20 Words Used Differently Across the U.S.

Most people are aware that there are differences between American English, Australian English, and British English, but did you know there are also regional differences in the way Americans speak? People use completely different terms across the U.S when describing the same items, along with different pronunciations. Here is a list of the most common words that are used differently by various states in America.

Soda vs Pop vs Coke

One of the biggest divides between Americans is the use of the words "pop" and "soda." A Harvard Dialect Survey found that the vast majority of Americans say “soda” when referring to a carbonated soft drink. But once you go to the Midwest, you are in "pop" country. South American people tend to call all versions of this drink "coke."

Pancake vs Flapjack

In North Carolina, people call pancakes “flapjack” while the rest of Americans says pancake. Both flapjacks and pancakes are delicious breakfast foods, but they are not the same. A flat, round and thick griddle cake with a crunchy crust on the outside and soft inside is called a flapjack. A pancake is a thin cake also cooked in the oven or pan but has a soft inside texture and no crunchy crust.

Boxers vs Briefs

In South America and Appalachia, people say "briefs", but it's "boxers" in New York City and the Mid-Atlantic region. Virginia is the only state where the terms are more or less interchangeable, with two exceptions. In the Tidewater region of Virginia, men typically wear boxer shorts, which also came to be called "boxers" or "briefs". And in a small corner of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, men use the term longs, either as a synonym for boxers or briefs.

Tomato Sauce vs Gravy

Tomato sauce is a popular topping to serve with pasta. If you go to places like Chicago and Philadelphia, you're likely to get an uncommon name for the tomato sauce, "gravy".

Garage vs Carport vs Driveway

The word "Garage" is widely used across the U.S., while "carport" and "driveway" are more common in parts of the East Coast.

Sneakers vs Tennis Shoes

"Sneakers" mean basketball shoes to people in the northeastern U.S. However, there are other possible meanings for sneakers, such as "tennis shoes" or high-top canvas shoes worn with laces.

Cellar vs Basement

In the Eastern United States, a "cellar" is a room underneath a house. In the Western United States, a cellar is often called a "basement". You might be surprised to learn that there's a world of difference between a basement and a cellar. A cellar may contain other rooms or storage spaces for things like wine.

Front Yard vs Front Porch

While the front yard is the space between a house and the road, the front porch refers to the paved (patio) area directly. In some parts of the U.S., it can also refer to the veranda attached to the house.

Grocery Bag vs Shopping Bag

Everyone in the U.S. uses the word "grocery bag" to refer to the plastic or paper bag used to carry products to and from the check-out counter or store. To many U.K. Americans, this is called a "shopping bag."

Gas vs Petrol

The Department of Energy says that a majority of American drivers use both terms interchangeably. It recommends using "gas" in the Midwest and "petrol" in the West and East Coast.

Ice Cream vs Snow Cones

To many people in the U.S., "snow cones" means something that's flavored with just a touch of sweetness and maybe some red food coloring. That sweet, powdery dessert is ice cream.

Fries vs French Fries vs Chips

Fries are a popular side dish made from fried strips of potato served hot. They're often served with condiments such as ketchup, vinegar and mayo. In some parts of the Northern U.S., they're called "French fries." In New England, they're known as "chips."

Highway vs Freeway

In California (and in the western part of Nevada, Utah and Arizona), one could refer to a highway as a "freeway", while someone from Oklahoma and the rest of the states call it a “highway.”

Rubber Boots vs Wellingtons

If you live on the coast, you would call them Wellingtons or wellies (and most of the people in the U.K. would understand), but they are called rubber boots if you live in the South.

Jumper vs Pullover Sweater

A "jumper" is a clothing item made from wool, cotton or synthetic fibers and generally has long sleeves and a closed collar. It's also known as a "pullover" if it does not have any buttons or zips. If you're in Los Angeles, you may say "jumper", but in New York, you might say "sweater".

Submarine Sandwich Vs Hoagies Vs Hero Vs Grinder

A submarine sandwich consists of a long roll of Italian-style bread split lengthwise. Typically, it is made with several layers of meat, cheese, and various other fillings. These sandwiches are known as sub sandwiches in the Northeast and Midwest, hoagie in Pennsylvania, grinders in New England, and heroes in New York.

Trainers vs Running Shoes

When you are shopping for athletic shoes, it is common to see standard language. However, when purchasing a trainer or a pair of running shoes across the country, the terminology can vary dramatically.

Tap vs Spigot

If you live in the North, you probably use the word "tap." But most of the Southern people opts for the more French-sounding "spigot" instead.

Candy vs Sweets

In the South, candy is a term for chocolate treats, but in other parts of the U.S., it's used to describe any sugary item. Sweets, on the other hand, can be used to refer to cookies or candies.

Milkshake vs Frappe

Boston is a big city, full of quirky words and accents that make it something of a linguistic melting pot. So, when you ask for a milkshake in Boston, they will probably tell you it is frappe.

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