How a Hit American TV Show Reversed the Tide of U.S. Linguistic Imperialism
For decades, American slang and idioms have steadily infiltrated dialects across the English-speaking world through entertainment exports and global influence.
But lately this trend has shifted thanks to hit shows like HBO’s Succession.
Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, resident word maven David Astle explains how some people object to the way Americanisms like “rain check,” “sidewalk,” and “fanny pack” increasingly pervade everyday speech in Britain, Australia, and beyond.
But Astle points out how this phenomenon also works the other way around, with some Britishisms also increasingly taking hold in the US.
Succession Smuggles in Britishisms
Surprisingly, the very American show about a media dynasty has been a potent delivery mechanism for British vernacular.
Showrunner Jesse Armstrong and stars like Brian Cox inject idioms and phrasing from across the pond.
Americans now find themselves saying “sunnies” instead of “shades” and “brains trust” rather than “brain trust.”
Experts say Succession demonstrates how pop culture can influence language.
In reversing the flow from U.S. to U.K. idioms, it has quietly helped balance the scales after decades of “linguistic imperialism.”
Succession shows American English no longer dominates by default in an increasingly connected world.
Britishisms Gaining Traction in the U.S.
Below is a list of some popular Britishisms that are now frequently used in American English:
- Sunnies – sunglasses
- Bespoke – custom-made
- Kerfuffle – commotion
- Telly – television
- Journo – journalist
- Full stop – period
- Queue – line
- Advert – advertisement
- Dodgy – questionable
- Gobsmacked – astonished
- Loo – bathroom
- Bespoke – customized
- Brilliant – great
- Chat up – flirt with
- Fit – attractive
- Snogging – kissing
- Naff – tacky
- Knackered – exhausted
- Fortnight – two weeks
- Brolly – umbrella
- Cuppa – cup of tea
- Biscuit – cookie
- Chips – fries
The list demonstrates how British slang and idioms have crossed over into American vocabulary through heavy exposure to UK media exports and cultural influences.