(Going) “to university”

The “university” saga continues. Most recently, I looked at Americans talking about being “at university” or “in university” instead of the traditional “in college.” (I will note there was pushback against the idea of “in university” being a thing. See the comments to the post.) Yesterday, I heard a new one (for me) on National … Continue reading (Going) “to university”

“At university”

On previous occasions, I’ve addressed Americans using, in various circumstances, the British term “university” rather than “college,” which Americans traditionally use even in reference about institutes of higher learning that indeed are universities. That is, someone who graduated from Pennsylvania State University would say he or she “went to college” there, or “when I was … Continue reading “At university”

“University students”

College students, but complicated. Institutions of higher education are traditionally “universities” in the U.K. but in the U.S. (and Scotland!), the term “college,” the OED notes, “has come to be interchangeable with ‘university.’” The traditional English meaning of “college,” meanwhile, is given by the OED as a “society of scholars incorporated within or in connection … Continue reading “University students”

Non-Pension-Getting “Pensioner” Sighting

I noted in 2020 that “in Britain, ‘pensioner’ might refer to a person who is no longer working but is not necessarily receiving a pension: what Americans would call a ‘retiree.’” However, “American uses of ‘pensioner,’ what few there are, tend to refer specifically to people getting (often particular) pensions.” Yesterday’s mail brought the first … Continue reading Non-Pension-Getting “Pensioner” Sighting


Yesterday, H.L. Mencken inspired a post on historical NOOB portmanteau word “smog,” and now here’s another one, of a slightly earlier vintage. “Brunch” apparently originated as university slang. The Independent reported in 1895, “Breakfast is ‘brekker’ in the Oxford tongue; when a man makes lunch his first meal of the day it becomes ‘brunch’…” Five … Continue reading “Brunch”

Britishisms in an American Novel

I’ve written several times (most recently here) about the phenomenon of American characters in British novels using British expressions, seemingly because the writer didn’t realize they were British expressions. I’ve just read a book by an American novelist, with American characters, where Britishisms abound. The book is The Plot, the author Jean Hanff Korelitz. In … Continue reading Britishisms in an American Novel