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NYT Spelling Bee: an archive of disallowed BrE words

Twitter has been my main internet stomping ground since 2009, but I've been withdrawing my labo(u)r from it since October, when it became much more volatile for some reason

The New York Times Spelling Bee has been my morning-coffee activity for some of those years, and since November 2020 I've been jokingly tweeting the BrE words that it hasn't accepted. These go in a thread of posts that always start: 

Perfectly Common BrE Words the @NYTimesGames Spelling Bee Has Denied Me: An Occasional Series

Twitter has really degraded this week, which is making me feel a bit sad that perhaps that thread will have to die. (I'm also sad that the thread has frayed along the way—it's very difficult to read it all the way to the beginning because it splits here and there.) So as a clearly procrastinatory measure, I'm putting the list of "perfectly common BrE words" here, with a little more explanation than they tended to get on Twitter.

For those who don't know the Bee: it's an anagram game where one must use the middle letter. The twist—and what makes it a superior anagram game—is that you can use any of the letters as many times as you like. Here's what it looked like on the 5th of April when I hadn't yet got to Genius level.  (My goal every day is 'make it to Genius before breakfast'. It's nice to be called 'Genius' before you've started work.) 

The game, of course, has its own word list, which is suitably American for its New York Times home. Still, some not-usually-AmE words are playable, like FLATMATELORRY and PRAM. But many words that are part of my everyday vocabulary in England are not playable. And non-AmE spellings are generally not playable. 

There's been a lot of attention to AmE words that (orig. AmE) stump non-American players in Wordle. (Here's Cambridge Dictionary's 2022 Word of the Year post, which covers some—and includes a video in which I talk about why HOMER was a great choice for Word of the Year.) Not as much attention has been paid to the Spelling Bee, which you need to subscribe to. I'm sure British players have their own (mental) lists of American words they've had to learn in order to get "Queen Bee" status (finding all the day's words) in the game. If you're one of them, do use the comments to tell us about those weird words.

So, after all that preamble, here are the "Perfectly Common BrE Words the @NYTimesGames Spelling Bee Has Denied Me" words in alphabetical order, with translations or links to other blog posts. But first, a bit more preamble. The disclaimers! 

  • Words in the puzzle must be at least four letters long, so some of these are suffixed forms for which the three-letter base word was unplayable. If there's an -ED form but not an -ING form (etc.), that'll be because the other one's letters weren't in the puzzle. 
  • Some of these would not have been allowable—regardless of their dialectal provenance—on the basis that they are "naughty" words. I include them anyway. 
  • I have checked questionable cases against the GloWbE corpus to ensure that the word really is more common in BrE than AmE.
  • Some are Irish or Australian by origin, but they are still more common in BrE than in AmE.
  • Sometimes my spelling is a bit liberal here. If I could find one British dictionary that allowed me the word with the given spelling, I included it.  
  • Also the phrase "perfectly common" is not meant to be taken too seriously!
  • These words were not playable at the time when I tried to play them. The word list may have changed and some of them may be playable now. 
  • Red ones are ones that have been unsuccessfully played/tweeted about since I first started this blog list. Green ones have been added to the blog since the original post, but were tweeted-about earlier than that—I just missed them in the tangled Twitter threads when I was writing the blog post. 

  AmE slaughterhouse

AGGRO aggression, aggressive behavio[u]r

AITCH  the letter. Less need to spell it as a word in AmE. See this old post.

ANAEMIA / ANAEMIC  AmE anemia/anemic

ANNEXE  minority spelling in BrE; usually, as in AmE, it's annex

APPAL   AmE appall; old post on double Ls

ARDOUR   old post on -or/-our

ARGYBARGY this is a bit of a joke entry because it's usually spelled/spelt ARGY-BARGY (a loud argument), but the Squeeze album has no hyphen. 

ARMOUR    -or/-our

BIBBED  I don't know why this shows up more in BrE data, but it does, just meaning 'wearing a bib'

BINMAN / BINMEN  AmE garbage man (among other terms); old post on bin

BINT  derogatory term for a woman

BITTY having lots of unconnected parts, often leaving one feeling unsatisfied; for example, this blog post is a bit bitty

BLAG covered in this old post

BLUB / BLUBBING to sob (= general English blubbering)

BOAK retch, vomit, throw up a bit in the mouth. That was gross. Sorry.

BOBBLY having bobbles 

BOBBY  I think this one might be playable now. Informal term for police officer. In AmE, found in bobby pins

BODGE / BODGED make or fix something badly

BOFFIN  see this old post

BOLLOCK / BOLLOCKED  reprimand severely

BOLLOX  This one's more common in Irish English than BrE. To screw something up.

BOKE   see BOAK 

BONCE  the head (informal)

BOYO a boy/man (Welsh informal)

BRILL  short for brilliant, meaning 'excellent'; also a kind of European flatfish

BROLLY  umbrella (informal)

BUNG / BUNGING to put (something) (somewhere) quickly/carelessly. People cooking on television are always bunging things in the oven. 

BUTTY  see this old post

CAFF  a café, but typically used of the kind that is analogous to an AmE diner (that is to say a café is not as fancy in BrE as it would be in AmE)

CAWL  a soupy Welsh dish (recipe); also a kind of basket

CEILIDH  a Scottish social dance (event)

CHANNELLED   post on double Ls

CHAV / CHAVVY  see this old post and/or this one

CHICANE  a road arrangement meant to slow drivers down; see this old post

CHILLI  see this old post

CHIMENEA / CHIMINEA the 'e' spelling is considered etymologically "correct" but the 'i' spelling seems to be more common in UK; I think these kinds of outdoor fireplaces are just more trendy in UK than in US?

"cholla" at a UK online supermarket
CHOC chocolate (informal, countable)

CHOLLA  a spelling of challah (the bread) 

CLAG  mud; more common is claggy for 'having a mud-like consistency'

COLOUR    -or/-our

CONNEXION this is a very outdated spelling of connection. Not actually used in UK these days, but wouldn't it be nice to be able to play it?

COOTCH  a hiding place, a shed or similar (from Welsh cwtch)

COUNCILLOR  post on double Ls

CRAIC it's really an Irish one (a 'good time'), but it qualifies here because it's used more in BrE than AmE (and understood pretty universally in UK)

CRIM  criminal

CUTTY  short (in some UK dialects)

DADO  as in dado rail, what's often called a chair rail in AmE (here's a picture)

DEFENCE  AmE defense

DEMOB /DEMOBBED  de-mobilize(d); that is, released from the (BrE) armed forces / (AmE) military

DENE  a valley (esp. a narrow, wooded one) or a low sand dune near the sea (regional)

DIALLING  post on double Ls

DIDDY    small (dialectal); see this old post

DOBBED / DOBBING  actually Australian, dob = to inform on someone; see this old post on the BrE equivalent grass (someone) up

DODDLE  it's a doddle  = (orig. AmE) it's a piece of cake (very easy)

DOOLALLY  out of one's mind

EQUALLED   post on double Ls

FAFF / FAFFING  one of the most useful BrE words. See this old post

FARL  a kind of (AmE) quick bread, usually cut into triangles; can be made of various things, but here's a recipe for a common kind, the potato farl

FILMIC cinematic, relating to film

FITMENT = AmE fixture, i.e. a furnishing that is fit(ted) in place

FLANNELETTE = AmE flannel  old post on flannels

FOETAL AmE (and BrE medical) fetal

FUELLED  post on double Ls

FULFIL   post on double Ls

GADGIE / GADGE guy, man, boy (regional)

GAMMON  this post covers the meat meaning, but lately it's also used as an insult for Brexiteers and their political similars

GAMMY  (of a body part) not working well; e.g., I have a gammy knee

GANNET a type of sea bird, but also BrE slang for a greedy person

GAOL  now less common spelling for jail

GIBBET  gallows; to hang (a person) [not really in current use]

GIGGED / GIGGING  to perform at a gig  [playable as of May 2023]

GILET   covered at this clothing post and also at this pronunciation post

GIPPING form of gip, a synonym of BOAK (see above)

GITE French, but used in English for a type of holiday/vacation cottage

GOBBED / GOBBING  form of gob, which as a noun means 'mouth', but as a verb means 'spit'

GOBBIN waste material from a mine

GOBBY mouthy

GOOLY (more often GOOLIE, GOOLEY) a testicle (informal, see GDoS)

getting gunged/slimed
GUNGE  any unpleasant soft or slimy substance; also used as a verb for having such stuff poured over one's head on a children's show (= AmE slime)

GURN / GURNING  see this old post

HAITCH  = AITCH, but pronounced differently See this old post.

HALLO old-fashioned hello 

HENCH strong, fit (like a weightlifter)

HOLDALL  a duffel bag or similar heavy-duty bag; often spelled with a hyphen (hold-all), but at least some places don't. 

HOOPOE a kind of bird (mostly African), which sometimes makes it to England

HOGMANAY it is a proper noun, but I wanted to include it anyway

HOICK / HOIK  to lift/pull abruptly

HOTCHPOTCH  AmE hodgepodge

INNIT invariant tag question: isn't it

JAMMY  lucky; old post 

KIPPING  form of kip, to take a nap

LAIRY  (esp. of a person) unpleasantly loud, garish 

LAMPED  form of lamp, to hit a person very hard

LAYBY  AmE turnout (and other synonyms/regional terms); a place where a car can move out of the flow of traffic (usually has a hyphen lay-by, but I found one dictionary that doesn't require it)

LIDO an outdoor public swimming pool; there's some debate about how to pronounce it 

LILO  a blow-up mattress for floating on in a pool

LINO  short for linoleum

LOLLY  lollipop or (AmE) popsicle (especially in ice lolly)

LOVAGE  a(n) herb that Americans don't see very often  [has been added! Played successfully on 3 May 2023]

LUPIN  AmE lupine, a flower

LURGI / LURGY  see this old post

MEDIAEVAL  the less common spelling of medieval

MILLIARD  (no longer really used) a thousand million, i.e. a billion 

MILORD address term for a nobleman

MINGE  a woman's pubic hair/area (not flattering) 

MINGING  foul, bad smelling, ugly (rhymes with singing!)

MODELLED  post on double Ls

MOGGY  a cat (informal)

MOOB  man boob

MOULT    AmE molt (related to  -or/-our)

MOZZIE  mosquito

MUPPET in its lower-case BrE sense: 'idiot; incompetent person'

NAFF  this has come up in posts about 'untranslatables' and about a study that identified common BrE words Americans don't know

NAPPY AmE diaper

NAVVY  a manual labo(u)rer (old-fashioned)

NEEP  Scottish English for what the English call a swede and what Americans call a rutabaga (old post on the latter two)

NELLY in the BrE phrase not on your nelly (= AmE not on your life)

NOBBLE  to unfairly influence an outcome; steal 

NOBBLY  alternative spelling of knobbly (which is more common in both AmE & BrE)

NONCY  adjective related to nonce (sex offender, p[a]edophile) 

NOWT  nothing (dialectal)

ODOUR    -or/-our

OFFENCE  AmE offense

OFFIE  short for BrE off-licence; AmE liquor store  (discussed a little in this old post

ORACY  the speaking version of literacy; in US education, it's called orality

PACY  having a good or exciting pace (e.g. a pacy whodunnit)

PAEDO  short for pa(e)dophile

PANTO see this post

PAPPED / PAPPING  from pap, to take paparazzi pictures

PARLOUR    -or/-our

PARP  a honking noise

PEDALLED   post on double Ls

PELMET  another one from the study that identified common BrE words Americans don't know

PENG  slang for 'excellent' 

PIEMAN / PIEMEN this one is usually two words (pie man), but I was able to find a dictionary that allowed it as a single word, so I added it to the list

PIPPED / PIPPING  pip = to defeat by a small amount; often heard in to be pipped at the post 

PITTA another spelling for pita, more in line with the BrE pronunciation of the word

PLAICE another one from the study that identified common BrE words Americans don't know

PLUMMY  see this post

PODGY  chubby

POMMY another Australian one, but English people know it because it's an insult directed at them, often in the phrase pommy bastard

PONCE / PONCY  see this post

PONGING horrible-smelling

POOED / POOING  see this post for the poo versus poop story

POOTLE to travel along at a leisurely speed

POPPADOM / POPPADUM anything to do with Indian food is going to be found more in UK than US

PORRIDGY  like porridge, which in AmE is oatmeal

PUFFA full form: puffa jacket; a kind of quilted jacket; it is a trademark, but used broadly; I did find it in one dictionary with a lower-case p

PUNNET  see this old post

RAILCARD  you buy one and it gives you discounts on train tickets

RANCOUR    -or/-our

RUMOUR     -or/-our

TANNOY  AmE loudspeaker, public address system  (originally a trademark, but now used generically)

TELLY  (orig.) AmE tv

THALI  another Indian menu word 

THICKO  stupid person

TIDDY  small (dialectal) 

TIFFIN  usually referring to chocolate tiffin (recipe)

TINNING  AmE canning

TITCH  a small person 

TOFF  an upper-class person (not a compliment)

TOMBOLA  see this post

TOTTED / TOTTING  see this post 

TOTTY  an objectifying term for (usually) a woman

TRUG  a kind of basket; these days, often a handled rubber container  

TWIGGED  form of twig 'to catch on, understand'

UNEQUALLED   post on double Ls

VIVA  an oral exam (short for viva voce)

WANK / WANKING  my original Word of the Year (2006!)

WEEING  AmE peeing

WELLIE  / WELLY  a (BrE) wellington boot / (AmE) rubber boot

WHINGE  AmE whine (complain)


WOAD a plant used to make blue dye

WOLD a clear, upland area (mostly in place names now)

WOOLLEN   post on double Ls

YOBBO / YOBBY  hooligan / hooliganish

YODELLED   post on double Ls

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I've avoided doing a post on how BrE pudding is used to mean (AmE) dessert because it's one of those AmE/BrE differences that is known by most people with any interest in the two countries. (And way back in the beginning, I said that this blog wasn't about those things that are well-covered in lists of AmE/BrE differences. This has led me to drag my feet, or perhaps my knuckles, in responding to requests for this topic from American readers Cathy and Jacqueline.) The pudding/dessert equation has been mentioned in passing here and there on the blog. But there are angles on this issue that deserve further discussion. So what the hell, here are some observations on them.

This comes up naturally, since I'm in the US at the moment, and the first 'new' AmE/BrE difference we taught my linguistically insightful five-year-old niece on this visit was "dessert is called pudding in England". Her immediate question was the same as reader Cathy's:
If any dessert can be called pudding, what is [AmE] pudding called [in BrE]?
But before I get to that, let's start with a fine-tuning of the general American understanding of the meaning of pudding in BrE. Yes, it can be used to refer to the sweet course of a meal, served after the main course. But in addition to referring to a course, it can also refer to a particular kind of dish, as it does in AmE. But there's still a translational problem, in that it doesn't refer to the same type of dish in the two dialects. In BrE, the dish-sense of pudding is:
A baked or steamed sponge or suet dish, usually sweet and served as a dessert, but also savoury suet puddings (e.g. steak and kidney). Also milk puddings, made by baking rice, semolina, or sago in milk. (Bender & Bender, A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition, Oxford UP, 1995)
Here's a photo of a Christmas pudding, from Cumbria Rural Enterprise Agency. It's kind of like a fruit cake, but it's cooked by steaming. I know Anglophiles who buy and eat Christmas puddings in the US, but other such puddings are very rare in the US. My personal favo(u)rite is Sticky Toffee Pudding, and I consider it my duty to sample as wide a variety of STPs as possible in order to try to identify the best. Nominations on a postcard, please! (AmE speakers should usually mentally translate toffee in BrE contexts to caramel.)

In AmE, pudding nowadays refers particularly to creamy, custard-like desserts. Wikipedia treats this better than other dictionaries I've consulted (BrE translations in brackets are mine):
The second and newer type of pudding consists of sugar, milk and a thickening agent such as cornstarch [=BrE corn flour], gelatin, eggs, rice or tapioca to create a sweet, creamy dessert. These puddings are made either by simmering on top of the stove [=BrE on the hob; AmE stove = BrE cooker] in a saucepan or double boiler or by baking in an oven, often in a bain-marie. They are typically served chilled, but a few types, such as zabaglione and rice pudding, may be served warm.
As the Wikipedia bit indicates, the steamed, cake-ish kind of pudding is older than the 'milk pudding' sense, but it's not the oldest. Originally pudding referred to more sausage-like things. Hence black pudding, a blood sausage that is far more common in Britain (especially in the north of England--at breakfast time, for godsakes) than in the US.

On the grammatical angle, note that the BrE dish-sense of pudding is often a count noun (e.g. I made enough sticky toffee puddings to feed an army) because the puddings are items with well-defined boundaries, whereas in AmE it's usually a mass noun (e.g. I made enough pudding [not puddings] for everyone) since it refers to a substance. (Throughout English, we have the ability to make count nouns out of mass nouns and vice versa, so in this case I'm talking about the natural state of these words when referring to the food as it is prepared, rather than the senses "a portion of X" or "a smear of X", etc.)

So, what do BrE speakers call the creamy stuff that Americans call pudding? I think the best answer is that they don't call it anything in particular. There is no such thing as Jell-o pudding (the form in which most Americans encounter this substance) in the UK. The closest thing to that, although it's more 'mousse-like' is probably Angel Delight. A baked custard is a kind of pudding-y thing that is found in both countries (though not very popular in either place now, I think, except in the more exotic Spanish/Mexican incarnation, flan--which Kevin in the comments reminds us is usually called crème caramel in BrE. See the comments for more on what flan means). But in the UK custard usually refers to pouring custard, which Americans might occasionally come across under its French name crème anglaise. (This was discussed before, back here.) Both countries have rice pudding and the less creamy bread pudding.

(Incidentally, Better Half and I were grocery-shopping here the other day, and we happened down the Jell-o [US trade name, used generically to mean 'flavo(u)red gelatin', i.e. BrE jelly] aisle. BH was flabbergasted by the range of little boxes to be found there, which included two brands (Jell-o and Royal) and both gelatin/jelly and (AmE) pudding mixes. The Kraft Foods website lists 20 flavo(u)rs of regular Jell-o, 12 of sugar-free Jell-o, 17 of instant regular Jell-o pudding, 9 of instant diet Jell-o pudding, and 9 of the regular and diet cook-and-serve pudding mixes. So that's 67 products before we even start counting the ones that Royal makes. I've lived abroad long enough that instead of celebrating such a range of products, I am exhausted by the thought of it and look forward to getting back to a more sensible shopping experience. But only after I've loaded up my suitcase with A1 sauce, low-calorie microwave popcorn and New York State maple syrup.)

Returning to the course-sense of pudding, the term dessert is heard in BrE. The first sense below from the OED has been around in BrE since the 17th century at least, while the second, more general sense is noted as more American, but increasingly found in BrE:

1. a. A course of fruit, sweetmeats, etc. served after a dinner or supper; ‘the last course at an entertainment’ (J.).
b. ‘In the United States often used to include pies, puddings, and other sweet dishes’ (Cent. Dict.). Now also in British usage.
Other BrE terms for this course are the more colloquial afters and sweet, which is often found in lists of 'non-U' terms. Pudding is the least socially marked of these terms.

I believe that the pudding/dessert course is the one that diverges most, food-wise, in the two countries. That is to say, there are lots and lots of British puddings that aren't found in the US and American desserts that aren't found in the UK. And, of course, some of these are sources of amusement--particularly the name of the British dish spotted dick.

Finally (and not entirely unrelatedly), pudding is sometimes clipped to pud (rhymes with wood), which disturbs me when I see it in writing since I first learned pud as a slang term for a woman's genitals that rhymes with bud and is derived from pudendum. But BrE also has a genital-slang pud, which means 'penis'. This one rhymes with wood, since it is derived from pudding. (The OED notes that this is chiefly used in the masturbatory phrase pull the/one's pud.)
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nimrods and other idiots

Tim L wrote (a long time ago) to ask about nimrod:
Have you stumbled across the difference in meanings of the word "nimrod" in American and other Englishes?  It was a surprise to me to learn that it meant something other than dimwit, and a bigger surprise to learn that it meant dimwit only in American English.  The history is mysterious
though the Bugs Bunny explanation is widely touted on the 'net.
Nimrod, as you may know, is the name of a character in Genesis--Noah's great-grandson, and based on that it can be used to refer to 'a great hunter'.  But like many Americans, I knew it first as a word for an idiot, or as the American Heritage Dictionary puts it, 'A person regarded as silly, foolish, or stupid.'  It's the kind of thing that would make one giggle if one heard it in Sunday School.  I was also unduly amused when I discovered that there's a Biblical personage named Dorcas--because of the name's similarity with the American slang term dork which these days means something very much like nimrod, but has also been used to mean 'penis'.

So, coming from an American perspective, it's surprising and strange to find that in the UK it's best known as a type of military (BrE) aeroplane/(AmE) airplane.  It sounds like having a plane named (AmE) doofus or (BrE) der-brain or (BrE) div or (particularly northern BrE) numpty.  So, speaking of "Nimrod accidents" will probably bring up different pictures in the minds of British or American listeners.
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breakfast in Brighton

The title of this post is also the title of one of the first books I read after moving to the titular town. (I recommend it if you know the town, or have reason to get to know it.) It's also what I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Tonight I'm in an airport hotel outside Copenhagen, after another heavenly work trip to Sweden. The only thing that keeps me from believing that I really have gone to Heaven when I'm in Sweden is the preponderance of icky fish in the diet. It's charming the way that my Swedish friends constantly offer me food with fish in it, even when they know that fish is the one thing I cannot keep in my mouth long enough to swallow. (OK, it's not the only thing...but they haven't had reason to discover my relationship with broccoli.) It's not that they're cruel or forgetful, it's just that it doesn't occur to them that anchovy toast or caviar paste actually contains fish products--until I embarrass myself by refusing their kind offers.

But tomorrow I fly early enough to be home before I would have been awake on a normal day. And the only way I'll be able to get through the day is to have a nice protein-o-rific breakfast. Known in those parts as a cooked breakfast.

And the reason for letting you in on my breakfast plans? Oh, just to give unneeded autobiographical background to discussing some queries from Dennis in Wisconsin. Dennis has been noting down (I don't know for how long) sentences in British books that contain words he doesn't understand and can't locate the meanings for. A number of these fit into the category of 'breakfast'. So, here's a tour (in alphabetical order) of British breakfast foods in literature (mostly murder mysteries, from what I can tell. Can't solve crimes on an empty stomach, I guess):
"He had consumed a jumbo dogknob and beans for breakfast that morning" Grave Music, Catherine Harrod-Eagles, p. 5.
Sorry to start with this one. It's just crude. Dogknob here is most likely referring to a sausage--probably a hot-dog-like (i.e. red) sausage. Knob is slang for 'penis', and dogknob red is a crude description of a certain shade of colo(u)r. Moving right along...
"After a breakfast of two eggs and couple of rashers of the greenback he liked..." A New Lease of Death, Ruth Rendell, p. 27.
Because this comes in rashers (a word I haven't heard much in AmE--we tend to call them slices), we can tell it's bacon. I haven't found a definition for it, but since it is contrasted with smoked back bacon on this butcher's site, I think we can assume it's unsmoked back bacon. (Leave a comment if you know otherwise!) The type of bacon that's eaten in the US is called streaky bacon in BrE. If you buy it in Britain it's unlikely to crisp up the way that American bacon does--I'm not sure if it's because it's more thickly sliced or if there's something else different about it. (Your theories?) It won't be maple-cured, that's for sure.

And next on to...
"[Slider's tray held] two fried eggs, double fried bread, sausage, bacon and tomato, tea an' a slice." Blood Lines, Catherine Harrod-Eagles, p. 3
That's a slice of bread. If it didn't say double fried bread just before, I'd have assumed that this was a fried slice, which is certainly not as inedible as fish or broccoli, but not something I'd choose to eat. I looked fruitlessly for a picture of fried bread on the web, but did find a video on how to make it--I'm not sure if the humo(u)r in it is intentional. (The resulting fried slice is far more attractive than anything I've seen in the caffs [BrE slang = 'cafés'] that I frequent.) The same team has made a video on how to make a Full English breakfast.
"Carver went off with his breakfast into the guv'nors' dining-room, but Slider preferred to mess with the ORs, and exchanging friendly nods with some of the sleepy night relief just coming off, who had stayed for a cuppa and a wad, he took his tray to the window table." Blood Lines, p. 2
Dennis didn't ask about cuppa, but I had to highlight it anyhow, as it's just so BrE. It refers, of course, to a cup of tea, which for many Britons is a drink, a security blanket and a way of life. Wad is (apparently military) slang for a (BrE) bun ([postscript:] more probably a sandwich--see comments).

Of course, there is much, much more that could be said about breakfast foods (some of which has already been said on this site--hit the food/cooking label to go to more food discussions). But for tonight, I'm sticking with what Dennis gave me.

There's a very strange noise coming from the hotel bathroom, so if I don't post again, you can imagine that I came to an untimely (because I won't have had my English breakfast) and grisly end, at the hands (or tentacles) of a toilet monster.
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hen nights

Describing Nicole Kidman and what's-his-name's prenuptial activities, Scott Lamb on Salon writes:
Much less interesting is the description of Kidman's bachelorette party, or as they say down under, her hen's night: "Instead of male strippers and boozing, the girls each brought a favorite recipe to discuss."

They may say hen's night in Australia (and they do, if the internet is to be trusted), but in the UK and Ireland, it's generally referred to as a hen night. While the term bachelorette party is used in the US, I've never been to one--in spite of having been a bridesmaid five times and (more recently) a sister-in-law three times--so I wonder how popular they actually are. But here, [drunken] hen nights are hard to escape, especially if you live in a coastal/touristy town like mine. I met three hen nights tonight on my post-prandial promenade. One group were all wearing glittery pink cowboy hats, one seemed to have wreaths of flowers on their heads (much more classy), then there's the ever-popular bunny ears. You can usually spot the bride because she's the one (a) with a veil, (b) with L-plates (the badge that learner drivers must display on their cars), or (c) carrying a naked, male blow-up doll or giant penis balloon. More and more popular are hen weekends--which often involve going abroad, or to touristy coastal towns like mine. There are businesses that speciali{s/z}e in organising hen trips.

Of course, older brides tend not to go for the pink cowgirl outfits or matching t-shirts with pictures of the bride. Recipe-swapping sounds like a nice alternative. But I do wonder about the rate of male take-up on a local 'paint your own pottery' business that advertises "Have your hen night/stag party here!"
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AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)