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Last update:
  31-Aug-2000
1996-2004
  Mike Todd

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Where it's not obvious: BE = British English, AE=American English and ext-link indicatorindicates an external link

Oil pan (on a car)
  Oil sump
Okay
  Although universally used, it is included here because there is so much controversy surrounding the origin of the word! Nobody really knows the word's origins, although many theories abound. For more details, see the discussion on Where Did Okay Come From? in the Encyclopedia.
Okie
  Poor or immigrant farmer
It is short for the Oklahoma people who fled the dustbowl during the depression. The term is sometimes used as an insult.
Old Glory
  The American Flag
Coined by Captain William Driver in 1831, although initially he applied it to his ship's flag.
Oleo
  Margarine
The original product was oleomargarine, but is now shortened to oleo in the US. The origins are in a product which is a mixture of clarified beef fat and milk products.
Orchestra (theatre)
  Stalls
This is the downstairs front seating in a theatre. In the UK, properly known as the orchestral stalls, but nowadays just as the stalls
Oreo
  Chocolate cream biscuit (brand name)
A round biscuit of chocolate wafers, with a white cream filling. Originally marketed by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). They are probably the biggest selling biscuit in the world, and a great mystery has surrounded just what is in the white cream filling. In his book, Bigger Secrets, William Poundstone suggests that it is basically about 7 parts of fat to 3 parts sugar. The surface pattern on the chocolate wafers was designed by William A Turnier.
Ottoman
  Footstool or Pouffe
Strictly speaking, this is already a BE word, but its use in Britain is much less common than in the US
Outside lane
  Slow lane, nearside/inside lane
This is exactly the opposite meaning to the BE meaning! Americans consider the lane furthest from the centre of the road to be the outside lane, whereas the British consider this to be the inside lane. This can be very confusing, especially when talking about overtaking on the "inside" or "outside".
Over easy
  Lightly but fully cooked (sort of)
Eggs that are turned over during cooking, so that the white is cooked, but the yolk remains uncooked. Alternatives are over medium where the yolk is slightly cooked, and over well (done) or over hard where the yolk is solid

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