Translating American idioms for UK business owners

In this infographic, we explore a glossary of bemusing American definitions and translate them for UK business owners.

With a shared language and a love of the same pop culture, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s little difference between Americans and the British. But when it comes to the workplace, it appears there’s less than unites us than you’d think.

Jargon and quirky terminology abounds in offices on both sides of the Atlantic, but if you listen carefully, the differences are astounding. ‘Running it up the flagpole’, ‘aces in their places’ and ‘landing and expanding’ are but a few examples of common phrases you’ll hear in American offices, leaving Brits scratching their heads in confusion.

But it’s not just American terminology that sounds a little alien to our ears – US communication style is totally different too. With a penchant for a stiff upper lip and a habit of downplaying success, us Brits aren’t the most effusive bunch – particularly in the office. On the other hand, Americans are a rather less restrained, more comfortable with dishing out praise and constructive criticism, and generally more effusive in their demeanour.

The good news is that Foothold America has written an easy-to-understand glossary of bemusing American definitions, translating US idioms so that British business people know exactly what’s meant. Check it out and see if you’re familiar with these strange American phrases. In fact, with our special friendship and love of one another’s TV shows, music and culture, it’s likely these American phrases will soon be coming to an office near you…

Unusual American Expressions

Provided by Foothold America

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

Related Topics


Leave a comment