There are huge differences between US and UK English that many people are unaware of. Perhaps through the experience of using computer spellcheckers that favour US spellings – the default setting of machines using a Windows operating system and Office software – many writers and readers think that this mainly concerns spelling patterns. For instance consider the following general examples, of which these are just a few of many:
colour, favour, harbour, honour, mould, rigour
fulfil, instil, skilful, wilful
organise, recognise, symbolise
centre, fibre, spectre
color, favor, harbor, honor, mold, rigor
fulfill, instill, skillful, willful
organize, recognize, symbolize
center, fiber, specter
-our change to -or spellings
single ‘l’ is doubled
double ‘l’ made single
but both spelling styles used in the UK (especially OUP)
-re spellings become -er
Then there is a mixed, sundry collection (UK/US spellings) such as aluminium/aluminium, programme/program, sceptic/skeptic, and tyre/tire.
· fag (cigarette) is a derogatory term for a gay man
· homely means unattractive (do not say this to a woman unless you want a slapped face)
· keep your pecker up – no explanation needed here
· rubber is often used in America for a condom
· a tramp (homeless person) is used to describe a loose woman. A much safer word for a vagrant would be a hobo or bum.
These are just a few but Christopher Davies in Divided by a Common Language estimates that 4000 words in common use in Britain have a different meaning or use in the USA. For over three centuries many Europeans have settled in the USA: Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Irish, Italian and Swedish to name just a few. In fact in some parts French or German were once widely spoken. It is therefore not surprising that American English has become such a melting pot of languages.