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September 19, 2007


Stuart Mudie

The "(haha)" makes me wonder if it might not be intentional, but for the sake of pedantry I'd like to point out that we actually call it a "telly" rather than a "tellie".

Dan Santow

Stuart, I'm not clever enough to misspell "telly" on purpose. Thank you for pointing it out; I'm going to correct it in the post. (If nothing else the error supports my claim that I know little about British English.)


This is an endlessly intriguing topic to me. Here are some of the more interesting differences between common American and British English words that I’ve documented through travel and language study:

American Word - British Word
cookie (small) - biscuit
dessert - pudding
flashlight - torch
gelatin - jelly
period (punctuation) - full stop
pharmacist - chemist
program, plan – scheme
résumé - CV (curriculum vitae)
tennis shoes - trainers
zee (pronunciation of the letter z) - zed

Another great site to consult to distinguish between American and British words is http://www.peak.org/~jeremy/dictionary/dictionary/dictionary.php .

Rebecca Laffar-Smith

According to dictionary.com "mentee" is a word but I've always prefered "protege". For some reason the soft lilt of a accented French word is so much more delightful to the ear than a mangled English one. *chuckles*

When it comes to British vs. American English there are many changes. I'm in Australia and it's so much fun to learn the American words. Australian English is different again (slightly) especially when spoken.

realise -> realize
humour -> humor
colour -> color
boot -> trunk
jam -> jelly

Of course, when I'm trying to think of a whole list I get a mind blank. lol There are so many. :-)

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Why "Word Wise"?

  • When I started to e-mail out a weekly writing tip to my Chicago colleagues at Edelman in 2002, little did I know how quickly how many people outside my office would start to request it. But word spread, as word is wont to do, and in 2006 the e-mail evolved into this blog. The tips, which are about grammar, usage and style, have a dual purpose – to remind my colleagues in PR of the power of the written word and, more generally, to support and perpetuate clear, concise, creative, honest, lively, stylish, compelling writing everywhere. In 2009 I started to add commentary about and links to stories and other blog posts related to the media, marketing, writing and, sometimes, just interesting stuff. For some reason, I also started Twittering (at SantowDan).