used as a laboratory container  
beater   person who flushes game from concealment so it can be shot at by 'the guns'
something or someone that beats
used car in very poor condition (UK: banger)
(slang) wifebeater (q.v.)
a sleeveless undershirt (from the stereotype that poor men who wear them beat their wives, perhaps from Jackie Gleason in "The Honeymooners" TV series (50s/60s U.S.) or more likely from the costume of the character Stanley in the play "A Streetcar Named Desire (play)")
beaver beard; a bearded man (archaic slang) aquatic rodent known for building dams
woman's undepilated external genitalia (obscene slang)
female pubic hair (slang)
bespoke (esp. of apparel) made to the customer's specification (US: custom-made, tailor-made) pret. of bespeak  
bill The bill = the police (slang, poss. from Old Bill) invoice; request for payment (also US: check, tab) a piece of paper money (UK: note/banknote)
billion (traditionally) a million millions (1012) (US: trillion) thousand million (109) (now most common in both UK and US) (traditional UK: milliard) (see also Long and short scales) 109
bin (v.) to throw away.
(bread bin) container for storing bread (US: breadbox)
(1) a waste container (2) a usu. large receptacle or container for storage ("a grain bin"; "Scrooge McDuck's money bin")  
bird (n.) one's girlfriend or any young female (slang; getting rarer and considered derogatory by some)
prison sentence (slang)
avian creature
an aircraft
insulting hand gesture involving shaking one's fist towards someone with knuckles pointing towards the person being insulted and the middle finger extended (used chiefly in “flipping someone the bird”) (slang)
biscuit (n.) baked sweet or savoury cake-like item, usu. flat, which is hard when baked and softens over time (colloquially bikkies for sweet biscuits) (US: cookie (sweet biscuit), cracker savoury biscuit)
(to take the biscuit) to be very surprising (US: take the cake)
  type of quick bread served with savory foods (UK: similar to a savoury scone, or similar in consistency to a croissant)
blinder (n.) excellent performance in a game or race (slang) "e.g. he played a blinder"   either of two flaps on a horse's bridle to keep it from seeing objects at its sides (UK: blinker, also used in US)
blinkers leather flaps on a bridle used to restrict a horse's lateral vision* (US usu.: blinders)
  lights on a car that indicate the direction about to be taken * (UK: indicators)
block (n.) a building (block of flats, office block) a solid piece of something
to obstruct
in a city, the portion of a street between adjacent intersections* or an informal rough unit of distance derived from the length of the same
bloody expletive used to express anger ("bloody car") or shock ("bloody hell"), or for emphasis ("not bloody likely") (slang, today only mildly vulgar) * (similar US: damn ("damn car")) having, covered with or accompanied by blood considered a euphemism for more emphatic swear words
blow off to break wind to perform oral sex upon to not turn up to meet somebody (UK: blow out ("I'm just too busy, I'll have to blow you out for this evening.")
bog (n.) toilet (slightly vulgar slang)
(bog off) go away (slightly vulgar slang, often jocular)
wetland that accumulates appreciable peat deposits A plot of farmland used to grow cranberries
(a cranberry bog)
bogey dried mucus usu. after extraction from the nose (US: booger) (informal)
the score of one over par in golf an unidentified aircraft, often assumed to be that of an enemy
alternate spelling of "Bogie" (nickname of Humphrey Bogart)
boiler (n.) 1.an old fowl best cooked by boiling;
2. (derogatory) an ugly woman (usually in the phrase "old boiler")
1. device (usu. oil or gas-fired) for heating water for central heating or hot water *, "central heating boiler" (US furnace);
vessel in which steam is generated
 
bomb (slang) a striking success; used in the phrases "go (like) a bomb" and "go down a bomb"; Go like a bomb also means, when used of a vehicle, to go very fast an explosive weapon (v.) to be a failure ("the show bombed"); also as n.
(n., used with the) something outstanding ("that show was the bomb"); sometimes spelled da bomb
bombardier corporal in the Royal Artillery - see Bombardier (rank)   crew member of a bomber responsible for assisting the navigator in guiding the plane to a bombing target and releasing the aircraft's bomb load - see Bombardier (air force) (UK: bomb aimer)
bonk act of sexual intercourse, or to have sexual intercourse (slightly vulgar slang) (US: boink)
bonking off to masturbate.
blow to the head
(n. and v.) to suffer glycogen depletion in an endurance sporting event; see hit the wall
 
bonnet hinged cover over the engine in a car (US: hood)
various types of Scottish or Irish soft hat
hat tied under chin worn by a baby or (archaically) a woman  
boob (n.) a mistake (slang); (v.) to make a mistake woman's breast (slightly vulgar slang) stupid person
boob tube woman's shoulderless, strapless top (US: tube top)   (the boob tube) television (slang)
boost   to (figuratively) lift up; to improve, increase, revitalize. to (literally) lift up, especially a person: booster cushion*, a cushion used to increase the height of a seat (esp. in a car)
to steal, especially from a retail establishment (i.e., shoplift)
boot storage compartment of a car (US: trunk) footwear covering lower leg
to kick something hard
to start up a computer
(Denver boot, car boot) device used to render cars immobile (UK: wheel clamp)
to expel (UK: give someone the boot)
to vomit (slang)
bottle courage ("he's got some bottle") (slang) (US: moxie)
to fail to do something through fear ("he's bottled out", "he bottled it") (slang)
to attack somebody with a broken bottle (slang)
Give it some bottle = put some effort into it
container for liquids
(the bottle) alcohol, heavy drinking (synechdocal slang)
 
box a gift in a box, hence Boxing Day
genital protector used in cricket (US similar: cup)
(the box) television set (slang) (US: idiot box, boob tube)
a box stall in a barn
any of various box-like structures, such as:
signal box (US: switch/signal/interlocking tower)
telephone box (US & UK also: telephone booth), more at call box
witness box (US: witness stand)
either one of the two marked areas adjacent to the goalmouth on a football (soccer) pitch (see Football pitch imperial.svg)
see also box junction
(n.) rigid container
(v.) to attack using one's fists, as in boxing
female genital area - vagina
(n.) general-purpose computer (e. g. "this box needs its hard disk re-formatted")
any of various areas on a baseball diamond (as for the batter, or the pitcher, the catcher, etc.)
female genitalia (obscene slang) *
(box canyon) a canyon with vertical walls
(box car) a type of enclosed railroad freight car (UK: goods van)
braces over-the-shoulder straps to support trousers * (US usu. suspenders) devices for straightening teeth
support that steadies or strengthens something else
leg supports (UK: callipers)
tertiary enclosing punctuation: { } (UK: curly brackets)
brackets enclosing punctuation: () (US & UK also: parentheses); more at braces supports for shelves, etc. attached to a wall secondary enclosing punctuation: [] (UK: square brackets)
brew (n.) tea   beer
brilliant excellent, of the highest quality (rarely sarcastic) very bright (of a light or a brain)
very intelligent
stupid (sarcastic use)
bud   undeveloped shoot which normally occurs in the axil of a leaf or at the tip of a plant stem marijuana (slang)
hand-rolled marijuana cigarette (slang), compare joint
shortening of 'buddy', used to address strangers assuming a non-existent familiarity (UK: similar: mate)
buffet railway carriage containing a refreshment counter selling snacks and drinks, esp. on a train on which a full restaurant car (US: dining car) service is not provided 1.refreshment counter or bar;
2.a meal set out on a table, etc. for diners to serve themselves
a type of sideboard
bug   insect of the order Hemiptera
pathogen, bacteria, germ
covert listening device (orig. US)
defect in software (orig. in a machine) (orig. US)
an enthusiast of something (orig. US)
Volkswagen Beetle
(v.) to apply a covert listening device (orig. US)
any of various insects * (nontechnical usage)
an important person ("a big bug"); also, someone crazy (as in "firebug", a pyromaniac)
(v.) to annoy (colloquial) *
to go away, depart, also from a responsibility (used with out)
(bug off) to go away (often as a command) (from UK bugger, q.v.)
bugger to engage in or someone who engages in anal sex
a form of address for either a person or item, either jocular ("he's a generous bugger") or less so ("he's a mean bugger") (slang)
(buggered) 1. broken, not working (typically of mechanical devices, e.g. "the engine's buggered") (slang); 2. syn. for bothered (e.g. "I didn't do it. I couldn't be buggered.") (slang)
(bugger up) to make a mess of something (slang)
(bugger off) (imperative) go away, leave me alone (slang)
  term of endearment, often used for children (slang)
(in spoken English, the British "bugger" is sometimes misheard by Americans as "booger")
buggy 2-wheeled horse-drawn lightweight carriage
baby transport vehicle also called (UK) pushchair (US: stroller)
any of various light cart or cars ("a golf buggy")
(slang) an automobile (orig. US)
see baby transport for details
see also dune buggy, beach buggy
4-wheeled horse-drawn lightweight carriage
baby transport vehicle also called (US) baby carriage (UK: pram)
regional (esp. South) for shopping cart (UK: trolley)
(marsh/swamp buggy) a type of motor vehicle for marshland
(slang) caboose
(horse and buggy) something obsolete (as from before the invention of the automobile)
bum to engage in anal sex (vulgar slang) (1)to cadge ("can I bum a cigarette off you?") (slang) (2) buttocks (slang) (US: butt) hobo, homeless person
poor quality (slang)
to sadden (often used with "out")
bumps a type of rowing race
a method of marking someone's birthday (see The bumps)
a set of small protuberances  
bunk to be absent without authorization:
bunk off, to play truant from school (US: play hooky)
do a bunk, to abscond (US: go on the lam)
type of bed, where two small beds are stacked on top of each other (UK bunk (up) with implies sharing a bed, rather than merely a room)
nonsense as in "History is bunk" (from bunkum)
group of plain beds used as no-frills lodging (UK: dormitory, qv); also used as a verb ("I bunked with them in their room"; "The cabin could bunk about 18")
bureau a type of writing table a public office or government agency a type of chest of drawers
burn (n.) (Scotland and Northern England) narrow river, stream – more s.v. creek
(the act of smoking) a cigarette
wound caused by heat, or chemical agents, etc. clearing (as in a forest) made by burning vegetation
bus (v.)   to travel by bus to transport via bus
to clear (as tables) in a restaurant; to work as a busboy
butcher (have a butcher's) to have a look (Cockney rhyming slang: butcher's hook = look) to kill and cut up an animal for meat
to kill messily, or someone who does so
one who cuts and sells meat
to make a big mess of things; botch ("butcher it up"; "I butchered the spelling")
butchery (n.) slaughterhouse, abattoir a cruel massacre
a butcher's trade
a botch
butt (n.)   (n.) the (larger) end of anything, a stub; also, a cigarette
a sudden blow given by the head of an animal
a large wooden cask
a person mocked by a joke
(v.) to strike bluntly (as with the head)
(butt in) to interfere when uncalled for (orig. US)
(colloquial) buttocks (UK usu. bum); hence butthead *
(n.) (butt-in) one who butts in
(v.) to cut off the end (of a log)
(butt out) to stop interfering
buzzard a hawk of the genus Buteo   vulture (slang)

C

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
call box (n.) telephone booth (UK also telephone box)   roadside emergency telephone
call for (v.)   to require to predict or anticipate ("The forecast calls for rain")
campsite (n.) area or park for people to camp in (US: campground)   spot for a particular person or group to camp, often within a campground (UK: pitch)
candy (n.) (candy floss) heated sugar spun into thin threads and collected into a mass, usually on a stick; something pleasing but having little worth (US: cotton candy for both senses) (v.) to sugarcoat, or boil with sugar (as fruit)
to sweeten
edible, sweet-tasting confection containing sugar, or sometimes artificial sweeteners, and often flavored with fruit, chocolate, nuts or artificial flavours; a piece of candy * (UK: sweets, confectionery)
(eye candy) someone particular attractive in a sexy way.
canfield (n.) a patience (solitaire) card game (US: Klondike)   a patience (solitaire) card game (UK: Demon)
canoe (n.)   A (traditionally) skin-covered boat propelled using one or two single-blade paddles (UK also: Canadian canoe) A similar boat propelled using a double-bladed paddle (UK: kayak, also used in US)
car (n.) railway vehicle, only in combination (e.g. "restaurant car")
(archaic) street tramway vehicle
motorcar (n.) (UK, q.v.)/automobile nonpowered unit in a railroad or railway train ("railroad car"; "a passenger/freight/parlor/dining/baggage etc. car") (see s.v. motor car, trolley; UK: cf. s.v. carriage, coach, wagon)
elevator (q.v.) cage
caravan towed recreational vehicle containing accommodation (US: travel trailer)
to take such a vehicle on holiday
overland trading convoy  
caretaker (n.) one who takes care of a building, usu. a state-owned building, i.e. school (US: janitor; cf. s.v. custodian)
one put in charge of a farm after eviction of tenant
one who takes care of someone or something
stopgap government or provisional government
one who takes care of real estate in exchange for rent-free living accommodations *
carnival (v.)   the days just preceding Lent
comic good times marked by special events
a travelling circus or fair (UK: funfair) comprising amusement rides
carousel (n.)   a moving luggage/baggage display unit, most often at airports a rotating fairground ride (UK: merry-go-round, roundabout)
carriage (n.) railway coach (q.v.) designed for the conveyance of passengers
the conveying of goods or the price paid for it ("carriage-paid"); "handling"
4-wheeled horse-drawn private passenger vehicle (baby carriage) baby transport vehicle featuring the infant laying down facing the pusher (UK: perambulator, pram) – more s.v. buggy
a shopping cart (primarily in North Atlantic states)
carry-on, carryon (colloquial) carrying-on, unruly behaviour   luggage that can be carried aboard an aircraft, bus, or train (UK: hand luggage)
cart a difficult or embarrassing state ("he was put in the cart") usu. 2-wheeled one-horse vehicle (as that used in farming) a lightweight wheeled vehicle, as for shopping, serving, carrying baggage, etc. (UK: trolley)
cartridge (primarily related to video games)
casket (n.) a small box, as for jewels, particularly an antique

  The type of coffin with upholstery and a half-open lid, any coffin
casualty (person) often, someone who has been wounded; hence casualty department (US: emergency room) generally, someone who has been injured or killed often, someone who has been killed; see also casualty insurance
catapult small Y-shaped handheld projectile weapon often used by children (US: slingshot) a type of medieval siege engine
an aircraft catapult
(v.) rise quickly
chaps [?] men and/or boys (but increasingly used for people of either sex; in the singular it still almost exclusively refers to a male, "Guys" has now become a more popular phrase in the UK) (US & UK: guys)
one's friends ("the chaps") (US & UK: the guys)
cheeks - as in Bath Chaps - stewed pigs' cheeks, a delicacy
  leather leggings worn by cowboys and designed to protect the legs against thorns (sometimes pronounced shaps), short for "chaparajos"
check   examine for a particular purpose
a pattern of coloured squares
a warning given in chess
leave items in the care of someone else (e.g. at a cloakroom; hence checkroom)
(also check mark) mark used to denote 'correct' or indicate one's choice (UK: tick, q.v.)
request for payment, especially at a restaurant; bill
check is also the US spelling of UK cheque
checker   one that checks (e.g. an inspector) a store or shop cashier (almost always a grocery store)
(checkers) a popular board game (UK: draughts)
checker is also the US spelling of UK chequer "pattern of alternating colored squares"
cheers (interjection) said to express gratitude in England, or on parting (slang). Also cheerio. used as a toast or valediction  
chemist pharmacist, pharmacy (US similar: druggist, drugstore) student or researcher of chemistry  
chip in to express one's opinion (as in a conversation); to "chime in" to contribute (as money) (orig. US)  
chips (food) French fries, although usu. thicker cut than American fries closer to American steak fries
French fries, in (orig. UK) phrase fish and chips thin slices of fried potato* (UK: crisps)
chippie, chippy carpenter (slang);
fish-and-chip shop (slang) (Scot, Ire: chipper)
  loose woman (dated slang);
the N. American bird Chipping Sparrow
chum A popular brand of canned dog food (officially Pedigree Chum)
bum chum a derogatory term for a male homosexual sex-partner.
friend (sometimes sarcastic) (n.) waste products from fish processing (heads, tails, blood etc.) often used for shark fishing
(v.) to spread fish entrails etc. in the hope of luring sharks. "We chummed the water all morning, but never spotted any dorsal fins." Has some cross-over usage metaphorically in non-fishing situations.
cider an alcoholic drink derived from apples (US: hard cider)   a nonalcoholic drink derived from apples
Cinderella a team which underachieves, or is overshadowed by successful neighbouring rivals fairy tale character a lowly sports team or individual which enjoys an unexpectedly good run in a tournament
city a large town, in particular a town created a city by charter and containing a cathedral
"The City": the City of London, London's financial centre, hence financial markets and investment banking more generally (c.f. US Wall Street)
  a usually large or important municipality governed under a charter granted by the state (however most smaller towns in the US are cities); an element of a standard mailing address (UK "postal town")
clerk   administrative worker (or salesclerk) store or shop worker (UK: shop assistant)
hotel employee at the reservation desk (UK: receptionist)
closet any small room (esp. Northern England, Scotland, & Ireland); hence water closet, a room containing a flush toilet, later the toilet itself a private chamber for retirement
in secret; (come out of the closet) to reveal what was secret (especially in relation to homosexuality)
a cabinet or wardrobe, as for utensils or apparel; in the latter case oftenest built-in; hence e.g. walk-in closet, linen closet, and skeleton in the closet * (UK also: in the cupboard) *
coach bus with of higher standard of comfort, usually chartered or used for longer journeys*
tutor, usu. private, who prepares pupils for examinations *
railway carriage *
enclosed horse-drawn passenger carriage
sports trainer
extracurricular sports teacher at a school (UK: PE teacher)
lowest class on a passenger aircraft (UK: economy)
cob (mainly Northern & Central Eng.) a type of bread roll ("Chip cob", "ham cob", "pack of six cobs please")
(pl.) large globules of sweat ("I'm sweating cobs")
corncob
a building material
a type of horse
a male swan
The portion of a corn plant around which the kernels grow.
cock (n.) form of address to a man to gain attention or greet e.g. "Wotcha cock!"
(n.) a popular personage e.g. Cock o' the North
in cock up, to make a mess of things; cock-up is the act or the resulting state of affairs
(n.) a male bird; esp., an adult male chicken (US oftenest rooster)
(n.) penis (vulgar slang)
(v.) to set the hammer or firing pin of a loaded firearm ready for firing; likewise, to "cock the shutter" of an old, spring-activated camera
(n.) A type of tap, faucet, or valve (e.g., a stopcock).
 
collect To win a bet (from the idea of picking up the winnings) (v.) to gather together, to pick up; (orig. US) to pick up a person or thing
(n.) short prayer read during the first part of a church service as practised by certain parts of the Christian faith; mainly Anglican and Roman Catholic.
(adj., adv.) charged to the receiver ("to call collect", to reverse the charges) ("a collect call") [from collect on delivery]
college part of the name of some state secondary schools (US approx.: high school) and many independent schools (US approx.: prep school)
educational institution between school and university (e.g. sixth form college, technical college, college of further education)
vocational training institution
professional association which usu. grants some form of professional qualifications, mostly in the medical field (e.g. Royal College of Surgeons)
constituent part of some larger universities, especially ancient universities an independent institution of higher education (as a small university or a division of a university) granting bachelor's degrees
generic term for higher education, but only at the undergraduate level
comforter a baby's dummy (q.v.) one who comforts quilted bedspread
commissioner professional head of the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police (US: chief of police)   political head of a police department
member of any commission
commode   portable toilet for use in a room without plumbing normal toilet, in a bathroom (q.v.)
compensation   the act of compensating
damages awarded for a legal wrong
(workers' compensation) payment to injured workers
remuneration received by employees
(unemployment compensation) compensation paid to an unemployed person (as a laid-off worker), arising from government resources
concession reduction in price (discount) for a certain category of person the action of conceding
in politics, the action of a candidate yielding to another
an area within one country that is administered by another
a lease or grant of premises or land for a particular use, or the so contracted-out service, as in concession stand, i.e. a counter, stand or area at public entertainment venues where snacks and/or drinks are sold, often at inflated prices
a concession stand
condominium   a political territory (state or border area) in or over which two sovereign powers formally agree to share equally dominium (in the sense of sovereignty) and exercise their rights jointly (also condo) a type of joint ownership of real property (as an apartment building) in which portions of the property are commonly owned and other portions are individually owned; an apartment in a condominium
constable technically, a police officer of any rank, but usu. understood to mean a police officer of the lowest rank (one who holds no other more specific rank) (US: officer or patrolman)   peace officer in a township without an organised police department
official who serves summonses (UK: bailiff or sheriff's officer)
construction   the act or process of building or constructing; a structure; the construction industry
from construe: the assigning of meaning to ambiguous terms
road construction and maintenance work; roadwork ("a construction area/zone") (UK: roadworks)
cooker an appliance for cooking food (US: cookstove, stove, range); see also AGA cooker
a cooking apple, a large sour apple used in cooking
a pot or utensil for cooking in ("pressure cooker", "rice cooker", "slow cooker") a person who cooks (UK always cook)
cookie a bun (Scotland) a biscuit of a particular variety, usually containing chocolate chips (often referred to as a "chocolate chip cookie") cookie>small packet of information] stored on users' computers by websites a small, flat baked cake * (UK usu. biscuit, q.v.)
fellow, guy * ("a tough cookie"); also, an attractive girl *
(that's the way the cookie crumbles) that's how things go
(to toss one's cookies) to vomit
(cookie-cutter) trite, banal
a cook (army slang)
cop to take ("cop a look at this", "cop one of these") (slang)
to be blamed for, be caught ("he'll cop it!") (slang)
police officer (short for "copper") (slang)
(cop a feel) to grope (slang)
(cop a plea) (law, orig. slang) to plead guilty to a lesser offence to not be tried for a graver charge; compare plea bargain
(cop a squat) to take a seat (slang)
copper low value coin, brown or 'copper' coloured (currently 1p and 2p coins)
large copper vessel used for heating water and washing clothes (archaic)
the metallic element Cu
police officer (slang, orig. UK)
 
coriander the leaves of the coriander plant, used as a herb (US: cilantro or Chinese parsley) the plant Coriandrum sativum
dried seeds of this plant
 
corn wheat in England, oats in Scotland and Ireland
any of various cereal plants or grains (US usu.: grain), also in combination (e.g. cornfield, a field of any cereal)
(see also US)
in both dialects, the principal crop cultivated in a particular region
Indian Corn, in corn on the cob, corn flakes, popcorn
horny swelling on the foot
Zea mays; originally known as Indian corn (q.v.; UK usu.: maize or sweetcorn); hence cornfield, cornstarch (UK: corn flour), corn bread, cornball, cornblade, etc.
something corny *, hence cornball
cot infant bed; hence cot death (US: crib)   camp bed
coulee   a (solidified) stream of lava (chiefly Western, orig. Canadian) a deep steep-sided ravine formed by erosion, or a small valley or stream
court shoe a women's dress shoe with a heel (US: pump, q.v.)   a type of athletic shoe used for sports played on an indoor court, such as volleyball or squash (UK similar: plimsoll or regionally pump)
cowboy an unscrupulous or unqualified tradesman   a cowhand working with livestock, a legendary archetype found in wild west genre works (UK: drover)
cracker small parcel that makes an explosive report when pulled from both ends, traditionally pulled at Christmas
attractive woman (slang)
anything good ("the new product is a cracker") (slang)
thin, hard, unsweetened biscuit (formerly chiefly US, now common everywhere) an unsophisticated, typically rural white person (also white cracker; derogatory slang, southeastern US); also, someone from Georgia or Florida
crèche day care, day nursery   nativity scene, manger scene, crib (q.v.) *
creek tidal channel through a coastal marsh (orig. sense)   any inland stream of water smaller than a river (other terms: UK: rill, gill; N. Eng. & Scot.: burn; Eng. & New Eng.: brook; Midland US: run'')
crew   body of people manning a vehicle of any kind
gang of manual workers (e.g. road crew)
group of friends or colleagues ("I saw him and his crew at the bar")
rowing as a sport
crib (n.) nativity scene, crèche (q.v.) *
a manger or rack, or stall for cattle
a plagiarism, as of a student ("crib sheet")
cribbage
small enclosed bedstead for a child; hence crib death (UK: cot)
(informal) one's house or apartment
a bin for storing Indian corn
a structure of logs to be anchored with stones; used for docks, dams, etc.
(orig. Canada) a small raft of timber
crumpet an attractive female (slang) A savoury waffle-like cake made from flour or potato and yeast  
cubicle A compartment in a bathroom with low walls that contains a toilet. (US: stall)
A compartment in a larger area separated from similar adjoining compartments by low walls, such as in an office area.  
cuffs   The ends of a garment's sleeves, furthest from the wearer
short for handcuffs
An arrangement at the bottom of trouser-legs, in which the material is folded back upon itself to form a trough externally around the bottom of the leg. (UK: turn-ups)
cunt offensive (or sometimes indulgent) term often applied to men vagina (usu. obscene) offensive, obscene term usu. applied to women
custodian a football (soccer) goalkeeper a keeper or guardian of a person or thing one who cleans and maintains a building; a building superintendent, a janitor

D

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
daddy longlegs, daddy-long-legs crane fly daddy long-legs spider harvestman
davenport a type of writing table * [both prob. from the names of their resp. manufacturers; both old-fashioned] a type of couch, often convertible into a bed
dead (of a cup, glass, or bottle) empty, finished with
very, extremely ("dead good", "dead heavy", "dead rich")
deceased
completely, perfectly ("dead straight", "dead on", "dead right")
extremely quiet (e.g. business or nightlife)
(dismissive usage) boring
 
dead beat, deadbeat exhausted (slang) (US: dead tired)   an idler; someone who does not pay their debts, often in construction ("deadbeat dad") (slang)
DC Detective Constable, a police officer who works in or with a branch of CID. direct current
other expansions
District of Columbia
deck   (n.) the floor or level of a ship or other types of vehicles
the roadway of a bridge
a recording device
(v.) to decorate for a festivity ("deck the halls with boughs of holly", "decked out with flags")
to hit a person hard enough such that they fall to the floor (orig. US)
a pack of cards
a wooden, raised platform adjoining a house, usu. enclosed by a railing
a packet of narcotics (slang)
(v.) to pile up (logs) on a deck of logs or a skidway
(on deck) in baseball, the hitter due up next ("Albert is on deck, so they must be careful to not walk this batter."). A general usage connotes availability, e.g. "Who's on deck?" (Who is available to do this?). Occasionally used to indicate who is next in line.
depot a location (large building or piece of land) where buses, trams or trains are stored when not in use and maintained a storehouse or depository; a location for the storage of military or naval supplies. A slow-release drug injection (usu. psychiatric) a railroad station or bus terminal or station; also, an air terminal
DI Detective inspector (police)   Drill instructor (military)
diary personal calendar * (US: appointment book, appointment calendar, datebook) personal journal  
digital radio a radio that receives a DAB signal.   a radio with a digital display
die (n.)   tool used in metalworking to form a part under pressure singular of dice, numbered cube used in games of chance (UK: dice for both singular and plural)
dim (trans. v.), dimmer (switch)   to reduce the intensity of a domestic, industrial or other light; hence dimmer (switch) to lower a vehicle headlight's beam, typically when approaching vehicles travelling in the opposite direction at night (UK: dip); hence dimmer switch (UK: dip switch)
diner   one who dines ("a picky diner") railroad dining car (UK: restaurant car)
a type of restaurant (especially prevalent in New Jersey), traditionally but not necessarily often resembling a dining car
dip (trans. v.), dip switch to lower a vehicle headlight's beam, typically when approaching vehicles travelling in the opposite direction at night (US: dim); hence dip switch (distinguished from DIP switch) (US: dimmer switch)
(n.) a pickpocket (slang)
to lower into a liquid; esp., a sheep or dog in chemical solution; to lower and then raise  
dirt   substance(s) rendering something unclean
incriminating evidence ("we've got the dirt on him now")
earth, soil *
diversion circuitous route to avoid roadworks (US: detour) deviation; recreation; tactic used to draw attention away from the action  
dock water between or next to a pier or wharf (US: berth, also used in UK, or slip)
section of a courtroom where the accused sits during a trial *
(v.) to reduce an employee's wages, usu. as discipline constructed place to moor a boat or engage in water sports (largely interchangeable with pier or wharf, although often with a modifier, such as "ferry dock", "swimming dock", etc.)
docker dockworker, stevedore * (US: longshoreman) one that docks (as tails of animals)  
dogging various kinds of public sexual activity pursuing diligently as a dog would insulting in a persistent fashion, often referring to the dozens
dollar 5 shilling coin or equivalent amount (obsolete; used in slang until early 1970s, especially in "half-dollar" = half-crown, but some re-stamped Spanish dollar coins were used in the UK in the late 18th/early 19th century) major unit of currency of the USA  
dormitory, dorm (n. or usu. adj.) (part of) a town where commuters live, usually dormitory town (US: bedroom or bedroom community) (n.) large sleeping-room with many beds,* typically in a boarding school ("a sleeping dormitory"; usu. abbreviated to dorm) building with many small private rooms, as for housing the students of a college (UK: hall(s) of residence, hostel)
dormitory car — railway sleeping car
drape   (v.) to hang limply (n., usu. pl.) curtain
draw (n.) cannabis (slang) an act of drawing, or something drawn
a game result in which no player/team wins (also tie)
a ditch that draws water off an area of land
a shallow valley or gully
dresser (furniture) a type of cupboard or sideboard esp. for kitchen utensils *   a chest of drawers, usu. with a looking glass (UK: dressing-table)
drop (of liquid) several (fluid) ounces ("just a drop of tea, please") (meiotic usage) droplet (less than a milliliter)  
duck a score of zero by a batsman in cricket, supposedly derived from the zero-like shape of a duck's egg. Hence to "break one's duck": to score one's first run. c.f. US: "get the monkey off one's back"
a term of endearment
(n.) a bird of the family Anatidae
(v.) to lower the head or body suddenly, to dodge
(v.) to plunge under the surface of water
(n.) a heavy cotton fabric
 
duff of poor quality
non-functional
(up the duff) pregnant (slang, originally Australian)
a type of pudding
coal dust
vegetable matter on the forest floor * (also in Scotland)
buttocks (colloquial)
dummy rubber teat for babies (US: pacifier) mannequin, especially for automobile crash tests
fake, usu. legal
idiot (slang)
the contract bridge player who faces his hand after the bidding/auction
 
dungarees   sturdy protective bib trousers (cf. s.v. overall) (slightly dated) jeans (blue denim jeans)
duplex   composed of two parts
two direction (electronical signalling)
(or duplex house) an often vertically divided two-family dwelling *
(or duplex apartment) an apartment on two levels *
(duplex locomotive) a large steam locomotive with two sets of driving wheels

E

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
earth safety connection of an electrical circuit, or to connect (an electrical device) to this (US: ground) the planet Earth
soil
the burrow of some animals
 
efficiency   the quality of being efficient (or efficiency apartment) a minimal often furnished apartment, similar to a studio apartment (UK: compare bedsit)
el (L) letter identifying a learner driver; see L-plate the letter L an elevated railway (as that of Chicago or the now-defunct Third Avenue El in New York City)
elevator   flap on the back of an aeroplane used to control pitch
moving belt to transport grain, hay bales, etc.
platform or cage moved vertically in a shaft to transport people and goods to various floors in a building (UK: lift)
building for grain storage (in full grain elevator)
engaged (adj.) in use – of a toilet/bathroom stall (US: occupied; but the opposite is vacant in both); of a telephone line (US & UK also: busy), hence engaged tone (US: busy signal) committed; involved in something
betrothed
 
engineer a technician or a person that mends and operates machinery one employed to design, build or repair equipment
practitioner of engineering
one who operates an engine, esp. a locomotive (UK: engine driver)
entrée starter (q.v.) of a meal (traditionally, the course served between the fish and the joint, but now used for any starter) (usu. "the entrée") right of entry, insider-type access main course of a meal
estate any defined area of real property, as in housing estate (US: subdivision), council estate (US: housing project) or trading estate (US: industrial park)
car with van-shaped body (US: station wagon)
grounds of a large piece of real property which features a mansion and beautiful landscaping
property left by a deceased person
 
evergreen   non-deciduous, a non-deciduous plant
eternally youthful, new etc.
(n.) branchlets or sprigs of an evergreen tree, usually a conifer such as pine, spruce or fir, often used as a Christmas decoration wrapped around human-made structures

F

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
faculty   division of a university, dealing with a specific group of disciplines (e.g. faculty of arts) academic staff of a school, college or university
fag cigarette (slang) *
(in England; obs.) young public schoolboy who acted as a servant for older pupils
drudgery, chore ("it is such a fag – I come back tired to death" – J. Austen)
(v.) to tire, exhaust ("the fagged whale abated his speed" – H. Melville) (obs. usage in US) male homosexual (short for faggot) (insulting slang) *
faggot kind of meatball (see faggot (food)), bundle of sticks, usu. for use as firewood (old-fashioned; often spelled fagot).
  Male homosexual (insulting slang) (see faggot (slang)).
fall to become pregnant. (Either as in 'I fell pregnant' or as in 'She fell for a baby.'); descend or tumble
become sick, come down with an illness ("he fell ill") (uncommon in US)
autumn
fancy (v.) (v.) exhibit a fondness or preference for something; exhibit an interest in or willingness to: date/court someone, commit some act, or accept some item of trade   US colloq. equiv. of "to fancy" is "to like" something or someone (or regarding tastes and preferences, "to love"); "fancy" as a verb is now used in the US almost solely by UK ex-pats, but was once oft-used by Southern gentility (landed gentry)
fanny vagina (slang), vulva (vulgar slang)
(fanny about or fanny around, very mildly vulgar slang) to mess about or prevaricate ("Stop fannying about and hit it with the hammer")
  buttocks (colloquial); hence fanny pack (UK: bum bag)
featherbed bed or mattress stuffed with feathers (usually 2 words)
(v.) to pamper, to spoil
to require that more workers are hired than are needed, often by agreement with trade unions quilt, or comforter, stuffed with feathers for use on top of the mattress (but underneath a sheet and the sleeping person) (UK: mattress topper)
fender   a fire screen
a cushioning device to protect the side of a boat, ship, or dock
fender (vehicle): the part of an automobile, motorcycle or other vehicle body that frames a wheel well (UK: mudguard or wing)
a frame fitted in front of a vehicle (locomotive or automobile) to absorb shock (UK: bumper - see Bumper (automobile))
fifth   ordinal number 5: 20% (one-fifth) bottle of spirits ("A fifth of bourbon"); such bottles traditionally contain 1/5 of a US gallon; to "plead the Fifth (Amendment)"(esp. testifying against oneself in an incriminating manner)
filth (the filth) the police (derogatory slang) dirt, disgusting substance
obscene material
 
first degree   the least serious category of burn (see article) the most serious category of a crime; of murder, carries a lifetime prison- or death-sentence (also informal murder one; see article)
first floor (of a building) the floor above ground level (US: second floor)   the floor at ground level (often, but not always, the same floor as a building's lobby) (UK: ground floor)
fit (adj.) (of a person) attractive, sexy (slang) (of a person) in good physical condition
suitable for some purpose (usu. followed by for or to)
 
fix (v.) to make firm, fasten, or attach * (the original sense, no longer very common in US)
to set or arrange (as a date) * ("A time has been fixed")
to repair (orig. US)
to sterilise (an animal)
to manipulate usually underhandedly ("To fix a fight by paying a boxer to take a dive.")
to adjust or prepare, esp. food or beverage * ("I'll fix you a sandwich")
(esp. South) to get ready ("I'm fixing to retire")
to get even with (someone)
(fix up) to provide
flapjack flat oat cake (US: granola bar)   pancake
flannel a cloth for washing the face or body (US: washcloth) particular type of fabric/material used for the manufacture of trousers or suits, but more commonly recognised in America as a fabric used in warm winter night clothes and sheets  
flat (n.) self-contained housing unit (US: apartment)
(adj., of a battery) discharged, exhausted, dead
(n.) a flat tyre
(adj.) level and smooth
structured at a single level, not hierarchical
an apartment that occupies the entire floor of a small building (upstate New York); used also in phrases such as railroad flat
flip-flop   a type of footwear (see article for synonyms)
a type of electronic circuit
an about-face or U-turn (UK also: about-turn), as in politics
fluid ounce (fl. oz.) liquid measure equal to 28.41 millilitres   liquid measure equal to 29.57 milliliters
flyover elevated road section (i.e. long road bridge, US: overpass)   ceremonial aircraft flight (UK: flypast)
an elongated left-turn ramp passing over or under the whole highway interchange
the flyover is a term for middle America, as distinct from the 'coasts'.
football (usually) Association football (US: soccer). Less frequently applied to Rugby football (espec. Rugby Union in English private schools).   American football
footpath a paved strip for pedestrian use, especially along the side of a road (US: sidewalk) a narrow trail suitable only for foot traffic  
forty (40)   the number 4 × 10 a 40 acre parcel of land, specifically one sixteenth of a section, constituting the smallest unit of agricultural land commonly surveyed ("back 40", "front 40").
an undeveloped plot of land (as on a farm, ranch, etc.) of unspecified size.
in an urban or youth setting, "a 40-ounce beer".
forward one who plays in a forward position in rugby, i.e. one who takes part in scrums. an area to the front
an outgoing disposition
a position in football (soccer) in front of midfielders
a position in basketball, nowadays split into power forwards, who tend to play closer to the basket, and small forwards, who tend to either shoot from the perimeter or drive from the perimeter to the basket.
fourth
  next after third (e.g. the fourth person, fourth floor) A musical interval one of four equal parts into which something is divided (UK & US sometimes also quarter, q.v.)
fringe arrangement of locks of hair on the forehead (US: bangs) the outer area of something
a decorative border e.g. on clothing
holding an extreme political position ("lunatic fringe")
 
frock (or smock-frock) outer garment formerly common in rural Europe, see also overall
(also short frock) indoor garment for children and young girls *
a woman's dress or gown (dated) *
habit of monks and friars
(also frock coat) a style of gentleman's jacket or coat, cut at knee length, usually worn as an outer garment.
 
frog French person (insulting slang) an amphibian  
full stop punctuation mark used at the end of a sentence, sometimes used in speech for emphasis ("Whom does he support? Arsenal, full stop!") (US: period, q.v.)   complete stop (as of traffic)
furnace   large hearth or container for heating or melting metal, usually for an industrial process principal domestic heat source in central heating based on water or steam (UK: boiler)

G

>
Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
gagging (especially as in gagging for it) desperate, especially for sex choking
fighting the urge to vomit ("that was so disgusting, I was gagging")
 
gallon 4.54609 litres (about 6/5 of US gallon)   3.78541 litres (about 5/6 of UK gallon)
garage
(see also pronunciation differences)
fuel filling station, e.g. "a Texaco garage" (also petrol station, US: gas station)
a genre of music
place where vehicles are repaired
building attached to or in the grounds of a residence for storing a car
(parking garage) building serving as a public parking facility (UK: multistorey car park or just multistorey)
garnish   (n. (v.)) (to add) decorative or savory touches to (food or drink)
(v.)to furnish
(v.) to take (as a debtor's wages) by legal authority
gas   state of matter (see gas)
natural gas
gasoline, hence gas station (UK: petrol)
gas pedal (UK: accelerator)
flatulence
air trapped in the stomach or intestines (UK: wind)
geezer gangster, man (esp. Cockney)   old person (derogatory; UK: old geezer [not derog.])
general The second highest rank in the British army (second to field marshal). The basics of a subject. The Highest rank in the US army.
give way to give the right of way (to vehicles, pedestrians, etc.); hence give way sign (US: yield [the right of way]) to retreat; to break down  
glaze   general term for thin shiny coatings applied to food, painted surfaces, clayware, etc.; a glossy surface a slippery coating of ice (also known as sleet, q.v.); a stretch of ice
gob (n.) mouth; (v., slang) to spit lump a large amount ("gobs of")
(slang) a sailor
go down (fig.) to leave a university (as Oxford)
to come down (with an illness)
to be accepted or remembered to go on, happen (often a major event, e.g. a drug bust "it's going down right now!" or "it went down last week". But also used as a greeting, "What's going down?"); oral sex
goods items to be transported (as by railway) ("a goods train") (US & UK also: freight) useful objects or services; products; merchandising; personal property
incriminating evidence ("we have the goods on him")
 
gooseberry supernumerary third person preventing a couple from courting (US: third wheel) a green hairy summer fruit
(Ribes hirtellum in the USA),
(Ribes grossularia in Europe)
 
government the cabinet or executive branch (US: the administration)
the political party supporting the cabinet in parliament
the act or office of governing the collective agency through which government is exercised (UK: the state)
all such individual agencies (UK: the public sector)
grade (education) a level of music examination ("Guitar grade 4". Usually refers to ABRSM. (n. & v.) teacher's assessment of a student's work (UK also mark) level or year of a student in elementary, middle, or high school ("in 10th grade") (UK equiv.: year); hence grader, a student in a specified grade ("a 10th grader")
(grade school, the grades) elementary school
see also Grade Point Average
grade (other)   (n.) a rating, degree, or level; (v.) to lay out in grades
[US meaning generated grade separation and the idiom make the grade]
(n.) slope, gradient, or elevation; also ground level ("at grade", "over grade"); hence grade crossing (UK: level crossing)
(v.) to level (as a roadbed), hence grader, construction machine for doing this *
graduate (v.) (education)
graduate (adj.) (education)
to finish university with a degree
relating to a student at the point of gaining, or who has recently completed, a degree
to move from a lower to higher stage; to effect change in steps; to mark with units of measurement or other divisions. to finish studying at any educational institution by passing relevant examinations
relating to a student taking a higher degree (UK equiv.: "postgraduate"), eg. graduate school
graft hard work to join or connect two separate but similar items (typically in biology, especially medicine and horticulture)
a form of political-economic corruption
 
grass an informant (often to the police)
(to grass on) to tell on somebody (US: to squeal)
green ground cover
marijuana
grazing; to feed (livestock) with grass (UK: at grass, to put out to grass)
grammar school a type of secondary school, normally a selective state funded school   elementary school (less common today)
grill to cook directly under a dry heat source (US: broil) to question intensely (informal) to cook over a gas or coal fire (UK: barbecue)
ground floor (of a building)   the floor at ground level (US usu.: first floor) lower of two floors that are each at a different ground level due to sloping terrain (UK: lower ground floor)
guard the official in charge of a railway train (US & now UK also: conductor) to watch over for security
one who guards
a protective device
military division used to help the country after a disaster
in football, one of two offensive positions on either side of the center or a defensive position across from the center (nose-guard)
one of two positions in basketball, usually players who are the best ball-handlers and shooters. Usually smaller than the forwards or center. Most common division is between point guards (playmakers) and shooting guards (more often score-first).
guff extraneous or useless things, ideas, or paperwork/documentation; also to break wind ("Have you guffed, Dr Watson?")   nonsense, insolent talk, back talk
gum cement consisting of a sticky substance that is used as an adhesive (US usually: glue) a type of confectionery composed of chicle used for chewing  
gutted disappointed and upset (informal) past tense of gut: eviscerated; plundered; despoiled; made powerless and/or ineffectual
(of a building) stripped of interior structure, leaving only frame and exterior walls (e.g.by fire)
 
gyro (see also giro) gyroscope a sandwich, the Greek gyro, more familiar to Americans than the similar Turkish döner kebab, which is more common in Britain

H

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
haberdasher a dealer in small items and accessories, as for sewing; hence haberdashery (US: notions)   a dealer in men's apparel and accessories; hence haberdashery
half half pint of beer, cider or lager fifty percent/0.5 times.  
halfway house a place where victims of child abuse, orphans or teenage runaways can stay, a shelter drug rehabilitation or sex offender centre  
hamper large basket for food (especially picnic hamper, Christmas hamper) to impede or hinder basket for clothes that need washing (UK: Linen basket or laundry basket)
hash number sign, octothorpe (#) (US: pound sign) hashish
Hash (food), beef and other ingredients mashed together into a coarse paste
highway (chiefly in official use) public road; see Highway Code (highway robbery) something too expensive; see also highwayman main road (as between cities)
(divided or dual highway) a road with two roadways and at least four lanes (UK: dual carriageway)
(highway post office) in the past, a bus transporting mail that was sorted en route
hike   a usu. recreational walk an increase in amount (as in wages) *
(to take a hike) to go away (also used as a command)
hire to rent * (as a car); rental
(hire purchase) a purchase carried out over time by making regular payments (US: installment plan)
  to employ, recruit *; a person who is recruited
hob the flat top surface of a cooking stove (US: cooktop)
a part of a fireplace
an elf
trouble (as in "raising hob" - chiefly US)
    (UK has less common "playing hob")
 
hock a German wine ("down their four-and-twenty throats went four-and-twenty imperial pints of such rare old hock" – Charles Dickens) (US: Rhine wine)
Hock tide, an ancient holiday

hock (zoology) pawn (n. & v.) ("I can borrow a dime from the barber, an' I got enough junk to hock for a blowout" – Jack London); prison (both from Dutch) *
debt
the end of a smoked ham *
to hock-a-loogie, to spit.
hockey hockey played with a ball on grass (field hockey) * hockey played on a hard surface (e.g. concrete) or indoors hockey played on ice with a puck (ice hockey) *
hog (dialect) a yearling sheep to take more than one's fair share of something
(road hog) motorist who holds up other traffic by driving slowly or out of lane; any bad driver
adult pig
motorcycle, especially a large one such as a Harley-Davidson
hole-in-the-wall automatic teller machine, cash machine (informal)   a small, out-of-the-way place, as a restaurant, with a negative connotation. However, often used to preface a compliment, e.g. "just a hole-in-the-wall place you've never heard of, but they serve the best steak in the city."
holiday see Bank Holiday
(often pl.) time taken off from work, school, etc., including the period between school terms (US: break, vacation)
recreational trip away from home (US: vacation)
day when people are generally exempt from work, school, etc. see Federal holiday
(the Holidays) the days comprising Christmas and New Year's Day (and Hanukkah), and often also Thanksgiving (used esp. in the phrase "happy Holidays")
festival, whether or not generally entailing a public holiday: "Halloween is my favorite holiday"
home (noun): condition of domesticity, or one's permanent and regular shelter, but not the physical structure or property.   In AmE widely used also to mean the physical structure and property, and references to them, e.g., "home loans", "homeowners", and "tract homes". This usage is overwhelmingly predominant in commercial language and public discourse, e.g. "the home mortgage crisis".
home run final part of a distance, final effort needed to finish (US: homestretch) a success (from baseball) (also homer) a four-base hit in baseball
(slang) sexual intercourse; more s.v. base
homely (of a house) comfortable, cozy, rustic (US: homey)
(of a person) home-loving, domesticated, house-proud
  (only used of a person) plain, ugly
hood the folding fabric top on a convertible car (US: convertible top) head covering forming part of a garment
component of academic regalia
hinged cover over the engine in a car (UK: bonnet)
a contraction of neighborhood, especially regarding a poor neighborhood
short for hoodlum, a tough, destructive young man, or generically any criminal
hooker in rugby football, the player position in the centre front of the scrum   prostitute (informal) *
hooter steam whistle or siren in a factory or other large workplace sounded as a signal for beginning or ceasing work
car horn
nose
  (hooters) female breasts (vulgar slang)
horny (adj., slang) sexually attractive sexually excited craving sexual satisfaction
hump a state of depression (dated) ("to be in a hump")
a state of annoyance ("to get the hump")
a traffic calming tool ("a speed hump") * (US & UK: speed bump)
to move a heavy load by human effort a short distance
a rounded mass sticking out from its surroundings
(v., vulgar slang) engage in sexual intercourse, animals breeding or trying to breed
see also rail terminology
(n.) a mountain barrier to be crossed (as by air)
(hump day) Wednesday >

I

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
icebox   cabinet containing ice for food refrigeration refrigerator
ice pick   ice axe, a tool with a pointed end used by rock- and mountain-climbers for splitting ice small awl-like tool for breaking ice into small pieces for drinks
immediately (conj., informal) as soon as ("I await your call immediately you get this message") (adv.) directly; in no time  
Indian corn   Zea mays (historical or technical; usually, UK maize or sweetcorn, US corn, q.v.) A particular variety of maize/corn, with multicolored kernels, used for decorations
indicator direction-indicator light on a vehicle (US: turn signal) one that indicates  
inspector (police) lowest supervisory rank above sergeant (rough US equivalent: lieutenant)   senior rank in some police departments (rough UK equivalent: superintendent)
intern  replacement (v.) to confine (as during a war, or to a hospital)
(adj., archaic) internal
(n.) one (as a graduate or college student) temporarily employed for practical training, e.g. in the science, engineering, or technology fields; esp., in the medical field, a physician (rough UK equivalent: houseman) in their first year of postgraduate training
(v.) to work as an intern
international   Pertaining to or common to more than one country. Foreign, not from the USA. ("International version of software for country xxx", in British English this is a contradiction in terms.)
interval break between two performances or sessions, as in theatre (US: intermission) a gap in space or time; see interval (music), interval (mathematics), interval (time) (esp. New England, also spelled intervale) low-lying land, as near a river (US also bottomland)
inventory   itemisation of goods or objects (of an estate, in a building, etc.) the stock of an item on hand in a store or shop
the process of producing an inventory in a store or shop (UK: stocktaking)
IRA Irish Republican Army [listed here to reflect common usage]   Individual Retirement Account

J

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
jab an injection with a hypodermic needle, as in the case of an inoculation (US: shot) (informal) to stab, thrust, or penetrate  
jam a preserve made from fruits boiled in sugar and set with pectin (US: jelly), especially including the seeds of the fruit traffic hold-up certain kinds of fruit preserve, especially the kinds with pieces of fruit left in: strawberry jam
jelly a fruit flavoured dessert set with gelatin (US: Jell-O (trademark), gelatin dessert (generic)) a preserve made from the liquid of fruits boiled in sugar and set with pectin, without pieces of fruit (e.g.'redcurrant jelly') a preserve made from fruits boiled in sugar and set with pectin (UK: jam), especially including the seeds of the fruit
Jesse (often as Big Jesse, derogatory insult for a man) Non-macho, effeminate, sometimes gay. A male name (uncommon in the UK). A shortening of the female name Jessica.  
jock a Scotsman or a Scottish Terrier (Scottie) (slang)
a private soldier (slang) (UK: squaddie)
  slang term for an athlete
slang term for the undergarment called an athletic supporter or jock strap
joint piece of meat for carving *
(slang) hand-rolled cigarette containing cannabis and tobacco
connection between two objects or bones
an establishment, especially a disreputable one ("a gin joint"; "let's case the joint") (slang, orig. US)
(slang) hand-rolled cigarette containing only cannabis
(slang) prison ("in the joint")
jolly very (informal) (as in jolly good) happy; jovial  
jug any container with a handle and a mouth or spout for liquid (US: pitcher) (jugs) breasts (slang) large container with a narrow mouth and handle for liquids (similar to UK pitcher)
jumper a knitted upper body garment (US: sweater) jump shot in basketball
Non-permanent electrical connection, especially on a PCB
pinafore dress
jump suit

K

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
kebab commonly a döner kebab (sometimes doner or donner kebab), strips of meat (usu. lamb or chicken) cooked by being heated on a revolving device and served stuffed in a pita bread (In the US, the Greek varieties souvlaki or gyro are better known than the Turkish döner) (often spelled "kabob" in the US) meat served on a skewer together with onions, tomatoes, etc. (e.g. shish kebab)  
keen eager or intent on, example: he is keen to get to work on time.   desirable or just right, example: "peachy keen" – "That's a pretty keen outfit you're wearing." (slang going out of common usage)
keeper a curator or a goalkeeper one that keeps (as a gamekeeper or a warden) a type of play in American football ("quarterback keeper")
something of significance ("that's a keeper"). Can be used in many contexts. Often used in sports fishing to refer to a fish not released.
kit clothing, esp. a sports uniform (e.g. football kit) any of various sets of equipment or tools
a set of parts to be assembled, e.g. into a scale model
a group of person or objects ("the whole kit and (ca) boodle/billing")
klaxon (slang) a fool, idiot Trademark (somewhat generic) for a mechanical alarm or horn used in submarines and early automobile models  
kleenex   specific brand of disposable paper handkerchief (Kleenex) any disposable paper handkerchief (from tradename)
knickers women's underwear (US: panties)   knickerbockers
knob A dim-witted person
The penis, or specifically the glans (slang, vulgar) ("polishing the knob")
a rounded door handle  
knock up to practise before tennis
to awaken or summon by knocking
to prepare quickly ("Knock us up something to eat"L.M. Alcott) to impregnate* (slang, sometimes vulgar)

L

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
ladder a run (vertical split) in the fabric of tights a vertical or inclined set of rungs or steps.  
lavatory toilet closet in passenger vehicles (e.g. trains) containing a toilet and washbasin/sink. washbasin, place for washing
lay by (v.), lay-by (n.) (n.) roadside parking or rest area for drivers (v.) to lay aside
to stow
(n.) a last cultivating in the growing of a crop
(v.) to cultivate (a crop) for the last time
lead (rhyming with "speed") a cable (US: cord), or a dog's leash to guide through  
leader newspaper editorial
main violin in an orchestra (US: concertmaster)
see also Leader of the Opposition
one who leads a pipe for carrying water ("rain water leader")
lecturer the entry-level academic rank at a university (below Senior Lecturer, Reader, and Professor) (US: "assistant professor") someone who gives a lecture  
lemonade clear, carbonated, lemon-flavoured drink similar to Sprite and 7Up (lemon and lime flavoured)   non-carbonated drink made by mixing lemon juice, sugar, and water (UK: traditional lemonade)
let to rent (as real property) * ("rooms to let")
(n.) the act of renting; rented premises
(let out) to reveal
allow, give permission.
leave (as in let him be or let it be)
ease (as in let up on the accelerator)
indicate (as in don't let on)
a first bad serve which is allowed to be retaken, as in tennis, table tennis, and volleyball
(let out) to end (of school, meetings, etc.)
levee, an early afternoon assembly held by the King or Queen, to which only men were admitted (Always levée, with accent) a reception in honour of a particular person an embankment on a river (as the Mississippi River)
the steep bank of a river, or border of an irrigated field
(esp. Southern & Western US) a landing place or quay
leverage   mechanical advantage of a lever
take advantage of a capability (business)
the use of debt finance (UK: gearing)*
knowledge not immediately revealed to be used to one's advantage
liberal (politics) a person who generally supports the ideas of the UK Liberal Democrats, a centre left-party a person who holds the political ideals of Liberalism. a person who advocates modern liberalism; see American liberalism
life preserver a type of weapon for self-defence (US: blackjack)   life vest, personal flotation device (UK: lifebelt or lifejacket)
lift (n.) platform or cage moved vertically in a shaft to transport people and goods to various floors in a building (US: elevator) ride as a passenger in a vehicle (as in, to give someone a lift)
item placed in shoe to increase the height of the wearer, normally plural (lifts, elevator shoes)
an elevation in mood, "I got a lift just talking with her."
line (see also track) a breadthless length a group of persons, usually waiting for something, arranged in order of arrival (UK: queue)
a lie, short for a line of bull
a phrase used for hitting on women, short for pickup line
to hit a line drive (a hard straight shot) in baseball
liquor the broth resulting from the prolonged cooking of meat or vegetables. Green liquor is traditionally served with pie and mash in the East End of London   a distilled beverage *
(hard liquor) strongly alcoholic beverage; spirits
(liquor store) retail establishment selling liquor (usu. for consumption off the premises) (UK similar: off-licence) ("I held up and robbed a hard liquor store" – Paul Simon)
loaded   the state of a firearm with bullets or shells in its firing chamber.
bearing a load.
(slang; of a person) rich
drunk or high
lot (the lot) the whole thing (US similar: the whole schmear or enchilada or ball of wax or shebang) (a lot) a great deal
a number of things (or, informal, people) taken collectively
fate, fortune
a prize in a lottery
a measured plot of land; a portion of land set for a particular purpose ("a building lot"), e.g. for parking ("parking lot") or selling ("used car lot") automotive vehicles. But also a "vacant lot"
a film studio
lounge a room for relaxation and entertainment in a house
(lounge bar) part of a pub
a room for relaxation in a public place a bar
love (in addressing people) informal term of address beloved person, darling (- often a term of endearment)  
loveseat a seat which accommodates two people facing in opposite directions. Can be wooden or padded.   a two-seater couch
lox   liquid oxygen (engineering) thin-sliced smoked salmon, commonly consumed on bagels
lugs (n.) ears (lugholes) a small projection (engineering) a lug nut fastens a tire to the wheel, (UK wheel nut).
a "big lug" is usually a term of endearment for a large shy, goofy man.
lumber (n.) disused items (as furniture)*; hence lumber room
(v.) to encumber (as with such items) ("I was lumbered with work")
(v.) to move awkwardly or heavily ("he lumbered out the door") (n.) timber that has been sawed and (partly) prepared for construction or woodworking; hence lumberyard (UK: timberyard), lumber camp, lumberjack, lumberman, lumber wagon, lumber town, etc.
(v.) to log and prepare timber
to make a rolling sound (dated)
lush (slang; of a person) attractive (usu. used by women in reference to men - principally West Country) luxuriant an alcoholic * especially female

M

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
mac raincoat; abbreviation of Macintosh a brand of Apple inc. computers; abbreviation of Macintosh. (Slang; proper n.) A term of informal address used with male strangers; generally implies more unfriendliness or disapproval than the more neutral 'pal' or 'buddy': "Get your car out of my way, Mac!" Stereotypically used by working-class New Yorkers such as cab drivers. UK generally 'mate'. Cf. 'Jack.'
macintosh raincoat (often shortened to mac) a brand of Apple inc. computers (often shortened to Mac)
(wrongly) McIntosh Red, a type of apple
 
mad eccentric * insane enraged *
very, or a large amount of something (slang, as in "he has mad skills")
mail (used in Royal Mail, the name of the British postal system; cf. postal)
(Scot.) a payment (tax, rent, etc.)
(Scot.) a travelling bag or pack
(n.) the postal system of a nation
letters, packages, etc. sent by post; as delivered to individual, orig. US, UK often post
(n. & v.) email
(v.) send a letter (UK: post or send); noun originated mail carrier & mailman (UK: postman), mailbox (UK: postbox; letter box), mail slot, mail drop, etc.
mailbox
(UK: mail box)
  a file for storing electronic mail (or related computing or voicemail usage) an item of street furniture serving as a receptacle for outgoing mail (UK: post box; letter box; pillar box); a receptacle for incoming paper mail (UK: letter box)
main line, mainline a major railway line (as the West Coast Main Line); compare trunk a major vein (as for drug injection purposes) (orig. 1930s US slang); also used as a v. a railroad's primary track, or a primary artery, route, road, or connection
Pennsylvania Main Line
mainline Protestant churches
major (in the past, in English public schools) used to denote the eldest of two or more pupils with the same surname ("Bloggs major") important or significant
(n.) rank between captain and lieutenant colonel in the army and marines.
(n.) a college/university student's main field of specialization ("his major is physics"); the student himself ("he is a physics major"); (v.) to pursue a major ("he majored in physics") (compare minor; UK: compare read)
(n.) rank between captain and lieutenant colonel in the air force (UK squadron leader) and in some police agencies (UK approx. superintendent).
majority (politics) the greatest number of votes
difference of votes between first and second place (US: plurality)
  more than half of all votes (UK: absolute majority)
make out   to draw up, to seek to make it appear, to fabricate a story
to see with difficulty; to understand the meaning of
to kiss (see Making out) (UK: to snog)
to succeed or profit ("She made out well on that deal.") *
mangle a machine with two rollers, used to extract water from wet fabric (US: wringer) to damage, disfigure, mutilate or destroy  
marinara (sauce) a sauce containing seafood, usu. in a tomato base   a sauce containing tomatoes and herbs, with no seafood or meat (UK: napolitana sauce)
marquee large, open-sided tent installed outdoors for temporary functions *   signage placed over the entrance to a hotel, theatre, or cinema
(attrib.) the ability (of a show) to draw audience, "box office" ("marquee value")
a prominent celebrity or athlete ("marquee player")
mate friend (US: pal)
informal term of address ("hello mate")
animal's sexual partner
checkmate, the winning of a game of chess
an officer on a merchant ship
spouse or partner
mean (adj.) stingy, miserly, selfish * of inferior quality, contemptible
a statistical average (see mean)
unpleasant, unkind, vicious *
median   a statistical average (see median)
geometric median
median nerve
the portion of a divided highway used to separate opposing traffic (UK central reservation)
meet with   to face (as a situation), experience ("If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same" - Kipling) to have a meeting with (as people) ("Vice president meets with Iraqi officials", CNN) * (UK generally meet (transitive) or meet up with)
meter   measuring instrument, including electric meter, gas meter, etc. the basic unit of length in the metric system * (UK usu.: metre)
mezzanine   intermediate floor between main floors of a building lowest balcony in a theatre, or the first few rows of seats thereof
mid-Atlantic in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, half-way between UK & US   middle of the Atlantic coast of the USA (exact definition of Mid-Atlantic States may vary)
military [?] relating specifically to the British Army relating to armed forces in general (adj.) relating to any of the individual branches of the armed forces
(n.) armed forces
minor (in the past, in English public schools) used to denote the youngest of two or more pupils with the same surname ("Bloggs minor") not very important
see minor (law), minor (music)
(n.) a person under the age of 18 years, generally, and for legal reasons more specifically (as in "the name of the defendant is withheld because he is a minor"), or under an age legally required for certain behavior (such as purchasing alcohol), or under the age of consent.
(n.) secondary academic subject (compare major) ("has a major in biology and a minor in English"); (v.) to study as one's minor ("she minored in English")
minor league;
miss out to omit to lose a chance; usu. used with on  
mobile (n.) mobile phone (US: cell phone) decorative structure suspended so as to turn freely in the air  
mobile home a mobile, non-motorised piece of equipment with living facilities; a caravan (q.v.)   a type of manufactured dwelling transported to the home site using wheels attached to the structure
momentarily   for a moment in a moment; very soon
mono   (adj.) monophonic (of reproduced sound, e.g. radio or CD player using a single speaker)
monochrome
(n.) infectious mononucleosis, a disease caused by Epstein-Barr virus (UK: glandular fever)
moot   (adj.) debatable ("a moot point")
(v.) to bring up for debate
(these meanings are fading from use in US English)
see also moot court
(adj.) irrelevant ("a moot point") (orig. legal, now in common use)
(v.) to make irrelevant (incorrect/uneducated usage)
mortuary (n.) building or room (as in a hospital) for the storage of human remains (US: morgue)   funeral home, funeral parlour
motorbike a motorcycle   a lightweighted, small motorcycle
motor car, motorcar (formal) a car (motor vehicle) (US: automobile)   a self-propelled railway vehicle
MP Member of Parliament Military police officer [?]
other expansions
 
muffin a thick round baked yeast roll, usually toasted and served with butter (US: English muffin)   a confection similar to a cupcake but unfrosted and less sweet, sometimes even savory (e.g., corn muffin) * (UK: American muffin)
muffler   a scarf device to silence an automobile (UK: silencer) or gramophone
mummy mother, as addressed or referred to by her child (US: mommy) a chemically preserved corpse, such as those of ancient Egyptians.  

N

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
nancy nancy-boy: effeminate or homosexual male Woman's given name  
napkin nappy (q.v.), diaper (dated, not well known) piece of material used to protect garments from spilled food or to remove food residues from around the mouth [formerly esp. US; alternative UK term serviette is obsolescent] (oftenest, sanitary napkin) absorbent piece of material worn by a woman while menstruating * (UK usu. sanitary towel)
nappy folded cloth or other absorbent material drawn up between the legs and fastened around the waist, usu. worn by infants to counter incontinence (US: diaper)   twisted or kinked, considered insulting when applied to hair, esp. that of persons of African descent (also called napped)
nervy nervous, fidgety *   bold, presumptuous
nick prison or police station (slang)
to steal (slang)
to arrest (slang)
small cut
(computer jarg.) nickname
 
nickel   the metallic element (Ni) 5 cent coin
nonplussed   bewildered, unsure how to respond unfazed (incorrect usage)
nor neither ("'She didn't come.' 'Nor did he.'")
(Scotland & Ireland) than ("someone better nor me")
and not, or (not) ("neither sad nor happy"; "he never eats, nor does he ever feel hungry")  
notion   concept, conception, inclination (pl.) small items and accessories, esp. for sewing (UK: haberdashery, q.v.); hence notion store, notion counter, etc.

O

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
office (cap.) a government department ("Colonial Office", "Foreign and Commonwealth Office")
(pl.) the outbuildings and dependencies of a dwelling (as an estate)
a place of business; a position or function
a particular division of an administrative unit ("Patent Office")
the place where a physician or dentist practises (UK: surgery)
optician (dispensing optician) professional who dispenses lenses and spectacles
(ophthalmic optician) professional who tests eyes and prescribes lenses (US: optometrist)
  professional who dispenses lenses and spectacles
optometrist   ophthalmic optician in the U.S., optometrist and ophthalmologist are separate, opticians are the same as UK dispensing opticians
ouster a person who oust   the act of forcing the removal of someone from a position of influence or power
outside lane the part of the road nearest the vehicles going in the opposite direction, used especially by faster vehicles (US: inside lane) (in both cases the term applies to the rightmost lane in the direction concerned) the part of the road nearest the edge, used especially by slower-moving vehicles (UK: inside lane)
overall (n.) loose-fitting protective outer garment (US: coverall)   (in pl.) sturdy protective bib trousers; dungarees

P

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
pacifier   something or somebody that brings peace rubber teat for babies (UK: dummy)
panda police car (slang) giant panda, red panda  
pantomime traditional Christmas time holiday theatre   silent acting, usu. without props, by mime artist (UK: mime)
pants underpants (also briefs or boxers)
of poor quality (slang)
(of a situation) bad, unfortunate (slang).
  usually, any trousers, exc. in "to get into her pants", etc., in which it denotes women's underclothing*
paraffin kerosene   a waxy fraction of petroleum commonly used to make candles (UK: paraffin wax)
paralytic extremely drunk (slang) relating to or affected by paralysis  
park a tract of ground kept in its natural state, about or adjacent to a residence, as for the preservation of game, for walking, riding, or the like
(esp. Scotland) a pasture or field
area for the parking of motor vehicles ("a car park")
(sports) a soccer or rugby field
see also country park
outdoor area for recreational uses ("Central Park", "Hyde Park")
national park (orig. US)
any of various areas designated for certain purposes *, such as amusement park, theme park, industrial park, trailer park, memorial park (a cemetery)
(sports) enclosed ground for ball games, oftenest the ballpark
a level valley among the mountains (as the Rocky Mountains); also, an area of open grassland, or one for cultivation, esp. if among the woods
parking   the act of parking (a vehicle) To engage in romantic intimacy in a parked vehicle. (regional) turf strip between sidewalk and street (many regional synonyms exist; there is no standard name).
parkway a railway station with parking areas intended for commuters   generally, an open landscaped limited-access highway (q.v.) (see article)
regional term for parking (q.v.)
pass out to graduate from a training centre of a disciplined service (military, police etc) to become unconscious to die *
to distribute *
patience any of a family of one-player card games (US: solitaire, q.v.) the quality of being patient  
pavement a paved strip at the side of a road, reserved for pedestrians (US: sidewalk)   the road surface *
PC police constable politically correct
personal computer
other expansions
 
pecker courage, pluck (slang, used in the phrase "keep your pecker up", remain cheerful)   penis (slang)
peckish slightly hungry, snackish *   irritable or angry (rare)
peg (n.) (often clothes peg) a wooden or plastic device for fastening laundry on a clothesline (US: clothespin)
(v.) to fasten (laundry) on a clothesline
(n.) a cylindrical wooden, metal etc. object used to fasten or as a bearing between objects
(v.) to fix or pin down
(v.) to hit with a projectile
(n.) a throw (as in baseball)
(v.) to identify or classify (as someone) *
penny (pl. pence, or, when referring to coins, pennies) 1/100 (formerly, 1/240) of the Pound Sterling [listed here to reflect ordinary usage] a small amount usu. in contrast to a larger one ("Penny wise, Pound foolish", common phrase in both British and American usage) (pl. pennies) a cent (esp. the coin)
(penny-ante) trivial, small-time.
period   section of time
menstruation, Time period, The Periodic Table.
punctuation mark used at the end of a sentence
(interj.) used at the end of a statement to emphasise its finality * ("You are not going to that concert, period!") (UK: full stop for both senses)
pint about 6/5 of US measure, 20 Imperial fluid ounces (19.2 US fl. oz.), 568 ml
pint of beer, lager or cider ("Pour us a pint")
  about 5/6 of British (Imperial) measure, 16 US fluid ounces (16.65 Imperial fl. oz), 473 ml
piss (on the piss) drinking heavily, going out for the purpose of drinking heavily
(to take the piss) to mock
urine (usu. vulgar)
urinate (usu. vulgar)
low-quality beer (vulgar)
 
pissed intoxicated, drunk (often pissed as a newt; sometimes pissed up) urinated (usu. vulgar)
(pissed off) angry, irritated
angry, irritated
pitch outdoor site for a stall or some other business
site for a tent (US: campsite, q.v.)
playing field for a particular sport (football pitch, rugby pitch, cricket pitch, etc.) (US: field)
an attempt to persuade somebody to do something, usu. to accept a business proposal
a sticky black substance obtained from tar
the slope of a roof
rotation on a lateral axis (as an aircraft or spacecraft)
the frequency of a sound
to erect a tent
to discard (in various card games, e.g., bridge)
in baseball, the delivery of a baseball by a pitcher to a batter
"pitching a tent" (slang): to have an erection (describes the shape of the fabric covering one)
(slang) to dispose
a brief summary of a broader work or idea meant to be attractive to a third party e.g. "What's the pitch?"
pitcher a large container (often earthenware), usually round with a narrow neck, used for holding water or another liquid (US: jug)   any container with a handle and lip or spout for liquids* (UK: jug)
baseball player who pitches (throws) baseball towards the batter (UK: bowler)
(gay slang, from baseball) a top or dominant partner
pitman a miner working in a pit the man that stands in a pit when sawing timber (with another man standing above) a connecting rod (as in a sawmill)
a master barbecuer, the person responsible for managing a barbecue pit.
plaster an adhesive bandage placed on a minor cut or scrape (UK also: sticking/sticky plaster, Elastoplast; US: Band-aid);
a cast of plaster of Paris ("a leg in plaster")
a pastelike mixture that hardens when applied to walls and ceilings;
plastered - drunk
 
plimsoll, plimsol, plimsole. noun: a rubber-soled cloth shoe; a sneaker. waterline to show the level the water should reach when the ship is properly loaded [syn: load line], named after Samuel Plimsoll  
point (pl.) railway turnout * (US: switch)
(power point) electrical socket (US: outlet)
cape or promontory jutting into sea
(full point) syn. with full stop (q.v.)
(see article) piece of land jutting into any body of water, esp. a river ("points and bends"); a prominence or peak (of mountains, hills, rocks), also an extremity of woods or timber
pontoon blackjack, twenty-one a buoyant device  
pop   a sharp explosive sound
popular music
carbonated soft drink (US usage is regional; also: soda, soda pop)
father (colloquial)
(v.) to kill
porter doorman, gatekeeper, or building maintenance worker * bearer of burdens
a style of beer
railway sleeping car attendant
post (v.) to send a letter * (US: mail) to display on a noticeboard or bulletin board, Internet forum, etc. to announce ("the company posted a first-quarter profit of $100 million")
to inform ("keep me posted") *
postal   related to the paper mail system (used in the name of the United States Postal Service; see mail)
(to go postal) to commit a sudden, irrational burst of rage (slang)
pound sign   symbol of the Pound Sterling (£) (GBP) number sign, octothorpe (#) (UK: hash sign)
precinct a pedestrian zone in a city or town ("a shopping precinct") a space enclosed (as by walls) subdivision of a county, town, etc. for the purpose of conducting elections
section of a city patrolled by a police unit; the police station in such a section
prep(aratory) school (in England) fee-paying private junior school (which prepares pupils for public school)   fee-paying private senior school (which prepares pupils for university) (UK: public school or independent school)
pressman, presswoman a journalist employed by a newspaper (US: newspaperman/newspaperwoman (rare), or by specific job)   one who operates a printing press
pressurise (UK), pressurize (US & UK) insistently influence, or attempt to influence, someone else ("The manager pressurised his assistant to work late") (US & UK also: pressure) subject a volume of gas or liquid to physical pressure, as the atmospheric pressure within an aircraft ("For the passengers' comfort, the airliner's cabin was pressurized to 10000 ft")  
proctor variant of the word procurator, is a person who takes charge or acts for another.   an examination supervisor (UK: invigilator)
professor holder of a chair in a university, the highest academic rank (the usual order being Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, Professor)   academic faculty of all ranks: Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and (Full) Professor (the latter being largely equivalent to the UK meaning)
project   a plan; a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service publicly subsidised usu. low-income housing development – see public housing in the United States and Canada (UK: cf. s.v. estate)
prom shortening of 'promenade concert', originally one of a series of concerts (The Proms) held as part of a classical music festival that takes place in the late summer based around the Royal Albert Hall in London, but now also used elsewhere
shortening of 'promenade', a raised walk next to the beach in seaside resorts
  dance/party held for pupils to celebrate the end of a school year/graduation, a shortening of 'promenade', a formal parade *
protest (v.t.)   to forcefully express an opinion, to advocate: "The prisoner protested his innocence." to campaign or demonstrate against: "The prisoner's friends protested the judge's decision." (UK: protest against)
public school long-established and prestigious fee-paying independent school in England or Wales (note that not all private schools are classed as public schools) (US: prep school)   tax-supported school controlled by a local governmental authority (UK: state school) * (also in Scotland & Northern Ireland)
pud short for pudding, especially in "Christmas pud" (pronounced /ˈpʊd/)   slang term for penis (pronounced /ˈpʌd/) (from 'pudendum')
pudding dessert course of a meal
a heavy dessert or main course (e.g. steak and kidney pudding), often suet-based
used in the name of some other savoury dishes (e.g. black pudding, pease pudding)
  a creamy dessert
pull to persuade someone to be one's date or sex partner (slang)
(on the pull) seeking a date or sex partner (slang)
to move something towards oneself
an injury to a muscle, tendon, or ligament, e.g. "I've pulled my hamstring."
to carry out a task (esp. milit.) ("to pull guard duty")
pull off (of a vehicle) to start moving to succeed in a task  
pump (shoe) (regional) a plimsoll (US: sneaker) the word (of unknown origin) has variously denoted a pantofle, a low thin sole shoe, a formal men's shoe
(Reebok Pump) a brand of athletic shoe with an internal inflation mechanism
usu. women's high(ish) heeled shoe (UK similar: court shoe, q.v.)
punk   follower of Punk music worthless person; from conventional societal perspective any young outlaw or tough; from perspective of outlaws and others valuing physical fighting, a coward
purse feminine money container or wallet (US: coin purse) in boxing etc, the money to be awarded in a prize fight handbag
pussy   a cat (becoming less common in the US, due to the other meanings)
Slang term for vagina
a weakling
pylon electricity pylon, part of an electric power transmission network * (US: mast or transmission tower) A large architectural feature, usually found as one of a pair at the entrance to ancient Egyptian temples - see Pylon (architecture) traffic cone; temporary traffic lane separator.
support structure for suspension bridge or highway

Q

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
quart 1/4 (UK) gallon or 2 (UK) pints. Liquid measure approximately 1.136 litres (6/5 of an American quart).   1/4 (US) gallon or 2 (US) pints. Liquid measure equal to 0.946 litres (5/6 of a British quart).
quarter
  one of four equal parts into which something is divided, as a quarter hour or, especially for financial purposes, a quarter of a year; in generic usage (as in fractions), US usu. fourth 25 cents (a fourth of a dollar)
queue a group of persons, usually waiting for something, arranged in order of arrival * (US: line) an ordered sequence of objects, from which the first one in is also the first one out (cf. Stack (data structure))  
quid colloquial term for pound sterling (plural is quid also; in Ireland it can refer to the punt or Euro) a measure (mouthful) of chewing tobacco  
quite to some extent or degree, e.g. in the phrase "quite good" meaning "mediocre, acceptable" or "good, well done" (a meiotic usage, depending on voice intonation) agreeing with a given statement, often expressing reluctant agreement or disbelief ("I'm innocent, and this document proves it!" "Quite.") according to intonation) to the fullest extent or degree ("All art is quite useless" – Oscar Wilde)
to a great extent or degree
 

R

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
rabbit (v.) (slang) to talk at length, usually about trivial things; usually to 'rabbit on' (n.) the animal rabbit, a lagomorph  
railroad tramway (obsolete) (v.) to coerce
to convict with undue haste or with insufficient evidence
the general term for the system of mass transit using trains running on rails: see usage of the terms railroad and railway
(v.) to work on the railroad
to transport by railroad
see also at underground
railway the general term for the system of mass transit using trains running on rails: see usage of the terms railroad and railway   tramway
raisin (UK usage excludes currants and sultanas) a large dark grape, dried any dried grape
rambler one that rambles (as a hiker), see Ramblers' Association a type of rose
one who talks excessively, often without making cohesive points (to ramble on)
a style of house, usu. a ranch house
(see also Rambler (automobile), Nash Rambler)
randy a slang term meaning sexually aroused (American horny)   a male or female given name or nickname deriving from the names Randall, Randolph, or Miranda
range a type of kitchen stove like that featured on the TV programme The 1900 House a series of things in a line (as mountains)
a sequence or scale between limits
a place where shooting is practised
an area over which a species of animal or plant is found
a cooking stove with an oven and burners on the top surface
an open area for the grazing of livestock
a series of townships (q.v.), a Public Land Survey System unit of land east or west from a Principal Meridian
raunchy   Lewd, vulgar, sexually explicit foul-smelling, dirty
raunch (n.): stench, miasma
read to study a subject at university ("he is reading physics") (roughly approximate US: major (in)) to peruse written material  
reader the second highest academic rank at a university, below professor (US equivalent: associate professor) one who reads a teaching assistant who reads and grades examination papers.
receptionist hotel reservation desk worker (US: clerk) see also concierge front desk employee in business establishments, organisations, or hospitals  
recess (time)   remission or suspension of business or procedure pause between classes at school (UK: break, playtime, Lunchtime)
redcap a military police officer   a baggage porter (as at a train station)
redundant laid off from employment, usu. because no longer needed ("The company made 100 workers redundant") unnecessary; repetitive  
regular   normal, customary
following a uniform pattern in space or time
(of a geometric shape) having equal sides and angles
frequent
one who frequents a place
a full-time professional member of a military organisation (see Structure of the British Army and Regular Army)
of an ordinary kind; also, nice or agreeable ("a regular guy")
of an ordinary or medium size *
unmodified, especially non-dietary/sugar-free/fat-free *
non-decaffeinated coffee
lowest grade of gasoline (historically: leaded gasoline)
remit (n.) set of responsibilities ("within my remit"; "to have a remit") (pronounced /ˈriːmɪt/) (v.) to defer; in law, to transfer a case to a lower court; to send money; to cancel. (pronounced /rɪˈmɪt/)  
restroom a room for staff to take their breaks in; a staffroom (US: breakroom)   a room in a public place, containing a toilet
retreat   (v.) to go backwards, especially (military) to move away from the enemy; to withdraw
(n.) a period of withdrawal from society for prayer or meditation
a period of group withdrawal for study or instruction under a group leader
review   to reassess, inspect, perform a subsequent reading
to write a review
to study again (as in preparing for an examination) (UK: revise), hence review (n.)
revise to study again (as in preparing for an examination) (US: review), hence revision to inspect, amend, correct, improve, esp. written material  
ring (v.) to call (someone) by telephone to sound a bell (ring up) * to total up a customer's purchases on a cash register
rise (increase) an increase in wages (US: raise) an increase in amount, value, price, etc.  
roast (colloquial) to reprimand severely. (v.) to cook in an oven; (n.) meat so cooked (n.) an event where an individual is ridiculed for the sake of comedy; (v.) to host or perform such an event
roommate   a person with whom one shares a bedroom (also roomie) a person with whom one shares a house or apartment (UK: housemate or flatmate)
root (v.) to have sex with (vulgar slang) (orig. Australian) to fix; to rummage; to take root or grow roots to cheer ("I will be rooting for you"); to dig or look for (root around) *
rotary   a machine acting by rotation
(cap.) organisation whose members comprise Rotary Clubs
a circular road intersection (US also traffic circle, UK usu. roundabout; see articles)
roundabout a merry-go-round
a circular road intersection * (US usu. traffic circle or rotary, q.v.)
a detour or circuitous path a type of men's jacket used in the past (see e.g. Mark Twain)
row (n.) (Pronounced /'raʊ/, to rhyme with "cow")
a noisy quarrel *; a continual loud noise ("Who's making that row?")
(Pronounced /'roʊ/, to rhyme with "toe")
a line of objects, often regularly spaced (as seats in a theatre, vegetable plants in a garden etc.)
a line of entries in a table, etc. (as opposed to a column)
an instance of rowing (as in a boat)
a series of prison cells ("death row")
a particular street or area of a town (as in skid row, dilapidated neighbourhood haunted by vagrants, misfits, etc.)
a series of row houses
(row house) town house, q.v.
rubber (countable noun) pencil eraser the duration of a match in certain games (e.g., bridge) condom
waterproof rain boot (UK: wellington)
run (n.) a leisure drive or ride ("a run in the car") (v.) senses orig. US and now common are: to be a candidate in an election (UK also stand); to manage or provide for (a business, a family, etc.); the idioms run scared, run into. More s.v. home run; see run for additional meanings, a type of cage which is made so that animals (eg. Hamsters, rabbits, Guinea pigs, etc.) can run around in it. (v.) to propose (someone) as a candidate
to drive past ("to run a red light")
to hunt (as the buffalo or the deer)
(n.) an instance of running for office
a creek (q.v.)
run-in the final part of a race; approach to something, also run-up (q.v.)   an argument or altercation *
rundown (n.) a reduction (as of an establishment) a detailed summary (orig. US slang) a type of play in baseball
tired, depressed.
run-up the period preceding an event (as an election) * the act of running up a sudden increase (as in price) (orig. Stock exchange) *

S

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
saloon closed car having two or (usu.) four doors, a front and rear seat and a separate boot/trunk (US: sedan)
(saloon bar) posh bar within a pub or hotel
passengers' lounge on a liner or luxury train (US approx.: parlor car)
officers' dining room on a merchant ship bar, especially in the Wild West
bar that serves only spirits and no food
a room in a house used for receiving guests; a salon
scalp (v.)   to cut the scalp off; to take something away to resell (as tickets) at higher prices (UK: tout)
to trade (as stocks) for quick profits
scheme official systematic plan (as of the government) ("a pension scheme")
(Scotland) Low-cost public housing (US: project)
a plan, often secret or devious; a plot ("criminal scheme")  
school place of primary or secondary education grouping of departments or large department within a university faculty (among other meanings, e.g., a group of experts sharing perspective or methods, or a group of fish) any educational institution; in school: state of being a pupil in any school normally serving minor children of any age, or in a college or university at any level; at school: usually, physically present on campus.
scrappy not neatly organised or poor
a scrappy player is one who sometimes plays well, but often plays badly.
fragmentary bellicose or fightingly determined
a scrappy player is one who compensates for a lack of size or speed with grit and determination.
second (v.) to transfer temporarily to alternative employment (pronounced /sɨˈkɒnd/, to rhyme with "beyond") to endorse, support, or bring reinforcements  
section (v.t.) to detain under the Mental Health Act 1983
On section, detained in a mental hospital.
to cut or slice into sections  
sedan   a chair or windowed cabin, carried by at least two porters in front and behind a common car body style (UK: saloon, q.v.)
seeded (grapes, etc.) with the seeds left in   having had the seeds removed (uncommon usage) (also seedless, used in UK)
semi semi-detached house (US: duplex)   semi-trailer truck (UK: articulated lorry)
series (television) a single batch of episodes of a television programme (US: season)   all of the episodes of a particular television program
set square a triangular object used in technical drawing (US: triangle)   a T-square (also used in technical drawing)
shade   penumbra, partial obscurity; nuance
(pl.) sunglasses (orig. US); reminder of the past
window blind
shag to copulate, or copulate with [understood in the US also] a seabird (various members of the cormorant family)
a kind of a dance, associated with "beach music," esp. from the Carolinas (orig. US)
a kind of fabric with a thick, long strands; often used in carpets
long, matted hair (cf. Shaggy from the Scooby Doo cartoon)
a type of shredded coarse tobacco
(v.) to chase after; to chase and fetch (as a fly ball in baseball)
a style of long hair with numerous layers (not matted or untidy)
shattered exhausted broken into many small pieces.
devastated emotionally
 
sherbet a fizzy powdered confectionery   a type of frozen dessert (also spelled sherbert)
sheriff chief royal peace officer of a county, now (as high sheriff) largely only a ceremonial role (England and Wales)
local judge, in full sheriff-depute or sheriff-substitute (Scotland)
  elected chief legal officer of a county, usu. also in charge of the county's law enforcement service; elsewhere any member of a county (vs. state or local) police
shingle pebbles, particularly those on the seashore * to cut a woman's hair in an overlapping style
(shingles) a painful disease of the skin, caused by the chickenpox virus
wooden roof tile
to cover a roof with wooden tiles
sign proclaiming one's name and calling ("hang a shingle out")
to cover something like a shingled roof
ship (verb), shipping   To transport goods by sea, movement of goods by sea
Shipping (fandom)
To transport goods, movement of goods
Shipping & handling, standard form of charge for delivery of goods (UK: Postage & packing)
shop consumer retail establishment of any size (US: store); hence shopfront (US: storefront), shop-soiled (US: shopworn), shop assistant (US: (sales) clerk)
workshop, only in combination ("machine shop")
  small or specialized consumer retail establishment (e.g. coffee shop, dress shop)
workshop; practical class at school taught in a workshop
shorts strong alcoholic drinks served in multiples of 25 ml, sometimes with mixers (US & UK also: shots) short trousers (US: pants)
shower   spray of water used to wash oneself
a short period of rain
a celebratory party where gifts are given to an individual e.g. a baby shower to celebrate an imminent birth
sic   Latin for "Thus", "just so" — states that the preceding quoted material appears exactly that way in the source, usu. despite errors of spelling, grammar, usage, or fact. pronunciation spelling of "seek" used as a dog command, and by extension as a verb meaning to set (as a dog, etc.) to attack someone ("I'll sic my attorney on you")
sick (off sick) not at work because of illness (to be sick) to vomit
(slang) disgusting (corruption of sickening)
(slang) cool, good, interesting
unwell
(out sick) not at work because of illness
sideboard (pl.) sideburns, side-whiskers an item of furniture also known as buffet  
siding   a dead-end railway track leading off the main line and used to store rolling-stock a short section of railroad track connected by switches with a main track, enabling trains on the same line to pass (UK: loop)
external wall covering, cladding, weatherboarding
silencer device to silence a car/automobile (US: muffler) device to silence a firearm  
silk a Queen's Counsel material made from unwound silkworm cocoons the silky, pistillate flower of corn (maize)
a parachute (orig. slang of the United States Air Force)
silverware things made from silver, including bowls, spoons, etc. Also trophy's won by a sports team (ie. FA Cup, Challenge Cup...)   eating implements (spoon, fork, knife) (UK: cutlery; US also flatware)
skillet (regional dialect) a frying pan
a type of stir-fried food item
  a frying pan, often cast iron
a long-handled stewing pan or saucepan, often having short legs or feet
skip (n.) large rubbish container (US approx: Dumpster) an act of leaping or omitting; see skip (radio), skip (in record player) one who disappears without paying their debts ("finding a good skip tracer is harder than finding your debtors")
skive (v.) to avoid work or school (play truant) v. to cut or pare leather/rubber; n. an indentation made from skiving  
skivvy a scullery maid or lowest servant doing menial work, somebody at the bottom of the pecking order [origin of both senses is unknown; they are likely unrelated] [note that skivvy has a third distinct meaning in Australian English] (pl.) men's underwear (colloquial)
slag (derogatory) promiscuous woman (US & UK also: slut)
a general insult directed at someone of either sex
A product from the iron-smelting blast furnace; mainly used in tarmac production  
slash (colloq.) an act of urinating ("to have a slash") to cut drastically the symbol '/' (orig. US) (also virgule, solidus; UK also: oblique, stroke) an open tract in a forest strewn with debris, especially from logging
a swampy area
slate (v.) to disparage ("many critics have slated the film"), hence slating (n.) a type of rock; a greyish colour
(v.) to cover with slate
(v.) to schedule * ("slated for demolition")
to designate (a candidate, as for political office)
(n.) a list of candidates
sleeper A horizontal member which lies beneath, and binds together, the rails of a railway. (US: railroad tie, crosstie) A railway vehicle providing sleeping accommodation (a sleeping car).
Sleeper (espionage) - A deep cover secret agent
Sleeper (car), an automobile modified for high performance but with a normal-looking exterior (UK: Q-car)
sleet snow that has partially thawed on its fall to the ground   (partially) frozen raindrops, ice pellets; a mixture of rain and snow or hail; also, glaze (q.v.)
slough (wetland) (usu. pronounced /ˈslaʊ/, to rhyme with "plough") a marshy area, a swamp a secondary channel; a small backwater; a pond (usu. pronounced /ˈsluː/ and often spelled slew)
smashed   beaten, destroyed as in it was smashed Exceedingly drunk
smokestack   a system (as a pipe) for venting hot gases and smoke: such a system on buildings, locomotives (UK primarily: chimney or funnel), and ships (UK & US also: funnel) (attrib.) heavy industry, manufacturing industry * ("smokestack industries", "smokestack stocks")
smudge   a blurry spot or streak a smouldering mass placed on the windward side to protect from frost or keep insects away (as in smudge pot)
snout police informant
tobacco (slang)
pig's nose
nose (slang)
 
sod unpleasant person, originally short for sodomite ("He's a sod, isn't he?")
unfortunate person when prefixed by 'poor' ("The poor sod's had his wallet nicked.") or 'silly' ("The silly sod really got it knackered.")
layer of grass and earth (in UK in a formal/literary sense) turf
soda carbonated water, or any non-alcoholic drink made with it, but not usu. one sold ready-mixed any of various chemical compounds containing sodium (as sodium bicarbonate or sodium carbonate), carbonated water (regional) carbonated soft drink, usu. one sold ready-mixed (also 'pop,' 'soda pop') (UK: fizzy drink or colloquially (fizzy) pop)
solicitor lawyer who advises clients, represents them in the lower courts, and prepares cases for barristers to try in higher courts * (considered overly formal in US)   one that solicits (e.g. contributions to charity), an advertiser, a promoter; often annoying
chief law officer of a city, town, or government department
solitaire peg-jumping puzzle game (see peg solitaire)   any of a family of one-player card games (see solitaire) (UK: patience)
sort (v.) to deal with; hence sorted as expression of appreciation; (slang) to be adequately supplied with narcotics
all used with out:
to arrange or take care of (something) *
to solve an esp. difficult situation (also reflexive) *
(informal) to set (someone) straight, or to get even with (someone)
sorted, to have or get fixed, have problems worked out, so things are working correctly ("He's really got it sorted now.")
to arrange or classify; often used with out  
spanner general term for a tool used for turning nuts, bolts, etc. (US: wrench, q.v.)
something interfering (US: (monkey) wrench)
  a wrench with holes or pins at its end for meshing with the object to be turned (UK: C spanner)
spaz (offensive) Incompetent, useless, disabled person (from spastic)   uncoordinated, messing something up. Can be used self-referentially. Has less offensive connotations in American usage.
spigot   a spile in a cask a tap or faucet
spook   a ghost; a spy, government undercover agent (both orig. US) a black person (insulting)
spotty pimply ("a spotty teenager")   of inhomogeneous quality ("a spotty record")
sprouts (n.) brussels sprouts   alfalfa sprouts
spunk (vulgar) seminal fluid (US: cum) courage, daring, or enthusiasm  
squash (n.) fruit cordial drink (squash (drink)) sport (squash (sport))* vegetable (squash (vegetable))* (UK also gourd)
squat   (n.) premises occupied by squatters (v.)
to occupy (as premises) illegally
to bend deeply at the knees while resting on one's feet
(n.) the act of squatting
an exercise in weightlifting
(n.) nothing (slang; short for diddly-squat)
(more at cop)
stabiliser (UK), stabilizer (US & UK) (pl.) additional wheels to help learner cyclists (US: training wheels) something that stabilises, as stabilizer (aircraft) or stabilizer (chemistry)  
stall (enclosure) (pl.) front seats in a theatre (US: orchestra) compartment for an animal in a barn
a booth or counter (as in a marketplace)
seat in a church's choir
compartment containing a shower or toilet (UK: cubicle)
a marked-off parking space
enclosure for a locomotive in a roundhouse
(box stall) compartment in a barn where an animal can move untethered (UK: loose box)
stand (v.) to be a candidate in an election * (US: run) to be vertical; to remain stationary; to buy (someone) (something)  
starter first course of a meal * (US usu. appetizer); more s.v. entree one that starts (as a device to start an engine) transportation dispatcher or elevator (q.v.) dispatcher
starting pitcher (baseball)
the official who starts a track race.
stash (v.) to quit, put an end to ("to stash it") (v.) to store away [old criminals' slang revived in US] (n.) a hiding place, or something (esp. drug or liquor) stored away*
stone (pl. usu. stone) 14 pounds in weight (14 lb), normally used when specifying a person's weight ("My weight is twelve stone four", meaning 12 stone and 4 pounds; US "172 pounds") a small rock  
stood (colloquial, mainly Northern English) standing ("I've been stood here for an hour") past tense and participle of stand  
stoop A post or pillar, especially a gatepost. (Rare except in dialect). forwards bend of the spine bringing the shoulders in front of the hips
dive of a predatory bird towards its prey
raised porch or entrance veranda (orig. Dutch; esp. Northeast). Also refers to the external stairs leading up to a row house, "Sitting on the stoop."
store place for storage of items not needed for immediate use* large consumer retail establishment (as department store or superstore) consumer retail establishment of any size (UK: shop), e.g. grocery store, hardware store, convenience store, dime store; hence storefront (UK: shopfront), storekeeper (UK: shopkeeper)
stove a hothouse or greenhouse for plants
the grate of a fireplace
wood- or coal-burning room-heating appliance (or cookstove) appliance for cooking food * – compare range (UK usu. cooker)
see also Franklin stove
straight away, straightaway (usu. spaced) immediately, right away *   (solid) a straight (in a road, racecourse, etc.)
strike a good solid shot, as in scoring a goal in soccer
(Strike off) to remove a professional's license (e.g., for attorneys: US disbar) ("What do you call a priest who's been stricken off?" – Dick Francis)
to temporarily stop working (often as part of a union)
knock down all pins in bowling
to ignite a match
to miss, as to miss the ball with the bat in baseball
student   person studying at a post-secondary educational institution person studying at any educational institution *
stuff (v) to have sex - often used as a milder form of "fuck", eg "Get stuffed!" (for "Fuck off!"), "Our team got stuffed in the match", etc. to pack tightly with, especially with food: "I'm stuffed" = "I've eaten too much".  
sub to subsidise (pay for something in place of someone else - often used for any sort of informal loan)
(in newspaper publishing) edit copy for length and/or house style (in full: sub-edit)
subscription (UK: membership dues, as in an association or club)
sub-lieutenant (Royal Navy rank)
subaltern (British Army second lieutenant or lieutenant)
subscription: a purchase by prepayment for a certain number of issues, as of a periodical
submarine
(n. & v.) substitute (usu. in sport)
(sexual) submissive
substitute teacher (UK: supply teacher)
to teach in place of the normal teacher
(regional) submarine sandwich*
subdivision   the process or an instance of subdividing the division of a tract of land into lots (q.v.) for the purpose of sale, or the tract of land so divided. (UK:estate, development)
subway pedestrian underpass
Glasgow subterranean railway
(Subway) restaurant chain for submarine sandwiches underground commuter railway
suds   (n.) froth, lather; (v.) to lather (v.) to form suds; hence sudser (a soap opera) and adj. sudsy (in both lit. & fig. senses)
(n.) beer
superintendent senior police rank (US approx.: deputy inspector)
senior official in various undertakings (railways, public works, etc.) person in charge of a building (UK: caretaker)
the head of a school district or a State Department of Education
sometimes, the head of a police department
(dated) a train conductor
suspenders elasticated support for stockings (US: garter)   elasticated support for trousers (UK: braces)
swede Swedish (yellow) turnip (US: rutabaga) (Swede) a person from Sweden  
sweet (n.) An after-meal dessert, more s.v. candy (adj.) Sweet-tasting; (adj.) to describe someone who is kind, gentle, or giving (n.) Short for sweetheart. Also, to be sweet on someone is to have a crush on them.
(adj.) used to describe something as good ("That car is sweet!")
switch   (n.) see electric switch, telephone switch, network switch
(v.) to operate a switch
to exchange, swap, make a shift
(n.) mechanism that allows a railway vehicle to change tracks (UK: points); hence switch engine or switcher (UK: shunter), switchyard (UK: marshalling yard), switch tower (UK: signal box)
(v.) to change tracks by means of a switch
see also bait and switch
switchback a road or railway that alternately ascends and descends
a roller coaster
  a zigzagging road or railway, usu. in the mountains; also, a hairpin turn in a road or trail

T

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
tab a cigarette (Geordie)
to run; often used in the military to refer to double-time or quick-time marching. From the abbreviation Tactical Advance to Battle.
a small projection, flap, etc.
an informal credit account, usu. at a bar ("Put it on my tab")
a formal account for services at a restaurant or bar ("May I have the tab?", "Pick up the tab") (UK always bill in this context)
table (verb) (as a parliamentary procedure or in the context of a meeting) (also lay on the table) to raise for consideration   (also lay on the table) to suspend from consideration, to shelve; (colloquial) to postpone
tailback queue of vehicles, traffic jam (US: gridlock, backup)   offensive backfield position in American football
tank top jumper (US: sweater) without sleeves   sleeveless t-shirt (UK: vest, q.v.) (also see wifebeater) *
tanner slang for a pre-decimalisation sixpence coin or sixpence value one who tans  
tap valve through which liquid is drawn and dispensed * (US usu.: faucet, spigot) a spile or spigot in a cask; a device for dispensing beer from a keg
(phone tap) a device for listening to other people's telephone calls
(tap up) to covertly enter negotiations ("The manager accused the other team of tapping up his player")
(tap dance) A type of dance e.g. "I go to tap every Saturday"
to select, designate; esp. to publicly select for a special honour from one's peers as in the (possibly apocryphal) American Indian ceremony ("She was tapped for the position of CEO") and as in being designated a college fraternity pledge.
vulgar slang for "have sex with"
tart female prostitute
(In US, generally understood but not generally used except in pop tart [overly sexualised female singer])
(adj) sour-flavoured, sarcastic
(n) any of several forms of sweet dessert or snack consisting of filling (usually fruit) in a pastry shell
 
tea afternoon snack (US: late lunch)
evening meal (sometimes called high tea)
a hot beverage made by infusing Camellia sinensis leaves (hot tea);
Herb tea a tea-like beverage made from herbs (UK infusion (archaic))
Iced tea sometimes taken with lemon and/or sugar
on the telephone having a working telephone (now rare, since most people do) talking on the telephone  
teller   one that tells (as stories)
a person who counts the votes in an election
a bank clerk or cashier who receives and pays out money *; hence automated teller machine
terrace row of identical or mirror-image houses sharing side walls * (US: row house, townhouse) a type of veranda or walkway or area close to a building
see also terrace (agriculture), terrace (gardening), stream terrace
(regional) parking (q.v.)
terrier member of the Territorial Army (slang). Also, record of land ownership (e.g. by local authority). one of various smallish breeds of dog  
theatre (UK & US), theater (US) (or operating theatre) hospital room for surgical operations (US: operating room) a place where stage plays are performed cinema ("movie/motion picture theater")
through (time) "Open through 6pm Monday", "through" is not used in relation to time in British English. In other contexts it is taken to mean "Through and out the other side", for example "if you go through the tunnel you will be in Kent". In the context of time it would mean "Open until at least 6pm Monday, maybe later". More usual in British English is to say: "Open until 6pm Monday".   Up to, until.
tick the symbol ✓ (US: check mark)
a moment ("just a tick")
credit ("on tick")
blood-sucking arachnid (see tick)
sound of an analogue clock
 
tick off to admonish   to annoy
tie a game between two teams e.g. Manchester won the tie against London an article of clothing worn around the neck
a game result in which neither player/team wins (also draw)
 
tights nylons, usu. sheer, which also cover the groin (US: pantyhose if sheer)   skin-tight, often opaque, trousers (UK: leggings) or one-piece trousers and top (UK: unitard), such as worn by gymnasts
tip (n.) a place where rubbish is disposed (US: dump (also UK), landfill)
(v.) to pour
(n.) pointed or narrow end
advice
voluntary gratuity paid (as at a restaurant)
(v.) (tip off) to advise
(v.) to (cause to) lean to one side
(tip one's hand) to disclose one's intentions or opinions
tit various species of small bird of the genus Parus (US: chickadee, titmouse)
idiot (slang)
woman's breast (vulgar slang)  
toasted (v)   lightly cooked on both sides (eg of a slice of bread) somewhat drunk
toilet room containing a toilet (US:restroom)
"Do you need to use the toilet?" is perfectly acceptable in UK but "uncomfortable" in American English
apparatus for excretion  
tom prostitute
a private in the Parachute Regiment (slang)
unneutered male cat  
torch handheld device that emits light (US: flashlight) flaming club used as a light source (v.) commit an act of arson. (n.) an arsonist.
tosser idiot (literally, someone who masturbates, a derogatory term similar to wanker) one that tosses not a hoarder; someone who gets rid of things ie "are you a keeper or tosser?"
tough (interj.)   I don't care that's unfortunate (short for "tough luck")
tout (v.) to resell tickets at higher prices (US: scalp)
to get and sell information on racehorses
(n.) one who resells tickets (US: scalper)
one who gets and sells information on racehorses
(v.) to importune, solicit, or canvass
(n.) one who does this [the n. appears to be in more general use in UK; cf. s.v. US solicitor]
(v.) to promote, recommend ("the movie was touted as a masterpiece")
tower,
tower block
a fortified keep, too small to be named a "castle", e.g. along the English/Scottish Border ("a peel tower"), along the English coast & elsewhere (inc. occas. U.S. Eastern Seaboard) ("a Martello tower"), around the Jersey (Channel Islands) coast ("a Jersey tower");
tower block — a high-rise block (q.v.) of flats
man-made structure, taller than it is wide (see control tower, watchtower, water tower) power line transmission structure (UK usu. & US occas. pylon, q.v.);
railroad building containing levers for working switches (q.v.) and signals ("an interlocking tower") (UK: signal box)
hence towerman, person in charge of any such tower (UK, for a signal box: signalman)
townhouse, town house historically, residence of a peer or member of the aristocracy in the capital or major city
(Scots) town hall
(modern usage) a fashionable urban house, usu. terraced, often at least 3 storeys
a house in town (as opposed to one in the country) one of two or more single-family houses of uniform design and joined by common sidewalls * (US also rowhouse, UK usu. terraced house for more than two, or semi(-detached) for two joined houses)
township in the past, a subdivision used to administer a large parish
(Scotland) a very small agricultural community
  an approx. division of land comprising 36 sections
a unit of local government, see civil township
track   a trail
a footprint
awareness ("keep/lose track")
recorded material
distance between wheels of a vehicle
a racetrack or racecourse
the rails of a railway (UK often: line)
used in railway stations (as with following number) to denote the place where a train arrives at and departs from ("Is that the Chattanooga choo choo, track 29?") (UK: platform)
track and field, athletics, esp. the sports performed on the running track
categorisation of students according to their needs
tradesperson a person who sells goods in a store; a person who travels to customers' homes to sell things or who delivers goods to a customer's home   (n.) a skilled manual worker in a particular field; a journeyman
trainer a padded sport shoe (US similar: sneaker) one who trains  
tramp   homeless person who moves (tramps) from town to town (US also: hobo) loose or promiscuous woman; prostitute *
transit   act or instance of passing
see astronomical transit, navigational transit, transit (surveying)
means of public transportation (q.v.) (esp. of people) ("mass transit", "rapid transit", "public transit") – see transit (transportation)
transport the system or the business of transporting goods or passengers or the vehicles used in such a system ("public transport") * the act of transporting
an emotion ("transports of delight")
 
transportation   the act of transporting
penal transportation
the system or the business of transporting goods or passengers or the vehicles used in such a system *
trapezium a quadrilateral with one pair of parallel sides   a quadrilateral with no parallel sides
trapezoid
(obsolete) a quadrilateral with no parallel sides in anatomy, the trapezoid bone and trapezoid ligament a quadrilateral with one pair of parallel sides *
trick   (n.) an action intended to deceive
an effective way of doing something
(n.) what a prostitute does for a client
(adj.) unstable (of a joint of the body) *
trillion (traditionally) million million million (1018) (US & modern UK: quintillion) million million (1012) (traditional UK: billion, now rare)  
trim (n.)   good condition ("in trim")
clothing, decoration
a finishing haircut
adjustment (as of sails on a vessel or airfoils on an aircraft)
an automobile interior ornamentation or upholstery (orig. US)
woodwork, frameworks etc. in a house
storefront or shopfront display
(slang, somewhat offensive) Female genitalia (usu. as "Get some trim")
triplex   composed of three parts, as a type of cardboard, a cinema, etc. a 3-storey apartment or 3-apartment dwelling (see duplex)
a large steam locomotive with three sets of driving wheels
trolley cart or wheeled stand used for conveying something (as food or books) ("a supermarket trolley"; "a tea trolley") (US: see s.v. cart, wagon)
(off one's trolley) insane
(trolleyed) very drunk
a mechanism that rolls along a suspended rail or track (or trolley car) a streetcar (UK: tram) electrically powered by means of a trolley; hence trolley line, trolley road, and trackless trolley (a trolleybus)
troop to carry (the flag or colors) in a ceremonial way before troops a group of persons, particularly in a military or scouting context. Generally, a group of two or more platoons and headquarters staff. an individual member of the military (neologism)
trooper cavalry horse troopship (obs.)
rank held by a private in the Household Cavalry, Royal Armoured Corps or SAS
  state police officer ("state trooper")
(slang) a heroic person that prevails against the odds or takes on a difficult labor without complaint
truck railway vehicle for carrying goods; can be open ("a coal truck") or covered ("a cattle truck") – cf. s.v. wagon any of various vehicles for carrying esp. things or animals, as a forklift truck or a pickup truck motor vehicle for carrying heavy cargo * (UK usu. lorry); see also garbage truck (UK: dustcart), truck stop (UK: transport cafe)
produce grown for the market; hence truck farm (UK: market garden)
a hand-truck (UK: trolley)
in a railroad car, the undercarriage assembly incorporating wheels, suspension, and brakes (UK: bogie)
(v.) to transport by or drive a truck; to move around carelessly
trunk primary road (trunk road)
(trunk call) long-distance telephone call (dated)
the human torso
the main stem of a tree
large (person-sized) container (also travelling chest)
proboscis, particularly that of an elephant
storage compartment of a car (UK: boot)
(trunk line) a main railway line (as from Chicago to New York City) (UK: main line)
tube (often cap.) the London subterranean railway system ("the London Underground") (very strictly, only the deep lines of the London Underground, not the sub-surface ("cut and cover") lines); (sometimes incorrectly applied to that of other cities, e.g. "the Berlin tube") a cylindrical structure or device television
turnout strike, walkout number of people taking part in an event ("voter turnout")
a railroad switch or point
equipment
output
a place along a highway for slower cars to pull over, in order to let others pass, or for brief parking (UK: layby)
twat someone who is being stupid (offensive; considered vulgar by some)
to hit someone or something hard ("say that again and I'll twat you!"
(pronounced /ˈtwæt/)
vulva (vulgar) (pronounced /ˈtwɑːt/)
twister   something that twists; see also Twister (game) a tornado
tyke someone from Yorkshire (informal, sometimes disparaging) term of endearment for a child, like "little rascal" a young animal

U

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
underground (often cap.) subterranean railway system, esp. the ones in London & Glasgow (US: subway or metro)
subterranean
illicit
a subterranean space or channel
grapevine (in the sense of an informal communication network)
(Underground Railroad or Railway) (before 1863) the network of clandestine routes by which slaves were helped to escape to free states and Canada
us objective case of I (i.e. alternative to "me") (informal), esp. in the North of England ("lend us a tenner") objective case of we ("he saw us")  

V

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
vacation (UK also: vac) period between university terms (n.) time off from work or school
recreational trip away from home
(UK: holiday for both senses) (v.) to take a vacation
valve Vacuum tube, as in pre-1960 electronics a device to control the flow of liquids or gases  
vanity   pride in one's appearance a sink-unit in a bathroom
vest garment, usu. sleeveless, worn under a shirt (US: undershirt)
sleeveless garment worn as an only visible top
  sleeveless garment worn over a shirt (UK: waistcoat) (e.g. Kevlar vest *)
vet   (n) veterinarian
(v) to appraise or verify for accuracy or validity
war veteran or a person who has served honorably in the military
visit (v.)   (trans.) to go and see (a person or place) (intrans.) to pay a visit, stay as a guest, or be engaged in informal conversation ("visiting together", "visit with a friend")

W

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
waffle (v.) to speak to no purpose; ramble A type of pancake with a pattern of square dents in it, made in a waffle iron. (v.) to equivocate, waver, speak evasively
wagon railway vehicle for transporting goods (US: freight car) 4-wheeled orig. animal-drawn vehicle (UK also spelled waggon esp. in the past);
state of abstaining from alcohol (orig. US slang)
a delivery van ("the milk wagon")
small wheeled food service table (UK: trolley); see also paddy wagon (used in the UK, but non PC), station wagon, chuck wagon, wagon train
walk out, walkout (v.) "walk out with", to be romantically involved with (archaic) (v.) to leave a meeting in protest
to strike (orig. US)
to abandon someone, or to drop out ("she walked out on me") (orig. US)
(n.) a kind of strike action (orig. US)
the act of leaving a meeting in protest
(adj.) (of a room in a building) featuring outdoor access; (n.) such an access ("full walkout basement", "walkout to the deck")
(n.) one who goes out of a store or shop without buying anything
warden any of various officials (a "traffic warden")
an official in certain universities
gener., one in charge of something official in charge of a prison * (UK usu. governor)
in compounds: fire warden
wash up to wash the dishes; to clean after eating food, hence washing-up liquid (US dish soap)   to wash one's hands and face; to clean before eating food
watershed (orig. sense, now nontech.) a ridge of hills (which "sheds water") separating two river drainage basins; water parting * (old-fashioned or nontechnical in US; US usu. divide)
the time of day before which programme content of a specified or implied kind may not be screened and after which it is permissible
(fig.) a turning point a drainage basin/water catchment area (shift from orig. sense) *
well really (colloquial, used for emphasis) ("that was well funny") adverb of good
healthy, in good form
pit sunk to obtain water or oil
 
wicked (interjection) used for something very good, astounding or interesting ("Wicked!") (adj.) evil; fierce; roguish; vile (adverb) very (esp. New England) ("Wicked good")
wifebeater, wife-beater (slang) the beer Stella Artois (perh. also related to "A Streetcar Named Desire") (wife beater) one who beats up his wife a sleeveless undershirt (such as that worn by Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire") * (also Scotland)
wing (vehicles) panel of a car that encloses the wheel area (US: fender) apparatus used to create lift in aeronautics
a type of spoiler (on racecars)
the act of carrying out an activity with little or no planning, To wing something, "Let's wing it!" (slang)
 
wingnut (n.) derogatory term for a person with prominent, sticking out, ears (n.) a nut with projections to allow application of greater torque with the fingers
a type of tree
(n.) (mild) a crazy or strange person
Wingnut (politics), an uncomplimentary term for someone of right-wing or conservative views
wink (n.) "winker", slang term for a turn indicator (US: see blinker) (n. & v.) the closing of one eye  
wrangle (v.)   to bicker or quarrel angrily and noisily (esp. West) to herd horses or other livestock; back-formation from wrangler
to achieve through contrivance; to wangle
wreck (n.)   shipwreck
that which remains of something wrecked
someone who is unwell or out of sorts (e.g. "nervous wreck")
a usu. major road, rail, or air accident or collision
wrench   a sudden pull or twist
emotional distress
a tool used for tightening nuts and bolts * (used in UK chiefly in combination, e.g. torque wrench)
something disrupting (often monkey wrench) ("that will throw a monkey wrench into my plans")
(UK usu. spanner for both senses)

X

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
xerox   the Xerox Corporation (n.) A photocopied document *
(v.) To photocopy *

Y

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
yankee, yank (sometimes disparaging, esp. when shortened to yank) someone from the U.S. (n.)a New Englander or patriot from the American Revolution, in the South, someone from the Northern US (often disparaging). A Minnesotan would not consider himself a Yankee or use the word regularly, but would consider someone from Connecticut to be a yankee, a Texan would consider both yankees, but not himself, and would be much more likely to use the word;
a player for the New York Yankees baseball team
yard   a courtyard
an enclosed space used for a particular activity (as a railway service area, a lumberyard or timber yard, a junkyard, etc.)
a unit of length
enclosed area of land surrounding a dwelling, usu. comprising lawn and play area (UK usu.: garden)
(yard sale) see garage sale
a campus (e.g. Harvard Yard)
a place (as in a forest) where deer gather in winter
100 dollars (slang)
a billion (slang, finance)
go yard, to hit a home run

Z

Word British English meanings Meanings common to British and American English American English meanings
z (pronounced /ˈzɛd/) the last letter of the alphabet (pronounced /ˈziː/)
a nap ("to catch some z's")
zero or no ("I have z cash right now.")
zebra (zebra crossing) a type of pedestrian crossing
(pronounced /ˈzɛbrə/) *
an African equine mammal a referee (as in American football) (from their striped uniforms)
(pronounced /ˈziːbrə/)
zip (short for zip fastener) a fastening device (US: zipper) a sharp, hissing sound
impetus
file format for compressed files ("archive.zip")
zero (often in scores, similar to the UK's nil)
(often all cap.) the ZIP Code (from Zone Improvement Plan), the postal code used by the USPS

References

Note: the below are general references on this topic. Individual entries have not yet been audited against the references below and readers looking for verifiable information should consult the works below unless individual entries in the article's table are properly sourced. * * *

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