The worst Americanisms in English

When the BBC did a piece on Americanisms entering the language in the UK, they were inundated with thousands of e-mail examples from readers. You will probably know that I am very sceptical about this kind of thing. Some people just have too much time on their hands. See my previous post Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English. But I know people like this kind of stuff and so here is a selection of the readers’ gripes:

When people ask for something, I often hear: “Can I get a…” It infuriates me. It’s not New York. It’s not the 90s. You’re not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really.” Steve, Rossendale, Lancashire

The phrase I’ve watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is “two-time” and “three-time”. Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it’s almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath

Using 24/7 rather than “24 hours, 7 days a week” or even just plain “all day, every day”. Simon Ball, Worcester

The one I can’t stand is “deplane”, meaning to disembark an aircraft, used in the phrase “you will be able to deplane momentarily”. TykeIntheHague, Den Haag, Holland

To “wait on” instead of “wait for” when you’re not a waiter – once read a friend’s comment about being in a station waiting on a train. For him, the train had yet to arrive – I would have thought rather that it had got stuck at the station with the friend on board. T Balinski, Raglan, New Zealand

Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada

“Touch base” – it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK

10. Is “physicality” a real word? Curtis, US

Transportation. What’s wrong with transport? Greg Porter, Hercules, CA, US

The word I hate to hear is “leverage”. Pronounced lev-er-ig rather than lee-ver -ig. It seems to pop up in all aspects of work. And its meaning seems to have changed to “value added”. Gareth Wilkins, Leicester

Does nobody celebrate a birthday anymore, must we all “turn” 12 or 21 or 40? Even the Duke of Edinburgh was universally described as “turning” 90 last month. When did this begin? I quite like the phrase in itself, but it seems to have obliterated all other ways of speaking about birthdays. Michael McAndrew, Swindon

I caught myself saying “shopping cart” instead of shopping trolley today and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I’ve never lived nor been to the US either. Graham Nicholson, Glasgow

What kind of word is “gotten”? It makes me shudder. Julie Marrs, Warrington

“I’m good” for “I’m well”. That’ll do for a start. Mike, Bridgend, Wales

Take-out rather than takeaway! Simon Ball, Worcester

“A half hour” instead of “half an hour”. EJB, Devon

Train station. My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished? Chris Capewell, Queens Park, London

To put a list into alphabetical order is to “alphabetize it” – horrid! Chris Fackrell, York

“Normalcy” instead of “normality” really irritates me. Tom Gabbutt, Huddersfield

As an expat living in New Orleans, it is a very long list but “burglarize” is currently the word that I most dislike. Simon, New Orleans

“Oftentimes” just makes me shiver with annoyance. Fortunately I’ve not noticed it over here yet. John, London

Eaterie. To use a prevalent phrase, oh my gaad! Alastair, Maidstone (now in Athens, Ohio)

I hate “alternate” for “alternative”. I don’t like this as they are two distinct words, both have distinct meanings and it’s useful to have both. Using alternate for alternative deprives us of a word. Catherine, London

“Hike” a price. Does that mean people who do that are hikers? No, hikers are ramblers! M Holloway, Accrington

I hate the word “deliverable”. Used by management consultants for something that they will “deliver” instead of a report. Joseph Wall, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire

The most annoying Americanism is “a million and a half” when it is clearly one and a half million! A million and a half is 1,000,000.5 where one and a half million is 1,500,000. Gordon Brown, Coventry

Surely the most irritating is: “You do the Math.” Math? It’s MATHS. Michael Zealey, London

I hate the fact I now have to order a “regular Americano”. What ever happened to a medium sized coffee? Marcus Edwards, Hurst Green

My worst horror is expiration, as in “expiration date”. Whatever happened to expiry? Christina Vakomies, London

Period instead of full stop. Stuart Oliver, Sunderland

My pet hate is “winningest”, used in the context “Michael Schumacher is the winningest driver of all time”. I can feel the rage rising even using it here. Gayle,Nottingham

My brother now uses the term “season” for a TV series. Hideous. D Henderson, Edinburgh

Having an “issue” instead of a “problem”. John, Leicester

To “medal” instead of to win a medal. Sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance. Helen, Martock, Somerset

“I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less” has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they’re trying to say. Jonathan, Birmingham

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