Divided by a Common Language

English is spoken across the world, but the same word can mean vastly different things from country to country.

Do you know what English speakers around the world really mean?

Take this quiz to see how ‘international’ your grasp of English is.

Brits call this a rubber:


But what is a rubber in the USA?

Right! Strangely, nobody knows where the word 'condom' originated.

When Americans say rubber, they mean condom. They call the handy tool for erasing pencil an eraser.

Brits call this a jumper:


But what is a jumper in the USA?

Correct! The word probably came from the Arabic 'jubba' via Old French.

Wrong! When Americans say jumper, they mean a pinafore dress. They call the long-sleeved thing a sweater.

Americans call this a robot:


But what is a robot in South Africa?

Lekker brah! Did you know 'robot' comes from the Czech word for 'forced labour'?

Traffic lights were originally called ‘robot policemen’ in South Africa & today are referred to simply as robots.

Brits call these thongs:


But what are thongs in Australia?

Bang on! Excellent footwear knowledge.

Thongs are footwear in Australia. If you are admiring the thongs on an Aussie beach, you are doing it wrong.

Americans refer to people like this as runners:


But what are runners in Canada?

Skookum! No flies on you.

Incorrect. When Canadians refer to runners, they mean running shoes

When Brits say Manchester, they’re referring to the city in NW England:


What does manchester mean in New Zealand?

Yeah - sweet as! Manchester used to be the world's cotton capital, hence the name.

Nope. In New Zealand, manchester refers to household goods like sheets and towels. Manchester used to be the world's cotton capital.

Americans call this a digger:


But what is a digger in Australia?

Correct. The term comes from WW1.

Wrong! In Australia ‘digger’ is slang for soldier.

Brits call this a globe:


But what does a globe mean in South Africa?

Bakgat! And it's a 'gloeilamp' in Afrikaans.

Incorrect. In South Africa a globe is a light bulb.

Americans call this a vest:


But what is a vest in the UK?

Correct! Jolly good show old chap. A skinny white vest is also sometimes known as a 'wife beater' (!)

Nope. When Brits say vest, they mean a sleeveless top or undergarment. Their butlers wear waistcoats.

Americans call these chaps:


But what are chaps in the UK?

Spiffing! Well played.

Wrong. In the UK ‘chaps’ refers to people, similar to ‘guys’ in the USA.

You scored...


Nice work! You’re able to converse with English speakers across the world. You’re a great person to know :)

Not bad, but still some room for improvement. Travel broadens your horizons... and your vocabulary!

Tougher than it looks, isn’t it? Don’t feel bad - hopefully you’ve picked up a thing or two that’ll save you being misunderstood in the future :)

Challenge your friends to beat your score!