Uniquely American Words

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Over the course of American history, American English has diverged from that spoken in England. A number of words and word uses therefore developed that were uniquely American in origin. Although many of these words were once dismissed as "barbaric" by those who favored British English, they have sense entered common usage worldwide—testimony to the enduring strength of American English.

Among the words that have American origins are:

aboveboard (as a term indicating dealings free of deceit or duplicity)



appreciate (in the sense meaning "to increase in value")

awful (in the sense meaning "very bad")

balance (as a term meaning the remainder of something, i.e. "The balance of the account.")

bear (as a term for a conservative or cautious investor)

beat (as a synonym for "defeat")


blue (as a synonym for "gloomy" or "sad")

bluff (in the sense of "a steep hill")

boost (meaning "to lift or push upwards")

boss (as a synonym for "employer" or "superior")

bright (meaning "ingenious" or "intelligent")

bull (as a term for an optimistic investor or speculator)


corner (meaning "gain control of", i.e. "Corner the market")

dog (as a synonym for "to pursue")