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.”

10 Words and Phrases You Won’t Believe Are More Than 100 Years Old

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iStock

They may have been on people’s tongues even earlier, but 1914 marks the earliest year the lexicographers at the Oxford English Dictionary could document these words and phrases in print.

1. DOOHICKEY

The Oxford English Dictionary cleverly tells us that this word is a blend of doodad and hickey, defining the latter as “any small gadget or device; something of little consequence.” (The meanings “pimple” and “love bite” came later.) An unnamed writer in the U.S. publication Our Navy, November 12, 1914, says, “We were compelled to christen articles beyond our ken with such names as ‘do-hickeys’, ‘gadgets’ and ‘gilguys.'”

2. POSTMODERNISM

You might think that in 1914 folks were barely modern; how could they be contemplating postmodernism? Modern means current day, so people have always thought themselves modern—well, at least since 1456. To be fair, though, the postmodernism of 1914 is not the same as the movement in architecture, arts and literature that arose in the late 20th century—the one that preached “freedom from the tyranny of the new,” allowing creative people to mix old styles in with new ones. In 1914, Postmodernism was a reaction to Modernism, a movement in the Roman Catholic Church toward modifying traditional beliefs and doctrines in accordance with modern ideas and scholarship.

3. TIME TRAVEL

It’s a bit of a quirk that the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary didn’t find printed evidence of the phrase time travel earlier than 1914; they trace time traveler to 1894. H.G. Wells published The Time Machine in 1895 and he was quoted in the National Observer a year prior: “‘There,’ said the Time Traveller, ‘I am unable to give you an explanation. All I know is that the climate was very much warmer than it is now.’” (There’s no evidence that Wells coined the term global warming.)

4. ANTIVIRUS

In 1914, scientists knew only that viruses were infectious agents that could pass through filters that trapped bacteria, not that they typically consist of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat. Nonetheless, they were working on ways to combat virus infections in organisms, and a Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club for 1914 reported, “It was his opinion that an antivirus … was thus formed in the lower, healthy leaves which destroyed or rendered inert the virus ... ”

5. ADVERTORIAL

Advertorial, a blend of advertisement and editorial, is an ad or promotional material disguised as an editorial or objective report. So, you’d think the term would be bandied about the offices of a publication, but not blatantly emblazoned in print. There it is, though, as a headline in Rotarian, May 14, 1914: “A word to the women folk. An advertorial.”

6. ATOMIC BOMB

In a 1914 issue of English Review, guess who was apparently the first person to write about the possibility of an atomic bomb? Yes, H.G. Wells again: “Never before ... had there been a continuing explosive ...; and these atomic bombs which science burst upon the world that night were strange even to the men who used them.”

7. CHUNNEL

Although the Channel Tunnel linking England and France across the English Channel was not started until 1988 and was completed in 1994, the concept was conceived as early as 1802. In the February 4, 1914 issue of The Sketch, K. Howard declared, “Another word that will be stolen from me ... is ‘Chunnel.' This, naturally, will be the pet name for the Channel Tunnel when we get it.” He was right: In 1957, a writer for The New York Times Magazine claimed his newspaper coined the term.

8. BIG SCREEN

More than 100 years ago, before there was television with its small screen to provide contrast, the big screen already meant the movies. California's Fresno Morning Republican on October 24, 1914 reported, “The stage hands will devise noise effects to help carry out the illusion on the big screen.”

9. LIGHT SPEED

Even the popular press was talking about light speed a hundred years ago. Maryland's Frederick Post, February 25, 1914 wrote, “Measuring light speed. Even in this speed mad age we can never hope to equal the speed of light.”

10. OY VEY

You might think this Yiddish expression (literally, “Oh, woe") didn’t enter English until the 1950s, but in the New York Evening Journal, February 17, 1914, H Hershfield wrote, “I can't see a thing ... Worse then [sic] a fog. Oh Vay!”

This article originally appeared in 2014.

Supper vs. Dinner: Is There a Difference?

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iStock

A linguist might be able to guess the general region you’re from based solely on what you call your evening meal. But as an article from Wide Open Eats explains, it isn’t just a matter of dialect. Dinner and supper really do mean different things—or at least they used to.

Historically, the word dinner was associated with the largest meal of the day, regardless of whether it was served in the morning, afternoon, or evening. The term comes from the non-Classical Latin word disjējūnāre, which is defined as breaking a fast.

Supper, on the other hand, is more time-specific. It stems from the Old French word souper, meaning an evening meal, and it's generally lighter than other meals served throughout the day. In other words, supper and dinner have more to do with the quantity of food that’s served than the time of day that you feast on them.

In the 1800s and perhaps even earlier, Americans in some rural regions started calling their midday meal dinner, while supper was reserved for the evening meal. This had more to do with occupation than location, though. In parts of the South and Midwest where farmers needed ample fuel to get them through the day, the midday meal was larger (hence the use of the term dinner). In the evening, supper typically involved a light soup, and the act of eating it was referred to as supping. Indeed, the word supper is related to suppe, the German word for soup.

This is still the norm in some parts of the U.S. As Wide Open Eats discovered through Google Trends, a search for “supper” is most common in Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa.

This is also the case in some parts of the South. “If you grew up in the South post-colonial era, however, chances are your association with the words have more to do with colloquial etymology, rather than the time of day you sat down to eat,” Southern Living notes. “For example, you probably heard, 'supper’s ready,' just before Mama or Grandma placed a table-full of delicious dishes before you.”

However, supper is seldom used anymore—especially among younger generations—and dinner is by far the more popular term nationwide.

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