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British to American English Dictionary: Food & Drink Edition

When I chose to study abroad in England, I thought that the only language differences I’d need to get used to were spelling “favourite” and “realise” correctly, and using the words “lift” and “loo.” To my surprise, I found that there are lots of words that the UK and US do not have in common – which made for some hilarious misunderstandings and conversations with my British friends.

While it isn’t necessary in your preparation to study these British terms (you will learn them quickly and most people know the American terms thanks to films and TV shows), it can be helpful to know some terminology before hopping across the pond. Everybody has to eat and/or cook at one point or another, so I thought a British to American English dictionary of food and drink terms would be the most useful. Some words are obvious and others are more obscure, but all will hopefully will come in handy when you are reading a menu, grocery shopping, or pounding a pint at the pub.

(And no, an English muffin is not just called a muffin in England – but a crumpet is close.)


British to American English Dictionary: Food & Drink Edition (v.1)

Produce/Groceries
aubergine: eggplant
courgette: zucchini
minced meat: ground meat
rocket: arugula
spring onion: green onion/scallion

Meals/Snacks
chips: fries
crisps: chips
doner kebab: gyro (and late-night-out staple)
duck pancakes: spring rolls
spring rolls: egg rolls
jacket potato: baked potato
pigs in blankets: bacon-wrapped sausage
pancake: American pancake (normal “pancakes” in England are thinner, like crepes)
full (English) breakfast: traditional breakfast meal including: bacon, poached or fried eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread or toast with butter, sausages, baked beans – served with a mug of tea.
Sunday roast: traditional British/Irish main meal served on Sundays (or any day of the week, really) including: roasted meat, roast potato or mashed potato, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables, and gravy.

Sweet Snacks
biscuit: cookie
candy floss: cotton candy
ice lolly: popsicle
pudding: dessert
sweets: candy

Phrases
eat-in: for here
take away: to go
gone off: rotted/expired

Drinks
cider: hard cider
pint: 10 oz (vs. 16 oz in the US)
shot: 25-35 mL (vs. 44 mL in the US)
squash: liquid juice concentrate


There are plenty more words (and slang) that belong on this list – I just didn’t use or run into them during my time abroad. Comment below with your own additions!

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