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English words that have totally different meanings around the world

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English is one of the most popular languages across the world, but while the words might sound the same, their meanings sometimes don’t quite translate.

Here are 14 words and their different definitions. Memorise before travelling to avoid any sitcom-style farces on your next holiday:

 

Preservatives

If you happen to find yourself browsing jams in France, be careful you don’t ask for help with the preservatives. Préservatifs is French for condom.

 

Thong

While this refers to a type of underwear in England, in America and Australia asking for a thong will get you a pair of summer-appropriate shoes.

 

Brat

In the US and UK, we would say brat to mean a spoilt child. But in Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Croatia, brat means brother. Possibly sometimes interchanagle meanings. 

 

Chaps

In England, a jolly good chap is decent person. In America, it’s a decent pair of leather leggings worn by cowboys to protect their legs.

 

Cookie

In Britain and the US, we’re almost in agreement on what a cookie constitutes. In Hungarian, however, cookie, spelled ‘koki’, is a small penis.

 

Fart

In England, to fart means to pass wind. But if you find yourself in Norway, Denmark or Sweden, fart means speed.

 

Gift

Whatever you do, don’t accept a gift in Germany. This gesture of goodwill, usually in the form of chocolates or flowers, takes a more sinister turn in Germany, where the word gift means poison.

 

Shag

In the US, if you want a shag, it means you want a luxury rug. Asking for that in Britain, however, would get a very different reaction, where it's slang for sex. 

 

Kiss

Not such a romantic word in Sweden, where it means to wee.

 

Wee

While we’re on the topic, in Scotland, England’s most common word for urinating actually means small.

 

Slut

A derogatory term in the UK and US, but in Sweden, slut means final. Don't be alarmed if you come across a slutstation; this is just the end of the train line. Or slutspurt, which is a final sale.

 

Bra

Also in Sweden, the word bra means good.

 

Barf

The British slang for being sick means snow in Farsi, Urdu and Hindi.

 

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