British vs American vs Singapore English

There are many British words which are different to American words. For example:

  • A lorry is a slimmer truck.
  • A lift is an elevator.
  • A fortnight is two weeks.
  • A chemist is a person who works in a drugstore.
  • A dual carriageway is a freeway.

Here’s a list of various British words and expressions together with their American and Singaporean equivalents. Although Singapore English is based on British spelling, there is a mix of British and American usage for common words. I’ve also included a few Singlish words/phrases for a bit of fun.

I would really like your thoughts and input to help with this list. Please comment below.

British English
American English
Singapore English
accommodationaccommodationsaccommodation
action replayinstant replayreplay
aerofoilairfoilaerofoil
aeroplaneairplaneaeroplane
agony auntadvice columnistaunt agony
Allen keyAllen wrenchallen key
aluminiumaluminumaluminium
aniseedaniseanise
anticlockwisecounterclockwiseanticlockwise
articulated lorrytractor-trailertrailer
aubergineeggplantbrinjal / eggplant
autumnfallautumn
baking traycookie sheetbaking tray
bank holidaylegal holidaypublic holiday
beetrootbeet(s)beetroot
billcheckbill
biscuitcookie; crackerbiscuit
black economyunderground economyblack market
blanket bathsponge bathsponge bath
blind(window) shadeblind
block of flatsapartment buildingHDB
boiler suitcoverallscoveralls
bonnet (of a car)hoodbonnet
boob tubetube toptube top
boot (of a car)trunkboot
bottom drawerhope chestbottom drawer
bowlslawn bowling
bracessuspenderssuspenders
brawn (the food)headcheese
breakdown vantow trucktow truck
breeze blockcinder blockconcrete block
bridging loanbridge loanbridging loan
bumbagfanny packwaist pouch
candyflosscotton candycandyfloss / cotton candy
car parkparking lotcar park
casualtyemergency roomemergency room (A&E)
catapultslingshotcatapult
central reservationmedian striproad divider
chemistdrugstorepharmacy
chipsFrench friesfries
cinemamovie theater; the moviescinema
cling filmplastic wrapcling wrap
common sealharbor sealseal
consumer durablesdurable goodselectricals
cookerstovestove
cornflourcornstarchcornflour
cos (lettuce)Romainelettuce / Romaine
cotcribcot
cot deathcrib deathcot death
cotton budcotton swabcotton bud
cotton woolabsorbent cottoncotton wool
council estate(housing) projectHDB estate
courgettezucchinizucchini
court cardface card‘ah beh’
crash barrierguardraildivider
crispschips; potato chipspotato chips
crocodile clipalligator clipcrocodile clip
cross-plybias-plycross-ply
crotchet (music)quarter notecrotchet
curtainsdrapescurtains
current accountchecking accountcurrent account
danger moneyhazard payextra pay
demister (in a car)defrosterdemister
dialling tonedial tonedialling tone
diamanterhinestonediamante
double creamheavy creamdouble cream
draughts (game)checkerscheckers / lum
drawing pinthumbtackthumbtack
dressing gownrobe; bathroberobe / bathrobe
drink-drivingdrunk drivingdrink-driving
drinks cupboardliquor cabinetwine cabinet
drinks partycocktail partycocktail party
driving licencedriver’s licensedriver’s licence
dual carriagewaydivided highwaydual carriageway
dummy (for a baby)pacifierpacifier
dust sheetdrop clothcanvas
dustbingarbage candustbin
earth (electrical)groundearth
engaged (of a phone)busyengaged
estate agentreal estate agent, realtor (trademark)real estate agent
estate carstation wagonstation wagon
ex-directoryunlistedunlisted
faith schoolparochial schoolmission school
financial yearfiscal yearfinancial
fire brigade/servicefire company/departmentcivil defence
first floorsecond floorsecond floor
fish fingerfish stickfish finger
fitted carpetwall-to-wall carpetingwall-to-wall carpeting
flannelwashclothtowel / rag
flatapartmentHDB apartment
flexitimeflextimeflexitime
flick knifeswitchbladeswitchblade
flyoveroverpassflyover
footballsoccerfootball / soccer
footwaysidewalksidewalk
fringe (hair)bangsfringe
full board (in hotels)American planfull board
full stop (punctuation)periodfull stop
gardenyard; lawngarden
gearing (finance)leverageleverage
gear levergearshiftgear
goods trainfreight traintrain
greaseproof paperwax paper/waxed paperwax paper
green fingersgreen thumbgreen fingers
grill (noun)broilergrill
grill (verb)broilgrill
ground floorfirst floorfirst floor
groundsmangroundskeepergardener
hairslidebarrettehair clip
hatstandhatrackhatstand
hen nightbachelorette partyhen night
hire purchaseinstallment planhire purchase / installment plan
hoardingbillboardhoarding
hobstovetophob / stove
holdallcarryallcarryall
holidayvacationholiday
holidaymakervacationertourist
homelyhomeyhomely
hosepipe(garden) hosehose
in hospitalin the hospitalin hospital
hot flushhot flashhot flush
housing estatehousing developmentHDB estate
hundreds and thousandssprinkles (for ice cream)rainbow topping
ice lollyPopsicle (trademark)ice cream
icing sugarconfectioners’ sugaricing sugar
indicator (on a car)turn signalindicator
inside leginseaminseam
jelly babiesjelly beansjelly beans
Joe BloggsJoe BlowTom, Dick or Harry
Joe PublicJohn Q. PublicMr Tan
jumble salerummage saleflea market
jump leadjumper cablestarter cable
jumpersweatersweater
junior schoolelementary schoolprimary school
kenneldoghousedoghouse
ladybirdladybugladybird
a lettucea head of lettucea lettuce
level crossinggrade crossingtrain crossing
liftelevatorlift
lollyPopsicle (trademark)lollipop
lollipop lady (or man)crossing guardroad marshal
loo (toilet)johntoilet
loose coverslipcoversofa cover
lorrytrucklorry
loudhailerbullhornloudhailer / megaphone
low loaderflatbed truckflatbed truck
lucky dipgrab baglucky dip
luggage vanbaggage carminivan
maizecorncorn
mangetoutsnow peasnow pea
market gardentruck farm
marshalling yardrailroad yard
mathsmathmaths
metalled roadpaved roadpaved road
milometerodometerodometer
minim (music)half noteminim
mobile phonecell phonehand phone
monkey tricksmonkeyshinesmonkey tricks
motorwayexpressway; highwayexpressway
mum/mummymom/mommymum / mummy
nappydiaperdiaper
needlecordpinwalepunwale
newsreadernewscasternewscaster
noughts and crossestic-tac-toetic-tac-toe
number platelicense platelicence plate
off-licenceliquor store; package storewine shop
opencast miningopen-pit miningopen-pit mining
ordinary sharecommon stockordinary share
oven gloveoven mittoven glove / mitt
paddling poolwading poolwading pool
paracetamolacetaminophenparacetamol
parting (in hair)partparting
patiencesolitairesolitaire
pavementsidewalkpavement
pay packetpay envelopepay
pedestrian crossingcrosswalkpedestrian crossing
pegclothespinclothes peg
pelmetvalancepelmet / valance
petrolgas; gasolinepetrol
physiotherapyphysical therapyphysiotherapy
pinafore dressjumperpinafore dress
plain chocolatedark chocolatedark chocolate
plain flourall-purpose flourplain flour
polo neckturtleneckpolo neck / turtleneck
positive discriminationreverse discriminationdiscrimination
postal voteabsentee ballotabsentee vote
postboxmailboxpostbox / mailbox
postcodezip codepostal code
potato crisppotato chippotato chip
power pointelectrical outletpower point
prambaby carriage; strollerpram / stroller
press studsnapsnap
press-uppushuppushup
private soldierGIprivate soldier
public schoolprivate schoolindependent school
public transportpublic transportationpublic transport
punchbagpunching bagpunching bag
pushchairstrollerpram / stroller
pylonutility polepower grid
quantity surveyorestimatorquantity surveyor
quaver (music)eighth notequaver
queuelinequeue
racing carrace carrace car
railwayrailroadrailway
real tenniscourt tennistennis
recorded deliverycertified mailregistered mail
registration platelicense platelicense plate
remould (tyre)retreadretread
reverse the chargescall collectcall collect
reversing lightsback-up lightsreversing lights
right-angled triangleright triangleright-angle triangle
ring roadbeltwayring road
room onlyEuropean planroom only
roundabout (at a fair)carouselroundabout
roundabout (in road)traffic circleroundabout
rowing boatrowboatrowing boat
rubbereraserrubber / eraser
sailing boatsailboatsailing boat
saloon (car)sedansaloon
sandpitsandboxsandpit
sandwich cakelayer cakelayer cake
sanitary towelsanitary napkinsanitary napkin
self-raising flourself-rising flourself-raising flour
sellotapescotch tapescotch tape
semibreve (music)whole notesemibreve
semitone (music)half stepsemitone
share optionstock optionshare option
shopping trolleyshopping cartshopping trolley
show house/homemodel homeshowflat
silencer (on a car)mufflermuffler
silversiderump roastrump roast
skeleton in the cupboardskeleton in the closetskeleton in then closet
skimmed milkskim milkskim milk
skipping ropejump ropeskipping rope
skirting boardbaseboardskirting
sledgesledsled
sleeperrailroad tiesleeper
sleeping partnersilent partnersleeping partner
slowcoachslowpokeslowcoach / chia bo yiu
snakes and ladderschutes and ladderssnakes and ladders
solicitorlawyerlawyer
soya/soya beansoy/soybeansoya bean
splashbackbacksplashbacksplash
spring oniongreen onionspring onion
stag nightbachelor partybachelor party
Stanley knifeutility knifeutility knife
starterappetizerstarter / appetizer
state schoolpublic schoolgovernment school
storm in a teacuptempest in a teapotstorm in a teacup
surtitlesupertitlesurtitle
swederutabagaturnip
sweet(s)candysweet
takeaway (food)takeout; to godabao
tapfaucettap
taxicabtaxi / cab
taxi ranktaxi standtaxi stand
tea toweldish toweldish cloth
terrace houserow houseterrace house
tickcheck marktick
ticket toutscalperscalper
tightspantyhosestockings
timberlumbertimber
titbittidbittidbit
toffee applecandy applecandy apple
torchflashlighttorch / flashlight
touch woodknock on woodtouch wood
trade unionlabor uniontrade union
trading estateindustrial parkindustrial park
trainerssneakerssports shoes
tramstreetcar; cable cartram
transport cafetruck stop
trolleyshopping carttrolley
trouserspantspants
twelve-boretwelve-gaugegun
unalikeunlikeunlike
undergroundsubwayMRT
vacuum flaskthermos bottlethermos flask
verge (of a road)shouldershoulder
vestundershirtsinglet
veterinary surgeonveterinarianvet
wagon (on a train)carcar
waistcoatvestvest
walking framewalkerwalking frame
wardrobeclosetwardrobe / cupboard
water iceItalian iceslurpee
weatherboardclapboard
white coffeecoffee with creamwhite coffee / Kopi
white spiritmineral spiritsturpentine
wholemeal breadwholewheat breadwholemeal bread
windcheaterwindbreakerwindbraker
windscreenwindshieldwindscreen
wing (of a car)fenderfender
worktopcountertopcountertop
Yale lockcylinder locklock
zebra crossingcrosswalkzebra crossing
zed (letter Z)zeezed / zee
zipzipperzip

List taken from Oxford Dictionary Online (excluding Singapore part).
Thanks to: Abel Teo, Mandy Lim, Ellen Tan, Honey Lim and Kevin Beitler for all your contributions. Extra credit to Abel for his comprehensive spreadsheet of terms 🙂

 

English2

More comparisons between British and American English

2 Comments