Oh never mind, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. My early holiday gift to you is a few more words that fail miserably to cross the pond with dignity. These are the real zingers - not just the difference between garden and yard, pavement and sidewalk, cotton candy and candy floss. No, these are the more cringeworthy ones, the ones that really make you remember how different the British and American languages really are at times.
In the US, bonking is a term used when you've hit a wall of exhaustion when undertaking an athletic pursuit. For example, if you're a cyclist, you could say that you "bonked" and couldn't pedal any further. (That's 'pedal', not 'peddle' for those who read my first post.)
In Britain, bonking means having sex. Yes, bonking someone means you're screwing someone, which means you're having sexual intercourse. So the first time I heard someone here saying they'd bonked, during a conversation, I was somewhat non-plussed as you can imagine.
In Britain, when you say a place feels warm, cozy and welcoming, you say that it feels homely. In other words, it feels like home. It's taken me a long time to get this one, but in the US, 'homely' basically means ugly. Not that long ago, someone was describing a person to me saying they were homely, and I thought it was a compliment - that the person had created a wonderful home and that they were warm and welcoming. I had no idea it was more of an insult. In the US if you want to say a place is cozy, warm and welcoming, it's 'homey.' Similar words, very different meanings.
In the US, Randy is a common boy's name, usually short for Randall. In Britain, it's not. Definitely not. I don't think there's anyone in Britain called Randy for the simple reason that 'randy' means sexually aroused or sexually excited. Before I came to the US I had no idea it was even a name. I'm embarrassed to say that the first time I ever met a guy called Randy I laughed. I honestly thought it was a joke until everyone's face told me they were serious. I think due to Austin Powers and other British movies the word is more understood in its British form now, but still, big difference. And I apologize to all the Randys out there. I'm over it - really.
This one goes with Randy. Willy is a boy's name, short for William. You will never hear this in the UK. Prince William will never be a Willy. He's "Wills' if you really want to shorten it. The title of the movie "Free Willy" made everyone in the UK hoot with laughter. Why? Because in Britain, willy is a slang word for penis or whatever word you want to use for that. Little boys get their willies out to wee-wee.
5. Wanker and bollocks
I put these last ones together because neither of them have any meaning in the US and therefore if you want to be rude or use a swear word that is somewhat acceptable, these are great.
In Britain, if you call someone a complete wanker, it's not very positive. Let's just leave it at that. We all know people who are complete wankers, right? My ever-helpful US spell-checker keeps changing wanker to 'wander' since it has no clue what I'm writing, and I have to keep changing it back.
You can use 'bollocks' in much the same way as you would use 'shit' as in, "that's a load of bollocks" or just "bollocks!" It's a slang word for testicles, and is just fun to say here because no one knows you're really swearing. I saw a car in Laguna Beach with a tag that read "4BOLLOX." The car also had a Union Jack flag on the back. I laughed out loud, knowing that the DMV had no idea they'd issued a license tag that was rude and that a fellow Brit had got away with it.