Aluminium not Aluminum

I have finally got around to finishing this post…I have had a lot of “real life” work on lately, with starting in a new lab and doing some other non-blog writing.

There was a recent (ish) current discussion on Twitter about the difference between British and American English within the lab atmosphere, which then spawned the amazing hashtag #DowntonLabby.

As everyone knows, there are also plenty of words that Americans use in place of our sensible British English words including: sidewalk (pavement), cell phone (mobile phone) and, in my humble opinion, the worst culprit of them all, aluminum. Dudes, it is aluminium.

This conversation got me to thinking: what other British words are totally foreign to those across the pond? Most chemists will know that Americans say alk-kill and Brits say al-kyle, but I am particularly interested in words for lab equipment that aren’t easily translated between the two great nations. I have attempted to come up with a list with the help of google but please do add your opinions in the comments section. Do Americans even use these words? Am I completely wrong? Please do let me know either way.

So here goes… (I have put the British English term first, followed by the American version)

Teat = pipette bulb – a little birdy told me that you don’t use this word

Bellows = rubber bulb we use instead of compressed air for column chromatography

Clamp stand or retort stand = Ring stand (Is this because we use “rings” for balancing separating funnels? What if you have a normal clamp on it?)

Conical flask = Erlenmeyer flask

Boiling flask = Florence flask

Measuring cylinder = Graduated cylinder

It seems Americans have a propensity for removing letters from French words, for example:

Pipette = Pipet

Burette = Buret

Are there any Brits out there that have spent time in a US lab or vice versa who may be able to add to or remove from the list? I am hoping that BRSM tells us all about the differences between the UK and US labs when he moves across the pond later in the year.

I look forward to your input.



p.s sorry if this is complete rubbish.