Given that we appear to be about evenly divided between UK and US folks (and given that "Britain and the United States are two countries divided by a common language"), should there be a UK/US dictionary of bike terms? (Not ignoring the Aussies and other non-US/UK folks here, I suppose -- the dictionary could be expanded to cover terms in other countries.)

Tyres/tires, pavement/sidewalk, what else?

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    A question to ask: Could this be built into the existing Terminology Index? Or would it be a separately maintained CW resource? Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 22:34
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    This list would be particularly interesting if it was tri-lingual: English (UK) / English (US) / French - and in that alphabetical order. Reason for inclusion of French is that it is the international language of the peleton and many cycling terms have their origin in French, e.g. derailleur. Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 23:48
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    For what it's worth, on the cooking stackexchange, there's a CW question: Translating cooking terms between US / UK / AU / CA / NZ, as well as the related False friends in international cooking terms. Might help give an idea of the popularity, utility, and potential drawbacks of such a question!
    – Cascabel
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 23:51
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    There could also be some use in clarification on weights + measures. In the UK we are officially metric but there are still some dimensions that are always going to be in inches, e.g. the chain. Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 0:12
  • Rewrote the original into a question and started on an answer.
    – freiheit
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 16:39

1 Answer 1


I think this is a good idea. Should probably be a separate community wiki, the Terminology Index is already long enough, and this is a separate issue, primarily with terms people already know perfectly well in their own dialect.

Where possible, suggest a neutral non-confusing term.

I don't think "tires"/"tyres" or "curb"/"kerb" really require any explaining, it seems like they're mutually understandable between the two countries, even if one spelling looks strange.

It's stuff like "pavement" that needs the differences explained. I've definitely seen confusion over the differences in definition of this word.

So, what terms do UK people need US people to explain, and vice-versa?

Here's a start at some terms that seem to have confused people over meaning differences:

  • US: pavement (concrete)
  • UK: pavement (walkway/sidewalk)
  • US: sidewalk (confusing to UK reader? - we watch Hollywood movies too...)
  • UK: tarmac (road surface)
  • US: asphalt (road surface)
  • US: cement (commonly mis-used in US to mean concrete)
  • US: public transit / UK: public transport
  • US: fenders (mudguards)
  • UK: mudguards (fenders)
  • US: Wrench / UK: Spanner
  • US: Hex Wrench / UK: Allen Key
  • US: Yield / UK: Give Way
  • US: Crankset / UK: Chainset
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    – Mac
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 23:18
  • @ʍǝɥʇɐɯ (and everybody else) feel free to edit my list directly.
    – freiheit
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 23:28
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    This is actually going to be a short list and may be more useful as part of a 'style guide' for writing localised copy. Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 0:10
  • @ʍǝɥʇɐɯ: started a question and answer, please feel free to rewrite it into more of a style guide.
    – freiheit
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 16:40

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