If you’ve read our previous article about weird American sayings, this topic isn’t new to you. But whether you have or haven’t read it, we just had too much fun looking for those expressions online. So, here is another list of things that don’t make sense outside the USA.
Let's Go Dutch, Or German, Or French
We would have never had guessed this one if we didn't have to research. You know when you go out for dinner in a restaurant, and it's time to pay, so instead of calculating who had what, you just split the bill between you? That is called, going dutch.
But why Dutch? Are the dutch people known for being people who split things? Is it because they are open-minded and very liberal? Or is it because they spend time in Dutch coffee shops and probably don't realize you had much more than him to drink?
Behind the Eight Ball
We love this one, we really do and we would like all English-speaking countries to adopt this one. If you don't live in an English-speaking country, have it translated.
When you come across something or someone in a situation they are unlikely to escape or release themselves from, they are stuck behind the eight ball. See, when we have something nice to say, we say it.
Adding this word to the dictionary was really unnecessary. A yard, for all English speakers, has always been and always will be a length unite.
So, wise people, what is the difference between a garden, lawn, yard, and a piece of grass neatly placed in the front or back of your house?
Leader of the Free World
Who died and crowned the US president the Leader of the Free world? The US President may be free but there are many people in other countries who are also living in a free democracy.
Would anyone dare say that the people of France, Spain, or Sweden have a lower degree of freedom than their American counterparts? We think not.
Gas V Petrol
Gasoline turned into "Gas". Cool. And petrol is short for petroleum. However, was the state of matter of these materials taken into consideration?
Petroleum and petrol are fine, but gas cannot really be pumped into the car. How are we going to solve this one so everyone understands what the Americans are on about?
Does the person who decided on this phrase understand that in the UK for example, the nose will become not only covered with blood but also...how can we put this...a soft version of the F word.
Suggestion: The UK word guy and the US word guy should brainstorm together and decide on these things before going public.
How can you wish something to be good or joyful, when it has already been? It's over, it's passed, it's history. Can't be changed. Comprendere?
The birthday has already been boring, no really good gifts, the cake was ok, and that about sums it up.
We are great with using words as metaphors and as emphasizing feelings and objects, but when there is no sense behind it (like this one), Huston, we have a problem.
The clutch in the car is not a useful thing. It's there because it has to be there. The car won't operate the same without it. So, using the word clutch and referring to someone being incredibly helpful, just doesn't work. Can we think of another word, please? What about things that are really.....useful!
This one is really new to us. "Going Postal" means that someone has become really angry, almost on the verge of becoming physically violent.
So, before someone gets postal here, we will keep our thoughts to ourselves and go over to the next one.
Such a Tool
Yes, tools are useful but apparently, not all people are. So if you come across an American and they happen to call you a tool, don't be so sure you are receiving a compliment.
It is more likely they think you are useless, not the sharpest (tool in the shed), and basically, can't be of any value at the moment.
So, we have done some research, and apparently, over 95% of names listed on the birth certificates and social security number (which is basically the government name) are no different than the name used by the person.
So, keeping the term "Government name" just for the other 5% of people that insist on calling themselves anything but their given name (Princess Margarita, or Jay Z for example), seems like a waste of resources in our opinion.
We don't completely get this one. Why turn small day-to-day chors into a hectic rat race? You leave the house with an errand list and feel as if you are out on your daily marathon.
Relax, choose one errand to do, and the rest, my friend, will wait for tomorrow.
We always thought that in the UK, a place that sells beers and other liquid refreshments is called a pub, and in the US it is simply called a bar. Well, do we have news for you!
In the US, a bar is not equivalent to a pub. However, a dive bar is more like a pub, which is considered a rustic-style basic small bar. So basically, the Americans don't think much of the UK pub and consider their bar a few levels up.
Where Are You From?
This is a question we hope someone can shed some light on, and give us an answer. The entire conversation can turn in a completely different way, all depending on the answer.
Am I from the United stated, or, am I from the upper east side? On second thought... Does it really matter?
What do Americans mean by grounded? Because in the rest of the English-speaking world it means something else completely. So, for fellow Americans, it fully makes sense that the root of the word, ground, perfectly explains the definition- grounded. Down to earth.
However, in many other countries, the word grounded refers to an adverb (or adjective) many teens are in during their wild days. To simplify this, if you come home past your curfew, you are grounded! So which one is it?
Try replacing words like information or details with the digits 411, and you will fully understand the meaning of this. Just like doing a 911 in someone, just in a positive way.
Check out that cutie over there. I need some help with getting his 411. Or, She gave me all her 411. She is definitely a keeper.
Shotgun. A Child's play that has formed into popular American slang. You know the front seat of the car? You know what it's like having siblings close in age? You know the arguments over the front seat with your siblings?
Say goodbye to those days. The first to shout "Shotgun" is the one who wins the throne and gets to ride in the front. Love this one!
4 Year School
This term is used as things work a bit differently in America. Basically, a student can enroll in a college, leave after two years, and those two years can be preserved. Like a sort of credit.
Later on, when the student is ready for university, those two years will count as part of the 4-year requirement for a degree. Sounds cool, ah? We wonder if it works the other way around and the option on an overdraft with college years is also given.
We assume the term silverware has been down from generation to generation. We also assume that a few hundred years ago, when people literally used silverware, they couldn't imagine that one day, people would use plastic knives and forks, and still call it.....silverware.
You must go with the flow. Take a ride on evolution. There must be a more appropriate definition for our plastic kitchen goodies.
I'm Just Saying
When an American uses the phrase "I'm just saying", it's to make a point. To focus on the claim that followed this phrase. To sum it up basically.
Also, when someone is about to say something the opposite side doesn't want to hear. It's kind of covering something in a sweet coat.
This next one is a slang American version of "leave me alone", "Go away" ex. So, we are not sure how biting someone, and wanting to be left alone are connected, but if a million people in the States use it, there's probably a story behind it (or some reason we suppose).
So, next time someone insults you or tells you something you don't want to hear, just reply with "bite me".
Many dishes are considered a pie. Our personal favorite is apple pie, but many people do enjoy savory pies, meat pies, and basically any other ingredients you can cover with a pastry blanket and put in the oven.
However, many people are not sure what someone may refer to when saying just, pie. A more detailed description can be really useful here.
Pay Your Taxes
Yes, yes, yes. Americans are no exception and like all working people in the world, they too pay their taxes automatically with every payslip. This tweet must have some other meaning behind it.
We assume the person was referring to a self-employed dude, who had to go and pay annual taxes. Just like any other due in any other country. Not all things in America are weird.
4 Blocks Away
The entire world watches American movies and American TV shows, so the term "Block" when referring to a number of buildings between two streets is familiar to everyone, just not used in all English-speaking countries.
The thing is, not all blocks are equal in size, therefore when giving direction for example, on how to get from one place to another, no one can really be sure how long it can take them to get there. Do you see where we're getting at?
Has the tuna changed without announcing it on social media? Was the tuna once a cat, that decided it wanted to connect with its true purpose in life and spend its time beneath the waves?
We can assure you, that even if you stick to just tuna, and drop the fish, everyone will know what you are talking about.
Back in the early 1990s, the European Union was formed, hoping to establish the future United States of Europe. It didn't quite go according to plan. Since then, not only did the continent not grow or become greater, but some countries even decided that enough is enough and said goodbye.
So please. If governments and monarchs are doing their best to defer themselves from the so-called European Union, the least fellow Americans can do is name each country with its own name.
Is there something we should know when it comes to definitions and terms of kitchen equipment? What are stoves or refrigerators called in the states? So why not name the dish accordingly?
Can we throw in some suggestions if you insist on using a pan? How about, pan-fried cheese?
Football Field Long
When they came up with this, did they take into account that for some people a football field is actually a soccer field? That many people don't even know what the length of a football field is?
That besides them (Americans), no one will even know how long the bloody thing they are measuring is?
I Do Not Disagree
As if American slang is not keeping us busy and confused as it is. Agree? The next one has a bit of fog around it that hasn't completely cleared up. Now, we understand that you do agree. That's fine. But apparently, you don't disagree. Agree?
So, when you say "I don't disagree" which one is it? Or, you haven't made up your mind yet, which is also fine. But wouldn't it be easier just saying so? Agree?
4th of July
We have come to terms with how Americans prefer to write a certain date the other way around compared to the rest of the world and we have even started to get used to it.
But please, make up your mind. If it's month first followed by day, then it should be month first all year round. No exceptions. Not even on July 4th.
Is mountain time just like Christmas Time or bedtime? Is there a specific time of year, like an actual date when it becomes mountain time? Can anyone celebrate this, or is it an adult zone only? Are there gifts included?
We understand that this refers to a specific time zone, covering the mountain area in the north part of the United States. We just felt that turning it into a holiday would be much more fun, so we did.
Ok, let's get facts straight here. Taking someone somewhere doesn't make you a professional of anything. And just like I am not considered a professional cheerleader, let alone a basketball player just because I take my next-door neighbor's cousin's son to practice, the title Hockey Mom has not been earned.
We appreciate the hard work, and we know that dropping off and picking up can be a nag, but hockey mom??? Come on...
Is this the American drama all over again? If this term were used only before a snowstorm or crazy hurricane/tornado, then we would accept. And even consider adopting. Seriously, it sounds good and makes things more dramatic.
But using this every time you go to the store for a loaf of bread and a bottle of milk, is a little bit overrated. Next thing we'll see people in shields and armor before going to the grocery store.
So you've moved to America and you're on your way to see an optional house for renting. The real estate company explained that there are 2.5 bathrooms in the house. You heard correctly, 2.5 bathrooms.
Apparently, in America, a fully complete bathroom is a bathroom that consists of a tub, sink, toilet, the lot. And a room which consists of only a toilet and a sink is called half a bathroom. Why don't they just call it a toilet room? It doesn't have a bath for God's sake.
Love & Light?
We get the sending love thing, people in all English Speaking countries use it. We get hugs and kisses too. What we find hard to swallow, is "Sending you love & light". Is the light intended for something?
Is the recipient of this light supposed to switch something on to operate it? Or will it automatically shine upon arrival?
Birthday Cake Flavor
Whoever wrote this, probably never had a piece of my mom's birthday cake (unless the definition of this is something that tastes really bad). Why out of all the delicious items out there, the birthday cake was chosen?
Birthday cakes may look amazing, but between you and me, very few of them taste good. Why not describe something as tasting like butter croissant flavor? Or warm apple pie with vanilla cream flavor? I am getting hungry here...
Living in the Projects
This can be really confusing. Not everyone knows that The Projects are usually a complex of buildings where less-fortunate people live. Usually, those who rely on government benefits for example. Imagine someone being asked where they live and imagining something completely different.
Like, the new Melrose Place Project that was recently built, or the lavishing Fith Avenu project. Slightly different, don't you think?
We have one question to sum it all up. How on earth is corn on the cob supposed to be associative of anything else, but corn on the cob. It's yellow, it's made of small cubes all aligned together waiting to be eaten, That's the whole story of their lives.
For protocol purposes, when something is described as corny, it means it's not original, unsophisticated, and worn out.
We realize that the definition of a soft drink can vary depending on where you are in the United States, however, we find it hard to accept this term. No matter how long or where it's been used.
We haven't managed to find the true roots of this weird expression, and we assume they don't exist. Someone, somewhere just happened to say "My soft drink just popped" and he was misunderstood. It wasn't intended to catch on as a name. Let us drink to that!
Apparently, there are a lot of Americans who are not familiar with the term 'Finna,' but it exists and it's being used by someone as we speak (or read). Finna basically means, getting ready to do something. Preparing. On the way to. About to.
I am not finna wait for you forever. I am finna prepare lunch. Does this make sense? We thought so...
Don't Be a Stranger
We understand that the meaning is, to keep in touch, or not to wait too long before being in contact again. What we find a bit strange is that people might have not thought this deeply enough.
A stranger is someone that won't say hello, or even look in your eyes if you happen to bump into each other. So maybe using the word stranger is a bit too much?
She Ok'd it
She Ok'd it? She Ok'd it? Has this been approved by any language academy? Is it like, a proper word now? If so, what is the opposite of, to OK something? Does it have any synonyms? “
Sentence examples using the verb OK: Will he Ok the contract? Do you think it's Ok that he Ok'd the contract? Have you been Oking lately?
Can I get
What's with the "Can I Get" thing? Imagine you're in a restaurant, and you say to the waitress, can I get some fries, and she answers: Yes, sure, just turn left after the bar and you'll see them in the kitchen.
If you don't want stupid answers, stop using stupid expressions.
here we have a great example of what to do when you come across a word or definition, and you just can't be bothered so you define something your own way. This is what happened with the word Queue (Q).
It was too difficult for some to pronounce, so they thought, why don't we just name a long line of people standing one after the other, a line of people. It's easy to pronounce, it easy to spell, and this will too defer us from those annoying Brits.
We appreciate playing with words. Two words that sound like a third, or a word that is used in a certain way that will change the meaning of the sentence completely. We absolutely love it. And we love this one too.
Yes, in a way it's cruel, but it's also hilarious. We recommend all English-speaking countries to adopt this and turn it into their vocabulary.
Book it can mean many things to many people in many countries that are English speaking. The most common one is to make a reservation, order something, book a space ex. We all know it and we all use it.
Apparently, in the US fo A, using the phrase 'book it' can also mean to escape. To run away, to flee. Where has he gone to? He's booked it.
Is this real slang or is this just being lazy? Write me? Write me with what? With a pencil? With a marker? With a pen? This makes no sense. Even to the Americans, there is no understanding behind this. It is pure laziness.
So, let's go over the grammar ruling once and for all. After a verb, conjunction is used. Dance with me, talk to me, write to me.
We thought a lot about this one before adding it to our list, period. And we dug in and made sure this language behavior doesn't exist in any other culture, period.
And our assumption was correct, period. The American people are the only ones who use the word period at the end of a sentence to emphasize their point. Period.
This one is relatively new, and even many Americans over a certain age have never heard of this. The word Totes is short for totally, completely, absolutely, thoroughly, and so on and so on.
So you could say, she is totes amazed by the view from these mountains, or he is totes hungover after the party last night. Or, we are totes fed up with looking for examples of using the word totes.
We wonder after which Jack, this verb was named after. The only Jack we know is Jack the Ripper, but he did a little more than just stealing. Maybe it was Jackie Robinson, but then again, he used to throw balls, not steal them.
Jack Nicolson? As the Joker — possibly.
Do Me a Solid
We have a few suggestions for the meaning of this phrase before we reveal the real truth behind "Do Me a Solid". Does it mean, get me a hot dog (as in the solid part of the meal, and the beer is the liquid part?) Maybe it means going to the restroom for number two? Seriously, why not? Especially after the hot dog...
So the true meaning behind this phrase is; do me a favor, help me out here. It was first used on the Seinfeld show and has basically become part of the American English dictionary.
When are we more confused? When we read something that originated from the UK or Australia, or when we read something that comes from the US? How do we refer to the first digit? The month of the year? The day of the year? What happened back on December 12th, 2012? Which 12 represented which part of the year?
We wonder if the Americans themselves, get confused too, or is it taught at early years so they don't really give a damn for doing it wrong?
So, for a nation known for being very politically correct and very into equal rights for all human creatures, this term kind of shakes things up. We tend to agree with our Spanish friends who don't understand (or accept) the usage of the word Keeper, to its full meaning.
If any guy would refer to a woman as something to keep, she would probably have something to say about it.
This girl who asked her to scoot over failed twice. First for being rude and asking her to move quickly to the next chair, and secondly for assuming the new girl spoke American.
At least they could have told her it was mandatory to bring her scooter for the first day of school.
This refers to the annual season, not the verb, to fall. No, if Americans would have stuck to the common term of Autumn, there would be a need to explain, and it would have been clear.
Yes we know, fall as in the falling leaves, and autumn is sourced from Latin and they both make sense, but why always stand out? Why always be different?
We are sorry, but how is it possible that the entire world calls something in a certain name, but the people of the United States (of America that is) call it something else?
Chips are deep-fried potatoes wedges. French fries, well nobody cared for french fries except for the Yankees, and crisps, are what chips are? Does that make sense? Shall we explain again?
Put My Finger on It
We tend to believe that the person who wrote this wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. I mean, there are phrases that sound pathetic and make no sense to anyone, but this one is crystal clear to all and understood worldwide.
To put one's finger on something is basically, to point out something that you believe.....you think.....you can.....you know....what does it mean? I can't put my finger on it.
In most of the world, an entree refers to a starter, which is served between the appetizer and the main course. Sourced from the word enter. Makes sense. Somewhere along the way, when meals were still 15 courses long, the entree was mixed up with the main course (because it wasn't as small as a first course) and it just stayed that way.
This topic is still very confusing and even after writing these words, we are still unsure how big the dish is going to be. Is it a starter? Is it a main? We tend to believe Americans just decided to butcher the word as they did to many others.
This misusage of the word Chai is commonly used with all English speakers, however, the Americans don't seem to accept this and stick to Chai Tea, instead of going with the flow and understanding the true meaning of the word.
Chai means tea. Just tea. Nothing more, nothing less. So next time you're in India, remember to simply ask for a cup of Chai.
Fellow Americans, don't feel bad. The term for horseback riding doesn't make sense to many people in the UK as well. It is called an equestrian (Equus is Latin for horse apparently). However, many English-speaking countries (including the UK) just use the term "Horse Riding".
Maybe in America, there are other ways of riding a horse (besides on its back) and this is just to clarify which type of riding is involved?
In the UK, pavement is pavement. Any side of the road (usually asphalt) high level used for pedestrians. Now, we understand the logic behind naming the pavement a sidewalk, but what turns the road into the main thing and keeps the walkers on the side?
We prefer to keep us pedestrians in the center of the action and leave the drivers on the side.
We have looked deeply into this and the phrase 'To Table' something, is not quite as explained in this example. The differences between the American and other English-speaking meaning is even more diverse than we thought.
So for the Americans, to table something means to postpone. To deal with it at a late date. And for the rest of the English world? It means to put it on the agenda. To make it available. No wonder there are so many conflicts in the world.
A toilet or a bathroom is really the only clear definition for these so-called three minutes of peace and quiet space some people have. However, this room has more names than any other room in the house.
WC, The Gents, The ladies, The Johns, The Loo, and many more are all accepted definitions for the toilet room. But a restroom? We are sure a very tired mother of three is the source of this name. It's the only place she can really get some rest.
What is the point of giving something a name, when it means everything but? So basically, tennis shoes are used for going on a short stroll, wearing to the office, or any other informal and undefined use.
When you want to go out and play tennis (clay or grass) you indeed put your tennis shoes on but why call them that when it's clear most people that wear them don't play tennis?
Here is another example of the laziness of human nature. Even simple words such as yes and no had to be shortened and altered. Yeah? Do you get what I'm saying? Nope? Shall I rephrase?
So can we please agree, that yes will stay yes and no will remain no? No?
Hit the Road Jack
Why so aggressive? Why does everything have to be operated in such an abrasive way? And yes, this term is used only in English American.
Why can't people just step on the gas or better of, use the gas? Press the button? Turn on the light? Simplicity. Keep things simple.
Jelly or Jam
Thanks to the famous all-time American sandwich combination peanut butter and jelly (which we love), the term jelly is understood worldwide. Everyone knows it refers to the delicious, usually made from strawberries, spread.
So next time you're stuck in the car with loads of vehicles in front of you, and no one is going anywhere, just say "I'm stuck in a traffic jelly".
If you want to do something in the near future or postpone something to a later date, just say so. Why on earth does the weather have to be involved?
We have dug into this, we know the origin of this, and this term is even used outside the US. Still, it makes no sense to us.
Does this really matter? Who gives a dam? As long as the pupils can count and do their math, who cares what it's called?
In America, pupils are taught math. In the rest of the world, they are taught maths. We wonder if the final results of the pupils are reflected following the dropping of the S.
Now, we know that American slang can sometimes be so odd, that it doesn't make sense, not even to Americans themselves. On this specific one, we understand the difference in meaning but come on lady, bring in the common sense.
I mean, did you think a plane could take off just for a few moments, and then do something else?
Don't be surprised people are late, or worse, don't even show on time to meetings. The fine line between these two meanings can be life-changing and decision making.
Doing something twice a week or once every two weeks is not exactly the same, do you agree? Americans. Go figure.
Is your fanny feeling funny today? Cause our's surely is! It's a shame the one responsible for the American vocabulary didn't check this one out before.
So, we have to go buy some new fanny packs. Ours is really old and worn-out. Imagine saying this in the UK.
So, for Americans, this one doesn't make sense. A pocketbook is made out of two words. A pocket (something very small that not too many things can be put into), and a book which can be found in a variety of sizes.
Can someone please look this up and get back to us? We need origin, usage, purpose, and expiration date for this word.
That’s Sick, Man
I think even Americans are not sure about this one. Being sick (or even the words sick standing alone) has negative associations, no matter how you use it in a phrase.
And regarding this comment, if it's limited only to America, so the answer is yes. This one is preserved for Americans only.
We are working on ourselves to accept many variations and pronunciations of the Americans have adopted, however, some are still unclear (even some Americans). House, is perfectly pronounced house, and hat is pronounced hat as it should be. Both start with an H.
Whatever happened to the H at the beginning of the word 'herbs'? Why was it dropped? How are others supposed to understand you guys and not just assume that you adopted the H from the English alphabet for all words?
This one is actually dangerous. For some reason, in America, the words flammable and inflammable mean the same thing. They are both easy to catch fire.
This originates from the Latin verb, 'inflammare.' So, there's an origin and there's a meaning, but is there truly a reason?
I Could Care Less
Americans have managed to ruin this commonly used phrase. I couldn't care less was perfectly fine until Yankey doodle came to town.
So, while the rest of the English-speaking countries stick to I COULDN'T careless, the American's drop the N'T, and confuse us all.
Working the Graveyard Shift
This phrase originates as far as the 1800s. I find it hard to believe that graveyards back then were much different than what they are these days.
It took me a while too (and a few people to ask) to understand that no job at the cemetery was offered. It simply means that he is working the night shift. The midnight to dawn shift.
Piece of Cake
We know it sounds really good (especially if you're referring to a piece of chocolate cake), but we don't get it. How is a piece of cake supposed to resemble something that's easy to do?
I mean, most cakes I know are not that easy to make, and many of them are not easy to slice. I never manage to slice a perfect slice, and the slices I do succeed with, are never the same size. Bread, however, is easy to buy and easy to slice. So, we suggest changing this into "it's no problem, it's a piece of bread."