13 Items Labeled “American” in Other Countries

ISTOCK COLLAGE / REBECCA O'CONNELL
ISTOCK COLLAGE / REBECCA O'CONNELL

In 2016, Budweiser renamed its beer “America” for the summer, an attempt to take advantage of the wave of patriotic sentiment associated with Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. The creative director responsible for the rebranding explained: "We thought nothing was more iconic than Budweiser and nothing was more iconic than America."

America is certainly iconic, and a worldwide brand of sorts, but it doesn’t carry the same connotations everywhere. Here are 13 things described with “American” in other countries.

1. CINTA AMERICANA // "AMERICAN TAPE"

In Spain, the versatile, do-anything tool we call duct tape is known as cinta americana, or “American tape.”

2. POING AMÉRICAIN // "AMERICAN FIST"

In French, a set of brass knuckles are le poing américain, or “the American fist.”

3. ALFACE AMERICANA // "AMERICAN LETTUCE"

Brazilian Portuguese has the term alface americana, or “American lettuce,” to refer to iceberg lettuce—or, as my cousin Jairo informs me, “lettuce like McDonald’s uses.”

4. AMERIKANSKIE GORKI // "AMERICAN MOUNTAINS"

In Russian, roller coasters are known as amerikanskie gorki, or “American mountains.” Interestingly, in most of the Romance languages they are known as “Russian mountains.”

5. AMERIŠKA SOLATA // "AMERICAN SALAD"

The Slovenians call cole slaw ameriška solata, or “American salad,” as do other countries in Eastern Europe.

6. KHAO PAD AMERICAN // "AMERICAN FRIED RICE"

The khao pad American served in Thailand is rarely found in American Thai restaurants. The rice is fried with ketchup or tomato sauce, and might be mixed with raisins and peas. It is served with some combination of fried chicken, bacon, hot dogs, ham, and croutons. Apparently, it was created during the Vietnam War when many Americans were stationed in Thailand, and the dish went on to become Thai comfort food. 

7. AMERIKAANSE STOCK // "AMERICAN STOCK"

In Belgium, stores that carry camping and hunting equipment, tools, boots, military surplus, and sporting goods often go by Amerikaanse Stock, or “American stock.” 

8. WOLNA AMERYKANKA // "FREE AMERICAN"

Wolna amerykanka, or “free American,” is a style of catch-as-catch-can, no-restrictions wrestling in Poland. The phrase also has the more general sense of “all bets are off” or anything goes.

9. AMERIKAANSE FUIF // "AMERICAN PARTY"

In Dutch, a casual potluck where everyone brings a dish is called an amerikaanse fuif, or "American party." Brazil also uses festa americana to describe this type of event.

10. COCINA AMERICANA // "AMERICAN KITCHEN"

In Spain, the open plan style of kitchen is called an “American kitchen,” as opposed to the traditional style of kitchen closed off by a wall.

11. AMERIKANDOGGU // "AMERICAN DOG"

In Japanese, a hot dog is a hottodoggu, but a corn dog is an amerikandoggu.

12. TOVAGLIETTE ALL’AMERICANA // "AMERICAN PLACEMATS"

In Italian, a tovaglia is a table cloth. A tovaglietta all’americana, literally "little American tablecloth," is a placemat. In Brazil, placemats are also considered American; sets of them are called jogo americano, or “American set.”

13. AMERIKAANSE TOESTANDEN // "AMERICAN CONDITIONS"

The Dutch have an easy phrase to pull out when talking about huge gaps between rich and poor, lack of healthcare or education access, school shootings, or a range of other situations, including, probably, cans of beer labeled “America.” Amerikaanse toestanden, or “American conditions,” are something to be warned against, as in, “let’s be careful with this decision and not get ourselves a bad case of American conditions.”

11 Words You Might Not Realize Come From “Love”

iStock.com/PeopleImages
iStock.com/PeopleImages

1. BELIEVE

In Old English, believe was geliefan, which traces back to the Germanic galaubjan, where laub is the root for “dear” (so “believe” is “to hold dear”). Laub goes back to the Proto-Indo-European root for “love,” leubh.

2. FURLOUGH

We got furlough from the Dutch verlof, which traces back to the same Germanic laub root as in believe. It is also related to the sense of leave meaning "allowance" or "permission" (“get leave,” “go on leave”). The “leave” in a furlough is given with pleasure, or approval, which is how it connects back to love.

3. FRIDAY

Old English Frigedæg was named for Frigg, the Germanic goddess of love (and counterpart to the Roman Venus). According to the OED, frīg was also a noun for “strong feminine” love.

4. VENOM

Venom comes from the Latin venenum, which shares a root with the love goddess Venus, and originally referred to a love potion.

5. AMATEUR

The root of amateur is Latin amare, “to love.” An amateur practices a craft simply because they love it.

6. CHARITY

The Latin caritas, which ended up as charity in English, was a different kind of love than amor, implying high esteem and piety, rather than romance and passion. It was used to translate the Ancient Greek agape, the word used in the New Testament to express godly love.

7. PHILOSOPHY

Greek had another word for love, philia, that—in contrast to agape and eros (sexual love)—meant brotherly or friendly love. It’s used in many classical compounds to signify general fondness or predilection for things. Philosophy is the love of sophos, wisdom.

8. PHILANTHROPY

This one means love of anthropos, humanity.

9. PHILADELPHIA

You might know it as the “city of brotherly love,” but you might not know that the tagline is right there in the name. It’s love for adelphos, brother.

10. PHILIP

The name Philip comes from the compound phil- + hippos, love of horses.

11. ACIDOPHILUS

Have you been taking acidophilus probiotic supplements for digestive health? It’s made from acid-loving bacteria, i.e., bacteria that easily take up an acid dye for viewing under the microscope.

This list originally ran in 2015.

7 Words That Came About From People Getting Them Wrong

iStock.com/maelrenault
iStock.com/maelrenault

People didn't always say pea or newt. These seven words initially started as other words entirely.

1. Pea

Originally the word was pease, and it was singular. ("The Scottish or tufted Pease ... is a good white Pease fit to be eaten.") The sound on the end was reanalyzed as a plural s marker, and at the end of the 17th century people started talking about one pea. The older form lives on in the nursery rhyme "Pease-porridge hot, pease-porridge cold …"

2. Cherry

The same thing happened to cherise or cheris, which came from Old French cherise and was reanalyzed as a plural. So the singular cherry was born.

3. Apron

Apron also came into English from Old French and was originally napron. ("With hir napron feir .. She wypid sofft hir eyen.") But "a napron" was misheard often enough as "an apron" that by the 1600s the n was dropped.

4. Umpire

Umpire lost its n from the same sort of confusion. It came to English from the Middle French nonper, meaning "without peer; peerless." ("Maked I not a louedaye bytwene god and mankynde, and chese a mayde to be nompere, to put the quarel at ende?") A nompere or an ompere? The n-less form won out.

5. Newt

The confusion about which word the n belonged to could end up swinging the other way too. A newt was originally an ewt ("The carcases of snakes, ewts, and other serpents" is mentioned in 1584's The Discoverie of Witchcraft), but "an ewt" could easily be misheard as "a newt," and in this case, the n left the "an" and stuck to the the newt.

6. Nickname

The n also traveled over from the "an" to stick to nickname, which was originally ekename, meaning "added name."

7. Alligator

Alligator came to English from the Spanish explorers who first encountered el lagarto ("lizard") in the New World. While the big lizards were for a time referred to as lagartos, the el accompanied often enough that it became an inseparable part of the English word.

All example quotes come from the Oxford English Dictionary.

This list first ran in 2013.

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