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US English: Football or soccer?

Contributed by: Swagata Bhattacharyya


A lot of English words and expressions that are commonly used in India are used differently in the US. In the US, we speak the same language, but we don't always speak it in the same way. Even the word “Indian” has two different meanings in the US. Apart from people from India, the term is also used for the Native Americans, i.e. Red Indians. To clarify which Indians are being referred to, the term “Dot Indian” or “Feather Indian” is used. Dot Indian means us, the people from India because many of us wear a dot (teeka or bindi) on our forehead. Well, everyone is entitled to their share of confusions..isn't it? :)


Speaking of confusions, while talking to an American, if we do not know the usage of the terms in the US, we may end up conveying a different meaning. The consequence: an embarrassing situation or someone said something that's completely hilarious! Regardless of the reason, you would wish never to commit one of those harmless and easily-missed word usage ''mistakes''. It might happen to you anywhere. Just keep in mind the notable discrepancies. However, the list of terms is endless. Here are a select few I came across.

Indian English term US term Explanation
Biscuit Cookie or Cracker Cookies are generally the sweeter and thicker ones and the others are called crackers. However, the term biscuit is also used in the US but it has a different meaning. It is a bread product that you usually find in a bakery store.
Bill (e.g. in restaurant) Check The term bill is used for currency, e.g. a $5 bill. i.e. In Indian English you can pay your bill with a check and in US English you can pay your check with a bill :)
Boot (of a car) Trunk
Flat Apartment
Shifting (to a new house or place) Moving
Pavement Sidewalk
Dustbin Trashcan or Garbage can
Fire Brigade Fire Truck
Wardrobe Closet There is a type of closet called the walk in closet. This is like a small room where you can walk in and the shelves or rods for hanging clothes are along the walls.
Petrol Gas
Petrol pump Gas station
Gum Glue The term gum is generally used for chewing gum
Torch Flashlight
Football Soccer The term Football is used for Rugby (It is called Rugby football)

"Football is a gentleman’s game played by ruffians, and rugby is a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen." ~Henry Blaha
Purse Pocket book The term purse is used for hand bags
Brinjal Eggplant Surprisingly, the term brinjal is not there in the dictionary
Lady finger Okra
Tissue Napkin

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