For Americans: 40 Random Facts About The UK

1) People in the UK drink tea with milk.

2) When British people say “biscuits”, they are talking about what Americans call “cookies”.

3) Most British people under the age of 25 wouldn’t  recognise Benny Hill, if they were shown a picture.

4) London is not the only city in the UK.

5) “Pea-Soupers” and other forms of heavy London smog, were ended by the Clean Air Act of 1956.

6) Jack the Rippper is now presumed to be dead.

7) Princess Diana is definitely dead.

8) British people come in a wide range of ethnicities.

9) “Hogwarts” is not a real school.

10) If you ask for a packet of “rubbers” in the UK, you will get a packet of “erasers”.

11) Not everybody in the UK has met the Queen.

12) Beer is served at room temperature, in British “pubs”.

13) “Are You Being Served?” hasn’t been shown on British TV (apart from as a novelty) since 1985.

14) Cats, in the UK, are normally allowed outside.

15) Jesus is not as popular in the UK as He is in the USA.

16) It is impossible for an American to successfully imitate the Cockney accent.

17) Levi jeans are popular in the UK and are available in many shops.

18) British policemen are also known as “Bobbies”, “Coppers”, “Dibbles”, “The Sweeney” and (among criminals) “The Filth”.

19) “Pissed” in the UK means “drunk”.

20) Illegitimacy is more popular in the UK than it is in the USA.

21) Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel were both born in England. Johnny Depp wasn’t.

22) Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character.

23) Most Brits are bemused by the idea of “flossing”.

24) The British national dish is called “Curry”.

25) Despite rumours to the contrary, British people measure their journeys in Miles.

26) Some buildings in the UK were erected more than 200 years ago.

27) Most women in the UK would regard being called a “bitch” as a compliment.

28) British people correctly insert the letter U into many words.

29) Being softly spoken is regarded as “normal” in Britain.

30) The word “Soccer” is regarded with suspicion by Brits, who prefer to use the proper name for Football.

31) British people love to queue and businesses happily respond to that, by not providing enough check-outs, or Customer Service desks. Or Ladies toilets.

32) Brits use the word “Toilets” as if it wasn’t offensive – even though they could say “Rest Rooms”, or “Bathrooms”.

33) Tony Blair is no longer the British Prime Minister.

34) “Tipping” is a very unpopular concept in the UK and should be done rarely and begrudgingly, at no more than 10%.

35) The Underground is a complex railway system, running through tunnels, under London. Remember to mind the gap.

36) Brits tend to regard “Doctor Who” as being aimed at children.

37) Big Ben is not the name of the giant clock in London but the name of the bell inside it.

38) In the UK, “chips” are chunky batons of potato fried in oil – not thin slices of cooked potato (we call those “crisps”).

39) Buckingham Palace is much bigger in your head than it is in Real Life.

40) Kindly people in the UK will always give you directions but only if you learn to pronounce place names properly.


65 responses to “For Americans: 40 Random Facts About The UK

  1. #27 – are you sure?

    #36 – now you’re wrong there. It’s family viewing – ie adults and kids, not just kids :)

  2. Erm not sure about #27 but the rest made me laugh!

    • Americans get upset about the word “bitch” but here it means a woman is formidable and cool. I mean, obviously not if someone says “Shut up you fat bitch!”… More if someone says “She’s a bitch but she gets things done!”. ;)

  3. How about the part where London drivers will cheerfully and lawfully run your pedestrian tuchas over on crosswalks? (okapi crossings)

  4. This post in clearly Google/Stat bait.

    I’m surprised you didn’t put a picture of Emma Watson’s boobs at the end of it.

  5. #34 – the dinner I had on Wednesday night in Belsize Park (north London, for your American readers) had a 12.5% tip automatically added to the bill.

    I will not be eating there again.

  6. Ooh I love stuff like this! As for #39, I was also disappointed to learn that The White House is bigger in my head than in Real Life.

    I am proud to say that I knew more than half of this, for never having stepped foot in the UK (though I never know which to call it: England, Britain, Great Britain, etc).

    Flossing would be a great improvement on things, though. Not that Americans do it nearly as much as we’d have you think. Or at all.

  7. A lot of people forget that the UK also includes Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland, and use it in reference only to England. And I’ve often been asked about my time in the UK as “How was London,” even tho I didn’t set foot in London at all.

    We Americans are quite ignorant about other countries. We can’t help it! We’re stuck all the way over and only connected to Canada and Mexico. ;)

  8. You forgot to tell them that the Flying Swan is mostly fictional… though all the other pubs in the Robert Rankin books are evidently real….

    As for #36…well it depends on which person you talk to, really.

    And you might want to explain to them about the bridges… they always get them mixed up and mislabeled in the American Films.

    • Gosh, these are things that even I, in my great wisdom, did not know!

      Apart from #36, where you can talk to me and understand that it is a show for CHILDREN.

  9. #12 i have NEVER seen beer served at room temperature anywhere!! :-o

    • Lager isn’t… But what about Bitter? And Guinness isn’t always cold, is it? Anyway, you’re probably drinking in fancy London wine bars. Come to Manchester, we have plenty of luke warm beer here. ;)

  10. #18 – You’ve missed out “Rozzers” and “The Pigs”

  11. I’d add things like;

    We’ve had electricity and television for simply ages, thanks.

    Don’t say things like “you can’t be British; you’ve got good teeth!” unless you like the idea of seeing yours on the floor.

    Even though it’s a reasonably small island, it’s quite possible to walk around for years and not meet everyone in the British isles, so please don’t be disappointed that we don’t know that guy you met backpacking four years ago.

    British beer, whilst warmer than American beer, is not actually warm. It’s also a good deal stronger than the dishwater you call beer, so either learn to drink like a professional or be prepared to spend a lot of time calling Huey on the big white telephone.

    The British accent is not a “brogue”. It’s just how the English language sounds when it is pronounced correctly.

    Brits tend to swear rather a lot. Try not to look like you’ve swallowed a goat when you hear it; this may make you unpopular.

    • I associate the term “brogue” with the Irish accent.

      Good points! And especially the SWEARING. When my friends came over from the USA they looked horrified by my foul mouth (in public). We discussed it but they didn’t really get used to it.

  12. Tim Curry, I’m assuming? I know the ladies fancy him tremendously.

    A fascinating list. A shame about “Are you Being Served.” I hadn’t realized it had gone off the air. Thank goodness we still have “On the Buses.” That Blakey is a damned pip.

    • Tim Curry? He is a bit old now!

      “On The Buses” is still on sometimes. Dave and I watched about three episodes (until 4am) once… We were so mermerised by how BAD it is. And the production values were, um, LOW. Hahaha! Blakey is much younger than the rest of the cast in real life BTW.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  13. Hmmm… maybe I should visit the UK some day.

  14. #40 — Not so! I have made pronunciation mistakes and been treated very graciously. Especially in Wales. It may have helped that I was lost and crying…

  15. I knew all these! LOL

    Thanks to people like you, and people who’ve been there. I listen. ;)

  16. Back when I was working in London, I would be called on to translate English into American and back again. Now when I go to Ireland they think I’m English, one place where it’s better to be a Texan.

  17. I had this friend from Michigan back in the 90s and she told me when she planned to move to Wyoming she taped all the Star Trek episodes because she didn’t know if we had TV or not. She couldn’t figure out why I was offended.

    When I worked for the visitor center I routinely had people call and ask if we had electricity and running water and/or if the Indians were uprising. I actually had one woman CALL me to ask if we had telephone service.

    People are ignorant about things even in their own country.

  18. Television, and electricity, and telephones… any Americans reading this might find it instructive to look up where these things were invented. (In the case of electricity, find out who invented the word: hint, it was before the Pilgrim Fathers left).

    To be fair, most Americans I know are intelligent, educated people, who would find this list just as hilarious as I do.

    • “To be fair, most Americans I know are intelligent, educated people, who would find this list just as hilarious as I do.”

      Good, that’s mostly why I wrote it. ;)

  19. I saw the front page of an English magazine the other day and it listed our World Cup Group. The cover read:


    Soooo…you think we’re easy do you? haha! Well, just wait till next year when our girls play.

  20. Stonehenge is smaller than you think, too.
    I was in awe at the age of the buildings in England. In the US, hardly anything is older than 200 years. In England I slept in a hotel that was built 300 years before Columbus was even born. Awesome. Can’t wait to go back one day.

    • “Stonehenge is smaller than you think, too.”

      It IS isn’t it? I was like “Is that IT?!”

      People back in History were all midgets too, so things like Henry the 8th’s bed look like toys.

      • Try visiting Avebury, just down the road. Older and bigger than Stonehenge: the village (and pub) are inside the circle.

  21. Okay, I learned a few new things today, but what is curry? (It’s on Red Dwarf, which you know my husband adores. I just thought it was an Indian dish, but that’s because I’m American.)

  22. haha. oh yes, i knew quite a few of these by living there only a year. some of them were new to me. i always thought it was hilarious when my boyfriend would say he was naked, meaning tired!

  23. whatigotsofar

    I’m late to this party, so I’ll just call you a bitch and be on my merry way.

  24. Then there’s the car parts:
    windscreen (windshield)
    bonnet (hood)
    boot (trunk)
    earth wire (ground wire)
    petrol (gas)
    Johnson rod (I made that up)
    …and a whole bunch more.

    I once had a Triumph Spitfire, and after reading the owners manual, I was ready to give up on ever being able to drive the darn thing!

    • Hmmm… Great idea to have themed facts like that! I might just focus my mind on one, soonish.

      Despite the confusion (for a Yank) a Triumph Spitfire is a bloody marvellous car! Sooo sexy.

  25. Pingback: Tips for Americans Going to the UK: From Blogmella’s Fabulous Blog « Canadians & Americans in the UK

  26. Pingback: For Americans: 40 Random Facts About The UK « Chuffed to Bits

  27. Cats, in the US, are generally let outside too. At least where I’m from.

    • Really? I wonder if it depends on what dangers are around in an area, or just on local habits?

      I used to belong to a pet forum and the American girls (it was mostly girls on there) got FURIOUS when any Brits talked about letting their cats out! They said our cats would get run over, torn up and infected in fights, eat from bins, be poisined by people who didn’t like them and generally kill wildlife. We said that was called “living as a cat”. They went mental and called us “neglectful”.

  28. Very late to this game, but I have to say that Buck House? Was actually bigger than I imagined in my head. And I’d forgotten about being surprised by the swearing. Miss you! Wish we could come back!!

  29. Statistically 9 out of 11 americans wont get this joke

  30. vicky shakeshaft

    The lady who thought it odd that ” naked ” meant really tired … He really said ” knackered “

  31. I do think that tipping is generally accepted, for providing a good service, as you spend a lot of time making it an enjoyable experience for them as possible. But the difference is tipping for drinks?!? I was working near an American base and they would tip for drinks over food….. What’s this about? Pulling a pint, over being someones skivvey for the next 2 hours. Once they heard we were bemused, and just said not to bother, they all stoped. Some tips were just stupid aha!! And because we were still nice as pie to them, (and they had not received terrible service and get treated like twat, like they do over the pond!!) They thought is was gravy not to tip for food. Tipping should be a reward, not an expectation… There lies the difference. We do not want tipping to be remembered as a way of paying to receive a good service, more to be reconising receiving one.

  32. #32 where i cum from (birminham) we also calll the toilet the bog

  33. K so I met a guy from London online, we’ve known each other for few months, first time we met online, he asked me if i could be his bitch. In North America, its an insult to call females bitches, so i was really pissed off when he said that to me, and yes he swears alot. and whenever he sends me a message saying goodnight to me he writes “xxx” at the end of his sentence, in North America it is really rare for guys to write that to girls, cause here it means a guy is gay and such. But What does it really mean in the UK?

    • Xxx means lots of love/love you. I’m from the UK and whenever I text my friends (I’m 12) I always leave x’s on the end ;)

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