When I met my husband, I just knew he was the one. He was
smart, kind, interesting and funny. And let’s be honest, the British accent
didn’t hurt: It helped get my attention, especially when he would say things
like, “You look so lovely,” or “I’m so chuffed to see you this weekend!” Yep, he hit me with that British charm.
here we are, nearly five years later, happily married and parenting my 14-year-old
son and our 3-year-old daughter. In our time together, I’ve learned and even
adopted many of the common British terms he uses, and he in turn, has (gasp!)
switched to using some American terms (“elevator” instead of “lift”).
But little did we know that having a baby together
would require each of us to learn a whole new vocabulary of parenting terms, too.
Here are 27 parenting terms that are referred to differently by the Brits and
In my house, I am both “mom” and “mum,” and I usually
respond to either. I’ve gotten used to "mum" as it doesn’t sound all too different
from our version. I don’t, however, usually respond to “mummy,”
unless I’m wrapped in tattered white fabric and staggering around with my arms
stretched out in front of me on Halloween.
2. Cot vs. Crib
He says "cot," I say "crib." "Cot" makes me think of camping.
But, at the same time, "crib" makes me think of a phat house featured on MTV.
3. Stroller vs. Push Chair
Having a British husband, I am aware that Americans are
ridiculed for using such literal terms (i.e., waste paper basket, sidewalk).
But here, the tables have turned, haven’t they?
I like to
reserve “shots” for a different type of medicine, the “mommy’s had a rough day”
4. Pacifier vs. Dummy
We Americans say “pacifier” because that is in fact what
they are used for: to pacify the baby. Brits use the term "dummy," I’m assuming
because DUH, it’s just the nipple. It’s not really a full bottle, dummy.
5. Potty vs. Loo
I’ve always hated the term "potty." It’s such a cutesy term
for an uncutesy activity. The only way this term would be OK is if your kid
pooped out a furry cute little puppy. And that’s not what happens. There is
nothing cute about poo. "Loo," however, rhymes with "poo," so it seems like the
better term to use, even though it otherwise makes no sense to me. Is it short for
something? My husband doesn’t know.
6. Pee vs. Wee
We say "pee." They say "wee." This is just a matter of
preference. However, the British term does seem more enthusiastic! WEEEEE!
7. Costume vs. Fancy Dress
The first time my son and I heard my husband refer to
costumes as "fancy dress," we nearly peed (or weed?) our pants from laughing. This
is one of those “only the Brits can get away with saying this” terms. The term
itself is too fancy for its own good.
8. Throw Up vs. Being Sick
The difference here is that the literal American term
conjures images of the not-so-cute deed of throwing up. "Being sick” doesn’t
evoke such imagery. It does sound so much more polite.
9. Biscuits vs. Cookies
"Biscuits" just sounds healthier (and not as yummy—i.e., dog biscuits), plain and
This is one that neither my husband and I will budge on. “It’s
just one subject, and ‘mathematics’ is a mass noun, so it should be singular: 'math'!” “No, the whole term, ‘mathematics’ ends in an ‘s’ so it should be
‘maths’!” It’s weird how just making the word plural makes a familiar term
sound so awkward. And vice versa for my hubs. We let this one lie. No one’s
gonna win here.
I still say "diaper," even though I want to say "nappy." I’ve
said it before, but I felt like a poser.
I’m OK with adopting the British term for vaccinations. I like to
reserve “shots” for a different type of medicine—the “mommy’s had a rough day”
kind of medicine.
Showers vs. ---
Brits don’t do baby showers. Nope, no “guess the candy bar
poop” or three-tiered nappy cakes for them.
I don’t know what a ruck is, but here we go again with our
I don’t think either of these terms really knock it out of
the park here. I get why they’re called "onesies," but again, why the cute-ification?
And "babygros" just looks like "baby gross," which is sometimes true, but not so
16. Spit-up vs. Posset
This is the only term on this list where the British version
sounds grosser than the American term. Just say “posset” out loud to yourself.
It’s not cute.
Where did the term "sneakers" even come from? And when do you ever
need special shoes for sneaking. You do however, need trainers for “training.” This
one goes to the Brits, IMO.
Do we put our daughter in a sweater or a jumper? For me, the
term "jumper" means a cute little pinafore dress or shorts. But to Brits, it means
We’re both. We’re exhausted, knackered and any other word
that describes the feeling of being hit by the truck that is shaped like a
really active 3-year-old who won’t sleep in her own bed.
It’s just the spelling, sure. But this difference is major!
Ashes vs. A Tissue, A Tissue
The first time we sang "Ring a Round the Rosie" with our
daughter, I was dumbfounded to hear my husband excitedly recite “a tissue, a
tissue, we all fall down!” Those aren’t the words! It’s "ASHES, ASHES, we all fall
down." And then we got into this dark discussion about how our respective versions
of the popular children’s rhyme better illustrated the effects of the Black
Plague. I think it was then when my daughter started to cry.
Why does their version of the letter Z have two more letters
attached to it? How is that a letter and not a whole word? I don’t get this one
As we all know, a chocolate stash is mandatory in parenting.
At our house, I stash Hershey’s and my husband (who scoffs at my preference for
the lesser chocolate) stashes Cadbury.
What does this have to do with parenting? Everything. I must
have my coffee to sufficiently parent. And likewise, my husband must have his
25. Cute vs. Sweet
Americans like to use the term “cute” to describe something
that’s, well, cute. Brits tend to use the term “sweet,” as in “endearing.” Not as in, “SAWEEEEET!”
I think we can both agree on the term "underpants." But then,
it’s like Americans took to the first half of the word, and the Brits claimed
the second half of the word to regularly describe what we mostly refer to as
underwear. This one has actually proved to be totally confusing to my daughter
who is always like, “Which pants—the under or the over?”
Here is that sneaky pants confusion again. I say "pants." He
says "trousers." It doesn’t matter really because, whatever they’re called, my
daughter still doesn’t like to wear them.