5 english food words that mean different things in the UK and US

The differences between British English and American English can be endlessly fascinating. While most most of the time, small differences in pronunciation and vocabulary don’t cause confusion because of context, there is one area of the language where different vocabulary can cause some funny mix-ups between British and American English speakers. To help you out, here are five food words in that mean different things in the UK and US.

In the UK, this is a sweet treat that Americans would call a ‘cookie’. ‘Biscuit’ in the US is a savoury dish made out of soft dough and is often served with gravy – a combination that definitely wouldn’t work with a British biscuit!

If you ask for a bag of chips in the US, you will be given crispy deep-fried thin sliced potato. In the UK, ‘chips’ are a thicker version of what people in the US call ‘fries’. If you want a bag of what Americans call ‘chips’ in the UK, just ask for crisps.

sorbet / sherbet
A refreshing dessert made of frozen sweetened water with (usually fruit) flavouring. People from the UK prefer to call it ‘sorbet’, Americans prefer ‘sherbet’.

courgette / zucchini
Both of these are borrowed words but they mean the same thing. A vegetable from the squash family, usually with green skin. In the UK, people borrow the French word ‘courgette’ and in the US people borrow the word ‘zucchini’ from Italian.

fish fingers / fish sticks
Small strips of fish covered in breadcrumbs or batter, British people call them ‘fish fingers’, Americans give them the much more sensible name – ‘fish sticks’.

So, those five differences will get you started. Can you think of any more to add to the list? Use the comments section below to share any food expressions you know that mean different things in the UK and the US.