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American English vs. British English Vocabulary: 50 Corresponding Word Pairs

The corporate world is filled with expressions, specialized vocab words, and various acronyms.

You probably already know some of the classics like ASAP and FYI, but have you come across the more advanced ones below?

And more importantly, do you know how to use them?


1. OOO

Stands for… Out of office

Meaning: When someone is out of office, it means they are temporarily not available to work due to being on vacation or another type of leave.

Relatedly, out-of-office messages are set as automatic replies to emails/phone calls to let everyone know that one is not currently available.

Example:

Employees have been instructed to set up OOO responses.

2. ROI

Stands for… Return on investment

Meaning: Usually expressed as a percentage, ROI is a numerical measure of the success of a financial investment. If the return is positive, a profit was made. On the other hand, a negative ROI means that a portion of money was lost.

Example: The ROI of my stock portfolio is at a modest 6%.

3. TBA/TBC

Stands for… To be announced/To be confirmed

Meaning: Sometimes an event or product release is planned but not completely fleshed out in terms of schedule. When this happens, TBA and TBC are used to announce that something is coming but does not have a fixed date or time yet.

Example:

The clothing line is set to launch, but the exact date is TBA/TBC.

4. WFH

Stands for… Work(ing) from home

Meaning: With the rise of remote work, this term has become much more popular over the last few years. Working from home is exactly what it sounds like: Getting tasks done at home rather than commuting to an office each day.

Example:

If necessary, would you feel comfortable WFH?

5. HQ

Stands for… Headquarters

Meaning: Most large firms and corporations have locations in multiple cities, but their headquarters are considered the main office and administrative center of the entire company.

Example:

Many tech companies have their HQ in Silicon Valley.

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

Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost (1887).

Even though Americans and the British speak the same language, there are many notable differences between us when it comes to spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary.

In fact, U.S. (“American”) English speakers are often surprised, confused, or even perplexed by the UK’s unique lexicon (and vice versa). To help you recognize some of these differences related to vocab, here is a list of corresponding word pairs (you can click on the U.S. version of the work to read the meaning on Wiktionary):

Same idea, different term

U.S. version 🇺🇸UK version 🇬🇧
airplaneaeroplane
apartmentflat
attractive (of a person)fit
bachelor partystag night
bachelorette partyhen party
bathroom/toiletthe loo (informal)
carryout/takeout (food)takeaway/to go
closet (for clothes)wardrobe
cookiebiscuit
crib (for a baby)cot
diapernappy
driver’s licensedriving licence
elementary schoolprimary school
elevatorlift
eraserrubber
expressway/freewaymotorway
french frieschips
buddy (friend)mate
garbage/trashrubbish
garbage/trash candustbin
gasolinepetrol
high schoolsecondary school
hood (of a car)bonnet
ice pop/popsicleice lolly
insanemad
line (of people)queue
mailpost
main streethigh street
mommum
movie theatercinema
oven mittoven glove
overpassflyover
pacifierdummy
parking lot/garagecar park
pharmacychemist
potato chipspotato crisps
roommateflatmate
semi trucklorry
shopping carttrolley
sidewalkfootway
sketchydodgy
soccerfootball
strollerpushchair
tennis shoes/sneakerstrainers
tired/exhaustedknackered
trunk (of a car)boot
TVtelly (informal)
vacationholiday
windshieldwindscreen
wrenchspanner

Watching a big-budget Hollywood movie?
You’ll probably hear the terms on the left.

Reading an Agatha Christie detective novel?
You’re more likely to come across the words in the right column! 🙂

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