Letter to Britain : Quite

Letter to Britain : Quite

Image of a savory pie, where the pastry seems to be in the form of a smiley face

While there are some words used in British English that aren't even close to what is used in American English (pram or push-chair = stroller, lift = elevator, pavement = sidewalk, rubber = eraser), there are some that are seemingly the same word, but far enough away in meaning, to possibly cause offense (or offence). 

One of those words is "quite". There are some definitions of the word that are shared, like when it means "completely", as in "That is quite accurate". In another definition, though, Americans tend to use the word to mean "very" or as an intensifier, as in "That meal was quite good", meant as a compliment and that it was a really great meal. 

In British English, however, it tends to mean "fairly". So, if I said the same sentence to my British host, they would think I didn't like it very much at all. 

It is one of those words that I have been trying not to use as much, as I am still not quite sure of the implications.

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