What’s in a word?

I received some useful feedback on my novel from two American readers. They said there were a few expressions and words that were unfamiliar to them. They were able to work out the meaning from the context of the story. Anyway, I thought I would share these ones that they made particular note of (apologies and warning of bad language):

1. ‘scraping away like buggery’ (Note – this isn’t something I would say myself, but it seemed to fit the character who said it – photo here shows me in the act)


2. ‘lay by’ – this may be something peculiar to British roads. It’s often a small area with just enough room for one or two cars to park off the road – possibly to look at the view (quaint euphemism for taking a toilet break). Some lay bys, on very narrow roads, are meant as passing places so you can pull in to let another vehicle past. I would be interested to know if there is an American equivalent.

3. ‘stop taking the piss and I might tell you’ – I guess they managed to work out that this meant stop making fun of me.

The word that always throws me when I read American books is ‘pissed’. Now I know that this means ‘angry’ or ‘upset’. To a British reader though, it means ‘drunk’.

If anyone would like to add to cross-cultural use of words and their perceived meanings, please leave a comment.

One comment on “What’s in a word?

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