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                        Living in America vs England



August blog 2017

Posted by dawngriffis on August 7, 2017 at 9:00 PM

I belong to a private Facebook page for expats, or Brits living in North America, who are close to, or over 60 years old. Most of us have been in the US many years. Most of us came to this side of the pond because of marriage or work. Many of us came at a very young age, leaving family and friends behind, plus everything that was familiar to us, whether it was food, customs or speech. Most of us thought ‘well they speak the same language we do, so it will be easy’. It didn’t take long for many of us to realize, how wrong we were. Not only are things spelled differently, grammar is different, meanings are different, plus our multitude of sayings or words, are unknown to most American ears. This is where the saying comes from ‘that we are separated by a common language’. Oh! So true, most of us have spent many hours explaining ourselves, and what we truly mean. When we are in company of other Brits, it is so easy and nice, to talk without having to explain ourselves. Of course our American husbands were young when they came to Britain, and they had to learn to understand our speech, sayings, and customs; but I don’t think many of them thought to warn us how different it was in the US; I know mine didn’t.

On this side of the pond, where different areas have different names or terms for everyday things, the same applies in Britain; but probably because total area in Britain is much smaller, we often recognise where it comes from, and generally the meaning. Brits have spread to all areas of North America, and with the onset of Facebook have been able to easily reconnect, and support each other. Recently, on the Brit page I mentioned, some one asked what words or sayings they still used, that most locals needed an explanation for them to understand. We ended up with so many; I thought it might make for an interesting blog. Obviously this connects both sides of the pond, which is what I try to do each month. I asked Beverley Coleman, our kind and prolific poet in Banbury, to write a poem addressing the subject to post for you. I will post the poem first, then list all that came out of the list of words, names, saying and terminologies that the Facebook page generated. I will also try to put meaning by each. As all of you know, I can screw things up sometimes, so if I have, please put a correction in comments below.

I came across another poem in the British magazine, ‘Evergreen’ which really describes nicely this land we Brits come from, this I will share with you at the end along with relevant photos taken by the excellent photographer Anthony Morris who lives in Oxford. The last one is of Scotland taken by my niece Emily Alsford, she asked for people not to use it without her permission. Following those, I will post some pics from the US.


Here Bev’s poem I asked her what title she’d like to use she suggested this

To Hell and Back

By Beverley Coleman


I get up in the morning

Wash my FIZZOG and away

Use the LOO before I go

I won't be back today

I'm running down the GINNEL

Couldn't give a TINKERS CUSS

Need to now STEP ON IT

Or I might just miss the bus


Thank the Lord for a BROLLY

Must go to the bank today

And draw out extra LOLLY.

I waved to the woman across the road


She is always PISSED AS A NEWT

But seems to be having some fun

I then remembered back in the day

When lots of sayings were funny



I carried on regardless

Looking very far

And wondering another thought


I started then to DAWDLE

My mind on other things

I'm thinking I'm going DOOLALLY

I'll see what tomorrow brings.


Feeling in pain

I remembered another


My head all ADDLED ...I was in a TISWAS

And trying to KEEP MY PECKER UP

I called into our local pub

A drink ....I need to SUP

Feeling refreshed and RARING TO GO


I'm homeward bound and very tired

But remember where I've been

How to understand the Brits

‘A bit naff’. From S. London. = not happy with situation

‘Addled’= mind not working right, could be just from being over tired e.g. my mind feels addled meaning cant think clearly

‘A right cock up’, = screwed up something, but when we say this we usually get AWFUL looks.

‘A right narna or nana’ = a person who does stupid things

Being precise for example customers at the bank in the US are asked for a couple of something, and then when we give them the 2 they ask for more. Brit tends to take numbers literally so couple = 2, few would be a more flexible amount, usually up to about 5.. 

‘Bloody hell’! ‘What a twat’. ‘Sod off.’ ‘Bugger that for a game of soldiers’; this is how to give vent in front of Americans, by using the swear words to a Brit with Americans not having a clue what we're saying or that we are even swearing. I once saw a New Hampshire license plate that said ‘Sod off’ obviously NH DMV had no clue they were being sworn at. 

Braces = suspenders 

Brolly = umbrella 

Checking the post and posting a letter. = post is same as mail 

Cheesed off = had enough of whatever is being said or done 

Cock up = messed up a job or project 

‘cos = because 

‘Couldn’t give Tinkers damn about it’; or a ‘Tinkers cuss’. Tinkers were people who delivered hardware item in lorries (trucks) to homes in villages; they were good news travelers and didn’t care too much about anything being true or how accurate everything was.

Crisps – chips 

Dawdle = walk slow. 

Different as Chalk and cheese, instead of night and day = (for 2 people being different when you might expect them to be similar as in siblings). 

Discombobulated or Underconstumbled = all mixed up 

Don't ask a lazy person to do anything, they never have time. Ask a busy person they will find time. This is so true

Don't get in a Tizz = don’t get upset

Don't get your knickers in a twist = again don’t get upset over little things, knickers are underpants usually female 

Don’t just stand there like a tin of milk = don’t just stand there doing nothing 

Don't lose your bottle = nerve 

Don’t spoil a road for a h'peneth (halfpenny) of tar.= don’t make short cuts by not using enough of what is needed to do a job properly, in other words a job worth doing, is worth doing well, or a job's not worth a tinker's cuss if its not done well. 

Double 2 throws Americans; Brits almost always will use double 2 or any number that there are 2 of the same number together or even triple 2 if there are 3 together are the same number 

Elastoplasts = bandaid

Fiddle = whether an object or person or situation = to try anyway necessary to make it work e.g. I fiddled with it until it started.

Fizzogg = a person’s face

Fortnight = 2 weeks.

Going "doo lally tap" or doo lally = a little crazy in mind or thoughts not clear thinking or behaviour

In a tiswas = didn’t know which way to turn

Jacket potato. = baked potato 

Jumper = sweater

keep your hair on = don’t get all upset over nothing 

Keep your pecker up= keep your chin up, things will get better

Knock me up = knock on my door to wake me up in the morning.

Knocked up = woke me up as in the morning by knocking on my bedroom door 

Lollygag = hanging around doing nothing useful

Loo = toilet

Lughole= ear

Mucky pup =someone who got dirty and messy 

Nah! = No

Next door but one = it means the house after the one next door to you. 

OAP. Old Age Pensioner = same as a person receiving SS

Off his trolly = a person not really with it mentally!

Old trout. = very old person probably wrinkled 

Owt = nothing or anything e.g. I haven’t got owt to give you. 

Pinched = stole

Pissed as a newt, people usually think it means mad- ticked off. = not happy with situation 

Rubber, = eraser. 

Rubber bands for elastic bands. 

Scunnered or scuppered? = fooled or out done 

Storm in a teacup, whereas Americans say tempest in a teapot; their version of "I'm a little teapot" is different too, and they often call a kettle a teapot or vice versa.

Take the dustbins out ‘cos the dustman is coming. = take the garbage or rubbish bins out because they are being collected, the dustman is the name given to the person doing the job of picking them up.

Tea up! = Means tea time the afternoon meal is ready or just a cup of tea is ready. 

Telegraph poles = utility poles 

The way we pronounce some things is hard for Americans to understand here are a couple of examples - Bottle many think we are saying butt holes; water they often think we are saying, weight. 

’titfer’ = hat is a cockney rhyming slang, of course plus there's a problem if it the hat was red... "Red hat, no drawers!" drawers = underpants or knickers 

You are in and out like a pox doctors clerk = in and out of the house

Wellies = Wellington boots

Here is the poem about our home country

Where in the World?

Meet the people, see the smiles.

Roam the counties, walk the miles.

Conquer mountains, see the coasts.

Try the famous Sunday roasts.

Drink the whiskey, drink the beer.

Marvel at the cultures here.

Visit Scotland, see the Glens.

Through your eyes or through a lens.

Watch the sunsets on the West.

That is Ireland at its best

Channel Islands, Isle of Wight.

Shetland for the Northern Lights.

Fish the rivers, walk the Dales

Steeped in history, hear the tales

Palaces and castles stand.

Waterways snake through the land.

Know the heritage and the laws.

Read of battles, read of wars.

Rulers, monarchs of the ages

Archived in the history pages.

Come and ride the railway

Through Snowdonia today.

As the light fades, day is done.

Go to Stonehenge, watch the sun.

John o’Groats down to Land’s End.

Wales to Ireland, families, friends.

Meet the people, see the smiles

Come, explore the British Isles!

By Joanne Jervis

Printed in the Evergreen magazine the summer 2017 edition

Blenheim Palace Woodstock By Anthony Morris


Hot day at Bourton on the Water by Anthony Morris

Birling Gap by Anthony Morris

Eastbourne beach and pier

Ponies keeping cool at Port Meadow Oxford by Anthony Morris

Minster Lovell ruins by Anthony Morris

Stocks at Stanton Harcourt by Anthony Morris

Whitney the town where the blankets were made. by Anthony Morris

Village of Shutford by the late Robert Bowman

South Western coast of Scotland by Emily Alsford

Arizona by Jean & Corb Sponcel

a garden in Arizona by Jean & Corb Sponcel

Golf course in Arizona by Jean & Corb Sponcel

Colorado stream by Carol Gillen

Oregon by Carol Gillen

Maine by Penny Gramling

Maine again by Penny Gramling

Sunrise Farm

Chickens in  Vermont owned bya  Brit Jacqueline C Rousseau, where I get my eggs

Loon and chick by Jane Glick 

That’s it folks hope you have enjoyed the blog, and thanks to all the Brits that contributed to it.

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Reply Susan Jackson
11:17 PM on August 7, 2017 
I have a hard time understanding the problem ☹️. I have lived around Europe and never seem to have a problem. I lived in Englnad for 13 yrs. oh well, I have loved everyplace I lived and I love the USA
Reply Dawn Griffis
8:00 AM on August 8, 2017 
Susan Jackson says...
I have a hard time understanding the problem ☹️. I have lived around Europe and never seem to have a problem. I lived in England for 13 yrs. oh well, I have loved everyplace I lived and I love the USA
Some people are a natural for understanding locals many others not so much! Over here I've been asked more than once if I learned English over there because I speak it so well! Telling them I am English did not seem to help! :)