Americans watching the London Olympics on television will find that the chasm between British and American English can seem as large as the ocean that separates the two nations – chips are fries, a sidewalk is a pavement, pants are trousers and underwear is pants.
Also, the Olympics has added a trove of new phrases. They include jubilympics – the period from the queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June through the Olympics, which end Aug. 12 – and omnishambles, a word first applied to government screw-ups that has been used to describe the crisis-prone buildup to the games.
Here’s a primer:
Brilliant – The land that gave us the poetic cadence of William Shakespeare now places everything into one of two categories: brilliant and rubbish. Shades of gray are not permitted. Brilliant can mean anything from OK, great or fun to stop asking questions.
Brolly – Essential British accoutrement also known as an umbrella. See weather.
Gutted – An emotion beyond disappointed but not quite suicidal.
Over the moon – The opposite of gutted.
Rain – Too many variations to list.
Rubbish – See brilliant. No plural. Conjugate as: I was rubbish, we were rubbish, the ref was rubbish, the decision to ban me for doping was rubbish.
Sticky wicket – A cricket term used to describe when one is between a rock and a hard place. Easily applicable to other sports.
Weather – See brolly. Also see rubbish.
Britain’s young royals will be out and about in force during the London Olympics, so keep an eye out for televised events where you might catch a glimpse.
Prince William, Cathrine and Prince Harry will attend equestrian events – the princes’ cousin Zara Phillips is a competitor – and will hand out medals to the winners on Tuesday.
Catherine will be watching gymnastics and synchronized swimming, William will see a Team GB soccer match and Harry will be dropping by beach volleyball.
All three will be in attendance tonight with Prince Charles and Camilla as Queen Elizabeth II officially opens the Olympics.