trucks and lorries

Three years ago when I started this blog, I wrote:
Dictionaries of British/American English mostly cover well-known variants like truck/lorry and elevator/lift But these are just the tip of the iceberg. What I intend to cover here are words/phrases/pronunciations/grammatical constructions that get me into trouble on a daily basis.
But as we've seen already with chips and crisps and jumper and sweater, it's often the case that the relationship between these 'well-known variants' is far more complex than the cross-dialectal dictionaries and word lists give credit for. Such is the case for AmE truck and BrE lorry, as Molly discovered recently. She writes:
I teach translation from Italian to English to language majors [in Italy]. I am lucky this term to have three women in my class on the Erasmus project [EU student exchange system--ed.] who are from the UK. They told me today that British English for "pick-up truck" is "pick-up truck". I asked them "What about a lorry?" and they told me that a lorry is much bigger.
I hope they told Molly that a lorry is much, much bigger, as many of the things that AmE speakers call trucks are not lorries in BrE. This is a lorry (from

And so is this (also from the links will be put in the text):

The really big kind of BrE lorry is an articulated lorry, which has several names in AmE--but I've covered those before, so have a look back here.

An AmE speaker will start to go wrong with their general lorry-for-truck translation rule when they get to this:

This is a (BrE) van--but never an AmE van.

Think of it this way, if it's referred to as a lorry, you'd need to have a special (AmE) driver's license/(BrE) driving licence to drive it, whereas the kind of thing that you could (AmE) rent/(BrE) hire in order to move your worldly belongings from point A to point B would have to be called a van in BrE. [But maybe not--see comments for details!] But in BrE, you might instead opt to hire a man with a van to do your moving for you.

In AmE, van is limited to referring to things like this:

And it refers to those things in BrE too--though they may be called transit vans (after the Ford Transit). In the UK, the white variety of these vehicles (as pictured) are the typical vehicle driven by tradespeople, and a stereotype has arisen for the (BrE) white van man as an unsavo(u)ry character. You can read more about that here.

While/whilst this next vehicle would be called a van or a minivan in AmE, it would be more likely to be called a people carrier in BrE:

As Molly was informed, there's no particularly BrE word for (orig. AmE) pick-up trucks, but then again, there are few pick-up trucks in the UK. Now don't--please don't--get me started about people in the US who use comically large pick-up trucks to do little more than drive to work and through the Taco Bell (orig. AmE) drive-thru. I've lived in Texas. If I start, I might not be able to stop. (But the BBC h2g2 site has a fairly good take on it.) I have only seen one of these monsters in the UK, and if you don't think they look silly in their American context (in [AmE] parking lots/[BrE] car parks full of similar things), then you'll just have to come and see one in the UK. They're hilarious. Or wrist-slittingly depressing. Something like that.

An antipodean P.S.: In South African English, a pick-up truck (just about always a little Japanese model) is a bakkie.


  1. And to unsimplify a bit more: in Ohio, at least, we always called the big yellow (lorry-sized) moving trucks "moving vans."

  2. Good point. That's more widespread than just Ohio!

  3. U-Haul calls it a "gentle ride van." Van's meaning has shifted over the years in AM/E. Semi-trailer for the huge trucks, double axle for the articulated lorries. The only absolute is that we don't call 'em lorries, and I don't quite know why.

  4. An additional antipodean note: in Australian Engllish, what he US calls a pick-up truck is called a ute, short for utility something (vehicle? truck?)

  5. I meant, of course, English and the US

  6. It took me forever to work out what a minivan was - I kept imagining a small transit van and wondering why people with two or three kids would want one of those.

    Also, I think that 'pick up truck' is what's known in Australia as a 'ute' (short for utility truck). This was widely popularised in the UK during the heyday of Neighbours and Home and Away, twenty years ago, so you do occasionally still hear them called by this name too.

  7. When moving possessions in a vehicle, it's a moving van in American English. Even if it looks like a truck.

  8. And to unsimplify from the opposite direction, the definition of lorry as being something for which a special driving licence is required doesn't work either. A UK car driver's licence brings entitlement to drive vehicles up to 7500kg - and at that size, they are definitely lorries, not vans.

    I think it is also an iron rule in BrE that vans are for the transportation of goods and so do not have side windows behind the front doors (but, to complicate the complication, 'camper vans' are an exception to that - or were; they are now very rare). The vehicle in your fifth picture might not be called a people carrier in BrE, but it would never be called a van - the 'more likely' in that sentence is literally correct, but risks being misconstrued.

    As for moving vans, the splendid word pantechnicon has not altogether died.

  9. Dennis Baron26 May, 2009 01:41

    Do they still have estate wagons in England (cf. US station wagon)?

  10. And what about (BrE) "HGVs"? (Or was that covered previously?) I know it's supposed to be "Hsomething Goods Vehicles" but I don't think I've ever heard an explanation of what the "something" is. (Hazardous? Heavy? Hungarian?)

    In the U.S. there's a legal difference between "hazardous cargoes" and "dangerous cargoes" that I've never managed to figure out. (And there are apparently distinct prohibitions for those two plus "hazardous materials", which presumably means the same thing except that it doesn't matter whether it's a "cargo".)

  11. Etymology of "truck" and "lorry"

  12. HGV - Heavy Goods veihcle which are lorries and there are different weight classes which you need different licenses for. And also for the hazardous things like flamable liquids etc.

  13. Hmm - to me (as a New Zealander/Australian) that's not a mini-van, it's a people mover (not people carrier). A mini-van is like the old vw van - it's got to have a flat(ish) front and be taller. If it looks like a car at the front end, it's not a mini-van.

    When I saw "people carrier" the first thing I though of was "troop carrier", which is the local term for a vehicle (usually a 4WD) with facing bench seats in the back along each side.

  14. Living in Oklahoma, USA we see lots of pickup trucks, or as we sometimes like to say, "pick'em up" trucks. If it has dual wheels in the rear like the one in your picture, it is a Dually. If it has a back seat it is an Extended Cab. If it has 4 doors it's a Crew Cab The big ones with dual wheels and 4 doors are Cowboy Limousines.

    Although it is true that a some people drive big pickup trucks just because they like the way they look. They may feel a big truck gives them a macho image, as in "you may not be a cowboy but you wish you were". I don't know what you can say to justify a Hummer, but that's a different topic.

    However, for people who do construction work or need to carry odd sized items, or have enough property to haul brush or move mowing equipment, a pickup is very handy. Even a suburban home owner may choose a small pickup as a second car for those times when nothing else will do.

    Remember that the USA has a lot of open spaces. Oklahoma outside of Oklahoma City and Tulsa is largely rural and if you are involved in farming or ranching you gotta have a truck, make that a pick'em up truck.

  15. Thanks for the informative post! Though I have loads of BrE friends and have visited several times, I've never driven there so I really haven't had much occasion to discuss the nuances of lorry/truck.

    Just a note on pickup, and on Tulsa Gentleman's comment. I am from central Texas (I currently live in Austin, though I teach in a small farming community). Most of the time I go NUTS seeing all of the people driving around gigantic pick-ups. The vast majority of people just don't need anything like that, and just think it's manly. In smaller towns, especially, women think it's cool as well.

    At the same time, I know it's a cultural thing. I am a farmer's daughter, and when I was growing up (30 years ago), every family had a car and a truck. The truck was 'dad's car', which was for working and hauling things. The car was 'mom's car', which was for family trips to town. Now that most people in that town and area work in the city, they no longer really need the truck, but they have it anyway. My dad, who's one of the few farmer's left in the area, has an excuse. ;-)

    This is actually something that I constantly argue with my high school students about.... They tell me I'm a wimp for driving a Mazda protege. I tell them they're taking up space and resources with their Ford F350.

  16. I'm Australian, and thus call a pick-up truck a ute - they're a very, very common vehicle in rural areas, and not uncommon in urban areas. I've heard British people say "ute" as well, as Ros says.

  17. Dennis Baron, yes, though they are estate cars rather than estate wagons. They tend to be elderly Volvos.

  18. To me, the typical ute has no side panels along the bed, like some 1940s US pick up, but is also about the height of a car. The typical pick-up in the US has side panels everywhere and is raised. I don't know if the Aussies have different names for these.

  19. My experience from living in the rural UK is that people who actually need pick-up trucks invariably have small Japanese ones.

  20. In the UK, car models are called saloon, estate or hatchback. There is a very old name for estates - "shooting brake" - which is never heard nowadays, but which my mother used to use.

    If the estate/van has no windows in the back, I believe the tax authorities will accept it as a working vehicle (from memory, this can help when it comes to assessing any benefits from personal use).

    Driving around London and the South East of England, I notice a fair number of white vans with padlocks added to the back doors, and signs saying "no tools kept overnight" or similar. I assume there must be lots of thefts from white vans. I wonder how American tradesmen keep their equipment secure if they have an open-backed truck, which seems to be the US equivalent of the white van.

  21. So maybe the fact that the French call an estate car a 'break' comes from this 'shooting brake' business ? I've been wondering about that for years.

  22. Jane - interesting to hear about French usage (and Wikipedia agrees with you - search shooting brake).

    Flat-bed truck: I have heard truck rather than lorry in this phrase, in the UK.

    HGV - yes, H = Heavy.

    My (standard) driving licence shows the categories of vehicle that I may drive, with images next to each category, and includes an image of what Lynne said was a van in the UK but not in the US - category C1.

  23. I was going to mention that the pictured cab-over is recognizable to my NE American ears as a 'van,' although I don't think I would spontaneously use the term, reserving it for the prototype you provided.

    My other thought was that BrE 'lorry' as a semi-tractor/tractor-trailer/18-wheeler must indicate that it references the relatively larger trucks currently on the road, since it seems to me that I've read many older references to lorries which were written before the advent of 18-wheelers, and much smaller trucks (ten wheelers, e.g.) are commonly referenced as lorries in, for example WWII dramas (which, despite all the BrE accents. might be American productions, for all I know).

  24. @marek: Thanks for the details re licen{s/c}es--even if I had looked that up, I probably wouldn't be able to picture the kinds of vehicles that go with that weight.

    As for pick-up trucks and the 'need' for them, it's much like SUVs. There are plenty of people who just don't need such a big and wasteful vehicle--the campus I taught at in Texas was full of huge pick-ups and SUVs, not because 18-year-old students need them,* but because they were 'cool', and the students' parents didn't like to think of their children in smaller cars that would lose the battle in an accident with a big pick-up or SUV.

    My American family needs to have SUVs and pickups for carting around caskets/coffins and gravestones, respectively. But that doesn't stop them driving the danged things to the supermarket or the mall, even though they do have regular passenger cars too. And that's just hard to forgive in these times...

    *Actually, people are very good at rationali{s/z}ing their ownership of large vehicles. E.g. 'I need them for moving my stuff in and out of the dorm(itory) [=BrE res(idence hall)] each semester'. To which I reply (a) take less stuff! or (b) rent a trailer! The cost of renting a trailer a few times a year is far less than the cost of running a behemoth!

    And so Lynne gets opinionated again...

  25. Steve Bowman26 May, 2009 15:06

    Occasionally in British novels I encounter the word Pantechnion, which I have assumed from context is some sort of truck. An archaic term?

  26. @Steve Bowman: See my earlier comment in this thread. It's not totally archaic, but it does have a very specific meaning - a large vehicle for moving furniture, usually but always for the purpose of moving house.

    @lynneguist If you want to get a sense of how big a thing you can drive with a UK car driving licence, just search google images for "7.5 tonne"

  27. Yes, pantechnicon is an old-fashioned word for what we (UK) would now call a removal van.


  28. not to be confused with pandemonium (Paradise Lost)

  29. Interesting. Irish people are less averse to Americanism than the Brits are; or perhaps we are more averse to Briticisms. In any case, "truck" -- which is gaining ground in Britain -- is more common than "lorry" here these days. To me, the picture of which you say "This is a (BrE) van--but never an AmE van" can only be called a truck. It's too big to be a van and too small to be a lorry. I would call the larger things trucks too -- or HGV or articulated truck to be more specific -- but I would recognise them as lorries if some else so described them. I would not recognise the smaller one so described.

    I agree with James that "utes" are lower than "pick ups"; a ute shares its chassis with an ordinary car, simply replacing the rear seats and boot/trunk with a flatbed. One can even see low-rider "sports utes" with blacked-out windows and halogen floorlights. sports ute picSimilarly, one can get a "car van", where the rear shell is as for a car, but with no rear seats or side windows. [@marek: I think the seats must be missing as well as the windows. Otherwise Autoglass could abet some nifty dodges.] Ford Fiesta van pic

  30. Also Irish like Molly, and agree with her - I think I'd be more inclined to use "truck" than lorry, though for the really big ones, I'd probably these days refer to them as HGVs (heavy goods vehicles). Though I work in a transport-related field so that may have influenced my usage.

    I also agree with Molly that the rigid white truck pictured is definitely not something I would think of as a van. The smaller one shown is about as big as a van could get for me.

    On the other hand, "lorry driver" sounds much more natural to me than "truck driver".

  31. I agree totally, Lynne - in BrE, in increasing order of size, truck - van - lorry; but as you indicate, we'd never think of calling a people carrier (or spacewagon) a truck - it's a big car to us, while a truck could either be of the pick-up variety, or look like an estate car but with no windows beyond the wondscreen and those to the side of the driver/passenger.

  32. This has been an interesting post. As an American, I hear and use the following: semi or tractor trailer or 18 wheeler for the really big ones; tandem for a semi cab towing two containers; van or panel van for a working vehicle with an enclosed back-end (don't know why we call the little vehicles the size of vans but selling ice cream "ice cream TRUCKS"); mini-vans (thanks to Chrysler for the term); pick-ups and half-ton pick-ups for the small "Japanese" versions; SUV's - all sizes and not really fair.

    I get a bit miffed when we talk of over indulgence in "these times". I seem to remember an oil crisis in the 70's that elicited similar cries. The fact is that we do have a lot of open spaces. I have a one-acre lot, heavily wooded and use larger vehicles to move supplies to and from the lot. Want to put out a bunch of mulch? Get a pick-up. Want to build a shed? Get a pick-up. Want to buy a refrigerator? Get a pick-up (delivery charges are a bite). SUV's can double for a lot of these activities as the back seats fold down. Now you have a covered pick-up. Finally, look at the National Transportation Safety board crash ratings. You won't find too many Smart cars in the list that survive. Many other small cars will go airborne. Big is safer. If we can affort the gas, so be it.

  33. Here in NYC, people who can call themselves movers must be licensed, bonded, insured, etc., etc., so their prices are high. If you don't want to or can't pay those prices, you turn to the man with van, who typically advertises using a flyer attached to a lamppost (or probably on Craigslist nowadays).

    The van which he has, however, can be anything from an ordinary passenger car on up. The vast majority of New Yorkers don't have cars; indeed, something like 70% of adults don't even know how to drive, so New York State issues "non-driver's licenses" which are valid for all identification purposes, but don't allow you to drive.

  34. The Australian-ism "Ute" is a contraction of Coupé utility which is what Ford Australia called them when introduced in 1935.

    @James: As I see it in Australian English, the distinctions between side panels or not in the bed area are:
    - no (or removable) sides, flat bed = "tray back"
    - side bodywork continuous (in form, if not structure) with front panels = "style side"
    - side bodywork with distinctly separate wheel arches = "step side"

  35. Lynneguist - re your opinionatedness: I have to think that now (or at least prior to the last economic downturn), people perceived that they NEEDED to be able to carry/move more stuff. The size of the average American household goes down as the size of the average American house goes up.

  36. Before we get too snooty about Americans and oversized and unnecessary pick-ups, is Britain not the home of the "Chelsea tractor" (the 4WD people carrier or offroader that has never been offroad in its life, has room to seat 16, and carries one yummy mummy and one insufferable child)?

  37. The original Chelsea tractor was the Range Rover, designed in the 1970s as a luxury version of the Land Rover (the original utility vehicle). A 60-year-old female friend describes SUVs as pseudo-Range Rovers, which dates and classes her beautifully.

  38. So, after reflecting some more ...

    I remember the VW "people mover" as a VW BUS. In it's time, it was the only such multi-person vehicle in the US market.

    For clarity, this 50-something reader from the US South would refer to the vehicles in the pictures, in order, as:


  39. Interestingly nobody's raised the fact that the really big lorries are also called 'juggernauts' (or used to be - it's not heard so much any more).

    I (BrE) sometimes reach for the word 'truck' when describing something bigger than a pickup but smaller than a lorry, especially one with an open back. But I'm married to an American and so my instincts are sometimes off in these matters

  40. I remember being told (probably by my Dad, the fount of random 'fact') that a "lorry" is a flat back one, the word having descended from the name for a flat top cart with no sides that stuff was put on rather than in. However, I would still it use to describe most large haulage vehicles.

  41. The third pictured vehicle in the post was/is usually called a baker's van or a van, although it can be called a truck too. Mid-Atlantic US, currently living in DC - in this area I'm most accustomed to hearing the items called (in order) semi, tanker, baker's van, van, mini-van and pickup. All of them are trucks, but truck is very generic term.

    The really huge, shiny, foolish pickups are sometimes called "extentions" for the supposed benefit they provide their predominantly male owners.

  42. Dr. Tom Roche28 May, 2009 21:56

    Unless I miss my guess, I recall reading that the term 'truck' is used in Britain for what Americans call a (railroad) 'boxcar', right?

    1. There wasn't an exact equivalent of a boxcar. Open freight vehicles on British railways are called "wagons" and completely closed ones were called "vans". Most of them used to be 4 wheeled, unbraked and coupled together with chains.
      Examples here:

  43. So would an El Camino be a ute in Australia? Has anyone ever seen one in the UK or Ireland? The article calls it a 'utility vehicle', but I (from Washington state) have no generic term for El Caminos or Ford Rancheros... I would have to use the proper name, or (more likely) would call them all El Caminos. My dad told me they were popular in the 70s, not as utility vehicles, but as muscle cars, since they were allowed to have truck engines in days such as those.

  44. El Camino - wierd! It looks like the kind of vehicle that Starsky and Hutch would need if they were supplementing their detectives' salaries by moonlighting as plumbers and needed some space for their tools.

  45. Dr Roche - I agree. "Truck" in BrE (at least traditionally) meant a railway "boxcar."

    As an aside, an English friend of mine who drove a pick-up around Australia now refers to the utility room in his house as the "ute room"

  46. For my early-twenties BrE tuppence worth- I wouldn't call anything a truck really, except with the 'pickup' prefix (which I would spell as one word- as you can see).

    I don't think any of my peers would either, except the ones who like to deliberately affect Americanism.

    @Marek- I'm pretty sure you need a specific license for an HGV, if someone was a 'lorry driver' it would mean they had passed a special test, like a bus driver. I've had my license for four years and it only permits me to drive things up to the size of what I would call a 'mini van'
    [Sorry- not sure how to hyperlink text here]

    A mini-van is something that a pluumber or carpenter might have if they only did quite small jobs or worked for a big company which owned its own lorries. I think they're called 'panel vans' in the US? If such a vehicle even exists left of the pond.

    Just to spannerise a little more, I would call your second pic there a tanker or possibly a container lorry, because it is filled with a liquid, I couldn't climb in the back to put things in.

    I do hear juggernaut now and again, but I've never heard pantechnicon before. It is however, a great word and I will endeavour to reintroduce it to the contemporary lexicon forthwith!

  47. anonymous from Dublin again - I felt something was not quite right about the idea of the second picture being a truck / lorry and the last poster put his finger on it - for me that's a tanker, not a truck / lorry.

  48. As an Aussie who grew up in the heyday of utes, I would like to clarify. To an Australian, a ute is not just a vehicle that has the front part of a passenger vehicle with a tray with sides at the back. Utes are only ever a Holden or a Ford Falcon. Nothing else qualifies, not even vehicles from the same manufacturers. So Joel A. Shaver, although an El Camino looks like a ute, an Australian would never call it that.

    And to rave on a little further, the first ute was built in my home town of Geelong, Victoria in 1935. It was recently rebuilt and it lives in the Ford Museum.

  49. One thing that hasn't yet been mentioned in the comments is the "dumper truck" which seems to be common usage on both sides of the pond.

  50. Never heard of dumper truck in AmE, Tony. It's dumptruck in my dialects!

  51. The distinction between the US and UK is not so clear cut, particular when it come to the people who drive trucks/lorries in Britain. I have never seen a truck here with anything like a "South East Lorry Drivers’ Club" sticker on the windscreen/windshield. But I have seen a "South East Truckers’ Club" sticker. Google "truck drivers UK" and you will also find TruckNet UK and If there are any lorry drivers’ club I have not come across one.

  52. The original British definition, I believe, was that lorry = flatbed, van = enclosed, which is why it's a removal van (enclosed) even though a removal van is as big as a lorry. I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the articulated lorry, or artic, which is one with a tractor unit and a separate trailer, known, I believe, as a semi-trailer truck in the US.

  53. I did mention it, Terry. Read again and click the link!

  54. The driving licence regulations have changed in the UK. Drivers passing their test these days can only drive:

    Cat B - Motor tricycles / quadricycles, three or four wheeled vehicles with an unladen weight not exceeding 550kg

    Cat B1 - Motor vehicles with a MAM (maximum authrosied mass) not exceeding 3500kg having not more than eight passenger seats with a trailer up to 750kg. Combinations of towing vehicles in category B and a trailer, where the MAM of the combination does not exceed 3500kg and the MAM of the trailer does not exceed the unladen mass of the towing vehicle

    Cat F - Agricultural tractors

    Cat K - Mowing machine or vehicle controlled by a pedestrian

    Cat P - Mopeds

    Which makes house moving a complete pain, and is doubly annoying as those who qualified 10 years ago and are allowed to drive 750kg 16-seat vehicles, did much simpler, shorter, easier driving tests!

    Also, as a youngish British person (22) I wouldn't use 'truck' either, unless possibly fronted with 'flat bed' or refering to something I'd consider mostly American 'Monster Trucks'.

    Well, I'm off on a motorway journey tomorrow with an American passenger, so we'll play 'what would you call that?' all the way :)

  55. I can't believe no-one (including me) remembered to mention the Not The Nine O'Clock News song "I Like Trucking"! Made in the UK for UK consumption, it was about lorry drivers. (Rowan Atkinson has an HGV licence and enjoys driving them as a hobby.) It begins:

    I like trucking,
    I like trucking,
    I like trucking and I like to truck.
    I like trucking,
    I like trucking,
    If you don't like trucking, tough luck.

    ...Of course, there's a lot less you can rhyme with "lorry".

  56. Midwesterner here(AmE[mw]). The third picture I would call a box van. I'm really suprised that with such a long thread that no one added that one to the list.

    Thanks for the enjoyable reading, I'm always interested in the cultrual differences of the two countries divided by the same language.

  57. The vehicle with a separate box body extending over the cab roof is a Luton Van in the UK. It is based on a van but the addition of the box body extending over the cab roof makes it a specialist variety - Luton Van.

  58. @Robbie:

    You can rhyme lorry with sorry if you're Canadian. Although I'm pretty sure they call them trucks in Canada too.

  59. Having just seen an episode of sitcom Community in which a British psychology professor refers to leaving his wallet "in the back of my lorry" I checked Google to see what the BrE was for (what he presumably meant) "pickup truck", and this site was on the first page of results.

    I can't imagine why actor John Oliver didn't point this out to the scriptwriters, how likely is it that a community college professor would drive a lorry?

  60. It seems no one has mentioned lorries being referred as wagons. A lot of the northern elderly drivers refer to there lorries as wagons. My grandfather in his younger days drove a Scammell steam wagon. It's still a common saying depending what part of the country you come from

    1. I would like to make a correction to the statement above being made by myself.
      It wasn't a Scammell but a Sentinel.
      Sorry my mistake.

  61. So how do people in the UK move a load of mulch, or potting soil, or firewood...?

  62. Quoth anon:
    So how do people in the UK move a load of mulch, or potting soil, or firewood...?

    Can't speak for everybody but when I'm doing this at the market garden where I work part-time I use a trailer hooked to the back of the small tractor.

  63. HGV means Heavy Goods Vehicle. Thanks to the EU, they are now called Large Goods Vehicles, even though the weight (mass) is the most important feature.

    After all, furniture removal vans are large, but many are only 7 1/2 tonners.

    As for estate cars, what about the term shooting brakes? Both other ways of saying station wagon, with station meaning, I presume, cattle or sheep station - not railway.

  64. Station wagons and shooting brakes are very similar and both belong to the now (almost) lost era of country house parties. Station wagons were used by owners of big houses to transport guests and their plentiful luggage from the local railway station and back at the end of their stay.

    Shooting brakes were used in a similar way when the party was a shooting one, with all the extra luggage: guns, waterproofs, etc. They were also used to transport people on the estate to or from the shoots, which would usually be quite some distance from the house itself.

  65. Oh - I forgot to say that estate cars are simply cars run on an estate such as the large estates holding the country house parties and/or shoots.

  66. "This is a (BrE) van--but never an AmE van."

    Yes it would be called a Moving Van here in the midwest.

  67. Arriving quite late to this particular party, but I believe the distinction between a station wagon and a shooting brake has to do with the number of doors. A shooting brake doesn't have rear (side) doors -- you have to climb behind the front seats to access the rear seats. As a result, if it had a wall between the cabin and the cargo area (which would thereby be a trunk), it would be a coupe. A station wagon, by contrast, has rear doors and thus would be a sedan if it had a separate trunk.

  68. I'm arriving even later to this party, and don't even have anything new to add. However, as a Northern Brit, I can affirm Anonymous's assertion that 'wagon' is used for a lorry in the North of England, and not just by the elederly either - it is by far the most used term, although lorry would also be understood.
    I used pantechnicon (which was in common use when I was young in the 702/80s)to a much younger colleague not that long ago, and got a very blank look.

    1. Even later reply.. I can also confirm that "wagon" is used in North West England, although "truck" and "lorry" are also used. The term "truck" is also used for pickups.

  69. And to throw my own two cents' worth into the ongoing debate on pickup trucks:

    I grew up in rural Iowa (very agricultural area) and my first two vehicles were Ford Rangers ('half-pint' pickups). I miss them dearly - they were good on gas (the one got 35 MPG, the other was only a little worse at 32 MPG) and I had a legitimate excuse to NOT give people rides all the time ("Sorry, only one passenger seat! And it's promised to my sister/niece/backpack!").

    My bicycle lived in the bed, alongside whatever seasonal pastimes I needed (fall - hunting season - lockbox bolted to the bed, containing my .22, field-dressing kit, and extra ammo; winter - sucky snow season - a blanket, two sandbags, a shovel, and a bundle of candles, granola bars, and chem-pack warmers; spring & summer - fishing tackle and swimming gear, sometimes a small canoe). Now that I live in a wonderful (splendid, fantabulous) city, I still wish I had a pickup - if only to haul my dirtbike around (but, it's street-legal, too, so I guess I can live with it).

    Both of my trucks had a fantastic little bumper-sticker, too. It read, 'Yes, this is my truck. No, I will not help you move.'

    Anyway, I love all the comments, and I honestly didn't realize that pickups were so uncommon outside the US. They're just so handy, I figured they'd be popular worldwide.

  70. In Russian, pickup has been adopted as a noun with all the case endings that Russian nouns enjoy. Mashina s pickupom exhibits the Dative case after the preposition s 'with'. Somehow, pickup has come to means the rear bodywork of an estate wagon; it's a 'car with a pickup'.

  71. I live in the north of Scotland. Pick up trucks are a common sight here due to rural working and sporting pursuits. A few are lifted with extra lights and winches for show. The term shooting brake was an older term for a British estate car similar to the American station wagon. I used to own a '68 Mercury Colony park station wagon about fifteen years ago when I lived in Belfast (Northern Ireland.) Everyone seemed to to automatically call it a station wagon without any prompting from me.
    As for utes, I would agree with the previous Austrailian chap's comments that these would only be Holdens or Fords although I have seen Toyota light pickups with a flat bed back called utes but guess it is a general term used nowadays in Australia.
    A general van would be a British Transit or a Mercedes Sprinter, no windows or rear seats. I would also call this a panel van due to the sheet sides with only maybe a side door and barn doors at the rear. Similar to an American Ford Econoline or a Gmc Vandura.
    An American Semi or 18 wheeler is the same as a British Artic (articulated lorry) also known commonly as a wagon, Hgv or juggernaut or 40 footer.
    A mini van is the same ad a people carrier here in Britain. A British saloon car is the same as an American sedan.
    And lastly, the term lorry in Britain refers to any flat bed or box backed vehicle generally over 7.5 tonnes up to Articulated / Hgv size. Where as a Transit van van chassis with a large box on the rear with a pull down roller door is commonly referred to here in Britain as a Luton body. In America it would be a movers van.
    Hope that helps clear a few things up. I suppose there will always be a few different interpretations due to our different cultures and also television's influence. Perhaps common globalisation of the auto industry (Ford for example) will see common terms disappear in one country to be replaced by another if the marketing men decree it.

    Really enjoyed reading this exchange.
    Bob, Inverness, Scotland.

  72. One reason that "minivan" has not been used in the UK for an MPV/people carrier thing is that the venerable Austin/Leyland Mini had a panel van version, which was thus "a Mini van".

    Although they're rare enough now, I imagine that BMW who still use the Mini name (for something decidedly midi) might be inclined to take umbrage if another maker tried to use it here.

  73. I just wanted to add, the American versions of pick-up trucks/Utes come in many different variations. You have "step-side", where the bed of the truck is narrower and has steps in front and behind the rear wheels. and you have "stake bed", where there generally is a flat bed with wooden stakes and slats for sides. you also have the "flat bed" that is generally just a flat work bed used to haul large cargo. there is also the "Tool Bed", this is a special bed where the sides are made up of tool boxes with locking doors and a small cargo area in between with an open rear, sometimes they have a lift-gate on the back.
    Generally for tradesman we have Vans like you do but they are much different from the Transit van style. Look on Google for "Chevy Express Van" or "Ford E350", these are the most common vans used in the trades.

  74. Well, I've arrived very late at this party and probably everyone's gone home. But I found this discussion because I just heard Neil Young's song , "Don't Let it get You Down", in which he refers to the lorries driving by... And so I wondered, given he's a Canadian, whether they use the British word for truck there... And also, when that song came out, did our American friends know what a lorry was, exactly...?

  75. Sheesh, if you guys (UK) are calling a stock 3500 with dual rear wheels "massive and ridiculous" I would love to see what you guys think about my truck. It's also a 3500DRW but I put on a 6 inch suspension lift and a 4 inch body lift, 38X14 (tallXwide) mud tires and smoke stacks like what you would see on your lorries.

    Then again we don't always drive to and from work in them, I love to take mine off road and get it covered in mud.

  76. Another British equivalent for U.S. "truck" (in its railroad meaning) is "bogie": a wheel assembly of usually two axles under a railroad car (in British usage, "carriage" or "wagon," I believe). Curiously, U.S. aviation uses "bogie" for such wheel assemblies in aircraft landing gear.

  77. Just another example of "never the twain shall meet" in its common usage, rather than Kipling's original. As he spent years living in Vermont with his American wife, no doubt he was often flummoxed at the parallel but different universe between Great Britain (not known as the UK in his day) and the US, equipped as he was with a large moustache in a land of mustaches. But not really; he seemed to operate with equanimity at both approaches to the English language.

    Since in this post's comments we already have an Australian redefining reality that a Chev El Camino or Ford Ranchero from the 1960s could never possibly be considered a ute despite the fact they were virtually identical structurally and mechanically to the Holden and Ford utes then being sold in Oz, the ferocity of discourse and quibbling over small things here once again amazes me. There is no right or wrong! Revel in the differences for goodness sake!

    It takes about two days to learn the obvious main differences between North American usage and British usage, assuming one has a functioning brain, when one emigrates from one country to another as I did as a teenager in 1959 following our family's emigration from England for Canada.

    Of course, you could be like my Dad to whom Canada was forever a mystery, and who out of sheer bloody-mindedness refused to change his word usage, or to even attempt compromise. He never managed to call my girlfriend Margie (with a hard "g") but insisted on Marjie - that went down like a lead balloon after a while when repeated reminders seemed to never penetrate his academic brain. The girl knew her own name after all.

    In a similar vein, I see traces of closed-mindedness here from both sides of the divide. Not necessarily in this post and comments, but in many others where old fogeys insist on this and that and frankly, drive me away repeatedly from what should be a much lighter-minded, less serious and more enjoyable website. I do find that the UK side of the comments is far less tolerant than the US side. Surely discovering the differences is more enjoyable than bluntly asserting one usage is correct and therefore anything else is intolerably incorrect?

    Perhaps my subsequent four years in England pursuing graduate studies in the early 1970s, wherein I heard all the terms like artic instead of semi or rig or tractor-trailer, including pantechnicon, juggernaut and HGV, allowed me to smoothly integrate the different word usages into a whole picture in my mind. I found it interesting to note, not a pedestal from which to sternly lecture the great unwashed as to the tinyness of their minds for using incorrect wording. Although as a pattern reader, I am continually jolted by the incorrect use of "it's" for its, a peculiarly British formation which has gone viral in the USA as well. Virtually nobody gets it correct these days and the disease has spread to hers and theirs. I blame it as a reaction to the spread of the grocer's plural in the UK and lax schooling educational standards where since the late 1970s as long as the child is able to scrawl anything, 5 gold stars are awarded at once. Or should that be 5 gold star's? Ahem.

    Of course, in many cases both UK and US usage is wrong. For example, a van or Transit chassis with a large squarish box on the back is not a removal van. It is indubitably a cube van. Using any other term in Canada will immediately reveal you as a dastardly foreigner!

    You may google "cube van" and stand back for an avalanche of Canadian results.

    Bill Malcolm
    Great White North
    Land of the Justin Selfie


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AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)