9 times Americans got a great urge to simplify British words 


Like most Europeans, I grew up speaking American English, although in school we were taught British English. Given that we were introduced to American media from a very young age, it was only normal to become exposed to the acquisition of the American version which eventually became the English version I stuck with to this day.

It was not until I started studying English at university (where I studied most versions of the English language) did I realize the insanely amusing difference in vocabulary between these two varieties of the same language. It turns out that Americans have the tendency to simplify as many words as possible. On the left, you’ll find the British words, while on the right their American equivalents.  

Pharmacy = Drug store  

The word pharmacy is pretty much self-explanatory, you would think. Well, not enough for Americans. I refuse to believe that there is another language besides American English in which a pharmacy is called a drug store. Why wouldn’t they just stick with the first choice?  

Bin = Trash can  

A bin doesn’t seem to clearly show what is used for doesn’t it? As long as I am concerned it can stand for anything. But you can’t go wrong with a trash can. It obviously serves as an item where you put your trash.  

Pavement = Sidewalk  

Americans decided to give the British pavement a different meaning by referring to a surface covered in asphalt (like a road). To avoid creating homonyms, they decided to form a simpler word that would allude to a path made for pedestrians. Since it is located at the side of the road, they called it a sidewalk.  

Autumn = Fall  

It is only logical to call the season during which leaves are falling and decaying fall. Why on earth would Brits call it autumn? They live for complicated words.  

Mackintosh = raincoat  

You can say that the British show a sense of appreciation for this garment by naming it after its inventor, Charles Macintosh. With time, the spelling with an additional k became standard. For the Americans, it seems that It was a little bit too complicated to remember or maybe they thought the name defeated the purpose of the piece of clothing, so they chose simplicity and went with a raincoat.  

Rubber = Eraser  

Do you know the little thingy placed on top of your pencil? The Brits have named it a rubber. However, if you’ll use it for erasing, you might as well call it an eraser, an American would think. The second reason for using the word eraser would be the slang meaning of rubber in American English which refers to a condom.  

Queue = Line  

It took me a while to learn how to pronounce queue and when I found out what it meant, it didn’t help a bit in remembering either its meaning or pronunciation. When you see people in front of a store, for example, waiting one behind another, what you are looking at is obviously a line.  

Reception = Front desk  

When you enter a hotel, for instance, in the States you check-in at the front desk (since it is literally a desk in front of the entrance), while in the UK you report your arrival at the reception 

Jumper = Sweater  

If an item of clothing keeps you warm during winter times and, most importantly, makes you sweat profoundly, you call it a sweater. There is no need for fancy British words such as a jumper 


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