fighting fire

Having spent so many years on Twitter doing "Differences of the Day",  I have a lot of (forgive me the jargon) content that could be moved over here, to the blog. Today, I'm moving over the information from tweets that I did during my "fire week" in March 2018: five days of AmE–BrE differences relating to fire-fighting. This choice has been inspired by Frank Abate, an American lexicographer who regularly sends me the BrEisms he's come across in reading the news.  So, this post is mostly copy-pasted-edited from tweets—the smaller text is info I've added since the tweets.

Ways of referring to people who fight fires as a job:

  • AmE and BrE both use fireman and firewoman (though News on the Web corpus has both of these at higher rates in UK now)
  • orig. AmE fire fighter (or firefighter) is used about twice as much in US
  • BrE fire crew and fire (safety) officer (which is a higher rank) are not much used in US.
Those who investigate fires are BrE fire investigators or AmE fire marshals.
But in BrE fire marshal is a synonym of (also BrE) fire warden, who is a person in a big building who has a little training and is responsible for helping with evacuation in the event of a fire. I've asked American friends what this is called in the US. A British friend in NYC showed me her workplace has fire wardens, but people in other parts of the country were less certain. Floor captain seems to be used in at least some places.

These people make up the BrE fire brigade or fire service or the AmE fire department or (less commonly) fire company. Outside cities, American ones may be volunteer-run.

There are sometimes volunteer fire departments in the UK, but in the US they're common enough to have their own initialism: VFD (Volunteer Fire Department).  See Wikipedia for more. 

(Fire) appliance is much more common in news/officialese in BrE than AmE (and get a look at NZ!). This goes back to mid-1800s, and refers to a fire engine (used in both countries). AmE has fire truck, but that's a more informal term than engine/appliance.

Per million frequencies: US 0, UK .07, NZ .24
Fire appliance in the News on the Web corpus. 

That reminded me of a sign on the fire station near my house in Brighton:

Red sign: CAUTION: Fire Appliances Emerging. Someone has put a green smiley-face sticker on it.

BrE and AmE both use fire station for these places. AmE also has fire house and fire hall. For me, at least, fire hall indicates that it has space for public meetings, etc., reflecting the central role of (often volunteer) fire stations in small-town life. Here's a picture of Fireman's Hall in Alfred, NY (from Wikipedia).

two-story red brick building with a clock tower on top

Finally, fire hydrant was originally an Americanism, but is now used in the UK too. They look rather different, though.

UK hydrants are marked by yellow signs with an H, which tell firefighters that there's access to a pipe nearby. I wish I could remember what I watched on television last week that had an American hydrant in an allegedly UK setting. It's one of those things that will really stand out to those who know. Two points to any commenter who can name the show or film!

UK hydrant sign (pic from here)

US fire hydrant (pic from Wikipedia)

And here's a handy-dandy guide to reading a UK hydrant sign from the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.

If you liked this, you might be interested in these earlier posts about:

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so fun, such fun

Long ago, I was asked about so fun versus such fun. Martin Ball, this one's for you! 

So, fun started out in English (1600s) as a verb meaning to 'trick, cheat, deceive'. You could fun someone out of their money. Then by the 1700s, it had become a noun meaning 'light-hearted enjoyment'. At that point, it was very much considered to be slang. Its respectability as a noun has increased over the centuries, but it may still feel a little informal. 

Elephant & Piggie books
= much recommended

When it's a noun, you can modify it for amount with the kinds of amount-modifiers (quantifiers) that go with uncountable nouns:

  1. we had a lot of fun 
  2. The evening wasn't much fun
But these days, it's also used as an adjective. Adjectives modify nouns, and those nouns usually go after the adjective or, as in the second example here, after a linking verb. Adjectives can be modified by adverbs of various types, underlined in the following:

        3.    a very fun evening
        4.    The evening wasn't terribly fun

Examples 2 and 4 look similar (the fun is after a linking verb, was), but we can tell that 2 is a noun because it's modified by a quantifier (much) and 4 is an adjective because it's modified by an adverb (terribly). 

(Merrill Perlman, writing for Visual Thesaurus, notes that: "Nearly everyone... opposes 'funner' and 'funnest' as anything but kid-speak or deliberate irony.)")

Now, I say "these days" fun can be an adjective, but it's been an adjective for quite a while. Here are the first five adjective examples from the OED. The 1853 one is American, the rest are British.

Is there an AmE/BrE difference to be found here? 

Well, let's start with the fact that Americans seem to have more fun. In the Corpus of Global Web-Based English, the American sub-corpus has 151 instances of fun per million words, while the British sub-corpus has 129 per million. Most of that difference is due to greater AmE use of the adjective:

This helps us explain why my friend Martin noticed more so fun in AmE and such fun in BrE. So goes with adjectives, such with nouns, and AmE uses fun more as an adjective and BrE more as a noun.

What also helps explain it is that AmE (these days) uses more so modification of adjectives. (There's a study on the effect of the tv show Friends on so. Given that Friends has been obsessively watched in the UK for decades now, you'd think there'd be as much so here. But no.)

Still, the modifiers of adjectival fun are not too different in US and UK. Really is the most common modifier in both. Number 2 in the US is so and in the UK is quite. But number 3 in the UK is so (the American #3 is very).

For the noun, such fun is heard about twice as much in the UK as the US. This doesn't seem to be because such is more common in BrE generally. Such fun is just such a British thing to say.

When fun is a noun, it's common to talk about so much fun. What strikes me about such fun is it is so much fun minus the 'o m'.  And so fun is so much fun minus the much

Anyway, it's been so/such fun writing about this. Get in on the fun by leaving a comment! 

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sir, miss (at school)

In my last newsletter, I reacted to this news story:

Guardian headline: London school drops ‘Sir’ and ‘Miss’ honorifics to fight cultural misogyny

The article is about addressing teachers as sir or miss, which happens in American schools too (I'm sure there's a lot of variation in that across schools and regions). But in the newsletter I mentioned BrE referential use of the words when talking about the teacher (rather than talking to the teacher). I said: "I’m often taken aback when my child (like any ordinary English child) refers to her teachers as Sir and Miss"—which she often does.

My former colleague David replied to say that he found this odd, since as "a moderately ordinary English child in the north of England in the 1960s," he addressed his (all male) teachers as Sir, but would refer to them by name or description (e.g., our English teacher). He concluded that "referring to teachers as Sir and Miss may be either more recent or more southern."

While the usage may have been new in the 1960s, it definitely existed then, apparently even in the north.

The OED's first citation for that use of Sir is from 1955 in a novel by Edward Blishen, who hailed from London: "‘The cane,’ said Sims vaguely. ‘Sir can't,’ said Pottell...’" A few other quotations can be seen in the OED snippet below (note their nice new layout!)  

On to MissThe first referring-to-(not addressing)-a-teacher citation for Miss is from 1968 in a book by an author from Salford (in the northwest). (You'll spot another Miss example from that book in the Sir examples above. I've reported the error.)

Did Miss really only appear a decade after referential Sir? I doubt it. We have to rely on written records, usually published ones, and there aren't a lot of written records in the voice of schoolchildren. Fiction helps, but it has its biases and gaps. 

And then, of course, there was the 1967 British film To Sir, with Love, in which Sir is used as if it is the name of the teacher played by Sidney Poitier. Is it a term of address there, or referential?  Well, the title always seemed weird to me—certainly not a way I'd address a package. This Sir seems halfway between address and reference. We could label packages with the second-person pronouns that we usually used to address people, i.e., "To you", but we tend to use the third person: "To David". Rather than addressing the recipient, it seems to be announcing the recipient. 

This past academic year, for the first time, I was addressed as Miss a fair amount (no name, just Miss). This came from a new student who apparently was carrying over school habits to university, and so my colleagues were all Miss as well. I thought often about saying something about it to the student, but I also thought: I know what they mean, so why bother? I get to correct people enough in my job, I don't have to take every opportunity to do so and certainly don't need to make a big deal out of what I'm called. (Just don't call me late for dinner.) One picks one's pedantic battles. It's not a million miles from how I feel about my students calling a lecture or seminar a lesson, which I've written about back here.

If you're interested, here's more I've written on:
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mean to

Reader Sam* recently wrote to me with the following: 

A usage that surprises me every time I hear it is “meant” in the sense of “supposed” or “should be”.  For example, in a BBC news item today the correspondent said that there were “meant to be elections this year in Pakistan.” The emphasis seems to be on obligation rather than intention.

[...] do you think this is a recent development, or has British English always had this usage?

Intention has always been part of mean's meaning. The oldest sense in the OED is a transitive form that simply means 'to intend [something]'—a sense that is today heard in the phrase I meant no harm. Other  intention-y meanings sprang from that. But this mean+to-infinitive usage that Sam mentions has weakened from the 'intend' meaning to signify something more like 'be expected'. 

In the third edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage (1996), this use is discussed under the heading 'a new passive use'. So, yes, it's new. By 2008 in the Oxford Pocket Fowler's Modern English Usage, second edition, the usage is "so familiar"—at least to British readers:

In the passive, to be meant has for long had the sense ‘to be destined (by providence), to have special significance’:

When I need you, you are here. You must see how meant it all is—Iris Murdoch, 1974.

During the 20c this use was joined by another passive use in which meant followed by a to-infinitive means little more than ‘supposed, thought, intended’:

For today he was meant to be having dinner with Stephanie at the Dear Friends—A. N. Wilson, 1986.

This altered meaning is now so familiar that its relative newness can cause surprise.

By the third edition (2016), the 'supposed/thought' angle is not even discussed, which seems to indicate that it's no longer seen as a potential usage problem in British English:

In the meaning ‘to intend’, mean can be followed by a to-infinitive (when the speaker intends to do something: I meant to go), by an object+to-infinitive (when the speaker intends someone else to do something: I meant you to go) and, more formally, by a that-clause with should (I meant that you should go). Use of mean for +object+to-infinitive (☒ I meant for you to go) is non-standard.

The Oxford English Dictionary (in an entry revised in 2001) has this sense:

In passive, with infinitive clause: to be reputed, considered, said to be something. Cf. suppose v. 9a.
1878   R. Simpson School of Shakspere I. 34  It is confessed that Hawkins and Cobham were meant to be buccaneers, and it is absurd to deny the like of Stucley.
1945   Queen 18 Apr. 17/1   ‘Such and such a play,’ they [my children] will say, ‘is meant to be jolly good.’
1972   Listener 9 Mar. 310/1 meant to be a great melting-pot.
1989   Times 30 Mar. 15/1   It [sc. evening primrose oil] is also meant to be good for arthritis.

None of these (Oxford-published) sources mark these usages as particularly British, but over in America, Ben Yagoda at his Not One-Off Britishisms blog discussed meant to in 2019 as a British usage that is 'on the radar' in American English. 

Mean has many senses that (chiefly AmE) smush (also smoosh) into each other, making it tricky to analy{s/z}e.  Take an example like America is meant to be a great melting-pot (that hyphen is very British, by the way). It probably means 'reputed' (i.e. people say it's a melting pot). But it could mean  'intended' (i.e. the Founding Fathers wanted it to be that). Meant in the rest of the 20th-century OED examples can be replaced by reputed, but reputed doesn't seem like the right synonym for the A. N. Wilson example in Fowler's or the Pakistan election example in Sam's email. 

In the GloWbE corpus (data collected in 2012–13), is meant to usually doesn't look very British. For example, here are the results for "is meant to be [adjective]". As you can see (if you click to enlarge), items like is meant to be fun occur at similar rates in American and British. The results are very similar for is meant to be a (as in is meant to be a melting-pot). 

The bar chart shows that the American examples are fewer overall, but not all that different (the black line is to facilitate comparison). 

There is something interesting going on in that adjective list, though: Americans are using is meant to be with very similar adjectives: fun, funny, humorous, entertaining plus odd-one-out free. The British adjectives are more diverse, which probably signals that this 'supposed to be' meaning is more established in BrE and Americans use it in more limited ways.**

In Sam's example there were meant to be elections, the grammatical subject of be meant to is the existential/dummy subject there. If we look for that, a US/UK divide seems clearer. North Americans don't really say there [be] mean to, which will be why that example stood out for Sam:

There does occur slightly less in the US data overall—about 7% less than in British. So that might be a contributing factor. But, to me, it looks like the is meant to construction just isn't as much at home in AmE as it is in BrE at this point. And that's to be expected, since it's a usage that seems to have started in Britain only after American independence. 

I should probably say something about the usual translation of be meant to: be supposed to as in The weather is supposed to be nice. This is much older than meant in the sense of 'expected/assumed'—the OED's first example is from 1616. The 'ought to' meaning, as in I'm supposed to be in bed by now, comes much later—the OED's first citation is from 1884 in Britain. So, we can't call supposed to "AmE" as opposed to BrE. But since meant to has taken on some of supposed to's jobs, and meant to is more British, it's not surprising to find more supposed to in AmE:

I'm really meant/supposed to be in bed by now. So I shall leave it at that! 


and possibly others have raised this topic with me years before. Sorry it's taken so long! 

**Note that there's always the risk in GloWbE data that writers represented in a particular column are not really from that country. For instance, this data might include British commenters on American websites and vice versa. So, to be safe, I checked that is meant to is also found in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, which doesn't rely so much on internet English. It is. 

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baggage and luggage

results of a Google search for "luggage"

I'm reading Ingrid Paulsen's The emergence of American English as a discursive variety (it's open-access, so you can read it in PDF. But note: it is definitely an academic book). The book is essentially about when American English became "American English". If you subscribe to my newsletter (plug, plug), you'll probably read more about the book at some point in future. Today, I'm just mentioning it because it's inspired me to think more about baggage and luggage. Paulsen searched for this pair of words (among other things!) in 19th-century newspapers in order to find cases of people writing about American versus British English. I wondered if people still perceive a transatlantic difference here. 

These words got a boost in the 1800s thanks to the invention of rail travel and the need for a place to put one's stuff on them. Hence the invention, and the naming, of the (AmE) baggage car or (BrE) luggage van, which is one of the contexts Paulsen discusses. It's also been one of my Twitter Differences of the Day:

I can't remember the last time I checked my bags on a train journey, so I haven't run into people calling anything a baggage car or luggage van lately. I have to believe that they were more common in the US (where one could go greater distances by rail/train), since baggage car shows up whole a lot more in American books than either term shows up in British books:

click to embiggen

But what about the words baggage and luggage themselves? How did they get to be a "difference" and are they still a "difference"? 

Let's start with the history. This appears to be one of those differences that came about because English had two words that drifted in different ways in the two places—with more drifting in the UK. The Oxford English Dictionary hasn't fully updated its entries for these words since the dictionary was first published, but we can assume that they got the past fairly correct. Here are the first senses the OED gives for each word:

baggage The collection of property in packages that one takes along with him on a journey; portable property; luggage. (Now rarely used in Great Britain for ordinary ‘luggage’ carried in the hand or taken with one by public conveyance; but the regular term in U.S.)  [1885]

luggage In early use: What has to be lugged about; inconveniently heavy baggage (obsolete). Also, the baggage of an army. Now, in Great Britain, the ordinary word for: The baggage belonging to a traveller or passenger, esp. by a public conveyance.  [1903]

I'd say that the original senses feel "right" for me as an AmE speaker—that luggage is big/heavy enough to be "lugged", but baggage can be more varied. But I am even more likely to use luggage for empty suitcases. I buy new luggage for a trip. A 1997 draft addition to the OED luggage entry says this 'suitcases' meaning dates to the early 20th century.

It only becomes baggage when I fill it up with stuff and give it to someone else to put onto a train or plane. If I handle it myself, I wouldn't call it baggage. I'd call it 'my bags' or 'my suitcases' or 'my stuff'.

I've just asked my English spouse how he'd differentiate the two words:

Him: Baggage sounds old-fashioned, I probably wouldn't use it.
Me:  But there's [BrE] baggage reclaim [=AmE baggage claim] at the airport.
Him: That's true...A backpack or a box can be baggage, but it can't be luggage. Luggage has to be cases. 

Other than his claim about old-fashionedness, we're pretty much on the same page. And when I look for these things in the GloWbE corpus, they don't show a clear British-versus-American profile: There is more British usage of both terms in that corpus. Maybe this can be attributed to the fact that British people get a lot more (BrE) holiday / (AmE) vacation time than Americans get, so their websites have more discussion of buying/packing/losing luggage or baggage?

In books, it looks like AmE & BrE are getting to be more similar in how they use luggage:

So, it doesn't look like the words themselves are good markers of Americanness/Britishness these days. But expressions containing these words can be. We've already seen baggage car/luggage van and baggage (re)claimThere are others.

In BrE, hand luggage is essentially the same as AmE carry-on (bag).  Or at least it was. I think the import of carry-on might be influencing its meaning. Spouse says he makes a distinction: you put hand luggage under the seat in front of you, carry-ons in the overhead bin. But, his intuition notwithstanding, shop for hand luggage and you'll be shown carry-ons. 

Baggage carousel is marked by the OED (2003) as 'originally and chiefly North American', but it's well used in BrE, as is luggage carousel. 

Luggage locker is BrE for the kinds of lockers that one might find in a train station (or also BrE rail[way] station) or (AmE) bus/(BrE) coach station. I think in AmE, we'd just call them lockers.

Left luggage is BrE for the kind of place where you pay someone to keep your bags for you for a while. AmE would call that luggage storage, and you find that expression in BrE too. 

Hold luggage (or hold baggage) is BrE for AmE checked bags on a plane. (But checked baggage is found in both.)

Plenty of other luggage/baggage collocations are the same. We all use luggage racks and baggage handlers, and baggage allowance, among other things.

As for metaphorical baggage—emotional baggage and the like, this usage is common to both countries. The OED added a draft definition for it in 2007:  

figurative. Beliefs, knowledge, experiences, or habits conceived of as something one carries around; (in later use) esp. characteristics of this type which are considered undesirable or inappropriate in a new situation. Frequently with modifying word, as cultural baggageemotional baggageintellectual baggage, etc. 

Their first citation for it comes from 1886 in the (London) Times in the phrase intellectual baggage (followed by a US citation in 1922). Cultural baggage shows up in 1967 in Canada, and emotional baggage in 1997 from a UK author. Their first citation for just plain (metaphorical) baggage is from an American author in 1986 (though the OED notes their source as the UK edition of the book). 

P.S. If this post interested you, you might also like the post on purses and bags

P.P.S. [22 Sept 2023]  Greg [no relation] Murphy sent me this photo, showing Amtrak [AmE] covering all the bases.

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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

APNOEA  AmE apnea

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

CHAPPIE  a chap (man)

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?

CHIPPIE alternative spelling of chippy, informal for a (fish and) chip shop

"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

INVIGILATING AmE proctor; old post

 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, TWIGGING  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

WHIN a plant (=furze, gorse)

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