David Appleyard's English Language User Guides and References
Index of Briticisms
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AmericanBritish BritishAmerican
back to front (as in 'he wore his cap back to front') backwards
backbencher non-senior MP (Member of Parliament)
backchat [colloq.] cheeky or impudent replies to someone
backcomb make hair seem thicker by combing toward top of head
backhander [colloq.] kickback, bribe, sweetener
bad patch [colloq.] rough time
bag (v.) [colloq.] grab or get something ahead of anyone else
bag [slang] unpleasant or unattractive woman
bags [colloq.] pants
bags [colloq.]  (as in 'Bob's got bags of money') a large amount
bail (as in 'she was released on £10,000 bail') bond (as in 'he was released on [a] $10,000 bond')
baking tray cookie sheet, baking sheet
balaclava (helmet) wool cap for head, most of face and neck
balcony (seats in a theatre) mezzanine
balls [slang] (nonsense) bullshit, crap [both slang]
ball something up [slang] bungle, make a mess of something
banger  [colloq.] sausage;
old car in poor condition
bank cashier bank teller
bank holiday legal holiday, public holiday
banknote bill
bap soft, flattish bread roll; hamburger bun
bargee person in charge of or working on a barge
barmy [colloq.] nutty [colloq.], crazy, irrational
barney [colloq.] noisy argument
barrack a spectator's noisy shouting or jeering
barrister  an attorney granted the right to plead before the bar in higher courts
bash (as in: 'I once had a bash at bungee jumping') go, attempt, try
bath bathtub
bath chair type of old-fashioned hooded wheelchair
Bath Oliver kind of savory cracker eaten with cheese
bathroom cabinet medicine chest, medicine cabinet
battle bus (for an election candidate) campaign bus
be at a loose end have nothing to do
be sick (vomit) throw up
beach hut cabana
beak [slang] magistrate; school principal
beano, beanfeast [colloq.] a party or celebration, or an outing for that purpose
bed and board (at hotel, etc.) room and board, American plan
bedside table night table, nightstand
bedsit, bedsitter, bedsitting room studio apartment
beefburger hamburger
beetle [colloq.] (as in 'he beetled off home at 4 o'clock') scurry away or go somewhere quickly, like a beetle
beetroot beet
bell push electric doorbell button
Belt up! [colloq.]   (meaning 'Be quiet!') Shut up! [colloq.]
bender [colloq.] pub crawl
bender [slang] (homosexual man) fag, faggot [slang]  
berk [from rhyming slang 'Berkshire hunt' for cunt] jerk [slang], foolish or awkward person
bespoke (made to order or measure) custom made
bickie [colloq. for 'biscuit'] cookie
big dipper roller coaster
big wheel Ferris wheel
bill (e.g. in a restaurant) check, tab [colloq.] (as in 'pick up the tab')
billiards English billiards
billy, billycan light metal camp cooking pot
bingo beano [colloq.] (esp. bingo using beans as markers)
bird [slang] chick (girl), broad or dame (woman) [all slang]
Biro™ ballpoint (pen)
biscuit cookie (if sweet);
cracker (unsweetened)
bit of all right, a [slang] a pleasing thing or an attractive person (usually female)
bit of crumpet/skirt/stuff, a [all slang] a sexually desirable female
bit on the side, a [slang] infidelity
bits and bobs [colloq.] odds and ends
bitter (as in 'a pint of bitter') a dark, bitter-tasting beer with a strong taste of hops
black economy underground economy
black tie [colloq.] (as in 'the dinner was a black tie event') formal evening dress
black treacle molasses
blackboard chalkboard
blackleg (one who continues working during a strike) scab
blag [colloq.] (as in 'the uninvited guest tried to
                                blag his way into the party')
wheedle or sweet-talk someone into doing or giving you something
blanket bath  (body wash given to a bedridden person) sponge bath
bleeper [colloq.] (pager) beeper [colloq.]
blighter [colloq.] an annoying or disliked man or boy
Blimey! [slang, corruption of 'God blind me!'] Good grief! Good God!
blind (especially the roller type) window shade
blinder [colloq.] (as in 'Roger Federer played
                                    a blinder in the final')
ace sporting performance
blinkers (horse equipment) blinders
block of flats apartment building, apartment house
bloke [colloq.] guy, dude [both colloq.], fellow
bloody [slang] damned, darned [colloq.], mighty
bloody-minded [slang] unreasonably hell-bent on opposing the wishes of others
blooming [colloq.]  (as in 'It's blooming cold today!'
                                or 'It's another blooming Christmas!')
darned, blasted, blessed [colloq.]
blow the gaff [slang] blow the whistle [colloq.], give the game away
blower, the [slang] (telephone) horn, the [slang]
blub [colloq.]  (weep loudly) blubber
board and lodging (at hotel, etc.) room and board, American plan
boarder (boarding school pupil) resident
Bob's your uncle! [colloq.] Et voilà! That's all it takes! It's as easy as that!
bobby [colloq.] male police officer
bobsleigh bobsled; bobsledding
bodge, bodge up (mess up something by doing it badly) botch, botch up
bodice-ripper  [humorous] historical romance novel with plenty of sex
boffin scientific expert who is fanatic about his subject
bog [slang]  (lavatory) john [slang]
bog-roll [slang] toilet roll
bog-standard [colloq.] no-frills, basic, rudimentary
boiler suit coveralls
bollard metal, concrete or plastic pillar or post in the middle of a road to delimit traffic
bollocks [slang]  (testicles)
Bollocks!  (used as an expletive or meaning nonsense)
balls [slang] (testicles)
Damn it!  Bullshit! [slang]
bomb [slang]  (as in: 'It's going like a bomb!'
                        or 'He's making a bomb!')   
a resounding success;
a lot of money
bonk [slang] (copulate) ball, hump, screw [all slang]
bonkers crazy
bonnet (of a car) hood
boob tube [colloq.] (woman's tight, low-cut, strapless top) tube top
book (v.) make a reservation
book in check in at a hotel, etc.
book up buy tickets, vacation, etc. in advance
booking reservation
booking clerk ticket sales clerk
booking hall area in a larger train station where tickets are sold
booking office ticket office
boot, the  [colloq.]  (as in 'he was given the boot') dismissal from employment
boot (of a car) trunk
boozer [slang]  (a public house or pub) bar
bottom drawer (clothes, linen, etc. which a young woman
traditionally collects for use after she is married)
hope chest
bounder [jocular colloq.] an ill-bred, disreputable, unprincipled person
bovver [slang]  (threatening or violent behavior) hooliganism
bovver boots [slang] heavy boots suitable for kicking someone in a fight
bovver boy [slang] youth looking to stir up trouble or start a fight
bowler, bowler hat derby
bowls lawn bowling
box, the [colloq.] (as in 'I saw it on the box')   the tube, the boob tube [both slang], TV
box spanner box wrench
Boxing Day December 26 (a legal holiday in Great Britain)
boxroom small room or large closet for storing disused or bulky items
bracelets [slang] handcuffs
braces  (shoulder straps to hold up men's trousers) suspenders
brackets (this text is in round brackets) parentheses
brainwave (sudden clever idea) brainstorm
brass [slang]  (money) dough, bread [both slang]
brassed off [colloq.] pissed [slang], annoyed; bored, fed up
brawn (cooked and pressed meat from a pig's head) headcheese
bread bin bread box
break up (from school) end the school semester
breakdown truck, breakdown van tow truck
breeches (trousers ending just below the knee) britches
breeze (insect) gadfly
breeze block cinder block
brick [colloq.] (decent and reliable person) good egg [colloq.]
brickie [colloq.] bricklayer
bridge roll hotdog bun
bridging loan (a kind of short-term bank loan) bridge loan
brigadier (British Army & Royal Marines) brigadier general (U.S. Army & U.S. Marine Corps)
bright spark [colloq.]
       (as in 'some bright spark left a ladder in the prison')
refers to someone who comes across as annoyingly intelligent or, if used sarcastically, quite the opposite
bristols [slang] (female breasts) hooters, jugs [both slang], boobs [colloq.]
broad bean fava bean
broadsheet (cf. tabloid) regular, full-size newspaper
brock badger
brolly [colloq.] umbrella
brooch pin
brown off (as in 'Her tardiness really browns me off') cause someone to lose interest or become annoyed
B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) BS  (Caution: BS also stands for 'bullshit' in the U.S.)
bubble and squeak cabbage and potato leftovers mixed and fried, sometimes with meat added
bucket pail, bucket
budgerigar (or budgie) parakeet
bugger [slang]  (an awkward person or thing) jerk [slang]
bugger about or around [slang] fool or mess around
bugger about or around with someone [slang] deliberately mislead someone
bugger all [slang]   nothing at all
Bugger off! [slang]   (Go away!) Beat it! Get lost!
building society housing loan company/corporation
bum [colloq.] (posterior) fanny, butt, buns [all slang]
bumbag fanny pack
bumf, bumph [colloq.] unwanted or uninteresting printed information
bung [n.]  [colloq.]  (closing device) stopper, plug
bung [n.]  [slang] bribe
bung [v.] [slang] (as in: 'Just bung the letter in the box.') to throw or toss
bungalow ranch house
bunk off, do a bunk [slang] play hooky [colloq.], abscond  
bunk up with [slang] shack up with [slang], sleep or cohabit with a lover
bunk-up [colloq.] (as in: 'Give me bunk-up so I can see
                             what's on the other side of this wall.')
physical support provided to someone seeking to climb up or over a high wall or similar
bureau  (furniture) a writing-desk with a lift-down flap and drawers
burk [from rhyming slang 'Bershire hunt' for cunt ] jerk [slang], foolish or awkward person
business year fiscal year
butcher's [rhyming slang 'butcher's hook' for look ]
    (So to have a quick butcher's is to have a quick look!)
look, peep
butter bean (large, flat, creamy, yellow bean) lima bean
butter muslin cheesecloth

 

Index of Briticisms
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z   |   American-British