Tag Archives: British words in writing

Why I’m Writing Another British Book


Is the Info Current or Accurate?

As an Anglophile, I’m obsessed with British words and it happens to be my business as well. Awhile back I did some searching online to see what books were available, specifically on British slang. There were very few and most were in print which means some of the information is already outdated. When creating social media content for BritWordaDay, I usually search the internet. However, I do reference a few books on a regular basis but, in some cases, I wonder if the information is truly fresh and current. Languages of every nation are constantly evolving, including British slang words. In my business, I have to constantly keep up. It’s a challenge but one I happily accept.

Case in Point

Recently, as a result of interacting with some of my social media followers, I decided to broaden my British word posts to what’s known as the Black Country region. Honestly, I was nervous as I am not a native Briton, never mind a local of the West Midlands. However, I was still keen to post these Black Country slang words in which these specific followers expressed an interest. After all, people follow BritWordaDay because they love British words.

Oh, no. Did I Screw Up?

There was one word in particular that caused some debate between one follower and me. I saw it in the books I referenced but also from this website I found online, regarding various Black Country colloquialisms. Upon conclusion of the online discussion, this particular follower gave me a link to the very site I had used for the word in question. It turned out, thankfully, my post was correct. Whew! I dodged a bullet on that one.

Natives Not Always in the Know

The Black Country words I used that day began to spark discussion from these particular followers. They commented how they were unfamiliar with some of slang words I posted. One such male follower, from that very area, commented that he did not know some of the words as well. He owned the fact that language is constantly changing, especially where slang is concerned. Even the natives of an area aren’t always in the know.

I Decided on an Ebook

Neon-Book-SignNow that my point of the ever-changing dialects of the United Kingdom has been proved, I knew a printed book was not the way to go. This type of book warranted an electronic format that could be updated, as needed, with the most current slang words of the various regions of the UK.

For those Nook, Kindle, or iBook readers, you know the benefit of the most current version of an Ebook. Anytime the author makes changes and uploads them, a new version of your book can be downloaded to your mobile phone or tablet. It’s completely brilliant and of course, very practical. No one is going to buy a reprint of a book they own unless, perhaps, it’s a Harry Potter novel.

Subjects the Book Will Cover

My goal was to give the most comprehensive list of British words on as many applicable subjects as possible. I made an outline of all the topics I could think of but I didn’t stop there. I created a video and posted it many times on our social media platforms to get you, the reader, involved in the process. I did get some feedback from a few of my followers. Their reward, as promised, will be an acknowledgment in my book. I am more than happy to give free advertisement to these contributors in hopes it will help promote their businesses and social media platforms. I am a firm believer in reciprocity.

Here are the topics I’ve assembled so far:

  • British words – an exhaustive list, sorted A-Z
  • Popular sayings
  • Swear words and insults
  • British words out of fashion but still heard somewhat
  • British food and drink like tea and a Full English
  • British music, particularly those that use British words in their lyrics
  • England, Britain, and the UK – an overview of these regions as well as the various dialects from each.
  • British slang in TV
  • British humor
  • British social etiquette
  • British superstitions
  • British sports
  • British money
  • British schools
  • British clothing and accessories
  • British holidays
  • British transport – London mostly and the rest of England as well.
  • British royal family – past and present

Did I Miss Any Subjects?

If there is a subject that is not part of my initial book list, please feel free to log into our website and post your comments and ideas here.

BritWordaDay Book Promo Video


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Detecting British Words in Writing

Can You Spot British Words in Writing?

British-Words-in-Writing-sm1Have you found yourself reading an article, novel, or blog and certain words seemed a bit different, confusing, or entirely new altogether? Perhaps the sentence read something like this:

“I went next door to visit my neighbour, but it turns out the bloke is in hospital!”

Wait, what was that? It certainly looks like English, but what’s a bloke, why is there a “u” in neighbor and wouldn’t they be in the hospital? Could it be you’ve stumbled onto a piece by a British author without realizing it? Can you spot these British words? Do you even know what they mean?

Anglophile Word Detective

One of my favorite surprises, as an Anglophile, is when I’m reading a particular piece and then realizing the material is British, by detecting certain words in the content. Distinguishing British words is not as hard as you may think. True, much of American and British English is the same but it is the differences that make British writing intriguing to the avid reader. Whether it is the spelling, a greeting, or a national colloquialism, there are clues and patterns you’ll notice  in identifying British English.

Dates, Times, Spellings, and Meanings

The following are some of the most common examples of British words in writing. While some of these aren’t exclusive to British English alone, there are some words of definite British origin.

The Difference in Dates and Times

  • US Date Format: In America, we write our dates in the month/day/year format, and we are one of the only countries that do.
  • UK Date Format: Britons, along with most of the world, write their dates in the day/month/year format, so Christmas last year would’ve been 25/12/14, which may look strange but I can see the logic in going from the smallest to largest unit.
  • British Time Span: It is common to hear Brits use fortnight to describe a 2-week period, which originated from the Old English feowertyne niht, which literally means “fourteen nights”. It was later shortened to the Middle English fourteniht.
  • British Time Format: If you were to ask a Brit to give you the correct time, they may say half past twelve instead of twelve-thirty, or just half twelve.

UK vs. US Greetings and Spellings

When it comes to obvious clues, none are more like neon signs than spelling differences between American and British English. You can thank Noah Webster for much of that, who standardized simpler, more phonetically structured spellings of words for Americans with his An American Dictionary of the English Language in the 19th century. The British have also developed unique greetings and terms of address that will jump off the page if you come across them.

  • Terms of Address: When reading British material, a man may be described as a bloke, a lady called a bird, or an employer addressed as guv’nor (also means sir). Love is the British way of calling a loved one honey or darling. Male friends often greet each other as mate, although women have begun to do the same.
  • Greetings: A common London greeting such as wotcher, a contraction of the old phrase what cheer, ayup, and alright?, means “what’s up?”. As for saying goodbye, you might hear ta-ra ( pronounced “churar”) or cheerio which is a bit of an outdated expression.
  • Spelling: The most obvious difference in spelling is the “ou” in words like colour, honour, and favourite. Maybe the protagonist has to walk a few metres to get to the theatre. If you’ve a keen eye, you might see a word such as realise and think, “Hey, shouldn’t there be a ‘z’ in that?” No, not in British writing. Or perhaps a character is putting on their pyjamas (pajamas) for bed or cashing their paycheque (paycheck). Then there’s one of my personal favorites, manoeuvre (maneuver). Though these words may be strangely spelled (or spelt), you’re not reading a bunch of typos but rather British English.

British Words that are Dead Giveaways

  • Around the House: flat (apartment), garden (yard), bin (trash can), loo (toilet)
  • Work: bumf (paperwork), made redundant (laid off), gaffer (boss), holiday (vacation)
  • Entertainment: cinema (movie theater), big dipper (roller coaster), fun fair (carnival), knees up (party)

With the Right Clues, You Can Solve the Mystery

The more you familiarize yourself with British English, the more easily you will detect British words in writing. In no time, you too will become an Anglophile word detective. Have you already had a literary experience like that before? If so, what were some of the words that clued you in? Let us know in the comments below!


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