Where it's not obvious:
BE = British English, AE=American English and indicates
an external link
tortilla chips, often served (free) as a starter in a Mexican restaurant.
But also served with beans, beef, chicken and other toppings, as a
Star Spangled Banner is highly respected by many Americans (even
if the tune is actually an old British drinking song!) When it is
played in public, people will often stop what they're doing and stand,
hand on heart. It was written by Francis Scott Key whilst held on
board a British ship during the attack on Fort McHenry, in September
1814. The words were an account of his feelings as the sun rose and
he saw that the US flag was still flying and was originally called
The Defense of Fort M'Henry, and if you know the background,
the words are very poignant. It was only ever really seen as a patriotic
song until 1916, when Woodrow Wilson ordered it to be the National
Anthem, although it wasn't officially so until 1931. For more details,
and the complete words, see the History
of the National Anthem in the Encyclopedia..
In some circles, it is no longer politically correct to refer
to the native inhabitants of America as Indians (and particularly
not Red Indians). Instead, they're referred to as Native
Americans, a term which reflects the fact that they were living
there for something like 15,000 years. The term Indian arose
because Columbus thought that the land he had discovered was part
of Asia. However, some non-Indian Americans dislike the term because
it suggests that they're not "native", even though they
are descended from many generations of Americans ... and some Indians
prefer to be called just that.
Strictly speaking, Naugahyde is a PVC coated fabric
So-called because the coin is made from copper and nickel. However,
it was also applied to the previous 1-cent and 3-cent coins. There's
also a phrase "don't take any wooden nickels", referring
to counterfeit coins. A plugged nickel is one whose centre
has been replaced by a base-metal plug.
The equivalent of the UK's emergency services number. However,
it wasn't always universally 911 (and there may still be areas
where it isn't) - that is why you see signs in some areas giving 911
as the emergency number.
inept, unstylish person
It is thought to come from a character called Nerd in
the children's book If I Ran The Zoo, by Dr Seuss.
However, Edgar Bergen was a ventriloquist with a dummy called Charlie
McCarthy, who himself had a yokel friend called Mortimer
Snerd. The term may have come from either, or even both.
or African American (offensive!)
The word is not American in origin, but comes from the 16th
century British term neger. It originally comes from the
Spanish negro, which simply means black. These days
it is a grossly offensive term, and has many unpleasant connotations
in such phrases as "nigger in the woodpile", "to
work like a nigger", "nigger heaven" (an unexplained
source of trouble), "nigger show" (black and white minstrels)
and so on. People using the word in public when referring to American
blacks have been known to be arrested for anti-racial behaviour.
(of the matter)
This is American slang, although it is also used in the UK.
The American origin is unclear, but is probably form Negro slang,
deriving from the slang words nits and grits, where
nits are the eggs of lice found in the hair, and grits
is slang for "particles of excrement attaching to the hairs
around the anus".
Nuggie and Nugie)
jab with the knuckles
BE doesn't have an equivalent, because it's not something we
do! To do a noogie to someone, make a fist and extend the knuckle
of the middle finger; then with a twisting motion, drilling the knuckle
into their head, back or upper arm. It's common to hold the person's
head under an arm and do a noogie to their head (often proclaiming
"noogies" at the same time). It's often done playfully as a sign of
affection, or more painfully as a schoolboy prank. Punching with the
knucle extended is known as frogging
is the television system used in the US. The initials stand for National
Television System Committee, a part of the US standards organisation.
The differences between it and the British system, PAL, are
enough to prevent American-recorded tapes being played back on many
British videos and TVs. NTSC, for instance, uses 525 horizontal
lines to make up the picture signal whereas PAL uses 625 -
and NTSC displays 30 pictures a second, whereas PAL
displays 25. In addition, the colour information is carried using
a different system. Some modern VCRs and TVs in the UK are now designed
to handle NTSC tapes, but in general if you're buying a tape in the
US you need to look out for one which is recorded using PAL.
You won't find the normal movie type videos available in PAL, but
you may find videos at major tourist attractions (such as the Grand
Canyon) available in PAL. One of the limitations of NTSC is that
the colour of the picture can change in some situations (NTSC TVs
have a tint control to allow you to correct this), and it led
to NTSC being facetiously referred to as Never Twice the
Same Colour - the UK adopted a development of NTSC which fixed
these problems, and this is sometimes referred to as Perfection
Really just a marketing gimmick, you'll see signs for nude
furniture along the highway. It simply means that it's bare wood.