Brit Language: British Language invades America: Brilliant!

Americans and Brits: The Best of Friends

“There is little that irks British defenders of the English language more than Americanisms, which they see creeping insidiously into newspaper columns and everyday conversation. But bit by bit British English is invading America too.” BBC News Magazine 26 Sept 2012

Some of these words are Briticisms. The magazine recently published a brilliant article Britishisms and the Britishisation of American English. Some of the Briticisms coming to America are: ginger (red haired), sell-by-date (expiration), go missing (disappear), and chat up (hit on). There’s also gastropub, twee, and huge-up-tick, to name a few.

Some Americans are bothered by the addition of Briticisms to our language, others like Ben Yadoda started a blog with the very fitting header, Mind the Gap at http://www., identifying British terms and their use in American English. So far he has discovered 150 terms, including:

dab hand; “I fancy myself a dab hand at Google, but it drives me crazy”. Geoffrey Nunberg, New York Times 2011

toff: “Romney isn’t the bumbling toff he’s made out to be.” The Daily Beast, September 17, 2012

long game: The example of guitarist Doc Watson should “serve as inspiration to any musician interested in the long game.” Los Angeles Times, June 3, 2012

These Briticisms are creeping into the American vernacular. “We are not seeing a radical change to the American language, says Jesse Sheidlower, American editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary – rather a very small, but noticeable trend.”

Kory Stamper, Associate Editor for Merriam-Webster, said words such as candy, the fall, and diaper typically thought of as American, were originally British and dropped out of popular use in England between 1850 and the early 1900s. She added, “America has always welcomed words from all over.”

We still do. British English always sounds more refined and highbrow to me than American English. Must be those toff accents. I’m pretty sure I would have been a Loyalist during the American Revolution coloring the language with words like brilliant, naff, and toff. I can just see the raised eyebrows and disapproving looks. I say, bring on the Briticisms. They’re brilliant!



  1. avatarDenise says

    I noticed the word queue used more here, also “on the dole”, even news people use. Gobsmacked pops up once in a while too.

  2. avatarDeanna says

    My husband is from England and I have noticed several of the sayings and words he uses have crept into my vocab.

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