El Capitan: The Good and the Bad

The Good

Basically you should upgrade to the latest version of OS X, El Capitan, right away if possible, the performance improvements are amazing.  I haven’t seen my mac operate with such silky smoothness and fluidity for what feels like … years.  It’s great.

One of the easiest ways to demonstrate this is 3 fingers down on the trackpad to see all Safari windows, or 3 fingers up to see all windows of all apps.  There is no comparison to Yosemite.

Overall I’ve found most of my apps work fine and indeed better than before.  Really noticeable performance improvements can be found in

  • Mail, Safari and Launchpad
  • huge difference when you make something fullscreen, finally feels like right animation.  
  • Flyover tours in Maps.app – no comparison with Yosemite, all jitteriness is now gone, the animation run silky smooth

Still testing out the rest.

The Bad

There is a list of compatible/incompatible apps building up over at Macrumor’s forums and I will list bugs as I find them here:


  • Apple Mail: there is one serious bug where IMAP fetching for any gmail accounts fails.  There seems to be a bug where the port number is updated to zero which causes the authentication to fail.  It’s easy to fix, go to Mail > Preferences > Accounts > Advanced and in the port field you will see a zero, change it to 993 then change accounts in the source list to prompt the app to save you changes, see here; on a subsequent launch of the app the SMTP passwords for 2 accounts disappeared, re-adding them in  Mail > Preferences > Accounts fixed the problem
    • ok this problem in fact seems to come from Google in fact, now they’ve decided that anything other than logging into gmail in a browser is “insecure” http://take.ms/6ILaY 
  • Bartender: the icons don’t show up in the Bartender bar at first, but eventually fresh when you play with the settings
  • Monosnap: this is dead in the first EC update; update: only on retina screens
  • Notes.app: it seems to have trouble finding the iCloud (main) account, I edited a note on my iPhone then all of a sudden the account was found on the Mac
  • Spotify: the works but crashes frequently
  • Calendar: notifications seem to get stuck.  You get a badge for pending invites but even after you accept/decline the badge persists.  Restarting the app 2-3 times clears it
  • Messages: the badges are a little messed up, you read a new message and the badge doesn’t clear for a while …
  • Preview: weird bug where you can’t zoom into some PDFs, you get a blank view


  • keyboard: first time I’ve ever seen this, after a sleep/wakeup cycle my external USB keyboard was not recognised.  Plugging it in/out of various USB slots did not help, restart fixed it
  • USB CD-ROM drive: Interestingly, support for an external Mac CD-ROM drive is dead, you can’t even slip a DVD in after you plug in the USB drive.
  • wake from sleep probs: as widely reported, it happens every once in a while that my Mac doesn’t even wake up, the screen just stays black.  Hold down Power key for 10 seconds …

Macrumors also has a list of reported bugs.

I should also mention it wasn’t easy getting El Capitan to download.

Update: Beta 2

Only changes from above mentioned.

  • Maps app won’t even stay open, crashes after few seconds, continuously (from the crash log, the exception note: EXC_CORPSE_NOTIFY… )
  • Preview: above bug fixed

Update: Beta 7

Wow it’s been a rocky ride.  Had I known it would be this rough I’m not sure I would have taken this route.  For around 3-4 betas the Mail program was unusable, either crashing when selecting flagged emails, or just randomly crashing.

  • Mail: even on Beta 7 the Rules don’t work at all.  You set them then after a few launches the target folder for a rule is forgotten.  Perhaps Apple is not aware of this?
  • Bluetooth/Mouse: This bluetooth issue also existed in 10.10.3 but was eventually fixed.  Basically if you use more than one mouse for your Mac you’re in big trouble.  For example, the case where you have a laptop and you use it at home with one mouse, then at work with another mouse because you don’t want to cart the mouse around with you on the go.  The current version of the problem is more severe than before where you could kill the bluetooth daemon blued and the re-spawned instance would work.  I’ve just tried restarting the mouse around 10 times, and attempted pairing the same amount of times, and neither worked.  A full reboot of the machine plus deleted the mouse profile and re-establishing it seems to work.  A massive PITA.  I find it quite interesting the OS X developers don’t appear to have the hardware equivalent of unit tests that would catch these kind of regressions.
  • Dual Monitors: For a long time, the problem has existed that windows you put on the smaller Monitor (the laptop), reappear 95% offscreen, and you have to pull them all back to appear within the screen bounds again.  With Beta 7, they go completely offscreen, in the case of Mail you can restart the app again to see the window.
  • Calendar: Major glitches from the last release appear to be only partially fixed, when you enter an event and it reverts to “new event” when you tab out.  Fixed: you can paste events into a date in Month view, this worked in b6 but required a restart of the app to update the UI.
  • System Prefs, iCloud: This is more stable in b7, it was totally broken in b6, sometimes you could select sections in System Preferences, the window wouldn’t redraw and showed artefacts from previous states, iCloud accounts requests froze and crashed the app .. now seems back to normal

Astropad Review

Astropad is a new solution that proposes to turn your iPad into a Wacom style graphics tablet so you can use it as a drawing/painting tool with your Mac.  The website and promo video are slick, and my expectations were quite high.  Probably the main sales tool that worked on me was the line about “built by former Apple engineers”.


Installing and setting up the apps was smooth – the concept is the iPad app is free, and the Mac app is free to try for 10 days, then $50 to buy.  If it worked as well as a graphics tablet definitely this is a more attractive price.  An entry level Wacom is £70 and a decent one £299.  My stylus, an Adonit Jot Touch, was easily recognised.

I’ve done a lot of drawing and painting on the iPad with pretty much all the available apps, and at least 3 of the leading styluses (styli?), and my main complaint is that the device’s surface area is too small.  So the prospect of being able to use the 24” screen plugged into my retina Macbook Pro as a canvas was exciting.

Initially Astropad selects an area the size of your iPad, on your Mac screen.  Despite having a retina iPad 5, this worked out to around 1/2 the real estate on my screen.  My Mac painting app, Sketchbook Pro, needed to be fit within the bounding box, which was fairly easy to adjust.  But then I had 3 issues:

  • the brushes and items on the Sketchbook Pro toolbar were too small to select on the iPad, it took around 5-6 taps to get the tool selected
  • there is a big circle that Astropad puts permanently on view, it’s a tool to zoom and pan, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it disappear
  • there’s a tool panel that’s a vertical, black bar that occupies around 1/6th of the width of the iPad screen.  At one point I mysteriously got it to disappear for a minute or so, but given that the iPad screen is already small, this proved really annoying the rest of the time.  With a lot of fiddling I managed to fit Sketchbook Pro’s 4 floating toolbars and the main canvas into the Astropad surface area reflected on the iPad, and squeezed them such that the Astropad black toolbar (notably always present in Astropad demo videos) still took up its required screen space.  The annoying circle pan controller was moved to a bottom corner out of the way.

The main issue I had is that this product is designed to work Cintiq-style, and when you think about it, it has to be that way.  In other words all interactions must take place on the iPad, and your Mac screen is really just a monitor, you can’t use it as part of the feedback loop while drawing.  In other words you have to make marks on your iPad (of course) but you also have to look at the results on  your iPad, not the computer monitor.  When you move your stylus over the drawing canvas before making a mark, you can only see where it will land if you look at the iPad, which gives you the visual feedback.  What a proper graphics tablet can do which so far is not possible with any iPad emulators is let you know the cursor position before the stylus comes into contact with the tablet surface and makes a mark.

So this was a no go for me. To Astropad’s defence it has to be said the app, website and videos are all very attractive and well made, and it already has some positive reviews, but this is not a graphics tablet replacement, at least not for me.

UPDATE: I’ve since purchased the Wacom’s Intuos Pro Medium (£299) and am very happy with the results.  Ironically, I have Astropad to thank directly for pushing me towards this resolution.  I was hesitant to spend the £300 but also annoyed by the idea to have 2 tablet style devices, why couldn’t one suffice?  But the power of the Intuos Pro (the Medium is the minimum usable size) makes it clear that any “stylus on iPad solution” is just a gimmicky stand-in, at best something good for a quick sketch, but by no means a replacement for a proper graphics tablet.  Selecting the right software to get the tablet working to its full potential was quite a tricky process, perhaps the subject of a future article.

OS X Bluetooth Issues with Multiple Mice


Go to Activity Monitor, search for blued, and kill the process

With More Detail

At the time of writing OS X 10.10.2 is live and many of the grave problems with Bluetooth have been fixed.  Those include

  • mouse lag: the mouse was almost unusable for around the first 100 days of Yosemite going live
  • audio lag: streaming audio via bluetooth was so poor it was unusable

10.10.3 is about to be released but one serious problem still persists, which is unbearable for anyone who faces it.

If you have a laptop chances are you want to move it from one location to another every once in a while.  If you do this on a regular basis, like traveling between home and work, you may even want to have one bluetooth mouse per location, so you don’t have extra junk to carry back and forth.  One thing the Mac in its current crippled bluetooth state does not like is connecting and disconnecting two different mice.  No matter how many times you switch the mouse power on and off, or search for it in the bluetooth menu in the Mac, chances are it will never be discovered.  After huge frustration I resorted to the Windows approach of restarting the whole machine, which basically should never be necessary, and the mouse is discovered right away.

So any easy way to shortcut that remedy, which seems the only way to get multiple mice working on the Mac, is just to start the bluetooth service.  A non-tech way to do this is go to Activity Monitor, search for blued, and kill the process.  It will restart immediately.  Now your mouse will be visible 🙂

Time Machine Problems in Yosemite

Perhaps Time Machine works in standard cases, but for some slightly edge cases it’s completely opaque. After much Googling I’ve finally discovered how to get my old photos from iPhoto back, they had been lost for over a month and I was just about to book a Genius Bar appointment in desperation.

The Problem
The problem is when I upgraded to Yosemite my machine became so slow and unusable I had to reinstall the OS from scratch (the subject of another blog post). At the time I was abroad on a work trip so I thought I’d put my critical docs on a USB stick in case a Time Machine restore fails.

But even with the largest capacity USB stick I only had room for my critical docs, not my iPhoto library which was around 20gb at that point. “No problem” I thought, “I backup religiously, even my backups are synced to the web, so I will definitely be able to get everything back from Time Machine”. No such luck.

The problem seems to be if you reinstall the operating system, or even upgrade to a new major version, the Mac doesn’t recognise your backups as coming from the same disk, so they become inaccessible. When you connect to your Time Machine you can see your backup history in the Timeline on the right hand side but clicking on any dated bar doesn’t bring you back to that point in time, the save points appear to be inaccessible.

The Solution
The solution is a massive hack, and definitely something that you’d never stumble into even after spending ages with trial and error.

  1. Hit “enter Time Machine”
  2. Press the key combination shift-command-C
  3. Then (very important) select a red bar to go back in time
    Explanation: dull red bars represent backups you cannot access, bright red bars you can
  4. Then from Macintosh HD navigate to desired folder you want to restore

Backups will now be accessible and you can select the folder you want to restore.

The Audiobooks Minefield: A Survival Guide


Audiobooks are a great way to consume the written word.  It took me quite a while to be won over by this medium, despite a 2 year campaign by a friend, but since I finished my first audiobook I’m fully convinced by the benefits of the format.


The woeful state of text consumption

Like all of us participating in social media we are bombarded by tons of articles that look like they must be essential reads.  And proper books too, the list grows faster than we can keep up with.  Are you like me with a large selection of great books on your shelf ordered from Amazon that you haven’t had time to read yet?  Why is that?  This article sums up pretty well why digital distractions prevent us from maintaining the focus required to finish a paper book from cover to cover.  Audiobooks open up a new window however, they allow us to make use of low-focus time in our daily routines: traveling from A to B, grocery shopping, etc. They also provide us with an opportunity to get away from staring at a screen and take a step back from eyestrain.


Where to purchase Audiobooks?

You would think that Audible (the Amazon company) would be a good provider to buy audiobooks from but they don’t have a very competitive offering.  You are either required to take out a subscription which costs a minimum of £8/month, or you can buy their audiobooks one off; they are priced approximately double what the competition charges.  For example I went to buy the recent Russell Brand audiobook Revolution and it was £12.99 in iTunes, and £20.99 over at Audible.


Recommended: buy your audiobooks on iTunes on demand (avoid any subscriptions)


It’s worth checking around however, you can buy your audiobooks from many sources, with or without DRM protection, and you’ll be able to have your library in one consolidated place.


Apple – iBooks or iTunes?

iBooks store (on the Mac desktop in iBooks.app or in the iOS equivalent) has a modest selection of audiobooks, but generally iTunes has a much wider range.


Recommended: iTunes or any audiobook provider, just go for best price


Desktop or mobile purchase?

This is a tricky one.  Within the ecosystem of Apple’s media/content offering, all your purchases are available to you “forever” in iCloud regardless of which device you buy them on.  This is with the notable exception of audiobooks and ring tones.   Frustratingly, if you ever delete any purchases of the latter types, you will have to buy them again.  For this reason it makes sense do all your audiobook purchases on your desktop computer, which most likely is part of some backup routine, so you don’t lose your paid content.  Don’t think that because your iDevice backs up to the cloud that it will save your audiobooks – it won’t.


Avoid purchasing audiobooks on a mobile device


Which app to use for audiobook playback?

Almost certainly you want to do all of your audiobook listening on a portable device, and much more likely on an iPhone than iPad.  The Music app on iOS is absolutely terrible for audiobooks – in short unusable.  There is basically a zero percent chance that you will listen to your average length 8 hour audiobook without listening to a single song in between.  The Music app can’t handle this and will always return you to the start of your audiobook every time you digress and play something else with the app.


Recommended: Audible app (by Amazon), free download on the App Store 


Transferring content to your iPhone

You maybe be tempted to think, especially with iOS 8, that you can just Airdrop the rather large audiobook files from your computer to your iPhone.  Think again.  With significant amounts of pain it will transfer to your Dropbox app if you have that installed, but it will be impossible to get it into the Audible app from there.  The only way is to use a cable (groan) and sync using the desktop iTunes app.  Even then the new content will not show up.  Look at the 3 main tabs in the Audible app on your phone, and from Cloud / Device / iTunes select iTunes and then pull the list down to kick off a refresh.  Only then will your newly synced audiobook show up.


Use a cable and sync via iTunes on your laptop



Unfortunately there is a significant barrier to entry for enjoying audiobooks on an iPhone however once you work around the above caveats it is a very enjoyable experience.  I personally find audiobooks a wonderful alternative to reading paper or online text as the format not only gives a break to the eyes, but almost always seems to allow for better retention of the material.  This depends on your individual learning style, of course.  In many cases the narrator has a lot of character and adds an extra dimension of enjoyment to the experience.  What are your thoughts?

Problems mounting Time Capsule with OS X 10.6.8

I use a slightly older Mac Mini as the target for my backups and due to it’s 1GB RAM limit, it cannot be upgraded past Snow Leopard, OS X 10.6.8.

One of the Apple software updates in 2012/13 introduced a bug for this version of the OS where certain mounted volumes are automatically self-eject after 10 minutes or so.  Despite tons of Google search results on the subject, it’s not easy to fix the problem.

I send my Time Machine backups to a dedicated TimeCapule disk, then mount the TC on the Mini and use Crashplan to sync the backups to the web, along with a few static files/folders.

Once the self-ejecting problem appeared my backup redundancy solution no longer worked.  Seeing so many HDs die without warning over the years, I progressively became more concerned about finding a workaround to the problem.

What eventually worked was to mount the TC over SMB instead of the default Apple Filing Protocol (afp) formerly known as AppleTalk.  I first had to resolve the TC to an IP using the admin tools on my router, then was able to mount it with SMB using the Finder’s  ‘connect to server’ option, illustrated here: http://take.ms/cv3Zw 

Problems with 64 bit MySQL on Mountain Lion

When I first installed  MySQL 5.6.11 on Mountain Lion it worked fine for a week.  The only issue was I couldn’t get the service to automatically start from boot.

Strangely a week later it started recursively crashing, the only way to stop it was a kill -9 on the mysqld process.

At first I thought this might be due to running the database with a Postgres installation running as well, something that gets setup when you install Daylite, the excellent CRM package.  But this was not the cause.

The only way I found to fix it was uninstalling the 64 bit version and installing the 32 bit.  I had read something earlier describing this issue.

Setting some sensible defaults for OS X (Lion)

There’s some great tips here for improving the default preferences of the operating system:

OSX For Hackers — Gist

The ones I used were

defaults write com.apple.finder FXDefaultSearchScope -string "SCcf"
defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSNavPanelExpandedStateForSaveMode -bool true
defaults write com.apple.LaunchServices LSQuarantine -bool false
defaults write com.apple.dock mouse-over-hilte-stack -bool true
defaults write com.apple.frameworks.diskimages auto-open-ro-root -bool true
defaults write com.apple.frameworks.diskimages auto-open-rw-root -bool true
defaults write com.apple.finder OpenWindowForNewRemovableDisk -bool true
defaults write com.apple.finder FXEnableExtensionChangeWarning -bool false
defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu -bool true
chflags nohidden ~/Library
defaults write com.apple.mail AddressesIncludeNameOnPasteboard -bool false

North American English words not used in the UK

Thanks to reading this Wikipedia article I’ve realised I can claim to know 2 versions of English, or at least 2 dialects, I hadn’t realised how many differences there are.  There may be some more recent words which are missing as I left N. America on 1996!

I removed around 20% of the Wikipedia list, i.e., those words which I never heard in common usage.

I’m sure the following is not exhaustive 😉


affirmative action

providing opportunities in education or work based on (e.g.) race or gender (UK: positive discrimination)


fixed-wing aircraft. Alteration of UK aeroplane, probably influenced by aircraft


(verb) (UK and US: sort alphabetically)


(UK: aluminium)

arugula, rugola

the herb also known as rocket or garden rocket. Borrowed from southern Italian dialect in the early 1960s (“Ask Italian greengrocers for arugula, rucola or ruccoli; ask other markets for rouquette, rocket salad or, simply, rocket.” — The New York Times, May 24, 1960, in OED).




baby carriage

pushable vehicle for transporting babies, also called stroller, buggy or regionally baby coach (UK: perambulator (very old-fashioned or formal), pram, or, for the type that an older baby sits rather than lies in, pushchair or buggy)


a baseball stadium; although used as well to mean range of approximation or accuracy (“in the ballpark”; “a ballpark figure”) *

Band-Aid *

(trademark) bandage for minor wounds, (UK: Elastoplast (trademark), plaster [DM]); also, a makeshift solution


front part of the hair cut to hang over the forehead (UK: a fringe)


hair slide


skirting board


a hotel porter


(on a horse) (UK: blinkers)

blood sausage

black pudding


a walkway usually made of planking, typically along a beach (as that of Atlantic City) (UK: promenade)

bobby pin

hair grip, Kirby grip


(slang) a piece of nasal mucus (UK: bogey)


a large portable stereo, syn. with ghettoblaster, which is also American in origin but is common in the UK.


(also the boonies) rough country; a very rural location or town; backwoods; the “sticks”. Sometimes refers to rough, poor neighborhoods in a city. From Tagalog.


a box for keeping bread (UK: usually bread bin)


to cook food with high heat with the heat applied directly to the food from above (UK: grill) [DM]. Apparently first used by Chaucer.


a type of residential building found in New York City and other large cities

buddy, bud

a friend; also used as a term of address (UK similar: mate)


junior restaurant worker assisting waiting staff, table clearer, water pourer etc. (UK: busser; runner)



a train car attached usually to the rear mainly for the crew’s use (UK: guard’s van’ or brake van’); also (colloquial) the buttocks


[UK: sweets]


(of a vehicle) to travel fast and out of control, usually swerving or cornering (UK: career)


a four wheeled wire frame used to carry shopping (UK: trolley)

cell phone *

(short for cellular telephone) a portable telephone; UK: mobile phone, often abbreviated to mobile

certified mail

recorded delivery

ChapStick *

(trademark, sometimes used generically) a lip balm – trademark Lypsyl is common (UK: Lip Balm *)


a popular board game (UK: draughts)

charge account

in a store or shop (UK: credit account)

checking account

the type of bank account used for drawing checks; distinguished from savings account. (UK: current account or cheque account)


coriander leaf, while in the US, coriander refers only to the seed.

conniption (fit)

(slang) temper tantrum.


informal meal cooked and eaten outdoors, a cross between a picnic and a barbecue or a cooking competition taking place outdoors

co-ed, coed

female student at a coeducational college (e.g., “He saw the party as an opportunity to meet co-eds.”); any group of people with members from both genders (e.g. “My soccer team is co-ed.”)




fictional disease, a term used by children (UK: germs, lurgy); also a term for lice

costume party

party where costumes are worn (UK: fancy-dress party)

cotton candy

spun sugar often sold at fairs (UK: candy floss)


(UK: anti-clockwise)


a one-piece outer protective garment (UK: overall, boiler suit)


(informal) a creature; an animal (as a horse in the South or a bull in the North); often used jocularly (as in “congresscritter”, a congressperson); sometimes a term of endearment


risky and uncertain venture; from craps, a dice game





An absorbent undergarment (UK: nappy)


a 10-cent coin. Derived from the French word disme (the original spelling), meaning a tenth part or tithe, and ultimately from the Latin decima. Five-and-dime, dime store, a store selling cheap merchandise; a dime a dozen, so abundant as to be worth little; on a dime, (slang) ten dollars, in a small space (“turn on a dime”) or immediately (“stop on a dime”); nickel-and-dime, originally an adjective meaning “involving small amounts of money” and then “insignificant”, also a verb meaning “to rip-off by many seemingly insignificant charges”. (The nickel [DM] is the 5-cent coin.) In Britain, the old sixpence, a small coin of a comparable size and value, was formerly used in similar expressions before a decimal currency was introduced in the 1971.

direct deposit

a method of payment by bank transfer, similar to European giro, almost exclusively used for deposits of pay checks or government benefits


to confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate (UK and US: discompose)


a cloth for washing dishes (UK and US: dishcloth)

dishwashing liquid

a liquid soap used for washing dishes (UK “washing-up liquid”)

dish towel

a towel for drying dishes (UK: tea towel)


device for rinsing the vagina or anus; also douchebag* is used as an insult


(noun, adv., adj.) (in, to, toward, or related to) either the lower section or the business center of a city or town—(used in UK but more common expression would be city centre)


(UK: curtain)

driver license, driver’s license

(UK: driving licence)


a pharmacy, or a store selling candy, magazines, etc. along with medicines (UK approx.: chemist or “corner shop” [DM])


preference of one thing over another derived from a contraction of “I would rather” or “I’d rather” (e.g., “if I had my druthers, I’d…”)


gypsum board, plasterboard, or any process that builds interior walls without the use of water (UK: plasterboard)


A male or a farm hand at a horse ranch. Americans often use this as the combined equivalent of the British usage of “mate” and “bloke”, or, even closer, as the equivalent of Caribbean “man/mon”. Dude has become more understood in the UK due to television, films, music, etc.


(trademark: might be becoming genericized) large trash receptacle (UK approx.: skip [DM]); to dumpster-dive, to rummage through a Dumpster


a boring, studious or socially inept person (a nerd, a geek or a “drip” an old-fashioned mild pejorative for someone exceptionally eccentric or lacking in social skills)





the plant Solanum melongena (UK: aubergine); “eggplant” is common in the Commonwealth outside the United Kingdom.


(UK: lift)

Emergency brake

brake in motor vehicle operated by a lever used to keep it stationary. Also referred to as an “E-brake”. (UK: handbrake)

English muffin

(UK: “muffin“, “hot muffin“) (for more, see article)


to Envisage


(UK: rubber [DM])


As in expiration date (UK: expiry)


A type of limited-access road (UK “motorway“)





water outlet (UK and US: tap [DM])


a publicist or press agent; sometimes also an alternate spelling of flak “negative commentary”, which is used in the UK. Although flack “press agent” was first recorded just one year after flak “Flugabwehrkanone”, the two are likely unrelated.


portable battery-powered electric lamp (UK: torch)


(see article) (UK motorway)


a first-year student in college or high school (fresher in UK)

French fries (or fries)

pieces of potato that have been deep-fried. Originates from Belgian style of cooking potatoes (UK chips: e.g., fish and chips or pie and chips)


A confection applied to cakes (US and UK: icing)




(UK: rubbish)

garbage can; waste basket

(UK: rubbish bin or simply bin, as in “Put the rubbish in the bin.”)


(esp. in the past also spelled gasolene; abbreviated gas) (UK: petrol)


as an interjection, a euphemism for “Jesus”; as an adjective, denotes something characterized by or meant to cause excitement or sensation (“gee-whiz technology”; “a gee-whiz attitude”)

get-go (git-go)

the very beginning (of something) [1]

green thumb

(UK: green fingers)

grifter *

a con artist, transient swindler, or professional gambler (UK: con man); also grift can mean an act of thievery or trickery


Archaic in most of the UK except Yorkshire where it is widely used.



a bruise on one’s skin resulting from kissing or sucking; (UK: love bite * )


The word “whore“, synonymous with tramp (harlot) or slut and often used as an insult. The spelling is associated with African-American English, though it does no more than reflect a non-Rhotic pronunciation of the standard word, similar to what can be heard in Boston (“haw” or “ho-wuh”) or Australia.


tramp (BrE); subculture of wandering homeless people,[1] particularly those who make a habit of hopping freight trains. Becoming more popular in the UK


engine compartment cover of front-engine automobile (UK: bonnet)

play hooky

to play truant from school; to cut class (UK also: skive, bunk off or playing wag or wagging off or mooching)

horseback riding

simply “riding” or horse riding in the UK


(short for how do you do) casual greeting that originated in the Southern States. (UK How do?)


jack off, jerk off *

(slang) to masturbate; UK usage would be “to wank”. If used as a disparaging noun, as in “that guy is such a jackoff [or jerkoff]”, the UK equivalent would be “that bloke is such a wanker (or a “tosser”)”. In this sense, sometimes written “jagoff”. (It is generally not considered as vulgar or insulting as “wanker” is, however.) Can also mean to delay, stymie, thwart, or cause confusion, sometimes with the intent to defraud (“I’ve waited an hour to be served; they’re jerking me off,”; “They say I never returned the car- I left it in the lot. I’m getting jerked off here.”) In the latter sense, may also be “jerked around”.


(UK: pneumatic drill)

Jane Doe

See John Doe.


minced oath for “Jesus”, sometimes spelled geez


(trademark) gelatin dessert (UK: jelly [DM])


(slang) a toilet; also, the client of a prostitute


(slang) penis ( UK : “willy” )

John Doe

unnamed defendant or victim (as in a lawsuit), or a person whose identity is unknown or is intended to be anonymous; also, an average man ; compare John Q. Public (UK equivalent is Joe Bloggs, or John Smith). The female equivalent is Jane Doe, or less frequently “Jane Roe” as in Roe v. Wade. Also Baby Doe.



a red, black-spotted beetle (UK: ladybird)


a public place to wash laundry (UK: laundrette)

learner’s permit

a restricted license for a person learning to drive, who has not yet passed the necessary driver’s test (rules vary from state to state); also called driver’s permit (UK: provisional driving licence)

left field *

a source of unexpected or illogical questions, ideas, etc. (“that proposal came out of left field”); for the baseball sense see left fielder; see English language idioms derived from baseball (now becoming more common in the UK)

license plate, license tag

vehicle registration plate (UK: number plate)



UK: post


see mail carrier


(UK: post box, letter box, pillar box)


mathematics (UK: maths).


medium size


(Miranda warning) the warning (usually “You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” etc.) given to criminal suspects when arrested; (Miranda rights) the right of a criminal suspect when arrested, as established in the United States Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona; hence mirandize, to recite the Miranda warning to (a criminal suspect). In the UK this is referred to as “reading rights” or “cautioned as to his rights” (not to be confused with a police caution).


a type of haircut (UK: mohican)

mama, mamma, momma

mother (UK often: mum[my], mam, ma)


single-family operated small business (“a mom-and-pop store”) (UK: family business)

mono / mononucleosis

(UK: Glandular fever)


(UK & US: undertaker, funeral director)



law enforcement narcotics agent; but ‘to narc on’ someone is to inform on them to an authority figure, used also as a noun labeling a person who does such. Also ‘Grass’ (UK and New Zealand) or ‘Dobber’ (Australia and most parts of the UK, except central Scotland where ‘dobber’ generally means ‘penis’).


(UK: serviette)


encompassed by bedside table






(UK: “obliged”)


of clothes, etc. (UK: off-the-peg)


irritable, crotchety, cranky, troublemaking (from ordinary)

outage *

temporary suspension of operation (“a power outage“, UK: powercut); the amount of something lost in storage or transportation [DM]

overpass *

(UK: flyover)





(UK: dummy [DM], comforter [DM])


(UK: larder)


(UK: tights, a term used for similar non-sheer garments in the U.S.; “pantyhose” refers only to sheer or semi-sheer nylon-based tights)

paper route

a regular series of newspaper deliveries (UK: paper round)

paper towels

a roll of absorbent perforated paper used to clean around the house (UK: kitchen roll)

parking lot

a usually outside area for the parking of automotive vehicles (UK: car park)


prison; gaol/jail.


punctuation mark at the end of a sentence (UK: full-stop)


A trademarked brand of frozen juice, or flavored ice on a stick. The term is widely used to describe all such confections without regard to brand. (UK: ice lolly)

pre-authorized payment/withdrawal

(UK: direct debit (variable amount)/standing order (fixed amount))

public holiday

(UK: bank holiday, although public holiday is also used, more formally, when referring to New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day). See Federal holiday





short for “radical”, different or interesting, exceptional; synonym for cool


The metaphorical raincheck is used in the US to indicate that the person “taking the raincheck” regretfully cannot accept the current invitation but would like to be invited to a future event. Stores may “give a raincheck” when they have run out of an advertised item; this is usually a coupon to purchase the item later at the advertised price. In the UK the person “taking the raincheck” may attend an event, but is warning the host that there is a possibility that they may not be able to make it. Both usages are becoming more common in UK English, particularly amongst office workers.

Realtor (trademark)

member of the National Association of Realtors; as a genericized trademark, any real estate broker or real estate agent (UK: estate agent)


a toilet, particularly a public one.

RV (recreational vehicle)

see article for usage of the terms RV, motor home, and the British camper [DM] and caravan [DM]


Saran wrap

(Saran is a trademark) plastic wrap (UK: cling film)


ticket tout

Scotch Tape

(trademark) sticky tape (UK: Sellotape [trademark])

sedan automobile

(UK: saloon)

self-rising flour

self-raising flour



shopping bag : (UK: carry bag)


A lawyer or accountant of dubious ethical standards. This phrase commonly indicates a person with no ethical restraints. (From German Scheister)


usually paved path for pedestrian traffic, often constructed of concrete or less usually of stone (UK: pavement [DM], footpath [DM])

skim milk

(UK: skimmed milk)


(usually pl.) a form of footwear, also called tennis shoe or “gym shoe”—see regional vocabularies of American English (UK: trainer, plimsoll, regional dap,pump, [DM])


(colloqual Past Tense and Past Participle) form of “Sneak” ) (US standard and UK: Sneaked)


used in the UK but the sport is also known as “Football” or fully as association football

soda pop

(UK: soft drink [without CO2 e.g. orange juice], or fizzy/carbonated drink [with CO2 e.g. Coca-Cola])


a second-year college or high school student (Trinity College Dublin has sophister in this sense); (adj.) the second in a series (as in, an athlete’s “sophomore season”, a band’s “sophomore album”) From the Greek: Sophos – Wise; and Moros – Fool, Moron (UK: undergraduate has this extended sense)

specialty *

(UK: speciality, though specialty is used in law and medicine)

station wagon

automobile with extended rear cargo area (UK: estate (car))

stickshift, stick

(car with) manual transmission, as opposed to an automatic (UK: gear stick or gear lever for the stick; manual for the car)

strep throat

a sore throat caused by Streptococcus

stool pigeon, stoolie

police informer (UK: grass) (From the use of captive birds as hunting decoys)


A small porch, platform, or staircase leading to the entrance of a house or building. Chiefly Northeastern U.S.


vehicle on rails for passenger transportation [DM] usually within a city; also called trolley [DM] or trolley car if electrically powered by means of a trolley (UK: tram)


vehicle for baby transportation featuring the child in a sitting position, usually facing forward (UK: pushchair, buggy [DM])


A phrase expressing distaste or disapproval. Slowly entering British slang.


Sport-Utility Vehicle. Often referred to as a 4×4 (“four by four”) in the UK; in the US “4×4” usually refers to a four wheel drive pickup truck


a knitted jacket or jersey (UK: jumper or wooly jumper)


(UK: track bottoms, tracksuit bottoms. Colloqially trackie bottoms or trackies)





exhaust pipe


(UK: takeaway; Scotland & US also: carry-out)


(see article) (UK: compare autocue)


Through. An abbreviation mostly used in the fast food industry, as in Drive Thru. Also used in traffic signs (“Thru Traffic Keep Left”; i.e., traffic that is continuing through an interchange rather than exiting should keep to the left) and occasionally road names (“New York State Thruway”) and sometimes in newspaper headlines. Absolutely not considered acceptable spelling in other contexts. Seen in the UK at McDonalds, Burger King etc.


short nail or pin with a large, rounded metal head (UK: drawing pin)

track and field meeting * (track meet)

(UK usually athletics meeting [DM]); see also track [DM]


(UK: dustbin, rubbish bin)


storage space usually over rear wheels of an automobile (excepting some) (UK: boot)


literally, worth 25 cents or a quarter (a bit is an eighth of a dollar); figuratively, worth very little, insignificant (informal). In UK the phrase “two bob“‘ exists although this far more common in London and the south-east. Likewise mickey mouse.

two cents, two cents’ worth

an opinion, a piece of one’s mind (as in, “I’m gonna go down there and give him my two cents”) – (UK similar: two pence, two penneth, two penn’orth or tuppence worth)





an upper undergarment with no collar, and with short or no sleeves, worn next to the skin under a shirt (UK: singlet, vest [DM], semmit in Scotland and Northern Ireland [2])


relating to goods targeted at high-income consumers (UK: upmarket)


(noun, adj., adv.) (in, to, toward, or related to) either the upper section or the residential district of a city; e.g., in Manhattan, New York City the term refers to the northern end of Manhattan, generally speaking, north of 59th Street; see also Uptown, Minneapolis; Uptown, Chicago; Uptown New Orleans; compare downtown. Often has implications of being a desirable or upscale neighborhood. However, in Butte, Montana and Charlotte, North Carolina, “Uptown” refers to what would be called “downtown” in most other cities.





an individual’s earned time off from work: usually 1 to 4 weeks (UK: holiday)

varmint or varmit

(from vermin) pest which raids farms, rather than infesting them





(UK: flannel, UK often & US less frequently facecloth; US less frequently also washrag)


synonym for trash can, especially one intended for light waste (UK: dustbin; wastepaper basket is an interior object for waste from each room.)


the front window of an automobile (UK: windscreen)


a mobster; also smartass (e.g., “hey, wiseguy…”) (UK: a “know-it-all”)




a witty, often caustic remark; something supposed to cause surprise or shock

ZIP code

(for Zone Improvement Plan) the postal code used by the United States Postal Service composed of 5 digits as in 90210, sometimes a suffix of 4 digits after a hyphen is used. (UK equivalent: postcode or post code or rarely postal code)

zipper *

(UK usually zip [DM])


the plant Cucurbita pepo, also zucchini squash. (UK: courgette)




source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_words_not_widely_used_in_the_United_Kingdom