20 British Food Terms That Confuse Americans

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“England and America are two countries separated by the same language,” George Bernard Shaw once said (perhaps).

There’s no denying that our two nations use certain identical words in very different senses. Anyone who has traveled to the U.K. (or who subscribes to BritBox) probably knows by now that to our cousins across the Atlantic, an elevator is a lift, a car trunk is a boot, and the check in a restaurant is the bill. (Even just at home, words can be confusing. Here are 10 words that don’t mean what you think they do.)

The differences between our two versions of English also show up frequently in the realm of food and drink. We’re not talking about those colorful sounding dish names like toad in the hole, bubble and squeak, or stargazy pie. We either know what those terms describe or we don’t. But other British food words might confuse us, simply because they look and sound like something else.

To assemble a list of British food terms that might confuse Americans, 24/7 Tempo consulted sites including Foreign Lingo, English at Home, and Project Britain, as well as numerous online menus from restaurants offering traditional British dishes. 

With two exceptions, all the words on our list have a meaning in America that is quite different from that in Great Britain (and that usually has nothing to do with food). Knowing the difference will come in handy if you visit the U.K. – or even if you just want to throw a few British food terms around at your next meal in honor of the recently crowned new British monarch (speaking of whom, here are 25 times King Charles III has courted controversy).

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