RLH Bus Information Centre

British English and American English Differences

List of British English terms relating to buses and tools, in alphabetical order, with their American English counterparts. Does not include terms related to driving and roads.

British English American English Notes
(destination) blind ? printed displays of bus routes and numbers on roller blinds
(old) banger beater
accelerator (pedal) gas pedal
accumulator (electrical) (obs) battery/ cell
actuator switch/ servo
alternator generator (AC)
aluminium aluminum
anti-clockwise counter clockwise
anti-freeze coolant
anti-roll bar stabiliser/ sway bar
BA British Association thread type
bells chimes
big end bearing rod bearing the end of a connecting rod which attaches to the crankshaft
bonnet hood 'Hood' in BE means 'Soft top' in AE
boot trunk
BSF British Standard Fine thread type
bush bushing
cable (electrical) lead
car auto
carburettor carburetor
catch/ lock latch
chassis frame?
circlip snap-ring/ Jesus clip
clearance/ play/ free play lash
coach bus (express or excursion)
conductor (bus) guard?
crosshead (screwdriver) Phillips not the same as Pozidrive
crownwheel (of differential) ring gear
damper shock absorber
demister defroster
diesel / DERV fuel oil
dog rail guard rail? wooden rail along sides of vehicle between axles to prevent mammals going underneath
driving licence driver's license/ permit
dynamo Generator (DC)
earth (electrical) ground
exhaust manifold header
first (gear) bottom
flatting/ sanding (down) sanding
freewheel/ coast coast
gallon British gallon
gear lever/ stick gear shift/ stick
gearbox transmission not including the other parts of the drive line
grub screw set screw
gudgeon pin piston pin/ wrist pin
halfshaft axleshaft often disconnected during towing
handbrake parking brake as opposed to the footbrake or service brake
hazard warning lights four ways
hire (a vehicle) rent
hood soft top 'Hood' in AE means 'Bonnet' in BE
indicators blinkers/ turn signals
little/ small end piston pin/ wrist pin the end of a connecting rod which attaches to the piston
main beam (headlights) brights
mileometer odometer
mudflap No direct term? Flexible flap usually attached to bottom of wings (fenders)
nearside curb side The side of the vehicle nearest the kerb
number/ registration plate license plate/ tag
O/ Operator's Disc Licence disc in windscreen indicating PCV Operator
off side No direct term? The side of the vehicle furthest from the kerb
paraffin kerosene
perspex plexiglass
petrol gasoline 'Petroleum' in American English means 'Crude Oil' in British
pin (electrical) prong
press studs snaps
propeller (prop) shaft driveshaft
public transport mass transit
quarterlight/ drop light opening quarter window
retread recap
rev(olution) counter tachometer
reversing light back-up light
rocker cover valve cover
roller blind shade
scrapyard junkyard
seat cushion the cushion that you sit on, but not the one that supports your back
seat squab No direct term? the cushion that supports your back
sidelight parking light
silencer muffler
socket (electrical) outlet/ jack?
spanner wrench open-ended, hand tool
split pin cotter pin
spring washer lock washer
steering arm spindle arm
sump oil pan
tap faucet
tappet/ cam follower valve lifter/ tappet
tax disc no equivalent disc in windscreen indicating payment of vehicle road tax, 6 or 12-monthly
thrust bearing throw-out/ release bearing
tickover idle
timetable schedule
top (gear) high
torch flashlight
trackrod (steering) tie-rod/ connecting rod
trafficator (obsolete) blinker/ turn signal
transmission drive line
tyre tire
wheel nut lug nut
Whitworth/ BSW British Standard Whitworth thread type
windscreen windshield
wing (front) fender British term does not include the flexible 'mudflaps' which may be attached
wing (rear) ?

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