This week I want to discuss those words that are in use both sides of the Atlantic but have very different primary meanings, and all the confusion and merriment that can cause. Writers have to be particularly careful when writing for an international audience, because you don’t want to mention a character’s funky clothing (meaning hip and trendy), only to have those on the other side of the pond think you’re describing someone in stinking rags.
Fanny is another f word that causes Brits much amusement. Over here it’s a fairly vulgar term for the female genitals, so to hear Americans refer to their fannies or fanny packs always makes us chuckle. Especially if it’s a man doing so. Fanny packs are very much out of vogue over here and generally only spotted on American tourists, but when we do refer to them, we call them “bum bags”. And of course, a bum over in the States would be a tramp to us.
I blogged about clothing term confusion a long time ago here (there were comments, but they didn’t transfer over from LiveJournal), but can the rest of you think of any other words where the meaning gets lost in translation somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic? Or perhaps you live in another part of the world and are perplexed/amused by an American or Brit term? Do share!