American English versus British English terms for trash / garbage / rubbish

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American English versus British English terms for trash / garbage / rubbish

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Apr 25, 2019 1:35 pm

This posting first appeared as a comment in the topic nondescriptly titled 'frequency'. I decided it would be more useful to make it a topic in its own right.
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There are some significant usage differences between USA and UK English regarding domestic waste and its routine disposal. Note that in some cases these are tendencies rather than absolute differences.

USA: garbage, trash. "Garbage" tends to be used for wet, organic or messy waste like kitchen scraps, while "trash" tends to be used more for packaging materials and unwanted or broken objects
UK: rubbish

USA: garbage can, trash can, garbage pail. Sometimes "garbage" and "garbage can" are used synonymously, e.g. "He tossed the mouldy orange into the garbage". The same is true of "trash" and "trashcan"
UK: bin, rubbish bin, dustbin. The kind with wheels that gets put out for collection is a "wheelie bin"

(In an office setting)
USA: waste basket
UK: wastepaper bin, wastepaper basket

(On the street)
USA: trash can
UK: litter bin

USA: dumpster
UK: skip

USA: dump
UK: tip

USA: trash pick-up, trash collection
UK: waste collection, bin collection

USA: trash truck, garbage truck
UK: bin lorry, dustbin lorry, dustcart

USA: garbage collector, garbage man, refuse collector
UK: binman, dustman

(To discard an object)
USA: to toss (e.g. "I tossed my busted toaster")
UK: (also metaphorically) to bin (e.g. "I binned the remains of my meal", "The department binned the report")
I've not encountered either of these terms being used for large objects like vehicles. My sense is that they are used mostly for items that a person can place in its disposal location without requiring the assistance of another person or a piece of equipment.

I may have overlooked a few terms.
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Re: American English versus British English terms for trash / garbage / rubbish

Post by Ken Greenwald » Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:50 pm

Thanks Erik. Interesting!

You have USA: trash truck

I have never heard the expression 'trash truck' used. I've always heard and used 'garbage truck.'
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Ken - April 25, 2019
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Re: American English versus British English terms for trash / garbage / rubbish

Post by BonnieL » Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:09 pm

Ken Greenwald wrote:
Thu Apr 25, 2019 8:50 pm
You have USA: trash truck

I have never heard the expression 'trash truck' used. I've always heard and used 'garbage truck.'
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Ken - April 25, 2019
Same here.
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Re: American English versus British English terms for trash / garbage / rubbish

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Apr 25, 2019 11:06 pm

I will add any extra items based on feedback received and display them in purple. Thanks for your contributions. :D
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