That large compartment at the front of your car containing the engine (and occasionally a cat) has two different names depending on which side of the Pond you are on. The British word bonnet is simply not used among Americans, who might think it refers to a clothing accessory, (rather like number 2 on this list). Instead, Americans - with apparently equal emphasis on clothing accessories - refer to this as the hood.
Sticking with parts of the car that sound like said accessories, the rear compartment of an automobile is referred to by Brits as the boot - a word that has sparked phrases such as car boot sale. However, and I think this variant is well-known in Britain, the Americans call it the trunk.
3. Car park
So you're looking for somewhere to park downtown on the weekend. It's busy, and all the roadside spaces appear to be taken. You park in the car park, right? Well, not if you're in the United States, where it is almost always referred to as the parking lot.
4. Central reservation
The raised divide that separates two lanes of traffic - sometimes beautified with grass - is known in Britain as the central reservation. In America, it actually has a variety of names, including the following: median, median divider island, neutral ground (New Orleans), median strip, parkway and even esplanade.
5. Give Way
Something that takes a bit of getting used to if you're new to either country is the road signs, with many signs from one country differing markedly from those of the other. It gets even more difficult when you come across those signs whose very names are different. Take the case of the British give way sign. Used to indicate to a driver that he or she should give right of way to a driver on another approach, it is referred to as the yield sign in the US.
Whenever you intend to turn right or left, it's a good idea to let traffic around you know your intentions. This is when you should turn on what the British call the indicator. This causes back and front lights on either your right or left side to start blinking. In the United States, turn signal is the preferred term.
While the two nations may differ on their application of a transit rail system, I think we can all agree that both Britain and the United States do offer high-speed road travel. In Britain, a multi-lane controlled-access road is known as a motorway, a word that never caught on in the United States. Americans label this type of road highway, while the terms interstate, freeway and parkway (note: in this case "parkway" is different from the usage in number 4 on this list) refer to a specific type of highway.
When driving, of course, one always has to be aware of pedestrians. Thankfully, this is why we have a place at the side of the road for walkers such as myself to, well, walk. In Britain, this designated area is known as the pavement. Perhaps more appropriately, however, the Americans refer to it as a sidewalk for the very reason stated two sentences ago.
This one bears a subtle difference, but is still worthy of mention. The main glass pane in front of the driver and the passenger is known to British drivers as the windscreen, while the Americans switch out "screen" for "shield" to form windshield.
10. Traffic Lights
Not only do these traffic flow devices look different on either side of the Pond, they are sometimes named differently. In Britain, said device - typically attached to a vertical pole - is known as a traffic light, while in the US - usually adjoined to a horizontal overhanging beam - it is known (in addition to traffic light) as a stop light or, less formally, the light.
What are some other driving terms you've encountered in Britain that are not used in the US? Let us know in the comments box below.
Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor for BBC America and writes a weekly column for Anglotopia. Having graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in English Language and Creative Writing, Laurence runs this blog, Lost In The Pond, charting the endless cultural and linguistic differences between Britain and The United States.
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