Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

What is an “Americanism”?

It’s an expression that’s only used in the US and other English speakers might think it’s weird or that it sounds strange or is used incorrectly.

A few  weeks ago we did an episode on the word gotten.

We talked about how this word is seeping back into British speech but most people in England still think of it as distinctly American.

While it’s been American in recent history, before that it was mostly British.

Today we’ll take another look at a few of our favorite Americanisms that we have picked out of this article in the BBC where British people have contributed their favorite “or most annoying” Americanisms.

Why are we looking at these?

  • It’s fun to see how the language differs between the US and England.
  • It’s good to know the perspective on words from both sides.
  • You can think about whether you want to accept these phrases into your vocabulary or not.

Get the full list of Americanisms here.

Americanism # 1: “My bad”

This is usually used in casual situations.

It’s an easy way to take the blame and say it was your fault.

Other ways to say it:

  • It was my fault
  • My mistake
  • Example:
    • A: No one ran the dishwasher last night.
    •  B: Oh my bad. I was going to run it then I forgot.

Americanism # 2: “Bi-weekly”

Quote from the article: “I’m a Brit living in New York. The one that always gets me is the American need to use the word bi-weekly when fortnightly would suffice just fine.” Ami Grewal, New York

The problem with bi-weekly is that it has two definitions.

It can mean:

1) Occurring every two weeks

2) Occurring twice a week

Americanism #3: “You do the math”

When is this phrase used?

It’s usually used in a combative style to show someone that something won’t work in a resentful tone.


  • A: Hey can you bring my cat to the vet tomorrow?
  • B: (angry tone) Well let see I have a meeting with my kid’s teacher at 4 pm then I have to get to the grocery store, the bank and get the turkey in the oven for the guest to come over at 7 pm so can I bring your cat the to the vet tomorrow?  You do the math.


This was a fun episode to compare two different sets of norms for the English language.

The phrases you learned are useful here in the US for connection.

They are super modern, but be aware that some people from England might be rolling their eyes.

If you guys have any others let us know in the comments below.

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