Finding America

Me and Tarah

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As someone who has experienced both British English and American English on a wide scale, I have heard plenty of my fellow Brits lambast Americans for using "made-up words," when "more British" alternatives would apparently suffice. What virtually all of these people do not know is that a lot of these words were in fact coined by the British themselves. Here are 8 such words.

1. Aluminum
This spelling was coined in 1812 by British chemist Sir Humphrey Davy in his book Elements of Chemical Philosophy.

2. Cleats
From Middle English, meaning "the wedge inside a shoe."

3. Cooties
Dates back to the First World War. Coined in 1917 by British servicemen in relation to bugs caught in the trenches.

4. Garbage
From late middle English, meaning the "the offal of a fowl, giblets, kitchen waste"

5. Ladybug
An alternate of ladybird, the British replaced bug with bird because of the former's similarity to bugger.

6. Period
From late 16th century English, meaning "full pause at the end of a sentence."

7. Skim milk
Coined by none other than William Shakespeare in Henry IV, Part I, Act II, Scene iii. In later versions of the script, the phrase became skim'd milk, which is closer to the British phrase skimmed milk.

8. Soccer
From the 19th century. Coined by Oxford Univeristy students. An '-er' word that is derived from association football.

This article was written by Laurence Brown. Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana, and has written for BBC America and Anglotopia. He is Editor-in-chief of Lost in the Pond and loves nothing more than to share these articles with anglophiles, expats, and other interested parties on social media. Follow Lost in the Pond on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.


  1. Ooh I knew the soccer one! The other ones are new, thank you.

  2. If you want to learn American English, you must be able to observe the right accent and try speaking in a similar manner. Secondly, it would be necessary to see the difference in spelling of British and American English.

  3. I didn't know any of them! I thought 'cleats' referred to two-tone shoes, where a darker colour was overlaid on a lighter or white one! Didn't know it was a wedge inside the shoe.


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