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What Americans See When They Think Of Brits

british people What Americans See When They Think Of Brits

Being born in the United Kingdom and having lived in the United States for more than 25 years, I’ve dealt with many years of jokes and abuse from Americans who tell me point blank what they think of Brits. After years of experience, I’ve heard so many stereotypes that Americans have about Brits that I thought I’d share them with you. This is what many of them believe:

  • That Brits have bad teeth,
  • Most of the men are gay,
  • English football is played by wimps,
  • British cuisine is disgusting, bland and fried (or a combination of all three),
  • British women are ugly and don’t shave their underarms,
  • All football supporters are hooligans, and
  • Americans can’t understand what most Brits say.

Believe it or not, but many British programmes on US TV feature subtitles that run across the bottom of the screen whenever Brits speak. Such is the perceived extent that many Americans have difficulty in understanding British accents on programmes such as Skins, Ashes to Ashes, Last Restaurant Standing and other shows.

What are your thoughts about Americans having these stereotypes about Brits? Click the comments link below and share your opinion.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

58 Responses to What Americans See When They Think Of Brits

  1. Jorge Curioso says:

    There’s a mistake here. Points 2 and 5 refer to French women, not British ones…

  2. Scott says:

    Yes, some Americans are insular and ignorant. Surprise, surprise.

  3. Tom says:

    America: “Oh your from Ireland”

    me: “Yes”

    American: “My great-great-great-great grandfather was from Western Ireland, his name was Paddy”

    me: “Oh, yes Paddy great guy”

    or my all time favorite at the registry of motor vehicles

    me: “any chance we could speed this up”

    rmv worker: “bla bla bla”

    me: ‘what?”

    rms worker: “bla bla bla”

    me: “what?”

    rmv worker: “at least we don’t have a war going on here”

    me: “neither do we, I am from Ireland not Northern Ireland”

    On a Southwest flight

    some old lady: “where you from”

    me: “Ireland”

    old lady: “Texas?”

    me: “no country in Europe”

    old lady: “What are you talking about”

  4. Tyson says:

    I was having a conversation with an American girl not too long ago and we were going back and forth flirting a little and then we had a friendly little American-British tussle and I informed her she is speaking my language and her reply was “What, no I’m not I’m speaking American!”.

    Some Americans are complete and utter morons.. no I really mean it they are complete and utter ignorant asswipes of the magnitude that is nearly inconceivable.

    If you go to America stick to California IMHO. In most other places the people have such narrow minds you wonder how they pass a thought and they don’t even have a basic education or it doesn’t show.

    You really come to understand why that country is on its way to being finished when you realise the people borrowing money don’t actually know where it comes from or what consequences it has on the economy.

    On the other hand people in California are pretty well educated, polite and liberal. You get nuts on every street corner anywhere in the world but overall its a nicer experience.

    • Leon says:

      Nice over-generalization.
      Bite me mate, cheers!

    • AdamTheRed says:

      Ummmmm….. I Guess you’ve never been to Omaha?

      Wow. Just wow.

      I hope you feel good about yourself.

    • AtlantaPompey says:

      Are you referring to the California that is so far in debt that it very well could go bankrupt and need to be bailed out by the federal government?

      Or is there another California that I’m not aware of…

    • Nick says:

      lol, this post is so irnoically comedic. Damn all of us close minded, American shitheads…Thank god Brits like yourself are so much worldly and open thinking…

    • Eric T says:

      “Some Americans are complete and utter morons.. no I really mean it they are complete and utter ignorant asswipes of the magnitude that is nearly inconceivable”

      “… the people have such narrow minds…”

      oh the irony

    • Mary says:

      I am Irish living in America for over 20 years now and I have to tell you the type Tyson talks about do exist here, they are not just steriotypes. Although there are nice people living here the type you talk about are here also in quite large numbers. They seem to be in denial that there is a world out there, they can’t seem to handle the fact that Europe is a great place to live also. They have to be the greatest, in order to fit in you have to say that they are the greatest of all! Their egos and arrogance is sickening and frankly very hard for me to understand. The only other country I have known to brag about their country so much was Germany during the world war and they don’t even act like that anymore.

      • K Fowler says:

        Mary:

        After you finish off that fifth of whiskey, there’s an Aer Lingus flight departing this afternoon for Dublin. Why don’t you make sure you’re on it?

        What happened to those old “Irish Need Not Apply” signs we had back when…?

  5. LI Matt says:

    British cuisine is disgusting, bland and fried (or a combination of all three)

    That had more truth to it before the mass immigration from India and the Caribbean, which introduced the concept of “spices” to British cooking.

  6. Leeboy says:

    All xenophobic nonsense.
    Are all Americans fat, ignorant, gun-toting, right wing, war mongering morons? National stereotypes are lazy. How can an entire population of a country share the same few characteristics? Everyone I know who has been to the US has been treated well – apparently the English accent goes down well.

  7. AdamTheRed says:

    Could not care less.

  8. Ray says:

    Two articles in row trying to stir up USA v. English sentiment for what reason? This attitude simply doesn’t exist in my world and I live in Pittsburgh of all places. All I can say is idiocy is not exclusive to any nationality and sadly stereotypes and ignorance are plentiful in everyone’s backyard.

  9. AtlantaPompey says:

    There is no stereotype of people from any country, especially ones as large as the US and UK, that everyone fits into. Are there idiots in both countries? Absolutely, and we’ve all met some of them, but by and large there are good people everywhere.

    • Tyson says:

      The point isn’t to label everybody in the country he’s pointing out a lot of people have stereotypes of others that are misguided and he’s doing a good job of it too.

      I know for certain your from the USA just by reading what you are saying and I don’t think you’ve been to Britain so you’ve never been on the recieving end.

      On the other hand the author has lived abroad for 25 years so he must have some good experience with people across the pond which is something you can’t say so if you don’t like it, ignore it.

  10. Matt in MA says:

    You gotta love the guy who stereotypes Americans from California as being the most liberal and polite. Isn’t that the same as Americans stereotyping all Brits?

  11. Peter says:

    Slow day at the office, is it? Because this is the worst article I have ever read on here. The writer of this drivel is clealy trying to find something to write about and has clearly tried to stir an argument between the American readers and the British readers. It’s honestly like playground “he said, she said” crap.

    Has the writer of this article ever talked to every single American in the world? I doubt it. So therefore, how does he know what they think.

    Ever since the world cup draw put England and USA in the same group you have been producing rubbish articles like this, designed to light up an event which won’t take place for another six months. All your doing is making me beg for you to stop so that we won’t all be completely sick to the back teeth by the time it comes around.

    To the Gaffer, I know you prbably won’t reply because you only reply to people who kiss your boots and tell you your a great writer. This article is just pure rubbish!

    • The Gaffer says:

      Hi Peter, I reply to almost all of the comments on the site whether they’re positive or negative. No worries.

      The idea for the topic came up after I listened to the Football Weekly podcast on The Guardian when Barney Ronay sounded surprised that Americans think that British women are clumsy, ugly and have bad teeth. I was born in the UK and lived there until I was 14 and have traveled back there every 1-2 years, so I know the stereotypes are silly. But that is the perception.

      As for the States, I’ve lived here for 25 years so I have plenty of experience hearing these stereotypes about the Brits.

      All I was doing trying to stir up some debate to see if people realize — from both sides of the ponds — what we think of each other. The answer to that is mixed.

      Cheers,
      The Gaffer

  12. Nick says:

    Look, Ive had British friends, and yes. When its beer-drinking, ball busting “guy” time, we tend to get on each other for stereotypes. Much like Irish guys make fun of my Italian heritage with some Greasy, mafia, thieving jokes…

    But all that is in good fun. I never heard anybody really think that the ENglish are all born with terrible teeth. And if I ever here one of my fellow Americans insult English women Ill slap the hell out of them. Theres @ least a half dozen I can think of that blow away some of ours…

  13. Chris says:

    Well, its not like we havent heard what British people think of us. So what…we not like every American is this rude and dumb. and every American isnt like that.

    I read a comment that said This guy was telling this girl that she was speaking “his” language…and she no Im speaking American. Okay that is stupid of her to say but its not your language buddy. It “A” language and you just happen to speak it. Sure the english may have came here and got people to start speaking English but you could say the same about the Portuguese from Portugal going to Brasil and them speaking Portuguese also. And the Mexicans speaking Spanish when the Spanish came into Mexico. It just makes you act like you own us and which you dont so therefore yu look dumb as hell. Thats what gets me really anoyed. But anyhow this is really dumb article to right. Its just asking for people to get pissed off.

    • Tyson says:

      Uhmm dude if the English didn’t invent English you wouldn’t be speaking it.

      The entire language was invented by the English and now the entire world uses it. Don’t you think its a little weird insulting the English in the language they gave you considering you’d be talking in measured grunts if they didn’t?

      That kind of disrespect is pretty stupid if you think about it. If a culture is so flawed then why would you take so much from that culture to the point you wouldn’t have a language if you didn’t steal from them?!

      It’s fair enough if you dislike a people or culture but it’s hypocritical if you take from that culture then blast it for being inferior.

      Most Americans I’ve come across are hardly anti-British they just like having a little fun and to be completely honest with you some of their stereotypes are not far removed from the truth(the fat one for example… more than 50% of the adults in this country are considered overweight and a large portion of them clinically obese so in fairness it is correct to say a lot of Brits are “fat”).

      Problem is you do run into some xenophobes who truly detest British culture and their way of doing things and how does that make any sense considering you took from our culture what is probably going to be our hallmark centuries after we’re gone?

      • Eric T says:

        Mmhmm. If we didn’t have English we would still just be talking in measured grunts. Thats the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

        Look i have no problem with England, in fact I love English culture. My dream is to be able to go to london one day and i drink up all the British culture tidbits I can get. I went to see the Damned United mainly because it was a british film about a british sport, I watch footytube highlights just so i can see match of the day, I check BBC and The Guardian everyday so I can get a feel for what is happening abroad, etc.

        But for someone who was talking about how narrow-minded Americans are to stay stuff like that seems awfully hypocritical. Essentially, you perpetuating the very stereotypes that, when placed on you, infuriate you.

        • Tyson says:

          The point is very simple. If you are going to insult a culture then why take from it at all?

          Like I said can you genuinely hate the English when you took their language?

          Is there an American language I am unaware of that is superior to English?

          I am not referring to you or anybody that has commented on this thread.

          I wouldn’t go as far as to say any of us hate one another were just reacting(sorely if you ask me) to an article that really isn’t that bad to be fair.

          The point I am making is in relation to people who harbour ill feelings towards the countries culture. English culture is based around literature and the language you really can’t insult English culture when you use their language. How does that make sense to you?

          • PABLO says:

            I am glad to know that the entire English speaking world is not permitted to insult Brits in their own language. Perhaps I should just insult you in espanol. Tu puta madre. I am sure you are not aware of Webster’s Dictionary or the purpose of creating it.

          • Bobby says:

            The English didn’t invent Modern English anyways. 80% of the words are stolen from French and Nordic languages with a smaller mix of other languages. A modern brit wouldn’t even be able to understand a brit from 800ad speaking REAL olde english.

            Plus the English stole and raped about half the world during their Empire days and enforced English on the locals so that’s nothing to be proud of.

            And people in China and other places aren’t learning English so they can talk and trade with the English. They want to be able to do business with America. If America spoke French, so would the rest of the world. It used to be the international language after all.

            P.S. I’m sorry my Nordic ancestors raped your great( x15) grannies, repeatedly. That’s why you still speak with Scandinavian words every day.

  14. jleau says:

    All sterotypes are false. :)

    I grew-up in the deep south and trust me anything that Americans generalize about Brits is tame by comparison. It goes both ways.

  15. ovalball says:

    Geez, Gaffer! Who do you hang out with??

    No country is without its share of idiots, but having lived in both the north and the south for many years I’d have to say most Americans do NOT have those stereotypes. Well….maybe the food thing.

    After coming back from Scotland last fall many of our friends did ask, “What did you eat?” They seemed somewhat taken aback when we told them the food was fantastic.

    BTW, so were the people. And the beer. And the scenery. And the sheep. :-)

  16. Steve says:

    Speaking to people from the UK rather frequently I have found that they seem to be the ones to throw the insults out first. It’s always one of the following:

    Fat Americans
    Go eat a cheeseburger
    Dumb Americans
    etc….

    I find that Germans, and Dutch are very kind, and never resort to this. I wonder why this is? It is true that there are plenty of fat Americans. This is the case in ANY country. It is also true that there are a large amount of cheeseburgers eaten in this country – but there is also a lot of burritos eaten in Mexico, Pasta eaten in Italy, and Beer drank in Ireland – point being what you eat doesn’t make the person.

    I live in Seattle, one of the fittest, and most intellectual cities in the US, and I have been to England a few times. There is no comparison. Trying to compare England to anywhere is better done comparing it to a state (like California). Even then, it’s not a pretty site.

  17. John says:

    Here’s one you missed, Gaffer:
    Unapologetic and unjustified arrogance, like what you have displayed in your own personal platform here.
    (This does not include the Irish, who are perhaps the friendliest people on the face of the earth.)

  18. John says:

    Don’t lie to me. But more importantly, don’t lie to yourself. That’s exactly what your intentions were. You have single handedly perpetuated these sterotypes to every American that reads this website.

  19. uh? says:

    british are incredibly racist too

  20. pyromania says:

    Guys !!

    i hope u all realize, that a lot of american ancestry is within English roots, so dont knw wht all this bickering about :) we are all leaves frm the same tree

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_American

  21. Diane says:

    I am American living in the United Kingdom
    When I arrived here, I found that most of my neighbors were very friendly and eager to meet us. They are probably the nicest people in any community that I ever lived in. I have never had any incidents with anyone, and I have found that 98% of everyone treats us just like anyone else. I have had a few rude stares once someone finds out that I am American. I do not have time for people who do not like me, so you just ignore them and move on. This is probably just a small percentage of the population that forms an opinion that is just based on one sided news reporting.
    There are some things that I cannot get over here that I do miss, but I have found substituations for most of them.
    There are better prepared foods in the States, and I have found some new edible favorites here in the United Kingdom. There are heavy set people here just like there are in the States, there are slim ones as well. There are also people with bad teeth in the States just like there is here

    There are many things that I still do miss that I cannot get here, however the people here in the United Kingdom are caring, love to talk, and extremely friendly. My best times are going to the pub and having a beer with British people that I have never met before.

  22. Diane says:

    Whoa…..I am really reading some of these posts after I sent my first comment

    It is certainly remarkable the sterotypes that people have on American’s. Apparently these very people have not ventured out to see for themselves, and just get one sided views from what they see on TV….Maybe I am wrong, but some of the “ingorant” comments come people who seem pretty ignorant themselves.
    I am from California born and raised. It is nice vacation spot, but it also a crowded, polluted, expensive state to live in. The “surfer dude” scenerio is just so over dramatized on TV. I have also lived on the east coast and all points in between. Most people from coast to coast are overall educated, and very opened minded. There are a few “ingnorants”, but they exist everywhere.
    If America was so stupid, then none of you would enjoy the many technologies that you do today. We are the inventor of the car, we devoloped the first working computer, the internet, and a high percentage of all of the items that you enjoy today. Our democracy (although not perfect) has also been an example for other Western cultures to follow. I do not need to argue any of this because the proof is right there. Many Americans are not war happy, they disagree with many of the dealings over the years, and they want to see it end.
    Regardless of this, I am extremely proud to be an American

  23. Neal says:

    I, too, am a British ex-pat, having left there in 1984. I have dual-nationality as an American. I return to the UK regularly. Here are my general observations:

    1. Americans are generally far more friendly, and accepting of strangers than Brits. Brits have this almost tribal mentality.

    2. Yes, there are stupid and uneducated Americans. However, those very same people exist in the UK. There is a huge underclass now in the UK that, proportionally, are just as high in numbers as their American cousins, and are equally hopeless at geography, finances, knowledge of world affairs, etc.

    3. Drinking to excess. The Brits have this down almost single-handedly as a nation. It’s not just an underclass thing. It’s widespread. There are very few places in the world, other than the UK, where you can see so much public drunkeness.

    4. Fast food. Okay, so it may have originated in the USA, but it is consumed in equal quantities in most of the world. Even France.

    5. All in all, I have to say that Americans are generally very polite, very sociable, and due to the cultural mixing, are pretty nice looking, too.

  24. brianna says:

    this is amazin thx 4 this, im american, and i think that i might actually be responsilbe 4 some of these critizms (srry cant spell)..lolz but now that i know about them ill try to stop

  25. brianna says:

    i am american, and i think the BRITS dont ctually relize how much weve contributed to EVERYTHING we made famiy guy, degrassi,true blood, twilight,lsecret life o the american teenager, and many more, i mean, its crazy but i didnt actuall start thinkin about other countries until i was 12, i just thought more americanized things were over the waters..lolz

  26. Lynne says:

    I’m British,
    Until about 6 years ago I had never really thought about, or wanted to visit the States. Since then I have been several times with my husband, we usually do road trips, mainly around rural America taking in as much as we can. I have to say that I am totally in love with the country and it’s people, and while I agree that there are good and bad people in all countries, I have experienced only helpful, friendly, and polite people in America. I would sell my granny to move my life to that Country.
    On our last trip we drove nealry 4,000 miles from Denver to Glacier National park, South to New Mexico looped a few times then eventually back to Denver. It put this country to shame, apart from the odd tyre moulding at the side of the road and some litter on our way into Denver at the end of the trip, the towns and country in between were beautiful and clean. We were always made welcome, and at one point, on a remote country road miles from the nearest interstate and on the edge of a terrific electric storm, our hire car got a flat tyre. As we struggled there in the worsening weather, a total starnger and his wife who lived at a nearby farm, stopped their car and offered to help us, they drove away and came back in a pickup truck about ten minutes later and stayed with us until we were road worthy again. The community spirit is alive and well in these remote communities, we brits, for the most part have lost this in the UK. Not many people would dare to stop and offer help to strangers in this country, everyone is so suspicious of each other, it is so sad.

    I could go on and on… in short, generally, American people are great, they have a charming child like naivety which is so rare to find these days, they trust until they cant trust, are open and in my experience honest and genuinely caring souls.

    Mid West America is all me and my husband think about these days, we hope to go there again soon

    :0)

  27. Sifting through the rubble says:

    Well to be honest I had a good belly at the American view of us. I lost 3 teeth after being hit by the Old Bill at Coventry while walking a gauntlet of them and yes I had been fighting the Coventry fans and no I dont regret it and I dont have a problem with getting steamed by a bunch of rozzers. Thats the way it was.
    I love fish & chips and good few jars before and after the match. I’m not gay and I married a beauty so the rest of the world can f*** o**.

    • Joshua says:

      Now this is the type of Brit I could be friends with. lol

      I think what people need to take from this is that stereotypes are everywhere. Obviously, if people are going to start spitting them at each other, they should realize they’re just defining hypocrisy. Why sweat it when you can just do your best to make good impressions whenever possible? Anyone who’d judge you based on stereotypes before knowing you is too daft to be worth your attention anyways.

      Gaffer, I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience here. Try to take it with a grain of salt. Some people don’t say things to be rude as much as they do out of jest. Become friends with someone from Philadelphia and you’ll learn this all too well.

  28. Nick says:

    Lynn’s comment is right on/ I’m an american living in the UK (second year now). I’ve lived in Belgium, German, France, Spain, Mexico, the US, and the UK for at least three months each. Instead of calling americans child-like and naive, I would say that we, like the rest of our hemisphere, would generally rather see the glass half full. And while austere french functionaries and dour hanseatic germans and the depressed belgians may have less positive profiles than your tipical wisconsinite, I have not met a culture that drools over the pain, embarrassment, struggle, injury, and even death of others more than the british culture has shown its members of all classes to do. This, Britain, seems not to be a place where intelligence is enjoyed, but where people are numbed to anything other than self-serving ego treats (I’ve turned down women in a pub who’ve tried to pull me because they were extremely rude to my friends), or enjoying spectating the unpleasant experiences others may be going through. And numbed they are. Here, there is no sense of natural kindness, service, or desire to make others happy. Nowhere is this clearer than in male/female relationships, but just try to get a brit do do his or her job anywhere, and see how much you have to pull teeth here compared to other places. I have not met anyone who has experienced the places I have, and prefers Britain.

  29. Purara says:

    There are ugly americans as well. I think its all how we see each other then compare that to ourselves…maybe the whole world is shallow.

  30. Andy Cap says:

    What a coincidence. That list reflects closly the way the British see the yanks

  31. Denis says:

    Americans have corrupted English to the point that they cannot understand good English.

  32. lostalex says:

    I’ve watched enuf episodes of Jeremy Kyle Show to know that the Yanks have it RIGHT! Brits are exactly all of those stereotypes.

    Just look at the royal family: The most famous inbreds in the world. At least america keeps inbreds in trailer parks, the Brits put them in Buckingham Palace!

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