Sunday, January 31, 2016

5 Americanisms My Fellow Brits Would Find Hilarious

The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote that the United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language. What he forgot to mention was that this division can, every now and then, lead to one country laughing sophomorically at the other. This is because each country's lexicon is replete with words that, while completely harmless in one country, are positively filthy in the other. Below are five words or phrases common to the United States that my fellow Brits would find hilarious.

1. Trump
In the U.S., the word "trump" has recently become more synonymous with presidential candidate and former part-time wrestling character, Donald Trump, than it has with the verb to trump (as in, to beat; to out-do) or the card game top trumps. In Britain, where all three of these definitions are admittedly known, there is a fourth meaning that is arguably in greater use than all of the others: trump; meaning to break wind.

2. Blow Someone Off
In America, despite overwhelming odds to the contrary, this phrase actually just means failure to keep an appointment with someone. On the other hand, my fellow Brits would almost certainly equate it with the act of giving oral sex, particularly where the receiver is a man. Imagine my horror, therefore, when one of my friends lamented that his dad was always blowing him off. Was Indiana living up to its stereotype? Was it indeed the incest capital of North America? Thankfully not. I just have an incurably dirty mind. Which probably accounts for my confusion over entry number 3...

3. Double-fisting
In what universe does this phrase not mean something unequivocally filthy? In the United States of America, apparently, where the phrase double-fisting is often used quite innocently to describe the act of carrying and consuming two alcoholic drinks simultaneously. Users of the phrase typically seem oblivious to its actual meaning, which—without putting too fine a point on it—involves a closed fist and, among other things, the first word in the next heading.

4. Fanny Pack
While both countries can agree that this travel accessory is the most egregious fashion faux pas since shoulder pads were a thing, the two cannot agree on what the accessory should be called. The American term fanny pack has long been the source of amusement in Britain, where fanny is a slang alternative to vagina. For our part, of course, the British call it a bum bag, in which bum—as with the American use of fanny—means a person's backside. And so, with all this talk of human orifices, now might just be the perfect time to hit up the final entry...

5. Hump Day
Actually, Wednesday might be the perfect time because Americans consider hump day and Wednesday to be absolutely one and the same. The story goes that hump day—coined in 1965—is a friendly term suggesting that American workers are past the hump of the earlier week. To Brits, hump day sounds like it should mean exactly what you imagine: a day of the week designated mainly to sex—or, as we Brits sometimes call it, rumpy pumpy.


Sometimes, it's better hearing me in a British accent. Subscribe to me on YouTube.


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.

12 comments:

vp said...

When did "trump" start to mean "fart"? Never heard of that one in 20 years of living in the UK.

Laurence Brown said...

It's been around since at least my childhood - so since the 80s.

Carole Parsons said...

Always used it, my son's and there friends would use trump because fart was not a nice word my son used the word fart at school and was sent to the headmaster

Carole Parsons said...

Always used it, my son's and there friends would use trump because fart was not a nice word my son used the word fart at school and was sent to the headmaster

Bill Nicholls said...

Or in tumps case Old Fart

Mabel said...

I'm convinced the Brits have incurably dirty minds--how else do you explain place names like Cockfosters, Tooting, Bitchfield, Lickey End, Weeford, and Wetwang? ;)

J-Me said...

No wonder Parliament considered banning Trump. No matter which meaning you go with, you're left with the unsavory prospect of all of that hot air blowing in from the other side of the Atlantic.

David Owen said...

I'm almost 70 and trump has always been a polite word, even a euphenism, for fart. It was always the word you insisted that your children used rather than fart: posher people, or people who weren't born in Manchester, may well have said " break wind" or " have you made a noise?".

David Owen said...

I'm almost 70 and trump has always been a polite word, even a euphenism, for fart. It was always the word you insisted that your children used rather than fart: posher people, or people who weren't born in Manchester, may well have said " break wind" or " have you made a noise?".

Unknown said...

Disappointing. Many of these have the same meaning in the US and are often used as double entendres.

Bethany Hauf said...

The British have dirty minds, smile.

Unknown said...

Wink, wink, nod, nod.

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