List of British Words Not Widely Used in The United States - H


meaning thirty minutes past the hour (Standard English and US: "Half past").
(n.) Used mainly in Scotland a 'half' refers to a single measure of alcoholic spirits - usually Scotch whisky. In colloquial speech, it is usually appended with the name of the spirit ('half of vodka', 'half of brandy') if referring to anything other than whisky. It may also refer to half a pint of beer; a 'coming for a swift half?' is an invitation to the pub and significantly more than half a pint is generally involved.
hand brake *
Parking brake operated by a hand control, usually a lever (US: Emergency brake. In the US, the traditional "hand brake" is more often to be found on a bicycle or motorcycle as opposed to a car as in the UK.); handbrake turn, a stunt where the handbrake is used to lock the rear wheels and the resulting oversteer enables the car to be turned rapidly in a small space (US related: J-turn, bootleg turn, U-turn.)
(pronounced "HAY-penny" or "HAYP-nee") half a penny; a coin of this denomination belonging to the predecimal coinage which is no longer in circulation. There was also a half penny in the decimal coinage introduced in 1971 which was 1/200 of a pound. Ha'pennies stopped being legal tender in 1985 and were removed from circulation.
(pronounced "HAY-puth") halfpennyworth.
hash sign
the symbol "#" (US: number sign, pound sign )
headmaster, headmistress, headteacher, head *
the person in charge of a school (US: principal ; headmaster and the like are usually used for private schools)
Heath Robinson
(of a machine or contraption) absurdly complex (see Rube Goldberg machine).
high street
primary business and shopping street (US: main street)
higgledy-piggledy *
in disarray
(v.) to borrow for a set period of time (US: to rent), hence the British terms "car hire" or "bicycle hire"; distinct from the US usage which is "to employ".
hire purchase
a credit system by which debts for purchased articles are paid in installments (US: installment plan or layaway if the item is kept at the store until the final payment is made)
a panel used to display outdoor advertisements, such as on the sides of buildings, or alongside highways (US billboard)
the hot surface on a stove (US: burner)
a bag (US: duffel bag)
person on holiday (US: vacationer)
(informal) short for holidays
home and away
fixtures played at alternating venues (US: home and home). Also 'first and second leg' (US series).
vacuum, to vacuum (archaic in the US) (genericised trademark, from The Hoover Company, the first main manufacturer of vacuum cleaners)
hot up
to become more exciting or intimate (US: heating up). Also a word in Rhyming slang which refers to theft, usually of the opportunist type (i.e. shoplifting)
coloured sugar sprinkles used for dessert decoration (US: sprinkles, non-pareils, jimmies)

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