n single rented room in a shared house, usually with a shared bathroom. An antiquated term, it was popularised after World War II, when housing was made scarce by the Germans. Nowadays, a bedsit would be referred to as “spacious Penthouse suite in desirable residence” or “gorgeous, bijou living space in up-and-coming neighbourhood”.
n Britain. A very antiquated term itself and seen most often these days in war films: Well chaps, I don’t mind saying I’ll be dashed pleased when we’re out of this pickle and back in Blighty. It is derived from the Urdu word “Bilati” meaning “provincial, removed at some distance” and was one of the many words that slipped into English during Indian colonisation.
n toilet. More likely to be used as in: D’ya hear Fat Bob took a kicking in the bogs in Scruffy Murphy’s? rather than: I say, Mrs. Bryce-Waldergard, I’m awfully sorry to trouble you but I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of your bog?
n sanctuary; place one runs to when in trouble or wanting to hide. One might hear it used to describe Winston Churchill’s country retreat, or some such.
n 1 drugstore; pharmacist. The American term “drugstore” implies to Brits that you could just buy Class A narcotics over the counter. These days it’s also acceptable in Britain to call the place a “pharmacy.” 2 a person who works with chemicals (universal).
1 n fish-and-chip shop. 2 n colloq carpenter. Americans use this word (at least those on the East Coast) to describe a woman of somewhat suboptimal morals; this derives from its original meaning of an Old West saloon prostitute, commonly paid in poker chips. All this is of minimal relevance here, as that meaning isn’t used in the U.K.
n pron. as in “close to me,” rather than “close the door” residential street with no through road; cul de sac. Brits also share all of the usual meanings of the word.
n an educational establishment which specialises in single-year studies between school and university.
n public housing, projects. Housing built by the government and meted out to the needy, so they can reproduce and smoke pot in it. In the U.K. such projects were largely the brainchild of a Labour government, but when the Conservatives took power in 1979 they had the fantastic idea of allowing the tenants (generally working-class Labour voters) the option of buying their council houses at a discount to market value, which proved wonderfully popular. It also made it rather tricky for Labour to reverse the plan when they attained power in 1997, as it had made a great many of their upstanding supporters substantially richer.
n day-care. The place you take your children to be looked after, usually while you bumble off and make the money you’ll need to pay for it. The Brits do not use the word to describe a the revolting Christian Christmas scene that your child brought home from school and you’re not sure where to jettison (see “nativity”).
n what the French call Scotland. It’s in here only because The Sunday Times newspaper uses the word as a section title. The word is also known reasonably widely around the U.K. — the only Scottish motor-racing team anyone’s ever heard of was called “Ecurie Ecosse.” Also means some other thing in French but I have no idea what.
n apartment or condominium. Derived from the Germanic Old English word “flet,” meaning “floor” (a flat occupies only one floor of a building).
n any path usable on foot — it can refer to ones used for hiking or just the sidewalk.
n home. Rather a London-centric word: Why don’t we go back to my gaffe and skin up? The shorter word “gaff” (to make a foolish error) is the same in both U.K. and U.S. English.
n back yard. Americans use the word “garden” to refer to areas where fairly specific things are grown – flowers or vegetables, for example. Brits use the word to refer to the area behind their house which contains some grass, a long-since abandoned attempt at a rockery and a broken plastic tricycle.
n main street. The main road through somewhere. Nowhere in particular. Could be anywhere. Although, thinking about it, it would probably have to be somewhere in the U.K.