7 Words to Avoid in England

British English uses some words unlike how we are used to. Find out what these differences could indicate.

Heading to England soon? If you use certain words in England without much thinking, you’ll be looked at as if you belong to the lower class. Yes, we should all be proud of our social status. However, we shouldn’t be a proud bilingual who doesn’t bear in mind the different words used by the social classes of the country that speaks your second language.

1) Toilet:

The word “toilet” is used by most Egyptians, especially when asking for permission in the classroom, or we may say “bathroom” instead. But saying the word “toilet” in England is regarded as a word used by people belonging to the non-upper class. Accordingly, if you’re heading to any English cities, try to avoid using it. The word “bathroom” is less frowned upon. However, as a person from the upper class, you would rather use the words “loo” or “lavatory” instead. The word “bathroom” is used by the working class too.

2) Sweets:

The words “sweets” and “afters” are also used by the lower class in England. What you eat after a meal to sweeten your mouth is called “pudding” by the upper class. The word “dessert” is more of a regional marker for Americans. Therefore, it’s totally fine to say in England too.

3) Pardon:

If you can’t hear the person speaking to you, what would you say? Is it “pardon”? Yes, this is also a class indicator that would make you seem like a person from a lower class. A person from the upper class would say “what?” instead to have someone raise his/her voice. 

4) Lounge:

You know the room in your house that has the TV and you sit in all day long? The word “living room” probably popped in your head first. Surprisingly, using the word “living room” could make you seem as if you’re from the lower class. However, what makes you even look worse is calling this room “lounge”. The upper class calls it “drawing room”. “Lounge” could be used to refer to the hotel’s reception.

5) Settee:

Calling the furniture you sit on a “settee” or “couch” indicates that you’re either from a lower class or American. The word “sofa” is preferable  and commonly used by the upper class.

6) Serviette:

“Serviette” is considered as a lower class word. Consequently, it’s better to call it a “napkin” if you’re trying to sound as an upper class person. 

7) Dinner and tea:

While reading an English novel written by a lower class person, you may be puzzled when you read “we ate tea”. Moreover, you could also find them eating “dinner” in the midday. Thus, you may start thinking: how on earth can a cup of tea be eaten rather than being sipped? Furthermore, it may cross your mind that they eat nothing after their midday meal. Surprisingly, it’s common for English lower classes to call the last meal of the day “tea” and the midday meal “dinner”. Such a relief, huh?

In a nutshell, lacking the knowledge of a country’s culture you’re going to may put you in awful situations due to the misuse of words. So, keep this thought in mind each time before traveling.


“What Class Are You?” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 18 Apr. 2007, www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-449206/What-class-you.html.