Friday, November 20, 2015

39 American Words Not Widely Used In the UK that Start with 'S'

Continuing an alphabetised list of words and phrases common to the U.S. that are not widely used in the UK, here are 39 such words beginning with the letter 'S'.

1. Saran wrap
(Saran is a trademark) plastic wrap. Increasingly genericized without regard to brand. UK equivalent: cling film.

2. Sawbuck
Sawhorse; also a ten dollar bill (so named because some designs incorporated the Roman number ten, or "X", which resembles a sawhorse).

3. Scads
Great amounts of something.

4. Scallion
Also used in Ireland; UK equivalent: spring onion.

5. Scalper.
Ticket tout.

6.Scotch Tape
(Trademark) sticky tape. UK equivalent: Sellotape.

7. Scuttlebutt
Gossip, rumor; originally meant water fountain. UK equivalent: rumour.

8. Sedan automobile
UK equivalent: saloon.

9. Self-rising flour
UK equivalent: Self-raising flour.

10. Shill
A person pretending to be a member of the general public to lend credibility or excitement to a confidence scheme; e.g., a person who claims to have received benefit from snake oil. Recently popularized in the UK by eBay ("shill bidding" or bidding to drum up excitement with no intention of buying). The UK equivalent to a shill would be a "plant", from having someone "planted" in an audience or amongst bystanders. The term "plant" is equally used and understood in the United States.

11. Shredded cheese
Grated cheese.

12. Shuck
The husk of an ear of corn (maize), an oyster shell, etc.; used in plural to mean something worthless or as an interjection ("shucks!"); (verb) to remove the shuck; also, to discard, get rid of, remove ("I shucked my coat")

13. Shyster
A lawyer or accountant of dubious ethical standards. This phrase commonly indicates a person with no ethical restraints. (From German Scheister)

14. Sidewalk
Usually paved path for pedestrian traffic, often constructed of concrete or less usually of stone UK equivalent: pavement.

15. Sidewalk superintendent
Someone spectating a construction or demolition job. UK equivalent: bystander.

16. Skim milk
UK equivalent: skimmed milk.

17. Skosh
A little bit.

18. S'more
(Usually pl.) A camp fire treat consisting of a roasted marshmallow and a slab of chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of Graham cracker. Contraction from "some more".

19. Sneaker
(Usually pl.) a form of footwear, also called "tennis shoe" or "gym shoe".UK equivalent: trainer, plimsoll, pump.

20. Snuck
(Colloquial past tense and past participle form of "Sneak" ). UK equivalent (and US): Sneaked.

21. Soccer
Used in the UK but the sport is mainly known as "football" (or fully as association football); historically most common among the middle and upper classes in England (i.e. outside the game's traditional core support base); more common in Ireland to avoid confusion with Gaelic football.

22. Soda pop
UK equivalent: soft/fizzy/carbonated drink.

23. Sophomore
A second-year college or high school student (Trinity College Dublin has sophister in this sense); (adj.) the second in a series (as in, an athlete's "sophomore season", a band's "sophomore album") From the Greek: Sophos - Wise; and Moros - Fool, Moron (UK: undergraduate has this extended sense).

24. Specialty
UK equivalent: speciality, though specialty is used in law and medicine.

25. Spelunking
Exploring caves for fun. UK equivalent: caving or potholing.

26. Spring break
An extended holiday or party for students occurring during March and April. UK equivalent: Easter holiday.

27. Spyglass
A telescope or set of lenses used to observe subjects at distance.

28. Station wagon
An automobile with extended rear cargo area. UK equivalent: estate car.

29. Steam shovel
A large mechanical excavator. UK equivalent: digger or JCB.

30. Stickshift, stick
Car with manual transmission, as opposed to an automatic. UK (and US) equivalent: gear stick or gear lever for the stick; manual for the car.

31. Stool pigeon, stoolie
Police informer. UK equivalent: grass.

32. Stoop
A small porch, platform, or staircase leading to the entrance of a house or building. Chiefly Northeastern U.S.

33. Stop light
UK (and US) equivalent: traffic light.

34. Streetcar
Vehicle on rails for passenger transportation usually within a city; also called trolley or trolley car if electrically powered by means of a trolley. UK (and US) equivalent: tram.

35. Strep throat
A sore throat caused by Streptococcus.

36. Stroller
Vehicle for baby transportation featuring the child in a sitting position, usually facing forward. UK equivalent: pushchair, buggy.

37. Suck
To be of poor quality, objectionable, very bad.

38. SUV
Sport-Utility Vehicle. A 4×4 ("four by four") in the UK; in the US "4×4" usually refers to a four wheel drive pickup truck

39. Sweatpants
UK equivalent: track bottoms, tracksuit bottoms. Colloqially trackie bottoms or trackies.

Sometimes, it's better hearing me in a British accent. Click the red button below.


Laurence Brown is a British man writing his way through the truly bizarre world of America - a place he sometimes accidentally calls home and a place he still hasn't quite figured out after seven years. Thankfully, his journey is made 12% easier by the fact that his accent makes him sound much smarter than he is. For evidence of this, subscribe to his popular Lost in the Pond web series over on YouTube.

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