Fast Food Vocabulary: American English Vs. British English

Are you hungry or peckish?

For the most part, English around the world is pretty similar in terms of spelling and usage. However, the USA and the UK do spell certain words differently (or use entirely different terms), and the fast food industry has some good examples of this. ESL Library has a NEW Everyday Dialogues lesson on Ordering Fast Food, so I decided to make a comparison chart between American and British English for common fast food terms. It’s interesting to see which terms are the same and which are different!

Note that Canadian English usually follows American English for word choice, and countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa usually follow British English. Please add a comment below if I’ve missed anything or if you use a different term in your country.

Fast Food Chart:

Download Fast Food Vocabulary PDF


1. Hungry or peckish? In British English, “peckish” is used when you feel like snacking (i.e., you’re a little bit hungry). “Hungry” has a stronger meaning than “peckish”. In American and Canadian English, “peckish” isn’t used. “Hungry” is used for most cases, or you can use terms such as “starving” or “ravenous” to express a stronger hunger.

2. Did you notice that the title of this lesson is “Fast Food Vocabulary”? Since the adjective is spelled with a hyphen, why didn’t I write “Fast-Food Vocabulary”? The answer is that nouns can also be used as adjectives. When we write the type of lesson or vocabulary, we usually use a noun (e.g., we would use the noun “sports” when we write “a sports lesson” or “sports vocabulary”, not the adjectives “sport” or “sporting”). However, in most other cases, we need the adjective form. Write “a fast-food restaurant” and “a fast-food drive-thru”. Yep, English is tricky!


ESL Library Lesson Plan

For more practice, check out Ordering Fast Food in our Everyday Dialogues section.

Ordering Fast Food Lesson Plan


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