Expat Tips: What’s that you say?

Yes, I speak english. Yes, I’ll be moving to the english speaking motherland. But just because we essentially speak the same language doesn’t mean we’re going to understand each other. Like every culture there is a local slang/lingo and even the same word may have two different meanings.

For example, here in Canada, if I said, “I like your pants” I would be referring to the piece of clothing you wear that covers each of your legs (like jeans). But if I said the same thing in England they will think I am referring to their underwear. Now that would be embarassing!

Here are a couple of other examples:



Are there any others that aren’t listed here that you know of?



21 thoughts on “Expat Tips: What’s that you say?

  1. englishroseamericansoil says:

    Hello! Your move sounds really exciting, when do you go?

    That first infographic is a bit inaccurate….let me try and help you out ๐Ÿ™‚
    1. I don’t think ‘butty’ is used that frequently! You might say a bacon butty or a chip butty. But sandwich is a normal word in the UK.
    2. I would say that a fairy cake and a cupcake are different things – a fairy cake is a lot smaller. A cupcake is bigger with thicker icing (frosting).
    3. I’ve never heard of a ‘muffler’!! It’s a scarf!
    4. ‘Bugger’ made me laugh! I can imagine someone older saying that.
    5. ‘Radge’ is really not that common a word.

    A few more are: a gas station is a petrol station, restroom/bathroom is just the toilet/ladies/loo, trunk of a car is the boot….there are so many!!

    • ladyofthecakes says:

      I say “bugger”… but then again, I AM older ๐Ÿ˜‰

      One more amendment: “peckish” is not quite the same as “hungry”. It’s kinda like “a little hungry”. So: peckish –> hungry –>famished/bloody starving.

      Never heard of “radge” and “muffler” either. What?!

      Adding to your “butty” explanation, I’d say that for sandwich, “sarnie” is the most commonly used term.

    • Lisa says:

      I looked it up – it refers to a tubular scarf that you can pull up over your head and make into a hood. But I think everyone will understand if I just call them all scarves ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Lisa says:

      Oh yes, and I think in more recent days it refers to a tubular scarf that you can pull up over your head and make into a hood. I think I’ll just continue to call them all scarves though ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Frivolous Monsters says:

    I love that use of the word pants, same as the word drawers, and keep on using them for that meaning even though Iโ€™m sure theyโ€™re going out of usage.

    However a fairy cake is much smaller than a cupcake, probably only found at church fetes and childrenโ€™s birthday parties now, and the much larger cupcake is more prominent now.

    I should point out though that no one calls a scarf a muffler. Are those two the wrong way around? Definitely a scarf in the UK.

    And as for โ€œradgeโ€. Not a clue.

    p.s. Now I see the commenter above has made very similar comments.

  3. Melissa says:

    One of my friends was an au pair in Ireland and one morning the littlest girl wouldn’t put on her pants. My friend kept yelling “put on your pants! put on your pants!” and the little girl kept yelling “They’re already on!” I live in Spain, but a lot of the English spoken here is British English so when I go back to the states my friends always look at me weird when I talk about “jumpers,” “trainers” and the “lift.” Last year I made a bunch of Erasmus students from the UK laugh when I told them I wanted to buy a fanny pack for a race. Totally different meaning. These sort of things make the best stories.

  4. connie says:

    As a new-to-London-Kiwi- I’ve encountered some similar miscommunications- though most of the time my workmates just want to make fun of my accent! I still say ‘chips’ instead of ‘crisps’ and totally keep telling people that I’m wearing my ‘fave pants’ today… really gets them raising their eyebrows!

    • Lisa says:

      Hahaha… I can’t wait to see what “lost in translation” moments I’m going to have. I’m sure l’ll slip up and compliment someone on their pants, ask where the washroom is and order chips but really want crisps!

    • Lisa says:

      Well, this isn’t bad…. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have a feeling I’m going to be quite confused for the first few months of living in London. But there’s a good chance that I’ll be confusing the locals as well!

      • littlecity says:

        Confused is fine. Essential for learning as an expat, to be honest. Besides, you’re from Canada, so you’ll be super polite about it in the meantime!

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