English Vocabulary: “British and American English”

While there are certainly many more varieties of English, American and British English are the two varieties that are taught in most ESL/EFL programs. Generally, it is agreed that no one version is “correct”.

 When using vocabulary from either one it is fine to interchange them, however this could be confusing for some as the list of vocabulary differences is quite extensive in each. In ABA you will have units in both American and British English, so you will learn how both sound.

As for the accent, simply learn the language first and as you progress you can start to find a way of speaking that suits you best and that you feel comfortable with.

Below we shall look at two common rules in the spelling in British and American English.

Spelling Rules

Words ending in -or (American) -our (British): color, colour, humor, humour, flavor, flavour etc.
Words ending in -ize (American) -ise (British): recognize, recognise, patronize, patronise etc.

The best way to make sure that you are being consistent in your spelling is to use the spell check on your word processor (if you are using the computer of course) and choose which variety of English you would like. As you can see, there are really very few differences between standard British English and standard American English. However, the largest difference is probably that of the choice of vocabulary and pronunciation.


As mentioned above there is a lot of vocabulary which is different in American and British English. We shall look at a list of a 130 words here that should make it easy for you to remember as they are the most common words in each. The best way to memorise them is through checking the meaning whilst reading or listening closely or whilst watching something in British or American English and referring to a dictionary if you are unsure. Don’t be scared to learn more or the differences in each as they are equally important, and by just knowing one you are limiting your knowledge of vocabulary in either British or American English.

They are placed with the American vocabulary first and then the British way of the same word.

  1. A slice of Bacon = Rasher
  2. Apartment = Flat
  3. Appetizer = Starter
  4. Apron = Pinny
  5. Argument = Row
  6. Baby carriage = Pram
  7. Back-up Lights (Car) = Reversing Lights (Car)
  8. Backyard = Garden
  9. Baked Potato = Jacket Potato
  10. Band-aid = Plaster
  11. Baseball = Rounders
  12. Bath Robe = Dressing Gown
  13. Bathing Suit = Swimming Costume
  14. Bathroom = Toilet
  15. Bathroom = Loo
  16. Bathroom = WC
  17. Biscuit =Scone
  18. Boy = Lad
  19. Broil = Grill
  20. Can = Tin
  21. Candy = Sweets
  22. Check = Bill (at Restaurant)
  23. Chips = Crisps
  24. Chopped beef = Mince
  25. Closet = Wardrobe
  26. Come over = Come around
  27. Cookie (Large Biscuit) = Biscuit / Bickie
  28. Corn = Maize
  29. Crazy Person = Nutter
  30. Cross Walk = Zebra Crossing
  31. Cross Walk = Pedestrian Crossing
  32. Crossing Guard = Lollipop Man or Lady
  33. Cup Cake = Fairy Cake
  34. Dessert = Puddings
  35. Dessert = Afters
  36. Dessert = Sweets
  37. Detour = Diversion
  38. Diaper = Nappy
  39. Doctor’s Office = Surgery
  40. Dumpster = Skip
  41. Duplex = Semi-Detached House
  42. Eggplant = Aubergine
  43. Elevator = Lift
  44. Eraser = Rubber
  45. Fall = Autumn
  46. Faucet = Tap
  47. Fill the Tub = Run the Bath
  48. Fire truck = Fire Engine
  49. Flapjacks = Scotch Pancakes
  50. Flashlight = Torch
  51. Fooling Around = Mucking Around
  52. Freeway = Motorway
  53. French Fries = Chips
  54. French Toast = Eggy Bread (Fried)
  55. Friend = Mate
  56. Fries = Chips
  57. Gas = Petrol
  58. Gas Station = Petrol Station
  59. Gasoline = Petrol
  60. Girl = Lass
  61. Go ahead = Off you go
  62. Grading Scheme = Marking Scheme
  63. Green Beans = Runner Beans
  64. Gum = Glue
  65. Guy = Bloke
  66. Highway = Motorway
  67. Hood (Car) = Bonnet (Car)
  68. Hot Lunch = School Dinner
  69. Jello = Jelly
  70. Jelly = Jam
  71. Kerosene = Paraffin
  72. Lawyer = Solicitor
  73. License plate = Number plate
  74. Line = Queue
  75. Mail = Post
  76. Mailman = Postman
  77. Man = Bloke
  78. Math = Maths
  79. Mom = Mum / Mummy
  80. Motor home = Caravan
  81. Movie Theatre = Cinema
  82. Napkin = Serviette
  83. National Holiday= Bank Holiday
  84. Off Task = Mucking Around
  85. Open House = Open Day
  86. Overpass = Flyover
  87. Pacifier = Dummy
  88. Paddle (ping pong) = Bat (Table Tennis)
  89. Pants = Trousers
  90. Parking Lot = Car Park
  91. Period = Full stop
  92. Pharmacist = Chemist
  93. Policeman = Copper
  94. Popsicle = Ice Lolly
  95. Potato chips = Crisps
  96. Private School = Public School
  97. Public School =StateSchool
  98. Radio = Wireless
  99. Rain Coat = Mac
  100. Range = Cooker
  101. Recess = Break Time
  102. Rent = Hire
  103. Road Trip = Car Journey /Car Drive
  104. Robe = Dressing Gown
  105. Sandwich= Butty
  106. Sausage = Banger
  107. Sidewalk = Pavement
  108. Sink =HandBasin/WashBasin
  109. Sleep = Kip
  110. Sneakers = Trainers
  111. Soccer = Football
  112. Sofa = Couch
  113. Steal = Nick
  114. Stove = Cooker
  115. Sweater = Pullover /Jersey
  116. Tail Pipe = Exhaust Pipe
  117. Take Out = Take Away
  118. Teachers Lounge = Staff Room
  119. Telephone Booth = Phone Box
  120. Teller = Cashier
  121. Thumbtacks = Drawing pins
  122. Town House = Terrace (Row of Houses)
  123. Traffic Jam = Tailback
  124. Trash Can = Dust Bin
  125. Truck = Lorry
  126. Trunk (Car) = Boot (Car)
  127. Turtle Neck = Polo Neck
  128. Undershirt = Vest
  129. Panties = Knickers
  130. Vacation = Holiday
So, which English do you find easier?

About the author  ⁄ Kate

I have been teaching English for 9 years. I currently work for ABA English but I also teach English in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I love vegan cooking, my pets and everything to do with social media!

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