10 Things Brits Do That Drive Americans Nuts

Simon Pegg, losing friends and alienating Americans as Toby Young.

You might think that you come off all charmingly Alan Rickman or Emma Thompson, but don’t think Americans aren’t incensed by bits of your Britishness. If you want to make friends in these parts, avoid the following:

1. Overcooking your vegetables
The authentic British way to prepare edible plants is to immerse them in boiling water for a fortnight. Americans think this is weird and unpleasant, to which I say: “Until you’ve had a carrot disintegrate on your tongue, you haven’t lived.”

2. Being standoffish
When strangers in shops and people I pass on the street make eye contact, nod or say “Hi!” I like to reply with an icy stare or low growl. Lately, I’ve come to understand that this is not the done thing, but I can’t help it because I’m British. I was raised in a land where a sneer is worth a thousand smiles.

3. Thinking all Americans are flag-wielding fatties with firearms
Oh you crazy Yanks with your big guns and trousers that could fit three normal people in each of the legs! However inaccurate, we Brits love to believe this is the blueprint for every American. Understandably, they’re not amused.

4. Not tipping
Most Brits would rather undergo weekly colonoscopies than leave a fat stack of bills for their poorly paid waitress. You might think you can get away with leaving skimpy tips but the locals have noticed and now we have a reputation.

5. Your reluctance to “share”
The British stiff upper lip is considered a disadvantage over here. By all means, Americans, breakdown and cry – tell us something deep and dark – but do not expect us to reciprocate. But Brits be warned: your silence will only buy you pitying looks and unsolicited therapist referrals.

6. Believing that Americans have no sense of irony
This myth persists amongst Brits to the irritation of many an irony-literate American. What you will notice is that, on occasion, your new countrymen won’t pick up on our brand of sarcasm. That’s because to the untrained ear, a British person being serious sounds almost exactly the same as one in mocking, sardonic mode.

7. Having terrible teeth and neglected nails
As any American will tell you, the British suffer from a severe case of hand, foot and mouth. If your teeth look like chipped, moldering tombstones and your fingers are topped with jagged, dirty claws, don’t expect to get many party invites.

8. Not being able to tell a fifty from a five
To us, all dollar bills look alike: greenish oblongs with a dead bloke on one side and a spooky pyramid on the other. Poorly manicured hand on heart, that’s the reason I keep putting down ones instead of twenties at the supermarket.

9. Moaning about missing curry and Marks and Spencer.
Wherever you are in the U.S., there’s wonderful food just waiting to be snaffled, but I guarantee it won’t be a fragrant chicken dansak or a dreamy M&S steak and ale pie. My US friends are sick of hearing about the curry and pie-shaped hole in my life and stomach.

10. Your lack of interest in health
Doctors are for wimps. Much better to ignore that pulsating lump in your abdomen and go to the pub. This is not the American way. Here, if you’re not having regular swabs, scans or biopsies, you’re doing something wrong, and your American friends won’t hesitate to stick a pin in your bravado.

What other British quirks drive Americans bonkers? See also: 10 Things Americans Do That Drive British People Nuts

Writer Ruth Margolis will be discussing her piece this Friday (August 23) at 1 pm/et via @MindtheGap_BBCA on Twitter – tweet using ‪#‎MindTheChat‬.

Ruth Margolis

Ruth Margolis

Ruth is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped east London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel.
View all posts by Ruth Margolis.
  • cc

    i’m glad someone understands that we Americans don’t find those stereotypes funny

  • ohnoyoudidnt

    Engrish much?

  • Abby

    We replaced them with Chinese! 😀

  • VH

    Sorry, I’m an American that finds these article not only extremely stupid but highly insulting from both ends. I was just in Britain, don’t share any of your perceived views and hated your article on what Brits hate about Americans. Really, how about something that’s not so juvenile.

    • Dido

      Really! Well travel the world a bit more! The statement you have just made is typically ignorant’ I’m sorry but maybe you need not be so juvenile in your opinion

    • maineman65

      I’m American as well and you totally missed the humor. Been to the UK several times and this was a good example of Brit Wit

  • VH

    Right on!

  • WF

    1) Saying the phrase “American optimism” as if it was the new ice-cream flavor they just couldn’t find in Britain! It’s extremely annoying and with the economy in the tank, I have yet to see so much of this as of late. And the British are not this gloomy bunch so many of them parade that they are! Saying “brilliant” with such enthusiasm that one in America might have thought a new planet had been discovered is far from “gloom and doom.” What about British optimism? Surely this next ice-cream flavor is in your country.

    2) Generalizing like crazy and then having the arrogance, or perhaps PTSD-like inclination, to justify it every single time. At times, it’s a joke between friends and no harm done, but at others, respect your audience a bit as you may not know nothing of them! Not all my British friends/acquaintances do this — see, I’m not generalizing, am I — but enough have and it can be presumptuous and timed a lot better.

    3) Saying rubber to mean eraser. I shouldn’t have to explain that.

    4) Overusing understatement and indirectness (no irony intended in the choice of those two words). My blood has boiled when I’ve had to hear, “Will, I was going to ask you to do …” Just politely ask me outright instead of stating some failed action on your part! What am I going to do? Dump the contents of a used airsickness bag onto your forehead?

    5) Calling me “mate” when you don’t know me much. Now, most Brits I’ve met haven’t done this to the extreme, but just enough have that I felt it worthy to mention. This simply sounds fake and insincere, and is like being called “buddy” in America. I do not liken myself to Bill Clinton’s beloved Labrador Retriever, so therefore you should well know that I do not wish to be likened to a being you seek carnal relations with in the hope of making a creature with half of your DNA code.

    6) Thinking that Americans cannot rant half as well as you can. Now, I’ve only heard this from a couple of Brits so I guess it’s a bit cheap of me to include it on this list, but wait! I am a ranter. The Michael Phelps of ranting I dare say. In fact, if the Queen heard me rant she’d give me citizenship and knight me faster than Ben Affleck rehearses for his acting roles!

    7) Saying the overused, and by now cliche, phrase “at the end of the day.” At the end of which day? Your last day? Christmas? Yom Kippur (in which case, that means one can eat after 24 tortuous hours of moaning and groaning about oppression)? Just finish your sentence nicely, concisely, and confidently. At the end my ranting at you for not doing that, you will have forgotten the need to ever attach this to the end or beginning of any sentence in the future.

    Well, I don’t have ten at the moment, but seven is luckier. And to be fair, inherent in my nature, I will compose a list of the most annoying things I think my fellow Americans do.

  • Ollie from UK

    I don’t know much about America, nor do I care.There are two articles, one saying what the British hate, and the other about Americans. Seriously guys, we’re not the same country nor do we use the same language. We are both independent and not connected nations. There is no way of speaking right, or spelling right.

    Brits and Americans are both stupid. Also, the British are very patriotic… So please, author, please, stop with this false sense of superiority

  • anneisanne

    Yeah and every single place name in Britain is similarly garbled as our pronunciation of Maryland, but they can’t grasp this one for us. Weird.

    • Schmem

      I was endlessly picked on for my inability to correctly pronounce “Coventry” correctly. But I just silently grumbled whenever I heard “MaryLand” or “Los Angeleeees” or, to me, even worse – “Barrack” Obama (as in Army barracks). Even on the BBC. Ugh.

      • RogueChocolate

        Leicestershire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Norwich, Norfolk, anything that ends in -shire, and yes the mispronunciation of Coventry by everyone over here.

        • Brainlock

          see, you don’t even pronounce half those names, just useless letters taking up space!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NTECPTBTPG3IZVVJFCMS7THAEI Daggy Tongbong

    Well that was a nice bunch of tired stereotypes. I’m pretty sure the author has never met an actual flesh-and-blood British person.

  • CCr

    Children, calm down. Get over yourselves. It’s just a joke.

    • TA

      Wow. You complain-mongers suck.

  • Jen

    um, as an American, I find that you missed the mark entirely. You don’t know what we think, how we cook or how much we do or don’t go to the doctor! Idiot!

  • TA

    Wow. So many people griping below. Where’s yer sense of humor??? Geez. IT’S FREAKING MONDAY and yer wasting such energy on complaining? Shuddup and go throw some curried shrimp on the barby or whatever fun stereotype’s gonna piss you off. Sigh.

  • Rich470

    Amen Camie. My wife is a Brit. We travel there 2 twice a year to visit family. The dweeb who wrote this obviously has never spent a second with Brits nor have they ever even visited the country. I only wish I could get the time back that I wasted reading it.

    • Alex Staley

      Um Richard……the person that wrote this is British……

  • Meagan

    I think Brits should just be themselves. The cultural idiosyncrasies developed in each country is what makes one unique as a person, especially when traveling, and it helps others to identify with the fact that it takes many people to make up a whole. I’m from the United States, and yes, there are quite a few people around here that can be perceived as ignorant (there are also a few throats that I’d like to get my hands around because of this), but usually their ignorance is universal, not just towards cultural identity.

    If you really want to know what Americans find annoying about Brits in particular, you may find that it all depends on where you are located in the United States, lol. I find your sarcasm to be utterly adorable, personally… 😉

  • Remain Anon

    Depends on were you are.. if you are in the SF Bay Area and in the south bay/fremont area — you are covered! Lots of Indian Joints.

    • RicJan

      Yes, but, sorry, the Indian eateries in the Bay Area really aren’t a patch on pretty much any Indian in the UK. On the other hand, I would not dream of eating Chinese in the UK – the Bay Area definitely has the good ones. (I’m a Brit expat, and my American wife agrees with these views.)

  • maineman65

    Being American and having been to the UK, this is a joke lol

  • KimberlyJ1792

    This is cute. I am from US, my fiance is from UK. I’m always on him about tipping!

  • Remain Anon

    Wow.. most of the American comments here kind of prove that we (I am an American) don’t get British humor… Take the giant bug outta your a$$ and relax a little… maybe, dare I say it? LAUGH — CHILL OUT! It was written (very tongue in cheek) by Simon Pegg.. you know — the dude who gave us Sean of the Dead and is the new Scotty… CHILL OUT!

    • careyt

      um… Simon Pegg didn’t write this, that is just his picture up there. Ruth Margolis is the writer.

  • careyt

    LMFAO! I can’t believe how many people are butthurt about this article. it’s called a joke ya limey bastards.

  • Kate west

    so apparently I AM british…….. I do pretty much everything on that list –except I can tell american money apart— especially cooking vegetable. If they’re still crunchy, they’re not done. Most american restaurants serve way undercooked veggies….. especially broccoli….

  • Chiara

    LOL at British people thinking Americans are fat. 😉

  • kb

    Um, I dating a British guy and these are funny. He did have the best smile, I’d ever seen tho :)

  • niamh17

    Taken with a pinch of salt this list was quite funny. I must admit when asked what I miss most about home I do say Marks and Spencers, but seriously its amazing and unrivaled! I also avoid the Doctors at all cost but don’t all normal people? As to the rest im a very generous tipper here cos they work bloody hard as opposed to a lot of the lazy sods back home who think serving you is doing you a favour, Thats why I tip low there!

  • Nick Xylas

    Health insurance companies make their money by denying claims. It’s possible to spend a huge percentage of your paycheck on health insurance and still be bankrupted by medical costs in the US – I speak from bitter experience here.

  • Lisa Venezia Giannotti

    Well, as an American with a British friend or two, I can’t say I’ve seen them do any of these things honestly. Never heard of Marks and Spencer either. I live in NJ. I can get just about every ethnic food I want and at all times of the day or night. And, living in NJ, we don’t say hello to everyone. Try walking the street in NYC saying hi to people. Just try it lol. Still, it’s a cute list. Not very realistic, but cute.

  • $700598

    Having spent time working in England, illegally of course but it was a long time ago, I can attest to everyone of these 10 items. I can and will defend the Brits about tipping; it’s just not done in pubs and other British eating establishments. However in foreign restaurants it is very acceptable to leave a tip and they very much appreciated this Yanks 20% tips. I did see some bad teeth amongst the older Brits but not with the younger. Yes the vegetables were over cooked even by my standards of liking my vegetables soft. I absolutely miss the take away curries. I bought many of my lunches at M&S. By the time I left England to return to San Diego I too was reserved and thought that the other Yanks on the flight were too noisy. As for British money I came to love the feeling of those heavy pound coins in my pocket. I miss England and need to return sometime soon. I need to surf on the Cornish coast and up in Scotland.

  • CathyD

    Yes, well, I’m an American living in Canada, which is pretty much the same. My daughter married a Scot and is now living south of London. Your list is brilliant! Everything is absolutely true and I love everything on it! Can’t wait to read the other list, 10 Things Americans Do That Drive Brits Nuts! Again, brilliant! Cheers!

  • Paul in NJ

    “[Americans] won’t pick up on our brand of sarcasm.” Not exactly true, thanks to a decades-long diet of snarky Monty Python skits.

    • shari mcnally

      And Benny Hill lol

  • sarah

    Any true Maylander will tell you that it is pronounced Merylin. Well at least people from Pretty Getto County.

  • Liz

    If ever it makes you feel better about tipping your US waitress, know that in most states they only make $2.13/hour, or for today’s conversion value £1.32/hr. Because of taxes, the only money we ever actually get is from our tips.

  • Dan

    Oh my god!! lol this is funny, places ending with shire Worcestershire etc.. i agree wtf?? i can’t even spell them properly. you yanks just do my head in because you call a beefburger a bloody hamburger? why? your not that stupid you think there is the meat from a pig in your “beef patties” do you? if your not why do you continue to say it?

    oh and Hershey chocolate smells like baby sick and tastes like cheap powdery chocolate you would get in one of those chocolate imitation cigarettes.

    oh and at the guy who thinks this is wrote by Simon Pegg ROFL just because his image is at the top don’t jump to conclusions, can you see a male actor buying some tampons? (also if you look at who wrote the article it was a lady named Ruth)

    Take care Yanks.

    • Steve Harris

      Well to answer we call them Hamburgers because they came out
      of Hamburg Germany. I figured you brits would have known that.

      Why do you call a trunk a boot? It looks nothing like one.

      Hershey’s chocolate is not supposed to be good chocolate it’s
      for the kids.

      If you want to really know what drives me nuts, how all you brits
      take your slang insults and combined them together to make up new insults.

      Or these:

      Brit rubber = eraser

      Yank rubber = condom

      Brit fag = cigarette

      Yank fag = homosexual

      Brit fog = smoke a cigarette

      Yank fog = fog

      Brit slag = sexually active woman

      yank slag = hot metal sliver form welding

      I’m sure there are more but I’m tired at the moment maybe
      someone can add some more.

      I just wanted to say I think whoever said this write seems
      to not like us yanks, I’m on board with that, last time I was in the UK I didn’t
      see any of this brash discontent with us yanks in fact I think I had girls practically
      throwing themselves at me when I went the pubs. Then again it was fairly easy
      to tell I was not a brit as I was out and about with my Tommy Fleece in Red
      white and blue coloring and a very American hairdo.

      • Megatron

        Fog doesn’t generally mean to smoke a cigarette, Fog means fog.

  • cassandra

    haha im sorry but i definatly do not agree wirh the last one ha just like to point that out

  • M

    Sense of humor is right! I laughed my “arse” off! At any rate, very entertaining!

  • xXValkyrieXx

    honestly, I don’t like being American..I’d rather be British..

  • laukie

    Nothing like a good chuckle, hehe…

  • Sarah Spencer

    I literally laughed out loud. Hee, hee, “creepy pyramids.” I always did think that all seeing eye was creepy.

    I could totally pass of as a Brit, eh, minus the accent. I’m quite a bit of a sarcastic, non-smiling misanthrope with ragged nails and less than stellar teeth.

  • Blair

    I just realised that my last name Blair really explains why I agree with everything this Brit is saying

  • KL InIdaho

    I live in Idaho and I can get curry. It’s not hard to get.

  • Megatron

    Seriously?? I never knew that. We have Maryland cookies over here, so then that’s how we think the state is pronounced.