2. Fag. To Brits, a fag is a cigarette. Full stop. (I’ll come to that later too.) When I first arrived in the US I was still a smoker, and when I asked for a fag, I was looked at, again, in some horror. Why? Well, fag is slang for gay/homosexual, and is definitely a derisory comment. So, we have to be careful there too.
3. Rubber. In Britain, rubbers are used by everyone, children or adult, to rub out something you've written in pencil. But no, not in the US. A rubber is slang for a condom. So, asking someone politely if you can borrow their rubber in the office will elicit sniggers and surprised looks. Don’t go there. It’s an eraser. Period.
4. Period. Ah, the word period. In the US it’s used at the end of a sentence. An emphatic ending. It’s also a menstrual cycle, yes, but here, saying “period” at the end of a sentence is normal. In Britain, a period is a bloody mess once a month. Full stop. It still makes me cringe when I hear people say period, but the words “full stop” have no meaning here. So, I have to begrudgingly put up with it.
5. Fanny. I’ve left the most cringeworthy till last. The word fanny in the US means bottom/butt/backside or whatever other word you use for your behind. Therefore a fanny pack is an acceptable accessory. Well, not really, but you get my point. In Britain, your fanny is a completely different part of your anatomy. One that goes with period, not bottom. Yes, fanny is vagina, or whatever other word you’d like to use for a woman’s “front bottom”. So, hearing people talk about fanny packs in everyday conversation is just ugh. I still can’t get over it, even after 21 years.
Do you have any favorite words that get lost in translation? If so, tell me – I love this kind of thing!