We need to talk about Fanny - CHS Rentals
We need to talk about Fanny
by Harley Nott

We need to talk about Fanny.

England and America, “two nations divided by a common language”. Whether it was Oscar Wilde or Bernard Shaw who coined this phrase, and there is some debate about which one it was, there is no doubt that linguistic differences still persist and occasionally cause embarrassment. The difficulties come in two directions: different words or phrases used to refer to the same item or subject, and the same word meaning quite different things. That’s why we need to talk about Fanny – read on to the end.

Here is a useful list of the former:

British English American English
aubergine eggplant
biscuit cookie; cracker
chips French fries
courgette zucchini
crisps chips
double cream heavy cream
maize corn
mangetout snow pea
General Travel
bill check
boot (of a car) trunk
cinema movie theater
cling film plastic wrap
cot crib
dustbin garbage can, trash can
flannel washcloth
hob stovetop
grill broil
lift elevator
mobile (phone) cell (phone)
nappy diaper
off-licence liquor store; package store
pavement sidewalk
pedestrian crossing crosswalk
petrol gas; gasoline
post (a letter) mail (a letter)
postcode zip code
pushchair stroller
recorded delivery certified mail
tights pantyhose
toilet, lavatory, loo restroom, washroom, john
underground subway
wardrobe closet
zebra crossing crosswalk
flat apartment
ground floor, first floor etc. first floor, second floor etc.
lift elevator
porter concierge
tap faucet
A&E, casualty emergency room
chemist drugstore
bank holiday legal holiday
estate agent realtor
homely homey
unattractive, plain homely
public school private school
state school public school
touch wood knock on wood

Now the same word with different meanings:

English Meaning American Meaning
A&E Accident and Emergency (casualty) department of a hospital Arts & Entertainment (a TV network)
boob tube woman’s shoulderless, strapless top “the boob tube” = television
chaps men or boys, people leather leggings worn by cowboys or similar worn by motorcyclists
football Association football (US: soccer), sometimes Rugby Union American football
knickers women’s underwear (US: panties) knickerbockers
pants underpants, briefs or boxers, of poor quality or bad situation (slang). trousers
pissed intoxicated, drunk  angry, irritated
randy a slang term meaning sexually aroused (US: horny) a male or female given name or nickname.
suspenders elasticated support for stockings (US: garter) elasticated support for trousers (UK: braces)
vest garment worn under a shirt sleeveless garment worn over a shirt (UK: waistcoat)
wash up to wash the dishes; to clean after eating food to wash one’s hands and face; to clean before eating food

And finally Fanny. An American “fanny pack” is an English “bum bag”. When Americans innocently speak of their “fanny” meaning their bottom they are blissfully unaware that in English this word is slang for the female genitalia!