Spotted in New York

I traveled up to New York City from my home near Philadelphia the other day to see the Broadway smash Hamilton. Great show! Unfortunately, what’s in my head now is the earwormy King George song, “You’ll Be Back.” Hopefully it will be out by the end of the decade.

Strolling the streets of New York I encountered a medical practice called Bespoke Surgical.


Then, next to Madison Square Garden, I passed the Pennsy Food Hall.


I thought nothing of it, but my wife (correctly) pointed out that “food hall” is of British origin. A post is to come.

At that point I started taking my own pictures. Here’s an ad in an apartment house’s ground-floor window:


(For more on “holiday” as British for “vacation” click here.)

Finally, the Flying Tiger store on lower Broadway is selling these containers for what Americans call French fries or just “fries.”


I realize Flying Tiger is Danish, but still.

10 thoughts on “Spotted in New York

  1. I don’t want to be a fly in the ointment, but I grew up in Greenwich, CT and have lived my entire life there and in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. I can attest that all the so called “Britishisms” mentioned in the four examples above are part of the common parlance in both areas. I can’t be certain of other parts of the country, but I suspect they are in common usage at least along the East Coast. Bespoke tailoring, food halls in shopping malls, going on holiday to the shore or the mountains, fish and chips–originating in Britain to be sure (as the rest of the English language did) but long a part of everyday language in the U.S.

    1. Michael, I have been doing this blog for more than seven years with more than 500 entries, so forgive me if I do not acknowledge you as a fly in my ointment. My entries usually document the word or expression’s status as a Britishism, using the OED, Google Ngram Viewer, and other sources, then chart its incursion into the U.S., via the New York Times and other American sources. As for the examples in that post, Ngram Viewer shows that “on holiday” ( and “food hall” ( are definitely Britishisms. I defy you or anyone else to find an American use of “chips” for fried potatoes, other than in “fish and chips.” As for “bespoke,” the joke is that nowadays not just tailoring but *everything* is bespoke.

  2. I would never have noticed “on holiday” as unusual or noteworthy, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen “weekend” verbed like that before.

      1. That’s great. It’s one of the few times when the show was on point about language matters, as “weekend” as a noun was in use starting about 1900 (according to the OED), but had an outre quality for some time. The OED quotes The Times in 1937: “The letter began with old Lady Chervil’s unvarying formula:—My dear Mrs. Miniver, Chervil and I shall be delighted if you and your Husband will stay with us from Friday 19th to Monday 22nd November. (She would have gone to the guillotine sooner than use the expression ‘week-end’.)” The OED doesn’t say so, but the quote is from the serialized version of the eventual novel “Mrs. Miniver,” published in 1939.

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