Category Archives: Yanks vs. Brits

The British used to fag, and now they can’t be fagged

Lazy clouded leopard by Charles Barilleaux / Wikimedia Commons

Offensive as the title of this post probably sounds to most American ears, the word fag, in at least some of its meanings and variations, is alive and well — and for the most part benign — in the mouths of Brits. This is one of those Yanks vs. Brits subjects that I’ve been reluctant to discuss on Glossophilia because of the word’s shameful meaning on one side of the Atlantic; however, it seems a pity not to take a look at this quirky piece of vocabulary that is so versatile, evocative and mostly innocent on British shores, where its only real shame is in its reference to a long and very un-PC tradition — now thankfully obsolete — in British public schools. Continue reading

X v Y: The British “public school”: what does public really mean? Private?

etonschoolboys   British public schoolboys 

Glosso’s “X v Y” series tackles the complicated matter of British schools: when are they public, and when are they private? Can any actually be both? Continue reading

X v Y: Sarcasm and jealousy: the darker sides of irony and envy (and the irony of Aristotle)


Glosso’s series, “X v Y”, takes a look at two sets of words — envy and jealousy, irony and sarcasm — that are often treated as synonyms but actually have substantially different meanings. Continue reading