Wordsmith – Test your ‘American’

“Two peoples divided by a common language” is a phrase often used to describe the differences between the Americans & the Brits. So how many of these American-English words do you know? Improve and test your (American) wordpower by matching each of the words below to one of the multiple possible definitions.

Vocabulary Ratings
14-15 correct ………………….. excellent
12-13 correct ………………….. good
9-11 correct ………………….. fair

(1) reversible n A: lorry trailer. B: jacket that can be worn on both sides. C: baseball cap.

B: jacket that can be worn on both sides. Latin re (back) and vertere (to turn).

(2) lulu n A: short skirt. B: remarkable person. C: exotic fruit cocktail.

B: a remarkable person. Nineteenth century, unknown origin (perhaps a pet form of Louise).

(3) chiffonier {shiff-on-ee-ay} n A: hair gel. B: low cupboard. C: diamond.

B: low cupboard. “I had a bed and a chiffonier in my room.” French chiffonnier (chest of drawers).

(4) houndstooth n A: lucky charm. B: term of abuse. C: checked jacket.

C: checked jacket. From the checked pattern, with notched corners, reminiscent of a canine tooth.

(5) checkers n A: bankrupt. B: wild football player. C: game of draughts.

C: game of draughts. From the checked pattern on the board.

(6) muffler n A: scarf. B: class bully. C: sports mascot.

A: scarf. Old French moufle (thick glove).

(7) hydrant n A: hangover cure. B: street water outlet. C: legendary monster.

B: street water outlet. “It got so hot in Greenwich Village that the kids opened up the hydrant.” Greek hudor (water).

(8) Gladstone n A: pompous student. B: hinged bag. C: long speech.

B: hinged bag. “I packed two Gladstones and jumped on a bus to Newark.” From the Victorian prime minister. William Gladstone, noted for the amount of travelling he did during elections.

(9) mitt n A: lottery ticket. B: clothes moth. C: baseball glove.

C: baseball glove. “The mitt leaves the fingers and thumb tip exposed.” Abbreviation of mitten.

(10) canasta {canaster} n A: card game. B: coffee pot. C: gambling obsessive.

A: card game. “We played canasta until dawn came up over the Hudson.” Latin canistrum (basket).

(11) galoshes n A: thick trousers. B: waterproof shoes C: golf clubs.

B: waterproof shoes. “His galoshes were made of rubber.” Latin gallicula (little shoe).

(12) crew cut n A: short haircut. B: exam failure rate. C: best rower.

A: short haircut. ‘Elvis had a crew cut when he went into the army.’ From the 1940s haircuts worn by the undergraduate boat crews of Yale and Harvard.

(13) flunk v A: shout aggressively. B: fail an exam. C deep fry.

B: fail an exam. Possibly derived from “funk” (a state of great panic).

(14) crumby adj A: teetering. B: delicious. C: of poor quality.

C: of poor quality. Derived from “crumbly”.

(15) phony n A: terrible accident. B technology obsessive. C: fraud.

C: fraud. “The guy showed off like a real phony.” Late 19th century (unknown origin).

Author: Robert

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