20 Quaint British Phrases

In his short story The Canterville Ghost from 1887, Oscar Wilde wrote:

“We really have everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.”

Throw a few British idioms into the mix and our American friends and colleagues may be left scratching their heads and reaching for their phones.

From hundreds of British phrases, we’ve selected 20 of our favorites that have an old-fashioned quaintness.

1. A little bird told me

Meaning to receive information from a secret informant, the root source is thought to be from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 10-20:

“Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird in the sky may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.”



Sophie Lee’s comedy The Chapter of Accidents (1780) also uses the phrase:

“I had a little bird told me all this.”

And Shakespeare himself makes reference to it in Henry IV, Part 2:

“As far as France: I heard a bird so sing,
Whose musick, to my thinking, pleas’d the king.”

2. A turn up for the books

An unexpected stroke of good luck.

Originally “a turn up for the book”. At 18th-century horse racing meetings, punters’ names and wagers were recorded in a notebook. If an unbacked horse won, it was called a “turn up” for the bookmaker, who kept all the money.

The “luck” aspect of the phrase comes from games of chance like cribbage, where cards are “turned up” by chance.

3. A fly in the ointment

Meaning a small defect that impairs the value of something, its origins are from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 10:1 (King James Version):

“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.”

In modern English is has come to mean something disagreeable that has come to light in a proposition, implying that there is a hidden problem.

4. A legend in one’s own lifetime

A person of considerable fame.

Originally the phrase was “a legend in her lifetime”, referring to Florence Nightingale in Giles Lytton Strachey’s book Eminent Victorians, 1918.

It spawned the humorous version “legend in one’s own lunchtime”, which means someone whose fame is fleeting.

5. A nod is as good as a wink

This 16th-century English phrase is shortened from “a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse”.

It means that a subtle signal is sufficient to indicate agreement to undertake something borderline illegal or an understanding of sexual innuendo.

Monty Python famously played with the phrase in a sketch known as “Nudge Nudge” where Eric Idle uses the modified phrase “a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat”.

6. How do you do?

A greeting originating from upper-class English society and usually reserved for formal occasions today.

The response is to reciprocate with “how do you do?” as in Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1892:

“Lord Darlington: How do you do, Lady Windermere?
Lady Windermere: How do you do, Lord Darlington?”

It can also be used euphemistically to mean a difficult situation.

“Oh dear, this is a bit of a how do you do, isn’t it?”

7. A sight for sore eyes

A welcome or pleasing sight.

First recorded in 1738 by the Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, and poet Jonathan Swift in A complete collection of genteel and ingenious conversation:

“The Sight of you is good for sore Eyes.”

8. For all intents and purposes

Meaning in a practical sense, or in every important respect.

Originating from English Law, it first appeared in an act adopted under Henry VIII in 1547.

“to all intents, constructions, and purposes”

It is often misheard as “for all intensive purposes”, an example of which appeared as far back as 1870 in the Indiana newspaper The Fort Wayne Daily Gazette:

“He has never had a representative in Congress nor in the State Legislature nor in any municipal office, and to all intensive purposes, politically speaking, he might have well have been dead.”

9. Spend a penny

A British euphemism for using a public lavatory.

John Nevil Maskelyne's door lock for pay toilets in the late 19th century
John Nevil Maskelyne’s door lock for pay toilets in the late 19th century

The first modern pay lavatories in 19th-century London used a door lock that required a penny to be inserted before one could enter.

It fell out of use as a general term when the price of using the lavatory went up to 2p!

10. As keen as mustard

Means very enthusiastic, eager.

Although the first mustard factory in London, dating back to 1742, was called Keen and Sons which named their product Keen’s Mustard, there is an earlier reference to the phrase.

In 1672, “as keen as mustard” appeared in William Walker’s books Phraseologia Anglo-Latina.

Mustard has been popular as a condiment for traditional British Sunday roast beef since medieval times, although horseradish is often preferred today.

A blend of mustard and horseradish called “Tewkesbury mustard” (named after its place of origin in Tewkesbury, Gloucester) is mentioned in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 2, when Falstaff says:

“He a good wit? Hang him, baboon. His wit’s as thick as Tewksbury mustard. There’s no more conceit in him than is in a mallet.”

11. A fish out of water

Someone in an unfamiliar and often uncomfortable situation.

Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th-century collection of stories called The Canterbury Tales, revered as one of the most important works in English literature, uses what is thought to be the earliest reference to the phrase in the General Prologue:

“…a monk, when he is cloisterless;
Is like to a fish that is waterless”

12. Eat humble pie

To submissively admit one’s fault or make an apology.

In the 14th century, nobility feasting on game—especially deer—would leave the heart, liver, and entrails for the humble servants.

Known as “numbles”, which by the 15th century had become “umbles”, these leftovers were made into “umble pies”.

Samuel Pepys, a 17th-century royal administrator and member of parliament, is famous for keeping a diary for 10 years as a young man, in which he wrote:

“I having some venison given me a day or two ago, and so I had a shoulder roasted, another baked, and the umbles baked in a pie, and all very well done.”

“Mrs Turner came in and did bring us an Umble-pie hot out of her oven, extraordinarily good.”

13. Pardon my French

To excuse one’s swearing or bad language.

The origin comes from the 19th-century penchant for using French expressions in conversation and apologizing for it afterward.

Masterpiece’s new series Victoria has an example in episode 1 when Queen Victoria uses the term “au courant” to mean fashionable, but one of her ladies in waiting thinks it is the name of a hairstyle.

Another example is in The Lady’s Magazine of 1830, where “enbon-point” means plump and well-nourished.

“Bless me, how fat you are grown! – absolutely as round as a ball: – you will soon be as enbon-point (excuse my French) as your poor dear father, the major.”

14. Storm in a teacup

An over-reaction to a small or unimportant incident.

The origins probably date as far back as 52BC, with Cicero’s De Legibus which contains the Latin phrase “Excitabat fluctus in simpulo”, meaning the same as our modern day “storm in a teacup” or the American version “tempest in a teapot”.

Storm in a teacup. Derivative of work credited to Miya
Storm in a teacup. Derivative of work credited to Miya

Later versions included “a storm in a cream bowl” in 1678, a “storm in a wash-hand basin” in 1830, a “storm in a glass of water” (Dutch), and a “tempest in a potty” (Hungarian).

Scottish writer Catherine Sinclair used the first instance of the more familiar British version in 1838 in her novel Modern Accomplishments, or the march of intellect:

“As for your father’s good-humoured jests being ever taken up as a serious affair, it really is like raising a storm in a teacup”

15. Fell off the back of a lorry

For our American readers, “lorry” is the British word for “truck’. Yes, it’s a strange one.

The phrase is a euphemism for something that is acquired without payment … if you know what we mean. Nudge nudge. Wink wink.

Versions of the phrase in print don’t appear until the second half of the 20th century.

A news item in the London Times of 1968 read:

“The suggestion of the finder, a casual motorist, that the records ‘must have fallen off the back of a lorry’.”

But an earlier version using the word “truck” comes from the Australian parliamentary debate records:

“We heard, through something that had fallen off the back of a truck onto a reporter’s table.”

16. Flogging a dead horse

A fruitless attempt to get more out of something that is dead or has expired; to try to arouse interest in something that is a hopeless cause.

An 1859 printed record of a debate in the British parliament’s House of Lords is probably the earliest example of using the modern phrase:

“If the hon. Member for Birmingham had been present, he would have asked the hon. Gentleman whether he was satisfied with the results of his winter campaign. It was notorious that he was not, and a saying was attributed to him that he found he was ‘flogging a dead horse.'”

17. I’ll go to the foot of our stairs

This is an exclamation of surprise or expression of astonishment.

The phrase originated in northern England and was used extensively in Yorkshire as well as the English Midlands during the mid-twentieth century and is still used occasionally today.

It is similar to saying “stone the crows” and might be a euphemism for going to hell.

18. Gone for a burton

Referring to a person who has died or something that is broken, the origin of the term is somewhat of a mystery, but not without plausible candidates.

One is based on the English town of Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire that brews a popular beer called Burton Ale. Britons have a habit of using humour to help deal with adversity and during the Battle of Britain in 1940, pilots who crashed into the sea were said to be “in the drink” or to have “gone for a Burton” (ale).

Royal Air Force Fighter Command, 1939-1945. © IWM (CH 8025)
Royal Air Force Fighter Command, 1939-1945. © IWM (CH 8025)

Another theory is about Sir Mantague Burton, who founded the British men’s clothing store called Burton in 1904. At the end of WWII, Burton supplied suits for disbanded servicemen, who were said to have “gone for a Burton” if they were absent from roll call.

19. Hanky-panky

Mischievous behaviour, dishonest or shady activity. Also a term for sexual shenanigans.

The phrase is possibly a corruption of the Romani expression hakk’ni panki, meaning “great trick” or “big con”.

First recorded in 1841 in the first edition of London’s Punch magazine:

“Only a little hanky-panky, my lud. The people likes it; they loves to be cheated before their faces.”

George Bernard Shaw uses the sexual alternative meaning in his 1939 play Geneva:

“She: No hanky panky. I am respectable; and I mean to keep respectable.
He: I pledge you my word that my intentions are completely honorable.”

20. See a man about a dog

A euphemism for excusing oneself from company whilst concealing one’s true purpose.

The 1866 play Flying Scud by Irish playwright Dion Boucicault is thought to contain the earliest known use:

“Excuse me Mr. Quail, I can’t stop; I’ve got to see a man about a dog.”

The more direct meaning was to place a bet on a dog at the races.

10 Things to Love About Stratford-upon-Avon

To Be or Not to Be in Stratford-upon-Avon?

Without reservation, the answer is To Be, for Stratford-upon-Avon is not only the birthplace of Shakespeare—the greatest playwright of all time—but a beautiful medieval market town with lots to see and do.

Here are 10 of the best.

1. Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Described as “a Mecca for all lovers of literature”, this restored 16th-century half-timbered house on Henley Street is where William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and spent his formative years.

Considered a substantial dwelling for the time, it was divided into two parts: living accommodations and a separate area for Shakespeare’s father to conduct his business as glove maker and wool dealer.

Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon
Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon

Over the centuries, changes were made to the original façade, and so in 1847, with the aid of luminaries like Charles Dickens, the house was purchased and restored to its original 16th-century appearance.

Shakespeare's birthplace as it appeared in 1847 in the Illustrated London News
Shakespeare’s birthplace as it appeared in 1847 in the Illustrated London News

At the back of the house, the walled garden has been specially planted with flowers and herbs known to be from Shakespeare’s time.

Rearview of Shakespeare's Birthplace. Credit Michele Walz Erikson
Rearview of Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Credit Michele Walz Erikson
Shakespeare's Birthplace (Gardens). Credit Tony Hisgett
Shakespeare’s Birthplace (Gardens). Credit Tony Hisgett
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.William Shakespeare
The view towards Henley Street from the upper floor of William Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford Upon Avon. Credit Ozeye
The view towards Henley Street from the upper floor of William Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford Upon Avon. Credit Ozeye

2. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

About one mile west of Stratford-upon-Avon sits a beautiful 12-roomed farmhouse where Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare, spend her childhood.

Known as Hewlands Farm in the 16th century, it had more than 90 acres of land and is about three times the size of a typical cottage.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage. Credit Tony Hisgett
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Credit Tony Hisgett
The kitchen in Anne Hathaway's Cottage. Credit Baz Richardson
The kitchen in Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Credit Baz Richardson

3. Mary Arden’s Farm

Owned by Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Shakespeare, née Arden (c. 1537 – 1608), this working farmhouse in the village of Wilmcote, about three miles from Stratford-upon-Avon, gives visitors a good idea of what 16th-century farm living was really like.

Included in the rare animal breeds kept at the farm are Mangalitza and Tamworth pigs, Cotswold sheep, Long Horn cattle, Baggot and Golden Guernsey goats, geese, and even a Hooded Vulture.

Mary Arden's Farm, Wilmote. Credit Elliott Brown, flickr
Mary Arden’s Farm, Wilmote. Credit Elliott Brown, flickr
Mary Arden's Farm courtyard, Wilmote. Credit Nathan Reading, flickr
Mary Arden’s Farm courtyard, Wilmote. Credit Nathan Reading, flickr

4. Hall’s Croft

Housing a collection of 16th- and 17th-century paintings and furniture, Hall’s Croft was once the home of William Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna Hall, and her husband Dr John Hall.

The impressive walled garden contains plants that Dr Hall may have used in his obscure medical practices—about which there are further exhibits inside the house.

Stratford-upon-Avon. Hall's Croft - Shakespeare's daughter's house. Baz Richardson
Stratford-upon-Avon. Hall’s Croft – Shakespeare’s daughter’s house. Baz Richardson
Hall's Croft, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Michelle Walz Eriksson
Hall’s Croft, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Michelle Walz Eriksson

5. Holy Trinity Church

Known as the place of baptism (1564) and burial (1616) of William Shakespeare, Holy Trinity Church is Stratford-upon-Avon’s oldest building, dating from 1210.

Buried next to him are his wife Anne Hathaway and eldest daughter Susanna.

Just one month before Shakespeare’s death, his son-in-law was found guilty of fathering an illegitimate son by a woman who died in childbirth. The shame of such an incident would have brought great distress to the family and may have hastened William Shakespeare’s demise.

Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Palickap
Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Palickap
Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Poliphilo
Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Poliphilo
William Shakespeare's grave, Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon. Credit David Jones
William Shakespeare’s grave, Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon. Credit David Jones

In modern English, the inscription reads:

Good friend for Jesus sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.

6. Nash’s House and New Place

Converted into a museum that traces the history of Stratford-upon-Avon from the earliest known records, Nash’s House on Chapel Street sits next to the ruins and gardens of Shakespeare’s last residence, known as New Place.

Shakespeare died at New Place in 1616, leaving the house to his daughter, Susanna, who moved in with her husband Dr John Hall.

Nash's House, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit summonedbyfells
Nash’s House, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit summonedbyfells
Shakespeare's final home, called 'New Place'
Shakespeare’s final home, called ‘New Place’

7. Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Home to the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), the recently redeveloped theatre complex sits on the banks of the River Avon and is dedicated to the life and works of William Shakespeare.

Going back to its roots, the “one-room” theatre brings actors and audience closer together, with a stage that reaches out into an audience on three sides—creating a more personal, traditional Shakespearean theatre experience.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit MylesMc
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit MylesMc
Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr

The redeveloped theatre takes design inspiration from the first Victorian memorial theatre complex, with the observation tower providing the same commanding views of the River Avon and environs.

The first Shakespeare Memorial theatre complex, pictured in the 1890s
The first Shakespeare Memorial theatre complex, pictured in the 1890s

8. Walking the beautiful Tudor-lined streets

The name Stratford derives from a combination of the Old English strǣt, meaning “street”, and ford, where a road forded the river Avon.

As you walk Stratford-upon-Avon’s streets, you are immersed in the timber-framed Tudor architecture of Shakespeare’s era.

Stratford-upon-Avon High Street. summonedbyfells
Stratford-upon-Avon High Street. summonedbyfells

Until around the late 19th century, sheep from the nearby Cotswold Hills were brought to slaughter in Sheep Street.

Sheep Street, Stratfrd-upon-Avon. Credit Baz Richardson
Sheep Street, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Baz Richardson

One of the oldest buildings in Stratford-upon-Avon, a resident of Shrieves House on Sheep Street (below) is said to have been the inspiration for the character Sir John Falstaff—appearing in three of Shakespeare’s plays.

Military and political leader Oliver Cromwell, who beheaded King Charles I of England, is thought to have stayed here in 1651.

Shrieves House. Credit Tony Hisgett
Shrieves House. Credit Tony Hisgett
Shrieves House. Credit Elliott Brown
Shrieves House. Credit Elliott Brown

Just off Sheep Street is Shrieves walk, a very quaint walkway with several small independent stores, including a Vintage Clothing shop.

With its many al fresco cafés and street entertainers, Henley Street is a pedestrian tourist and shopping precinct.

Henley Street, Stratford Upon Avon. Credit Gambitek
Henley Street, Stratford Upon Avon. Credit Gambitek
The Nutcracker Christmas gift shop, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Palickap
The Nutcracker Christmas gift shop, Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Palickap

9. Sightseeing Tours

From “hop-on hop-off” open top buses, to relaxing canal and river cruises, there are lots of ways to see and experience Stratford-upon-Avon’s many delights.

Open Top Bus Tour. Credit Martin Arrand, flickr
Open Top Bus Tour. Credit Martin Arrand, flickr

Centrally located between the main shopping streets and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is Stratford Canal Basin, a bustling mooring center for Canal and River tours.

Whether you prefer a leisurely 45-minute cruise or lunch, dinner, or cream tea aboard the “Countess of Evesham” luxury restaurant cruiser, you’ll find it here, along with a large selection of snack and ice-cream vendors.

Stratford-upon-Avon canal basin. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Stratford-upon-Avon canal basin. Credit Baz Richardson, flickr
Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Credit Roger Kidd
Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Credit Roger Kidd
River Cruises, Stratford-upon-Avon
River Cruises, Stratford-upon-Avon

10. Pubs, Restaurants, and Hotels

Whether you prefer cozy pubs with a fireplace or the opulence of a Victorian mansion, Stratford-upon-Avon has a wealth of options for accommodations and dining.

Garrick Inn is reputedly the oldest pub in town. Although the precise date of construction is not known, it is considered to be built in the late 16th century, with parts dating back to the 1300s.

Garrick Inn and Harvard House. Credit Tony Hisgett
Garrick Inn and Harvard House. Credit Tony Hisgett
The Windmill Inn, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Windmill Inn, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon. The Shakespeare Hotel. Credit summonedbyfells
Stratford-upon-Avon. The Shakespeare Hotel. Credit summonedbyfells
Stratford-upon-Avon, Falcon Hotel. Credit Palickap
Stratford-upon-Avon, Falcon Hotel. Credit Palickap
Falcon Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon
Falcon Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon
Menzies Welcombe Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Heather Cowper
Menzies Welcombe Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon. Credit Heather Cowper
Alas, poor Yorick! I knew Stratford. A place of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. Alas, can it be time to leave already?
Stataue of Shakespeare's Hamlet, Stratford-upon-Avon, by Lord Ronald Gower
Statue of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Stratford-upon-Avon, by Lord Ronald Gower

11 Words that Americans Love to Hear Brits Say


Lawrence Jones explains 11 words that Brits and Americans say differently, leading to endless enjoyment (and a little confusion).

30 Everyday Things With Different Names in British and American English

Vote for your favorites.

The Divergent Paths of British and American English

On April 26, 1607, an expedition sent by the Virginia Company of London arrived at the entrance to what is now Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, in the United States.

The First Landing

Among those of the first landing party was Captain John Smith, who described the bay in his book The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England & the Summer Isles,

“The bay lyeth north and south, in which water floweth near 200 myles, and hath a channel for 140 myles; of depth, betwixt 6 and 15 fathome, holding a breadth, for the most part, 10 or 14 myles.”

No matter which side of the Atlantic you hail from, those words probably look a little alien. That’s because the settlers spoke an earlier version of English called “Early Modern English”—a kind of transitional stage between Middle English and the Modern English of today.

Early Modern English was the language of Shakespeare and the King James Bible—both highly revered, then as now, but neither offered much advice on how to negotiate with the Native American population.

'The Coronation of Powhatan,' by the American artist John Cadsby Chapman
‘The Coronation of Powhatan,’ by the American artist John Cadsby Chapman

Adapting to the New Landscape

So the 17th-century settlers naturally set about adapting the language to suit their new environment. Many words were borrowed from indigenous languages, either directly or through intermediate Spanish, French, and other settlers.

Describing the American flora and fauna required new words. For example, sequoias are named in honor of Sequoyah, a Cherokee leader; squash derives from Narragansett, an extinct Algonquian language formerly spoken in what is now Rhode Island; Hickory comes from the Powhatan people of Virginia, and Chipmunk originates from the Ojibwe language, once spoken in Canada and the United States from Michigan to Minnesota.

Other words came from French, Dutch, German, and Spanish: levee, portage, and gopher from French: cookie, cruller, stoop, and pit (as in fruit) from Dutch; angst, kindergarten, sauerkraut from German; barbecue, stevedore, and rodeo from Spanish.

Initially, the changes were criticized by purists on both sides of the Atlantic. But after the Revolution, Americans began to take pride in their own form of English.

Webster’s Dictionary

Noah Webster (1758-1843) published the earliest American dictionary, which championed American meanings and spellings over British ones. Since then, language differences have continued to evolve, giving added credence to George Bernard Shaw’s observation that Britain and America were two countries divided by a common language.

Creative New Names

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that where European aristocracies preferred precision and stability in language, democratic America yearned for exuberance and innovation.

In the early 19th century, new words began to appear to give an air of respectability to some undesirable jobs. Grave-digger became undertaker, and later, a series of related terms came into being: funeral directormorticianmortuary sciencememorial park. Elegant words displaced less pleasant-sounding ones: cockerel became rooster; comfort station replaced toilet, and limb substituted for leg.

With the building out of America’s towns and cities came the need for new words to describe buildings, infrastructure, and industry: lot, waterfront, subdivision; log cabin, adobe, apartment, tenementshanty; project, condominiumrow house, backyard, clapboard, siding, baseboardback road, freeway, parkway, sidewalk, railroad; boxcar, caboose; canned goods, gasoline, sidetrack, make the grade.

Pronunciation

American English retains a particular characteristic of 17th-century English that British English has largely lost—the pronunciation of “r” after a vowel. Most of the US is “rhotic”, meaning that “r” is pronounced in words such as hard and weather. British English is largely non-rhotic, so hard sounds more like “hahd”. Ireland, Scotland and the West Country (Devon, Cornwall) have retained rhotic pronunciation, so the waves of immigrants from these areas only bolstered rhoticity in the US.

Other differences include pronouncing consonants that are silent in British English, for example, schedule, which sounds like “shedule” in Britain.

Differing Conventions

Some conventions differ in American English compared to British, with American usually being simpler: flavor replaced flavour; aluminum instead of aluminium; catalog for catalogue. American English also simplified the francophile words of Victorian England: check instead of cheque; program replaced programme.

Will you take a check? No, I’m sorry Mr Jefferson, sir—we only accept cheques.
Will you take a check? No, I’m sorry Mr Jefferson, sir—we only accept cheques.

A number of words in American English come from business, sports, and entertainment: bottom-line, breakeven, merger, downsize; ballpark, gameplan, cheapshot, pass the buck; disc jockey, movies.

There are more examples than you can shake a stick at!

Two Countries Divided by a Common Language?

Well, we’re divided by a “big pond” for sure. Transatlantic crossings in the 17th and 18th centuries were hazardous and long—taking six weeks or more. So for some 200 years prior to the advent of steamships, communication between Britain and America was severely challenged. That’s a long time for language to change, adapt, and evolve.

Today, we celebrate the nuances that separate our versions of the English language—the differences are fun and entertaining.

Sources
Wikipedia.org
Library of Congress.
Speaking American: A History of English in the United States by Richard W. Bailey.