American·British British·American Dictionary

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    1. Vocabulary

    2. [I have a question?]
      Try typing the question intoGoogle or some other search engine on the web. Thatís what I do on most general questions, and find the answer usually along with lots of interesting additional information.

    3. [What is the meaning of this ordinary word?]
      · What exactly does D.M.D. stand for? I also want to define dentarie?

      Look it up in a dictionary. Try

      The dictionary on these pages only describes differences between American and British. When a word is in this dictionary, only its synonym is listed, where possible, with a definition given as a last resort. For actual definitions, consult a regular dictionary. Note: Webster's actually lists many British words, as well as American slang. Try bloke, for instance.

    4. [What is the meaning of this obscure word?]
      · I'd like to know the meaning of the word "hoochie coochie", as I couldn't find the entry in the dictionary.
      · Do you have any idea what "gangerman" means? I think it's the construction-site foreman but I'm not sure. Is this English slang or Irish?

      It's an alternate spelling of hootchy cootchy, both of which have been added to this dictionary (as has gangerman). Thanks for the feedback!

      In general, there are thousands of words not found in regular dictionaries, and not appropriate for this dictionary because they're not in some way uniquely American or British. They can be found in better slang or jargon dictionaries, such as Chapman's American Slang or Jonathan Green's Dictionary of Slang.


    5. [What is the origin of this phrase or idiom?]
      · "If I had my druthers...." Do you know where it came from? Is "druthers" a real word?
      · I would like to know what a 'monty' is? Can/will you tell us where the phrase originated?
      · What is the origin of OK?

      'Druthers' is actually in Webster's (contraction of 'would rather'), but idioms are a special treat. As discussed in the Differences chapter, idiom is unique in meaning, and hence can be very regional. There are many books on idioms. The difficulty is determining if they're uniquely American or British (I have Collins COBUILD Dictionary of Idioms which indicates this, but it's hard to get in the States), and finding the origin or etymology of idiom is even more tricky (The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms excels in this regard).

      Michael Quinion has an excellent page, including links, that explores many interesting phrases, idioms, and legends, including 'the full monty'.

      The AUE FAQ is a must read, being the distilled discussions of a few decades of questions and answers about the English language by the alt.usage.english newsgroup (including the origin of 'OK').

      Grammar, Usage

    6. [What is the correct usage?]
      · What do you think of the use of the word "fab" to connote fabrication center, as in semiconductor facilities.

      In general, the more formal the presentation, the more you spell everything out (no abbreviations, colloquialisms, etc). However, when is a new word (database, email, fab) a real word in its own right? You could be safe and go with what's in the most recent edition of the dictionary (yes, no, no, for those examples) or push the envelope a little and see if an editor sends it back in red.


    7. [Here's a correction/addition to the dictionary?]
      · There is a new American English Dictionary out and some of the words added were road rage and carjack.
      · The word "boner" also can mean a blunder.

      Thanks! I always appreciate feedback. In this instance, although both road rage and carjack started in America, they are both in currency in Britain, and therefore not added to the dictionary.

      Ideally, I would have access to modern linguistic corpora, and the time to process them (would be fun). This would provide word frequencies of American and British. The dictionary would then consist of all the words where there was a large gap.

      Boner in American means erection. It also has this meaning in Britain, but it was much less common, and therefore, it's listed in the American section. It also has a more common meaning, blunder, which is equally known in both America and Britain, and therefore this meaning is not listed at all (since this dictionary only lists differences). This situation occurs for many, many words. (Actually, boner, meaning erection, is becoming quite common in Britain, so eventually it should be removed altogether.)


    8. How can I look up a word in the dictionary from another web page?

      Drag the following link onto your links toolbar, which creates a button. You can then highlight any word in a web page, and click on this button, and it will bring up the dictionary with that word in both the American and British section. Or just click on the link, and it'll prompt you for a word.

      uk2us [Cool! eh? I found it at FOLDOC]

      Alternatively, you could just add the dictionary to your favourites.

      £ $

    9. [What is the exchange rate?]
      · How to change pounds into dollars?

      Generally, there's about $1.50 in £1, or £⅔ in $1. It changes every moment. Check online.

      I have my own little 400 year for historical comparisons.


    10. [I want to translate into British English, for a particular period. What services or facilities are there?]
      · I am writing a novel set in the late 1930's. One of the minor characters is a British native. I have tried to make her sound as "British" as I can. What I think would be best is if someone that speaks British could go over the dialogue of this character. Do you know of anyone who I might be able to get in contact with?
      ·I've been searching for references to books and/or software that can aid me in writing documents in UK English (from my US English).

      Notes about the issues of translation are in the Differences chapter. Peruse the references for books. As for resources, I'm sure there are many tucked away in the corner of publishing houses and associated around high concentrations of films studios (Hollywood). But if you were to locate them, they'd probably want some buck$. And all you wanted was some Limey to glance through it and yell 'knickers!' in exchange for a pint. [Anyone?]

      Word lists

    11. [ I'm looking for a list of words/bad words/English words/...]
      ·Do you have any idea of where I could download an English dictionary as a text file?
      · Can you guide me towards a British English lexicon.
      ·Where can I get a American/British list of words for a spell checker?

      Look for the Moby list, which has about half a million words in it. The folks at Ispell have lists that are good for spell checkers. Look for word lists web pages.

      Folks usually want lists of 'bad' words in order to build filters and such. This is naive since some words are neutral/bad depending on context (Dick is at lunch, he's a dick), and some ordinary words can be hurled scathingly (so suck me!). However, word frequencies and weighting of some kind would be useful and, again, could be built from good corpora.


    12. Is this available electronically so that I could plug it into my word processor as a thesaurus. eg. the synonym for "diaper" would be "nappy". If so what is the cost.

      This is a great idea! Anyone know how to write plug-ins for word, or other word processors? Currently, you can use the dictionary search function to find all occurrences of a word. Try diaper, for instance, or running shoes.


    13. How many words are in the English language?

      Counts vary from ½ million to 2 million.

    14. How many words differ in spelling and in vocabulary between American English and British English?

      492, in the spelling list. Probably a lot more. Hard to count. Does anal-retentive have a hyphen? This dictionary has about 2,500 entries each way, and Norman Schur's British English A to Zed has over 5000. Although only a proportion are vocabulary, that 1% sure is noticeable.

      Accents / Pronunciation

    15. I just wanna ask you for some information about the new York city accent. I'm interested in it. Can you explain the main differences between this and the rest of the standard American?

      Accent is pronunciation (dialect is grammar and vocabulary). I don't really delve into details of all the different accents, just the general differences between American and British. I mention accents in the Differences chapter, and more fully in the Pronunciation chapter. There's some good information in McCrum's The Story of English.

    16. [random pronunciation question]
      · Care to venture an opinion on purse-el vs. per-sell? And the reason is? Thanks! You're settling a dinner party wager.

      I would guess the stress is on the second syllable, purely for reasons of homophony, but he may have pronounced it completely differently (try Menzies). (Since it's a person (Henry Purcell 1659-1695) it's not listed in a dictionary, where the pronunciation would be shown.)


    17. What is the very best dictionary to use for American English?

      American or British, I'd recommend a 'collegiate' or 'concise' dictionary, containing about 200,000 words. For a reasonable price, you get a comprehensive dictionary which covers most needs. Websters, American Heritage, and Collins have theirs online.

      For ESL, check out Collins COBUILD English Dictionary.


    18. Do you have any idea why colour became color, etc.?

      Noah Webster. Check the spelling notes in the Differences chapter.

    19. [What is the correct American/British spelling?]
      ·What is the proper British equivalent of "digitise/digitisation"? I have seen the word "digitalization" used (yes with a "z").

      Both forms are shown in the concise Oxford Dictionary (with both the -ise and -ize form, see -ise notes in the spelling list). I plugged the variants into Google and get 59,000/173,000 digitis|zation and 21,000/27,500 digitalis|zation. So it's out there, but the less common variant.

    20. If you wanted to spell 'maneuvering' the British way would it be 'manoeuvreing'?

      (No kidding!) I've added this to the spelling list.


    21. I was just wondering where you got alot of this English history information, and if possible, do you have any suggestions that would help me in my research.

      Check the references. Luckily I live just down the road from a university library, and also I scour the web for random snippets. For instance, there's an excellent primer on the BBC history site.

    22. Do you know who the present Duke of Normandy is?

      The Queen. The Channel Islands have a Loyal Toast to 'The Duke of Normandy, our Queen'.


    23. I am looking for books and the Bible read with the British accent.

      Grief! I haven't a clue. Anyone have a clue? I'd just start searching on Google, find books on tape sites, and start asking them.

    24. Your question here

      If you have a question should appear here, please email me, and remind me to add it to the FAQ.

    Last updated 31 December 1969 © Jeremy Smith 2019