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"How the British Say It" from Intelligence Bulletin, October 1942

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]  
The following article was published in the Intelligence Bulletin, October 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



Basically, there are not many differences in the language spoken by us and that spoken by the British. However, we use quite a few words and expressions which do not mean the same thing to them. A list of the most widely used of these words and expressions and what they mean to the British is given below:


American     British
Advance party.Van guard.
Air defense command.Fighter command.
Ambulance loading post.Car post (CP).
Ammunition distributing point.Ammunition point (AP).
Antitank fire.Pak.
Assault fire.Fire on the move.
Attacking echelon.Leading troops (Leading tps).
Bivouac for armored formations or units.Harbour.
Canteen. Water bottle.
Cantonment. Hutment.
Cargo truck. Load-carrying lorry.
Casualty agent (chemical). Poisonous gas.
Classified documents. Protected papers.
Collecting station. Advanced dressing station.
Combat aviation. Operational squadrons.
Combat echelon. Fighting group (echelon).
Combat zone. Forward area.
Command post. Advance Hq.
Company train. Company transport.
Company transport. A1 and A2 echelons.
Conduct of fire.Fire control.
Daily telegram. Daily ration strength state.
Danger space. Danger area.
Dead space. Dead ground.
Defensive zone or defense area. Defended locality.
Distributing point. Delivery points.
Dump truck. Tipping lorry.
Encircling force. Enveloping force.
English soldier. Tommy (Atkins).
Engineer. Sapper.
Enlisted men. Rank and file.
Entrucking (point). Embussing (Point).
Estimate of the situation. Appreciation of the situation.
Field order. Operation order (OO).
Field train. "B" Echelon transport. (B Ech tpt).
Fixed fire. Fire on fixed line.
Fox hole. Weapon pit.
Fragmentation bomb. Anti-personnel bomb.
"H" hour. Zero hour.
Hollow square formation of vehicles. Leaguer (Laager).
Identification panels. Ground strips.
Identifications. Divisional signs and unit flashes.
Interdiction fire (complete). Concentration fire.
Interdiction fire (partial). Harassing fire.
Irritant smoke. Toxic smoke.
Journal. War diary.
Kitchen police. Cookhouse fatigue.
Limiting points. Junction points.
Line of departure. Start line.
Long ton. Ton.
Low gear. Bottom gear.
Main line of resistance. Forward defended localities.
Main supply road. Main artery of supply.
Maintenance, first echelon. Daily maintenance by driver.
Meeting engagement. Encounter battle.
Member of Australian or New Zealand Army Corps. Anzac.
Message center. Signal office.
Messenger. Despatch rider (DR).
Meteorological message. Meteor report.
Military blouse. Tunic.
Military police. "Red caps" (Corps of Military Police).
Mine planter.Mine layer.
Observation aviation. Reconnaissance aircraft.
Oral order. Verbal order.
Outpost area. Line of outposts.
Overlay. Trace.
Ponton. Pontoon.
Prime mover. Dragon.
Protective fire. Covering fire.
Quartering party. Harbouring party.
Radio. Wireless.
Rain coat, trench coat. Mackintosh.
Reconnaissance patrol. Sortie.
Regiment (infantry or armored). Brigade.
Replacement center. Training or holding depot.
Retirement or retreat. Withdrawal.
Rolling barrage. Moving barrage.
Roof-top watcher for aerial bombers. Jim Crow.
Rotating band (projectile). Driving band.
Royal Navy enlisted men. Ratings.
Sector of fire. Arc of fire.
Security. Protection.
Security detachment. Covering detachment.
Sentry squad. Sentry post.
Service train. Supply units.
Shelter. Cover.
Signal Corps. Royal Corps of Signals.
Support trench. Second-line trench.
Table of Basic Allowances. Mobilization Store Table.
Tables of Organization. War establishments.
Taps. Last Post.
Task force. Special force.
Time interval. Time allowance.
Transmission. Gearbox.
Transport aviation. Personnel or troop-carrying aircraft.
Troop movement by motor. Embussed movement.
Urgent message. Immediate message.
War Department intelligence. War Office intelligence summaries.
Wrecker. Recovery vehicle.
Zone defense. Defence in depth.
Zone of action. Boundaries.


American     British
A bomber pilot. Bus driver (slang).
Antiaircraft fire. Flak.
Executed a power dive. Screamed downhill (slang).
Propeller. Airscrew.
Storage batteries. Accumulators.
To break formation to engage enemy. Peel off, to.
To get a medal. Gong, to collect a (slang).
To get going. Get cracking, to (slang).


American     British
Air-raid siren.Banshee.
(American) citizen.(British) subject.
Apartment house ("Apartments for Rent").Block of flats ("Flats to Let").
Apple pie.Apple tart.
Baggage car.Luggage van.
Bar, saloon.Public-house, pub.
Bell hop.Page boy.
Bill (currency).Banknote.
Biscuits.Hot breads.
Boots.High boots, Wellingtons.
Bowl of milk.Basin of milk.
Canned goods.Tinned goods.
Checked baggage.Registered baggage.
Chief of Police.Chief constable.
Coal miner, coal ship.Collier.
C.O.D.Carriage forward.
Conductor (railroad).Guard.
Cop.Bobby (slang).
Construction crew.Gang of navvies.
Corn.Maize, Indian corn.
Crackers, cookies.Biscuits.
Cross-ties. Sleepers.
Dessert. Sweet.
Dime novel. Penny-dreadful.
Dirt. Always means "filth" in England, not "soil".
Dish of rice, fish, and eggs, boiled together. Kedgeree.
District Attorney. Public prosecutor.
Druggist. Chemist, apothecary.
Drug store. Chemist's shop.
Drug-store clerk. Chemist's assistant.
Dry goods store. Draper's shop.
Elevator. Lift.
Excursion bus. Charabanc.
Fender. Mud-wing.
Fish dealer. Fishmonger.
Freight train. Goods train.
French-fried potatoes. Chips.
Game of checkers. Game of draughts.
Gas, gasoline. Petrol, motor spirit.
Grain (cereals). Corn.
Hill, rocky peak. Tor.
Hood. Bonnet.
Intersection, street corner. Crossing.
Jail, The English word is pronounced exactly as we pronounce "jail". Gaol.
Lima beans. Broad beans.
Local train. Slow train.
Long-distance call. Trunk call.
Mail. Post, letters.
Mail a letter. Post a letter.
Mail box. Post box, pillar box.
Mechanic. Fitter.
Molasses. Treacle.
Monkey wrench. Spanner.
Movie. Cinema.
Movies. Pictures, flicks, films.
Movie theater. Picture palace, cinema.
Muffler. Silencer.
Napkin. Serviette.
Navy Department. The Admiralty.
Newsstand. Bookstall.
Oatmeal. Porridge.
Overcoat. Greatcoat.
Paved. Metalled.
Pay day. Wage day.
Peanuts. Monkey-nuts.
Pep. Bounce.
Phonograph. Gramophone.
Pickled or canned beef. Bully beef.
Pitcher. Jug.
Policeman. Constable.
Quotation mark. Inverted comma.
Radio tube. Valve.
Raincoat. Waterproof.
Roll of film. Spool of film.
Round trip ticket. Return ticket.
Rumble seat. Dickey.
Running board. Footboard.
Salespeople, clerks. Shop-assistants.
Schedule (sports). Fixture card.
Scrambled eggs. Buttered eggs.
Second floor (in England the numbering of the floors begins on the floor above the ground floor). First floor.
Shoes. Boots.
Shoestrings. Boot-laces.
Sidewalk. Pavement, footpath.
Soft drinks. Minerals.
Spark plug. Sparking-plug.
State Department. Foreign Office.
Store. Shop.
String beans. French beans.
Storekeeper. Shopkeeper.
Street car, trolley, electric car. Tram.
Subway. The Underground, the Tube.
Swamp. Fen.
Taxi stand. Cab rank.
Terminal. Terminus.
Ticket office. Booking office.
Tire. Tyre, outer cover.
Tobacco (of inferior quality). Shag.
Vaudeville act.Variety turn.
Vaudeville theater.Music hall.
Watch crystal.Watch-glass.


A.D.S.     Advanced Dressing Station.
A.F.V.Armoured Fighting Vehicle.
A.O.C.Air Officer Commanding.
A.R.P.Air Raid Precautions or Ammunition Refilling Point.
B.M.Brigade Major.
C.C.S.Casualty Clearing Station.
C.G.S.Chief of the General Staff (in the Field).
C. in C.Commander-in-Chief.
CwtHundredweight. In England--112 pounds; in America--100 pounds.
D.C.M.Distinguished Conduct Medal.
D.P.Delivery Point.
D.S.O.Distinguished Service Order.
F.A.A.Fleet Air Arm.
F.A.P.First Aid Party (or Post).
F.D.L.Forward (or Foremost) Defended Locality.
Flt. Lt.Flight Lieutenant.
H.M.A.S.His Majesty's Australian Ship.
H.M.S.His Majesty's Ship.
I.R.A.Irish Republican Army.
M.C.Military Cross.
M.D.S.Main Dressing Station.
M.T.B.Motor Torpedo Boat.
O.T.COfficers' Training Corps.
R.A.Corps of Royal Artillery.
R.A.C.Royal Armoured Corps or Royal Automobile Club.
R.A.M.C.Royal Army Medical Corps.
R.A.O.C.Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
R.A.P.Regimental Aid Post.
R.A.P.C.Royal Army Pay Corps.
R.A.S.C.Royal Army Service Corps.
R.A.V.C.Royal Army Veterinary Corps.
R.E.Corps of Royal Engineers.
R.E.M.E.Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
R.F.A.Royal Field Artillery.
R.G.A.Royal Garrison Artillery.
R.H.A.Royal Horse Artillery.
R.H.G.Royal Horse Guards.
R.M.Royal Marines.
R.M.A.Royal Marine Artillery.
R. TanksRoyal Tank Regiment.
T.O.Transport Officer.
V.A.D.Voluntary Aid Detachment.
V.C.Victoria Cross.
W.O.War Office.
W.W.C.P.Walking Wounded Collecting Post.

1An "apartment" in Great Britain is always a single room.


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