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Top 10 Americanisms That Really Annoy British People

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Sean Harris
Written by Sean Harris Put away the potato chips, say no to sweaters and fight the fanny pack! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Americanisms that really annoy British people! For this list, we’re rallying against the words, phrases, and clunky colloquialisms that have slipped into the English language, all thanks to our American cousins. So get your red pens out, the trash talk stops here. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Americanisms That Really Annoy British People


Put away the potato chips, say no to sweaters and fight the fanny pack! Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Americanisms that really annoy British people!

For this list, we’re rallying against the words, phrases, and clunky colloquialisms that have slipped into the English language, all thanks to our American cousins. So get your red pens out, the trash talk stops here.

#10: Waiting On Something


In general, US prepositions can be pretty awkward, but “wait on” seems to have caught on in the UK, too. Physically speaking, you can wait (as in delay or dally) on anything you like; on the platform, the doorstep, even on the car – if you intend to recline on its roof. But with non-physical things – like decisions, bank transfers and movie releases – you definitely wait for them. Of course, waiters really do wait on, but most of the rest of us really don’t.

#9: I Have Gotten


If gotten were a noun – which it isn’t – then you could conceivably have it. Maybe on toast, or somewhere in your kitchen? But have we really gotten excited, anxious, or suitably irate? And when we splash out on designer t-shirts and tell our friends all about it the following day, we haven’t gotten new clothes – we just got them. In fairness, most linguists agree that this sneaky suffix is rooted in traditional British English – think “ill-gotten gains” – but it’s a mostly American habit nowadays.

#8: You Do the Math


This one just doesn’t add up. Why study mathematics plural, just to be told to “do the math” singular? Given that this phrase is usually dropped at the end of a debate, as some kind of all-conquering conversation-ender and insurmountable point-prover, we Brits can be quick to bristle whenever it’s issued our way. We would suggest going back to school, but that throws up the whole college/university hoo-hah, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

#7: Which Pants Are You Wearing?


Clumsy line of questioning on an X-rated phone line, or innocent enquiry about another person’s dress code? Of course, the underwear-or-trousers talk all depends upon which side of the Atlantic you’re asking from. Interchangeable nouns can often lead expats to embarrassing situations. Remember: Your car needs petrol unless it needs gas, which isn’t the same fuel used for older-style ovens. Sneakers are trainers, although there’s nothing especially sly about them. And band aid means plaster, but it’s also a seminal ‘80s charity single - in case you forgot.

#6: Finding the First Floor


To another small but significant difference between British and American English, and one which, having crept over from the States, can cause understandable confusion in the UK. When you walk into a building at street level you’re on the ground floor. Not the first floor. The first floor is one flight of stairs upwards, but the Americanism says that that level is the second floor. It’s not, but you can start to see why it’s vital that the lift’s in full working order.

#5: Have a Nice Day


In general, most Brits baulk at America’s apparently unbridled enthusiasm, but it’s difficult to criticise their commitment to peppy customer service. But, phrases like “Good job” and “Have a great day” can sound forced and insincere when muttered with the moodiness of a Brit cold caller. It’s all in the delivery, this one. Of course, everyone should try to be good to everyone else, and wishing someone well is a lovely thing to do, but let’s say it like we mean it!

#4: Quite, Right?


Again, this Americanism mostly frustrates because of the misunderstandings it can inspire. We Brits mostly use “quite” as a middle ground between “not at all” and “absolutely”, for words like dangerous, delicate or difficult. If something’s “quite damaged”, it’s not completely beyond repair. But the US uses “quite” as a blanket substitute for “very”. So, if something’s “quite extraordinary”, then it really is extraordinary! But problems come if you’re described as “quite intelligent” or “quite beautiful”. For self-esteem’s sake, which is it??

#3: Alternative Facts


A term from the top, this idea was first formed following former US Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s insistence that Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration ceremony was well-attended – despite photos seemingly showing that it wasn’t. Counsellor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, famously defended Spicer, claiming that his version of events was built not on “falsehoods”, but on “alternative facts”. It’s jargon worthy of the British writer George Orwell, but we can thank America for making it mainstream, and for providing the buzzword for post-truth politics.

#2: The Least Worst Option


Our runner-up rounds on another apparently diplomatic double-negative, and three words which really mean nothing at all. Because what can a “least worst option” ever really be? If there’s something worse than the worst possible something, then the first worst something was never the worst in the first place. It’s pretty simple, really… Anything that’s less worse than anything else can’t possibly be labelled “the worst”; and the least worse of those things that are less worse, is actually the best option available. Hallelujah.

#1: I Could Care Less


Delivered when someone’s past the point of caring – and if you’ve stuck with this video then this presumably isn’t you, so bravo – “I couldn’t care less” makes perfect sense. Lose two letters and an apostrophe, however, and it definitely does not. “I could care less” implies that there’s still some caring to be had, which is rarely what the person speaking wants to convey. “I could care less” is like conceding that “worse things have happened” – but with regard to American English, they rarely have.
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