Americanisms, words or phrases that have originated in America or that possess a different meaning from what they do in proper English. Of the many thousands of Americanisms derived from these various sources, the following may be taken as specimens: -
Account, in the phrase "no account men," meaning men of straw.
Admire, at, wonder at.
Approbate, to approve of.
Back down, to yield.
Bad, in the sense of not feeling well.
Bee, as applied to such institutions as the spelling bee, ploughing bee, quilting bee, etc.
Bee-line, as the crow flies.
Being as, since or because.
Bet, in the phrase "you bet," meaning a strong affirmative.
Biscuit, a hot roll.
Blizzard, a poser.
Bloomer, in the phrase "bloomer costume," the name of the American lady that introduced it.
Bogus (from Borghese), a clever forger.
Bonanza, a profitable project.
Boss, a master or leader.
Bottom, in the phrase, "bottom dollar," taken from the gambling miners - the bottom dollar in a pile being the last one.
Boom, to push into prominence.
Bugs, insects generally.
Bully, in the phrase "bully for you," meaning "well done you."
Bunkum, bombastic talk about nothing.
Canyon, a ravine.
Carpet-bagger, in politics, an adopter of other men's ideas.
Cars, railway carriages.
Caucus, a political organisation.
Checkers, the game of draughts.
Chores, odd jobs.
Chunk, a lump of anything; a chunky man is a thick-set man.
Clearing, an open space cleared of trees.
Conductor, a railway guard.
Corduroy road, a road laid with logs.
Corn, Indian corn or maize.
Corner, buying up more of an article than there is in existence.
Crank, an eccentric person.
To crayfish, in politics, is to rat.
Creek, a stream.
Deadheads, people that go to places of amusement and travel for nothing.
Depot, railway station.
Diggings, the place one works at or lives in.
Donate, to subscribe.
Drummer, a commercial traveller.
Elevator, a lift.
Eye-opener, something startling.
Fence-riding, the position of one who takes no side in a dispute but is ready to jump into the party likely to win.
Figure on, rely on.
Filibuster, an expedition of adventurers.
Fix, to do anything whatever; even a lady loosening her hair would say she was fixing it. Fixing has a similarly wide meaning and may be anything.
Fizzle, to fail.
Flummox, in the sense of to yield.
Foreign, as applied to the English, who do not when speaking of foreigners include Americans.
Fraud, in the sense of a sell.
Frump, to insult.
Good, in such an expression as "I feel good," meaning "I feel well."
Gerrymander, to split up constituencies so as to render the votes of the party in a majority ineffective.
Gin mill, a gin palace.
Gospel shop, where the gospel is preached.
Loafer, an idler.
Locate, to place.
Logrolling, applied freely to politicians who get assistance for their measures, repaying this assistance with similar assistance to their friends' measures.
Ma'am, "Yes, ma'am" "No, ma'am," are continually in the mouths of Americans when conversing with ladies, just as "Yes, sir." "No, sir," and often "siree" are freely used in addressing their equals and companions
Operate, to work.
Placer, a good gold find, now generally a good thing.
A raising, the putting up of the framework of a house or barn, etc.
Ranch, a cattle farm.
Right, meaning just, e.g. "right here" is "just here."
Rooster, a cock.
Run, in such phrases as "to run a hotel," to manage.
Saloon, a drinking bar.
Skedaddle, to run away.
Smile, a drink.
Stakes, in the expression, "they pulled up their stakes," meaning they left.
Stampede; to make tracks, to depart.
To be up a tree, to be in a difficulty.
Wire, a telegram.
There are certain phrases also, from the frequency and peculiarity of their use by Americans, that may be mentioned. These are "I guess," "I reckon," "I calculate." The American guesses, reckons, and calculates, when he really means to affirm. Another phrase, "Is that so?" is the American way of expressing surprise, and is often reduced to simply "So-o-o?" said in an interrogative tone of voice.