n bent bit of wire intended to collect radio waves for your computer, television or some such device. The manufacturers don’t call them bent bits of wire. Their marketing chaps have many fancy words like “impedance” and “gain,” but back at the factory all the guys are just bending wire. Americans call these devices “antennas,” though aerial is in limited use in the U.S., too.
n range. A large cooking stove with heavy metal doors, almost large enough to fit a small person (Aga is a brand name). This type of stove is a little dated now, but they were very popular with middle-class families in the mid-20th century.
n device plugged into the telephone which answers it for you when you’re out, playing an oh-so-hilarious message that you got from the internet, recorded from Seinfeld or made up yourself whilst plastered and forgot about. Americans call them “answering machines,” which has become more common than “answerphone” in the U.K. nowadays.
n coaster. In the sense of a coaster you put your drink onto, not a roller-coaster.
n trashcan. This is simply a contraction of “dustbin” (which means the same thing, to save you going and looking it up). wheelie bin a bin on wheels. Normally refers to bins provided and emptied by the local council. bin bags garbage bags. The plastic bags one puts in the bin.
n ball-point pen. Named after Hungarian journalist Ladislo Biro, who invented it. It’s slipped into the common vernacular in the U.K. and the rest of Europe as a generic word for a ball-point pen.
n telephone: just a second, I’m on the blower. Yes, it sounds a bit rude. May stem from the days of party telephone lines, where people would blow into the mouthpiece in order to gently remind whoever was using the line that you wanted to too. Alternately, it may originate with the navy, where intra-ship communications operated using a similar system.
n five-pence piece. Before the U.K.’s currency system was decimalised in 1971 and became simply “pounds and pence,” the Brits had “pounds, shillings and pence.” Like all crappy Imperial measures there wasn’t ten or a hundred of anything in anything and good riddance to the lot of it. In order to work out how to pay for anything you had to be able to divide by sixteen and nine tenths, subtracting room temperature. A “bob” was a shilling, and these days it’s still vaguely recognised as meaning five pence. Only vaguely, though.
n parentheses. The things that Americans call “brackets” [these ones], Brits know better as “square brackets.”
n broom. Brits use the word “broom” too (they don’t talk about witches flying on brushsticks), but not as often.
n dresser. Just so that one single device can have not one, but two slightly illogical names.
n hard, deep-buttoned leather sofa. The sort of thing you could imagine Sherlock Holmes sitting in.
n (ah, how to describe these…) bit of fancily-coloured paper wrapped much like a lozenge, with twisted ends. A small sort of explosive device is put inside a cracker so that when two people pull at alternate ends, the whole thing comes apart with a snapping noise and — ah, the joy — a small piece of trinket crap falls out. This will be something like an ineffectual miniature sewing kit, a set of blunt nail clippers or one of these mysterious “get the bits of metal apart” puzzles, which will cause some degree of interest from the surrounding family until someone realises it’s very easy to get them apart because it was made in China and came out of the factory bent. As the name suggests, these are mainly used at Christmas but sometimes pop up at birthday parties and the like.
n machine that does the actual cooking of your food. While this is a peculiarly British term, “oven” is used both in the U.K. and the U.S. to mean exactly the same thing.
n cooler. The device one carries to picnics and uses to keep cold things cold: Was there a particular reason why you put the biscuits in the cool box and left the beer in the sun?