Different Englishes: Baking  

bakingBesides pretty much having no idea how to work out each other’s measurements (Fahrenheit to centigrade, cups or ounces to milligrams) there is also a great deal of confusion over the difference between UK and US baked goods.

The two countries seem to have a similar style of baking and yet cannot agree on the terms. It’s as if someone was playing ‘match the word’ and they mixed them all up, because foods such as muffin and biscuit exist in both languages but mean completely different things. Fortunately for you, Different Englishes: Baking is here to help!

Key: UK vs. US word

Biscuit vs. Cookies

  • Biscuits and cookies are generally seen as the same thing described by different words. Simple, right? Wrong. Whilst this is true, in the UK we refer to American style biscuits as cookies – usually chocolate chip. In addition, a biscuit in America is a savoury food that looks like a scone (yes it gets more confusing) that can be eaten with gravy (meat sauce). Probably best to stick to it’s French origin and assume ‘a biscuit is an English cookie’.

Pancake vs Pancake

  • In the UK pancakes are made more like the French crepe, whereas in America they’re smaller and thicker and often sweeter. Brits refer to these as American Pancakes. They’re eaten in a similar way, with sweet toppings such as syrup or lemon and sugar, however in the UK they’re less likely to be eaten for breakfast.

Note: The UK has ‘pancake day’ on Shrove Tuesday, before lent, where it is tradition to eat pancakes for dinner. This is one of the culinary highlights of the year.

English muffin vs Muffin

  • An English muffin is known globally thanks to McDonald’s egg/bacon etc. McMuffins. Is it a heavy, savoury, bread-like food, whereas a regular muffin is a cake. A muffin is similar to a cupcake but larger and often contains chocolate or blueberries. This is actually the more popular style of muffin in the UK despite being the American version.

Note: A English Crumpet is often mistaken by Americans for an English muffin, much to the despair of the Brits. A crumpet is a savoury bread-like food with the consistency and appearance of a sponge. This sponge-like quality makes it the perfect vehicle for butter. They can be eaten for breakfast or Sunday tea, often with butter and jam. Whilst there is no real equivalent in America, it should not be confused with an English muffin or an American biscuit.

Fairy cake vs. Cupcake

  • Finally, a simple one! These are the same thing (give or take regional arguments) meaning that fairy cakes are the UK term for cupcakes.

Note: The word cupcake is now more widely used than fairy cakes due to the recent cupcake boom. Brits think of the cupcake as a more extravagant version of the fairy cake as they often come in exotic flavours with colourful icing/frosting.

Hungry for more? Check out our dedicated mainpage for extra practice and additonal examples!


Connotative Words: Other Ways to Say Cute

cuteWelcome to our latest rendition of the Connotative Words Series. If you’re searching for the perfect word to describe that certain someone who has caught you’re eye then you’re in luck: today we’ll help you learn other ways to say cute.

We usually associate the word cute with young or small people, animals or things that are both attractive and endearing (inspiring our affection). But we can also use the word for people around our age or (especially young) adults that we find sexually appealing or whose company we enjoy very much. For example, saying “I think the new secretary is really cute.”Context makes all the difference. A similar word without this problem is adorable, meaning people and things that are easy to love because they are very attractive, often small or young. Another example is delightful, which we use for someone whose presence makes us feel pleasure, happiness or satisfaction. This is especially true for babies, animals, and very attractive people or things. Sometimes they’re so charming we that we can’t take our eyes off of them!

Be careful, though: the word cute also has a negative connotation, which is used throughout the English-speaking world. For example, in the statement “Mary is usually nice, but can get cute to have what she wants”, cute means cunning or deceiving. It refers to very clever people or manners which make others believe that certain things are true, even when they’re obviously not. Their intention is usually to persuade, trick or profit from their victims. The word cute can also mean impertinent or disrespectful, for example when we say: “Don’t play cute with me.” Similar-meaning words include clever (very smart), slick (dishonestly skillful and intelligent), and crafty (skillful in a dishonest way). The reason for all this is pretty easy to explain: Cute was originally a reduction of the word acute, an work which means an admirably quick and penetrating intelligence. Present-day style guides say this usage is old-fashioned, and suggest sharp to express mental acuity instead.

So, proceed with caution but remember to have fun with these different ways to say cute. Let us know your comments and suggestions, and make sure you check our main page for more practice with these and other Connotative Words.


Business Idioms: Idioms about Dishonesty

under the tableWe would like to think that all businesses conduct themselves in a moral and legally responsible way but, alas, we do not live in a perfect world. It is with the companies and individuals in mind that we dedicate this installment to idioms about dishonesty.

ill-gotten gains money acquired in a dishonest or illegal manner.

  • His ill-gotten gains were seized by the government when he was arrested for fraud.

Note: To seize is to another way to say “to take quick and forcible possession of.” It  is synonymous with confiscate.

to line your own pocket – to take advantage of a situation purely for your personal financial benefit.

  • He had been lining his pockets for years with company funds.

Note: Pocket is also used in another idiom related to bad business: to be in someone’s pocket. This means that someone is controlled by someone else because of bribes that they pay you (e.g., the gangster had the corrupt official in his pocket).

to cook the books – to falsify financial records.

  • They concealed millions of dollars in losses by cooking the books.

Note: The books here refer to accounting ledgers and so a related idiom is “to keep two sets of books”.

under the table – something done secretly (and usually illegally) in the business world.

  • To avoid paying taxes, they paid some of their employees under the table.

Note: If this idiom is used to qualify a noun or a noun phrase, hyphens must be used, as in “under-the-table payments.”

money laundering – to conceal the source of illegally-obtained money so that it is believed to be legitimate.

  • They had been using other smaller companies to launder money until they were caught.

Thank you for reading Business Idioms for more of this series as well as other articles and materials please visit our homepage.


School Vocabulary About College Classes

Some things are universal and others are not. While many aspects of college courses are similar to their high school equivalents, there are some unique aspects of college coursework. Take a look at this collection of school vocabulary about college classes and you will understand why.

an easy A – a class that require little effort to make an A in

  • Everyone I knew took Wildlife Issues because it was such an easy A.

as easy as ABC – used to describe something that is basic and simple to understand

  • Quantum mechanics isn’t that hard! Once you get the hang of it, it is as easy as ABC.

Note: An alternate version of this, naturally, is as easy as 1-2-3.

a weed out class – a class that is extremely difficult and used to eliminate people from a certain discipline before they have taken many classes

  • I wanted to study Finance so I took Financial Accounting my first semester at Uni – how was I supposed to know it was a weed out class? I have never worked so hard for a C in my life!

back to basics – to start from the beginning in order to compensate for missing information

  • After Alejandra’s third failed attempt at a cake, we decided it was back to basics with her baking lessons.

get credit for something – to be officially recognized for something

  • When you are trying to survive a weed out class, getting credit for it is more important than acing it.

Note: As in the above example, in college the something is usually a course. For example “I got credit for my AP exams and started college as a sophomore.”

honor roll – the list of students with above average grades

  • I made honor roll twice times in my Junior year.

Note: Alternate names for the honor roll at the university level include Dean’s List and President’s List.

Ready to head to the top of the class? Practice with more examples by visiting our homepage.