Note: Troy and I recommend only products that we have tried and tested. These include the popular vocabulary-improvement software Ultimate Vocabulary.*
As Bill Bryson said:
- "It is certainly true to say that America in general preserved many dozens of words that would otherwise almost certainly have been lost to English. The best noted, perhaps, is gotten, which to most Britons is the quaintest of Americanisms."
Gotten, fall (autumn), trash (rubbish), hog (pig), mad (angry), and deck of cards (pack of cards) are just a few examples of this.
Settlers in the New World also had vastly different experiences from their cousins back in Britain. They interacted with new cultures, the Native Americans, the French, early Spanish settlers, the Dutch, and more. Buffalo, fiesta, coyote, rodeo, and canyon are just a few of the words adopted into American English from the Spanish settlers.
The Americans had new horizons, new adventures, and these all engendered new words to describe them, with words such as mesa, butte, hornswaggle, rambunctious, and kick the bucket. They were the masters of compound words, too, putting two English words together to make a new one: bullfrog, eggplant, grasshopper, catfish ...
Many American words have travelled back to England, changing their vocabulary, sometimes without notice. The Americanism jail is now used widely instead of gaol, and blizzard, baby-sitter, commuter, currency (money), department store, fudge, hangover, hindsight, lengthy, radio, soggy, teenager, typewriter, to make good, publicity, stunt, raincoat, and to stay put are just a very few of such new American words that are widely used in Britain.
Over the years the vocabularies between the two countries have developed quite differently, with thousands of differences. It can be important to know that a vest in England is an undershirt in America, and a vest in America is a waistcoat in England! Or — more importantly in terms of safety — that the pavement is the road in America, and a sidewalk next to the road in England!
Here is a list of some of the major ones to help in your writing and speaking, no matter which side of the pond you're on!
|cell phone||mobile phone|
|dish cloth||tea towel|
|fish sticks||fish fingers|
|for rent||to let|
|parking lot||car park|
|right away||straight away|
|round trip||return trip|
|station wagon||estate car|
There are many many more differences, of course. You can get some help learning these words with the popular program Ultimate Vocabulary, which can be set up to work in American or British English.
*Troy and I have agreed to receive a commission from some sales of the Ultimate Vocabulary software because we are happy to endorse that software.
Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue (1990)