Thought you had English down? That you were pretty fluent and could combat just about any conversation? Think again. There are different names (and different meanings for the same names!) between even the most commonplace items in the UK and the US. With this in mind we present you with Different Englishes with Clothes.
Key: UK vs. US word
Trainers vs. Sneakers
- Trainers in the UK but Sneakers in the US, but in either case they both refer to exactly the same thing: the shoes you wear when you play sport (e.g. Nike, Adidas, etc.).
Wellington Boots (Wellies) vs. Rubber/Rain boots
- Wellies and Rain boots are different names used to refer to the long rubber boots that you wear to splash around in puddles or keep the mud off you when walking the dog in the countryside. The US name is pretty descriptive while the UK term is derived from a popular English brand but this is one difference worth knowing: as you’ve probably heard, it rains a lot in the UK.
… and it only gets more complicated from there! For example:
Handbag. vs. Purse
- This is a longstanding cause for confusion, as Americans call a bag that a woman carries on her shoulder a purse, while in the UK it’s a handbag. However, a purse in the UK is a small wallet that you put money in; for them a purse is carried inside the handbag!
Jumper vs. Sweater
- Both of these refer to the warm item of clothing that you put on over your top. Although it’s a sweater in North America and Jumper in the UK, they are nevertheless made of the same material: wool or polyester.
Pants vs. Trousers (vs. Underwear!)
- Okay, this one is big. In the US, the item you wear on your legs that aren’t jeans are called pants (or dockers or slacks, but I digress) while the same item is called trousers in the UK. While that may sound simple, the same word – pants – is used in the UK to refer to underwear.
Note: when this mistake it made it can be very funny! I remember someone telling me that their friend was wearing white pants and wondering “why would she know the colour of his pants?”. This is perhaps the most important difference to learn as far as clothing is concerned, so consider your audience when you pick your term.
Want to learn more about different Englishes around the world? Read on to find out more.