I was highly amused to read a list of 50 words and phrases that readers of the BBC submitted as prime examples of 'Americanisms'. Being of British and colonial extraction myself, I've found many of the same words and phrases to be distinctly un-English; but, of course, living in America now, I've grown accustomed to them, so that I no longer think about them much.
A few examples from the list:
- The next time someone tells you something is the "least worst option", tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall
- The phrase I've watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is "two-time" and "three-time". Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it's almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath
- Using 24/7 rather than "24 hours, 7 days a week" or even just plain "all day, every day". Simon Ball, Worcester
- Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada
- Train station. My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished? Chris Capewell, Queens Park, London
- "Hike" a price. Does that mean people who do that are hikers? No, hikers are ramblers! M Holloway, Accrington
- The most annoying Americanism is "a million and a half" when it is clearly one and a half million! A million and a half is 1,000,000.5 where one and a half million is 1,500,000. Gordon Brown, Coventry
- "Reach out to" when the correct word is "ask". For example: "I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient". Reach out? Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can't we just ask him? Nerina, London
- My pet hate is "winningest", used in the context "Michael Schumacher is the winningest driver of all time". I can feel the rage rising even using it here. Gayle, Nottingham
- "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less" has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they're trying to say. Jonathan, Birmingham
There are many more at the link.
That last one ("I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less") has puzzled me ever since I first heard it. As 'Jonathan' points out, it means the opposite of what the speaker is trying to say! I've always used "I couldn't care less", but I've found some Americans ask whether I meant "could" instead of "couldn't". Oh, well . . . as George Bernard Shaw allegedly pointed out, "England and America are two nations separated by a common language"!