2022 US-to-UK Word of the Year: homer

Yesterday, I declared the UK-to-US SbaCL Word of the Year. You can read about it here

The US-to-UK one may be as controversial as it was the first time (a)round (in May). But here goes: 

2022's US-to-UK Word of the Year is: homer


Why? 
  • Because it is possibly the most talked-about Americanism in British social media this year.
  • Because if I chose the other finalist,* I'd get too many "that's not a word!" complaints.
  • Because it alludes a huge, wordy phenomenon of 2022.
That phenomenon is Wordle, the word game invented by a Welsh engineer in the US, an added transatlantic bonus. 

Homer was the Wordle solution on the 5th of May, setting off a lot of grumpiness on social media. The cartoonist Stephen Collins provides a good illustration of the depth of feeling on the matter on the part of many committed UK Wordlers:


Stephen Collins @stephen_collins · 31 May 2022 Wordle: still angry about ‘homer’. It’s been weeks now. Furious. Stephen Collins @stephen_collins Will I ever play again? Can I forgive? Homer. Fuck no 11:24 pm · 31 May 2022


So, this isn't a Word of the Year because British people have taken on the word to refer to baseball home runs. There is very little need to talk about baseball in Britain. It's US-to-UK Word of the Year because it was an Americanism talking point in Britain, demonstrating how separate our vocabularies can be.

But is it an Americanism? The thing is, British people do say homer for lots of other reasons. In various BrE dialects or jargons, it can be a homing pigeon, a (BrE) match played on the home (BrE) pitch in some sports, or "a job that a skilled worker, such as a house painter or a hairdresser[..], does for a private customer in the customer's home, especially when they do this in addition to their main job and without telling their employer or the tax authorities" (Cambridge Dictionary). It's also the name of an ancient Hebrew measurement. But none of these uses are as common in BrE as homer meaning 'home run' is in AmE, and so the word was definitely perceived as an Americanism by British Wordle players. 

Now, this choice isn't exactly original on my part. Cambridge Dictionary made homer their Word of the Year back in November. It's also been noted as one of the most Googled words of the year. But that's another reason why it feels right as the US-to-UK Word of the Year. It not only spiked high in their look-up statistics on the day, it continued to be looked up in their online dictionary for months after—perhaps because BrE speakers just can't stop talking/tweeting about it. Homer was again showing up in tweets about losing one's Wordle streak on 27 December, when the answer was the tricky HAVOC. (And I imagine it was showing up in the less searchable social media as well.)  It'll be interesting to see if it's still being put to these purposes next year, or if it'll have been forgotten. The chances that it'll be forgiven seem thin.

I do encourage you to have a look at Cambridge's Word of the Year site for more on this word, British–American linguistic relations and how Wordle's been affecting dictionary usage. 




*My other "finalist" was them's the breaks, as spoken by Boris Johnson in his resignation speech outside 10 Downing Street. I was sure in July that that would be my "Word" of the Year, but, two Prime Ministers later, this well and truly feels like ancient news now.
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UK-to-US Word of the Year 2022: fit

Having let the year run its course, I'm now am ready to declare the Separated by a Common Language Words of the Year for 2022. As ever, there are two categories: US-to-UK and UK-to-US.  To be a SbaCL WoTY, the word just needs to have been noticeable in some way that year in the other country. 

For past WotYs, see here. And now...

The 2022 UK-to-US Word of the Year is: fit

Now, of course the word fit is general English when we use it in contexts like The shoes fit or I'm going to get fit this year. But those fits are not my UK-to-US Word of the Year. The fit I'm talking about is the informal British usage that means 'attractive, sexy'. A close (orig.) AmE synonym is hot

Ben Yagoda, on his Not One-Off Britishisms blog, first noticed this sense of fit in an American context back in 2013, but it seems to have taken hold in the US in the past couple of years. I assume this is due to the international popularity of the British television (BrE) programme/(AmE) show Love Island

Here's a clear example of this sense of fit from another UK reality series, Made in Chelsea.*


I like that video just because it's clearly fit meaning 'hot' rather than 'healthy and/or muscular', but if you'd like to hear it said on Love Island, then you can hear it here at 1:38 (though the YouTube automatic subtitling mishears it as fair).

 

This use of the word is new enough to the US that it's included in glossaries for American Love Island fans, like this one and this one. The Oxford English Dictionary added it in 2001:

  British slang. Sexually attractive, good-looking.

1985   Observer 28 Apr. 45/1   ‘Better 'en that bird you blagged last night.’ ‘F—— off! She was fit.’
1993   V. Headley Excess iv. 21   ‘So wait; dat fit brown girl who live by de church ah nuh your t'ing?!’ he asked eyebrows raised.
1999   FHM June (Best of Bar Room Jokes & True Stories Suppl.) 21/1   My first night there, I got arseholed, hit the jackpot and retired with my fit flatmate to her room.
2000   Gloucester Citizen (Nexis) 14 Feb. 11   I would choose Gillian Anderson from the X-Files, because she's dead fit.

Green's Dictionary of Slang has one 19th-century example, but notes that "(later 20C+ use is chiefly UK black)." 

I can't give statistics on how often this fit is use in the US because (a) the word has many other common meanings, making it very difficult to search for in corpora, and (b) this particular meaning is not likely to make it into print all that often. (Slang is like that.) Ben Yagoda considers fit "still an outlier" in AmE. But Ben's probably not in the right demographic for hearing it. 

An anonymous blog reader nominated it, and it struck me as apt for 2022—the popularity of "Love Island UK" (as it's called in the US) was hard to miss on my visit to the US this summer. I got to hear my brother (whose [AmE] college-student daughter loves the show) imitating the contestants, throwing in words like fit. I can easily find young US people using and discussing 'sexy' fit on social media (though I won't share their examples here because those young people didn't ask for the attention). And it made it onto Saturday Night Live, in a sketch about Love Island. You can hear proper fit at 1:11:




So Happy New Year to you! I wrote this post after watching the fireworks (on tv) at midnight. Now I'm (BrE humorous) off to Bedfordshire, so I'll leave the other WotY for tomorrow. Stay tuned for the US-to-UK WotY! 


*Update: I'm told that the Made in Chelsea video does not play in the US. Here's a quick transcript of the relevant bit:

Scene: Two male cast members on a sofa, commenting on this video shot of a female cast member:

M1: God, she's fit. 

M2: She is so hot.

M1:  So fit.

 

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Newsletter archive

My plan is to add links to my newsletter as I go along here, so that there's a way for non-subscribers to access old ones.  

If you'd like to subscribe to the newsletter, follow this link. You'll get no more than one newsletter per week, no less than one per month. The newsletters (as you can see if you click through on these) have something about British–American linguistic relations (often linking to blog posts here), a bit about what I've been up to in my Lynneguist life (as well as things in the works), and links to things I've found interesting. 

Here are links to the existing newsletters in reverse chronological order:

29 Jan 2023: The one where Lynne shoulda been marking

15 Jan 2023: What if I say 'please'?    Erratum

8 Jan 2023: So long 2022, and thanks for all the WotYs

18 Dec 2022: Go west! Or maybe don't

11 Dec 2022: A cracker of a newsletter  PS: quiz answers for 4 Dec 

4 Dec 2022:  WotYs R Us

27 Nov 2022: You say 'football', I say 'separated by a common language'

20 Nov 2022:  My first newsletter: is it a HOMER?

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go west/south

Jim recently (ish) wrote to ask me about this line he read in Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz:


At the time, I hadn’t completed a deal with the BBC and the whole thing could have gone west.



Jim wondered about that gone west, which seemed to be equivalent to AmE gone south

Twenty-some years in the UK, and I hadn't knowingly encountered that meaning of go west. But it's definitely out there.


Cambridge Dictionary
 gives the sense that Horowitz probably intended, and marks it as "UK informal".

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fixtures and brackets

It's FIFA World Cup Time, a fact that is hard to avoid in this part of the world. I am not the kind of person who’s interested in watching it, regardless of who’s playing or where it’s being held. But I'm nothing if not opportunistic, so I'll use this as an excuse to write about some linguistic differences related to sport(s) more generally. 

It’s old news that the British mostly call it football and Americans mostly call it soccer. It’s even older news that the name soccer is actually British. To quote myself (from The Prodigal Tongue):

Britain, Americans call your football soccer because you taught them to. Just like rugger is a nickname for rugby football, soccer came from the full name of the game, association football. The word comes from England. You should be proud of it. 


But that’s not the difference I want to feature this time. I want to talk about fixtures. If your eyesight’s good (the words are very faint, for some reason), you can see the term repeatedly used on the local team’s website (I've added the purple boxes to highlight them):




BrE fixture in this sense means ‘who’s "fixed" to play whom when’. In the plural, it's the whole list of who's playing whom when. It's a necessary word at any kind of tournament in the UK. I initially learned it through tournament Scrabble (at my first UK tournament 22 years ago), and I recall it (probably orig. AmE) throwing me for a loop then.


You won’t see the word fixtures on most American sports sites or advertising. Instead, you’ll see schedule, as seen here for my "local" (BrE) American football /(AmE) football team back in the US:



In The Prodigal Tongue, I cover the strange history of the pronunciation of schedule. (If you haven't read it, tell Santa. Or your nearest bookseller.) In that discussion, I note that the word schedule is used much more in AmE than BrE, because BrE uses other words for the things Americans call schedules in various contexts. Words like: timetable, programme, and fixtures.


A related term is AmE bracket, which derives from the use of this kind of diagram for showing who's playing whom in an elimination tournament. (For more on differences in the punctuation term bracket, see here.) Randall Munroe, at his comic xkcd,  has done some fantastic brackets, like this one, which I will share because we've had enough sports talk now, haven't we?


click image to enlarge


In BrE one might instead talk about the draw, i.e. who's been "drawn" (as if from a hat) to play against whom. Bracket is a bit different from draw because it's not just who's playing whom in the initial random arrangement, but also eventually who's playing whom all the way up the various rounds of competition. 


And speaking of draw, England were drawn against USA this week, and it ended in a 0–0 draw, which could also be called a tie. Tie is generally more common in AmE, but it's used in BrE too.

Here's 'ended in a tie/draw' in the News on the Web corpus:






If you’re interested in more football/soccer-related content, here are a couple of posts:


And in case you missed it, I now have a (hopefully usually) weekly newsletter in which I will be sharing news of new blog posts (like this one) and other US/UK and linguistic content.
Sign up here if you haven't already!
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WotY news and Lynneguist news

Nominate transatlantic words of the year!

It's Word of the Year season, and before the end of 2022—possibly before the end of the 11th month of 2022—every extant dictionary (and various professional associations and a few marketing companies etc. etc.) will have announced the words that they think sum up something about 2022. Here (BrE) at SbaCL Towers,* we (that is to say, I) wait until the year is at least almost properly finished before considering what 2022 was like for transatlantic English. 

So, let's do the important business of opening nominations!  As ever, the Separated by a Common Language Words of the Year categories are:

  • UK-to-US 
  • US-to-UK 

Some nomination guidance:
  • Good candidates for SbaCL WotY are expressions that have lived a good life on one side of the Atlantic but for some reason have made a splash on the other side of the Atlantic this year. 
  • Words coined this year are not really in the running. If they moved from one place to another that quickly, then it's hard to say that they're really "Americanisms" or "Britishisms". They're probably just "internetisms". The one situation in which I could see a newly minted word working as a transatlantic WotY would be if the word/expression referenced something very American/British but was nevertheless taken on in the other country.
  • When I say word of the year, I more technically mean lexical item of the year, which is to say, there can be spaces in nominations. Past space-ful WotYs have included gap yearBlack Friday, and go missing

Please nominate WotYs in comments to this blog post, where it'll be easier for me to keep track of them than if they show up on different social platforms. To see more past winners, click here.

I have a few words in mind, so I'll be interested to see if you come up with the same or different ones.

Cambridge Dictionary Word of the Year: homer

Cambridge Dictionary chose homer as their Word of the Year. I thought it was a great choice, and you can hear why here:



Homer was protested in Wordle as an "Americanism" (95% of the dictionary look-ups of it came from outside North America). It is fairly familiar in AmE as an informal term for a baseball home run, but it has many other meanings around the world. That's what happens when you take an otherwise common word and put an -er on it. Cambridge Dictionary notes that it has a special meaning in Scotland:

Scottish English informal
job that a skilled worker, such as a house painter or a hairdresser (= a person who cuts people's hair), does for a private customer in the customer's homeespecially when they do this in addition to their main job and without telling their employer or the tax authorities:
I am a fully qualified joiner looking for homers in the Renfrewshire area.

Both of those meanings derive from the noun home plus the -er for something that happens at "home".

But home can also be a verb meaning 'to go/return home', and if you add the -er suffix onto a verb, it means 'one who [does verb]'. So it gets more meanings that way, some of which are in other dictionaries. For instance, homer can mean 'a homing pigeon'. Apparently, it's often used in British crossword puzzles in this sense. Perhaps the crossworders had an advantage for the infamous HOMER Wordle. 

Tweet from Stephen Collins, 31 May: Wordle: still angry about 'homer'. It's been weeks now. Furious.
The British cartoonist Stephen Collins holds a grudge

 

News! New way to follow Lynneguist!

Since 2009, I've been doing a AmE–BrE Difference of the Day (DotD) on Twitter, and spending a lot of my time on that platform. Because of the time that the DotD required, this blog has got(ten) less frequent.

I've never run out of differences to tweet about, but the time has come to re-think how I use my online time and how I communicate with people who are interested in my work (and, more importantly, my hobbies, of which this blog is one).

This blog will continue to be where I write about UK–US linguistic differences—sometimes in a lot of depth.

But my social media presence has been about a lot more than deep dives into particular words. It's been about sharing links to interesting linguistic and transatlantic cultural information and news. It's been about sharing things I've written elsewhere or news of events I'm doing. And it's been about those Differences of the Day—shorter info about linguistic differences, sometimes linked to new or old blog posts.

So, I'm going down the newsletter route. It feels like going back to my roots, since in (AmE) grad school I ran the departmental linguists newsletter (Colorless Green Newsletter it was called) and then when I moved to South Africa, I decided a newsletter was the best way to share with friends and family the things I was learning by living there—I sent that one out (at some snail-mail expense) every three weeks—and it got to its recipients about three weeks later.

Now we have email, so I can do a newsletter on the cheap and you can get it right after I send it.
Sign up here and you will get no-more-than weekly, no-less than monthly updates on what's going on in the Lynneguist world. There won't be Differences of the Day, but there will be lots of linguistic differences to learn about or reflect on, as well as other super-interesting stuff.

Footnote 

*  Here's a link to my Difference of the Day tweet about 'at X Towers', but since I don't know how long Twitter will be around, I'll post a screenshot too:

GloWbE corpus shows plenty of instances of "here/we at  [something] towers" in British English, none in American English are in

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a (head of) lettuce

UPDATE, 20 Oct 2022: The lettuce won! 

The less I say here about the current state of British politics, the better for all of us, but I've had some requests to write about the question:

Can Liz Truss outlast a lettuce?

Truss is, at the very moment I'm writing this, the UK Prime Minister. This might not be true at the moment when you read this. And once she's gone, I assume The Daily Star will stop its livestream of decomposing lettuce in a wig, so I'll post a screenshot of it here, rather than the livestream itself.

Daily Star screenshot: Day Three: can liz truss outlast this lettuce?  Iceburg lettuce with face and wig, surrounded by pic of Liz Truss, snack foods, and clock reading 19:22

Oh wait, Lettruss has an early bedtime! Here's another screenshot. 


I wonder how much she gets up to in a day? (Note to self: must resist watching PM Lettucehead instead of working.)

Lettuce Watch got started after The Economist published this unusually straightforward description of Truss's premiership and dubbing her "The Iceberg Lady."  

Liz Truss is already a historical figure. However long she now lasts in office, she is set to be remembered as the prime minister whose grip on power was the shortest in British political history. Ms Truss entered Downing Street on September 6th. She blew up her own government with a package of unfunded tax cuts and energy-price guarantees on September 23rd. Take away the ten days of mourning after the death of the queen, and she had seven days in control. That is the shelf-life of a lettuce.


Social media got wind of this all, as did US news outlets, and soon Americans wanted to know: who says a lettuce?


(Oh wait, now she's got a disco ball!)



While there's a lot of discussion on names of lettuce types in the comments of my big ol' vegetable post, no one there mentioned the countability problem. That is: for most Americans, lettuce is a non-countable noun. You can have some lettuce, but not a lettuce. If you want to talk about the thing that's been compared to Liz Truss, in AmE you'd need what is sometimes called a partitive noun, like heada head of lettuce

BrE is happier than AmE in calling the thing a lettuce. I'm afraid the numbers on this corpus result are very small because I had to search for "a lettuce" only before punctuation, so that I didn't accidentally get cases of a lettuce leaf or a lettuce sandwich, etc. 



The first US hit is a weird sentence from a suspended-by-Wordpress blog, so I'm not sure it was really written by an AmE speaker. The other is: "You are what you eat, but who wants to be a lettuce?" The British ones include feeding an animal "a lettuce" and putting another ingredient in "the heart of a lettuce". The numbers are small, but they are leaning British and the British examples are more clearly about literal lettuce.

Cabbage tends the same way, but with more examples:



And in case you're wondering, this is not because lettuce or cabbage are mentioned twice as much in UK:




If you can have a lettuce, that is, if it is countable for you, then it is natural for you to talk about two or more lettuces, and we can see here that BrE does that a lot more than AmE does. In AmE, you can talk about two lettuces but it will almost inevitably be interpreted as 'two kinds of lettuce', for example: I am growing two lettuces this year: iceberg and romaine. You could say two lettuces in BrE and mean 'two kinds of lettuce', but you could also use it to mean two 'heads' of one kind of lettuce, as in How many iceberg lettuces do you want me to buy?



Meanwhile, head of seems much more American than British (though Irish English seem to like it for cabbages).



This isn't because the US or Ireland made up head of—it dates way back in English-English:

But head of has clearly been more AmE than BrE since the mid-nineteenth century:

 

You may be able to think of other examples of AmE & BrE differing in whether they treat a noun as count or non-count. Click through here to read blog posts about some of them

In case you're wondering about the other items in the screenshots:
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Competition (UK): Win a copy of Ellen Jovin's Rebel with a Clause

For years, Ellen Jovin has carted a table, chair and reference books—first around New York City and later all across the United States—to volunteer herself as “The Grammar Table.” In doing so, she gives passers-by the opportunity to ask grammar questions, to vent about grammar (or other people’s grammar), and to learn more about English and other languages. She’s now written a book based on her Grammar Table adventures: Rebel with a Clause. I got to read it pre-publication, and this was my review:

Those who learn grammatical rules are doomed to repeat them. And, boy, do they repeat them—tirelessly, senselessly, bringing us to the point where much of the English-speaking world thinks grammar is boring or difficult or scary. Ellen Jovin is on a mission to rescue us from that joyless fate. Her generosity and curiosity about language is second only to her generosity and curiosity with the people who approach her for grammatical advice. We could all stand to be a bit more Ellen Jovin.

 

The publishers have kindly sent me an extra copy of the book to share with my readers—though I must say, it’s me who’s paying for the postage, so I’m going to concentrate my sharing efforts on my UK readers. The American readers at least have the excitement of knowing that they may run into Ellen’s Grammar Table in their public square or strip mall when she sets up her stall there.  (Rest-of-World readers: Sorry!)

 

To make giving away a book more interesting, I’m going to give it to someone who comments on this blog post with a question for Ellen, and (here’s the exciting part!) you are going to get the Grammar Table experience, because Ellen is going to respond to the questions that show up before the contest deadline.* 

 

So, to enter the competition:

  • Comment on the blog with a question for Ellen by [AmE format] October 2, 2022.
  • Sign your message with a name that will identify you (it need not be your full name) and let us know that you’re in the UK.  (You can comment without being in the UK, but you can’t have the copy of the book.) 
  • Click the ‘Notify Me’ box, so that you’ll see the response to your question AND learn whether you’ve won. If you don't see such a box, there are other ways to be notified...see the comments. 

 

After the [non-AmE format] 2 October deadline, I will put the names of the eligible commenters into a real or virtual hat and draw a winner, then announce that winner in a blog comment, with details on how to email me to claim the prize. I will send the book out to them soon after. 



(BrE) Ready, steady, ask some questions!

*Normal commenting etiquette applies. I reserve the right to delete any comments that I find rude or abusive. Any commenter will only be entered into the contest ONCE. 


AND THE WINNER IS....GRHM!!! 
I'm closing down the comments now to give Ellen a break. 

Thank you so much to Ellen for her generosity in answering the questions, and to everyone who asked a question! 


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fit for purpose / fit to purpose

 So I tweeted this recently...


(click on it to get the whole picture from Twitter)

Here's another view of how much more fit for purpose is used in BrE, and how relatively recent it is:

(click to enlarge)

But then Stephen P wrote to point out this tweet by an American with fit to purpose:



In searching for that tweet on Twitter, I discovered other Americans writing fit to purpose. Their numbers are dwarfed by the number of BrE speakers saying fit for purpose, but it's an interesting development! 






The moral of this story: prepositions change easily. That's because prepositions don't have much meaning in themselves. 

This one doesn't seem to have shown up yet on Ben Yagoda's Not One-Off Britishisms, but then again, is it a Britishism in the US? Did Americans pick up fit for purpose and change the preposition, or did they pick up the rarer to and make it their own? There's the second moral of this story: calling something a "Britishism" or an "Americanism" is a complicated business. (And if you want to know how complicated, I have a book to sell you...)

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crescent

 Reader Sam Fox wrote in with the question:

I am an American, a Midwesterner all my life, though I have traveled quite a bit..  

On a recent visit to London I was surprised to hear the word “crescent” in the tube stop Mornington Crescent pronounced with a z rather than s.  I think I heard other examples of unexected intervocalic voicing.  Is this something you have noticed?

I have noticed it, particularly since I've had the word crescent is in my address. But I was surprised to find that UK dictionaries don't seem to agree about it at all.


In the /s/ camp:

  • The Oxford English Dictionary (a historical dictionary) [first picture]

  • Google [picture 2] 
  • Cambridge 

  • And all of the American dictionaries (Merriam-Webster, Webster's New World, Dictionary.com, American Heritage)


In the /z/ camp:    
  • Lexico (which comes from the people at Oxford Dictionaries) 
  • Macmillan (picture 3)



And presenting both, always with /z/ as the second option::
  • Collins, in both their English dictionary and in the COBUILD (learner's) dictionary. (picture 4)
  • Longman



Since the OED has only the /s/ and since /s/ > /z/ between vowels is the more likely phonological process, we can assume that the /z/ is somewhat new compared to the /s/, and so it's particularly interesting that two of the British sources only have the /z/. If anyone in the US says it with a /z/, I don't know about them. So we can say that this /z/ is a BrE pronunciation, but not the BrE pronunciation. (When it comes to pronunciation, there's probably next to nothing that one can count as the BrE.)

So how prevalent is the /z/ in the UK?  And who says it?

I listened to more than 50 examples on YouGlish, discounting a few along the way because they were the same person again or the person seemed not to have a UK accent. Of the 47 I counted, 23 had /z/, 23 had /s/, and one, by Alan Bennett, I just couldn't tell. So the dictionaries that have both seem to have good reason for it. 

At first, I was getting mostly /s/ and I thought that it was because there were a lot of 'posh' voices giving lectures about the Fertile Crescent. But as I went on, it became clear how varied the speakers who say /s/ or /z/ are. Both were said by young and old. Both were said by fancily educated people. There were a couple of Scottish voices that said /s/, but other than that it felt like both /s/ and /z/ were hearable around much of England. Among the /z/-sayers were Professor Brian Cox (from near Manchester, in his 50s) and Jeremy Paxman (in his 70s, born in Leeds but raised in Hampshire and sounding very much like his Cambridge education). I wonder if there are any dialectologists out there who could give us a bit more insight about whether this /z/ is particularly associated with one place or another? It doesn't seem to be a variation that was captured in the Cambridge Dialect App

Going beyond crescent, there are other spelled-s-pronounced-/z/ cases that contrast between AmE and some BrE speakers. The Accent Eraser*  site lists these ones, a couple of which I've written about before (see links).
  • Eraser
  • Blouse
  • Diagnose
  • Greasy**
  • Opposite
  • Resource
  • Vase
  • Mimosa
  • Crescent
  • Joseph (click on the link to see a lot more personal names with this difference)
These are lexical pronunciations—that is, speakers just learn to pronounce the word that way on a word-by-word basis, rather than a rule-based pronunciation, where the pronunciation is 'conditioned' by its pronunciation environment and it happens to all words that contain that environment. We can tell this isn't a phonologically conditioned variant because fleecy, which has an /s/ sound between the same vowels as in greasy, is never "fleezy". There's nothing these words have in common that makes them all go toward the same pronunciation—some are between vowels (a place where it's easy for consonants to take on voicing), but others are word-final. Some may have been pushed toward /z/-ness due to their similarity with other /z/-pronounced words: greasy–easy, resource–resort, and the like. 

My intuition about them is that they're very irregular across people. I just played a 'guess the word' game with my south-London-born spouse (50s), and he used /z/ for all of these except greasy and opposite, for which he used /s/. Who knows why?

I haven't got the time now to see how regular dictionaries are about their representations of these, but it strikes me that this would make a nice little undergraduate student project!

*Eek! "Accent erasing" is not something a linguist likes to endorse—you can be an accent replacer, but not an accent eraser.

** Forgot to mention: you do hear greasy with a /z/ in AmE. I think of it as southern, someone on Twitter said they think of it as midlands, but a friend from my northeastern hometown says it, so it's kind of irregular too.

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OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)