Strictly British

A large basket or wickerwork packing-case with a cover used to pack or transport food and/or drink (what in the U.S. would be called a picnic basket). By extension, the term is also used to refer to a present of a consignment of food in any type of case or box (NSOED).

happy Christmas (British edition only)
Equivalent to "merry Christmas", of course. Worthy of mention because "happy Christmas", while perfectly understandable, is not the form commonly used in the U.S.

  • "Happy Christmas," said Ron sleepily as Harry scrambled out of bed... (PS12)

have a go
U.S.: Have a try.

  • Come on...look round...I'm sitting here all alone... come and have a go...

  • "Wow...look at that...he's not here now! So why not have a go?"
    - Harry to Narcissa Malfoy (HBP6)

  • "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough" (DH21)

A bag or backpack for carrying food on an outdoor trip.

Using this word to refer to human provisions is a little like speaking of "feeding and watering" people or referring to food for humans as a "nosebag", because like those expressions 'haversack' originally was used to refer to feeding horses rather than people. The word was originally borrowed from French (which spells it differently), which had borrowed it in turn from German Habersack, and meant a bag used by cavalry to carry oats for their horses. In English, haver is a dialect word for 'oats', used in Scotland and northern England. (NSOED).

  • a haversack large enough to carry several small children (OP20)

Head Boy
Many secondary (12-18) schools have a Head Boy and Head Girl. These students are sometimes chosen, by the teachers, for their excellence, but they could also be elected by their peers. The Head Boy and Girl represent the school externally and head up the prefects. See also Prefect.

Head Girl
See Head Boy; see also Prefect.

headlamp (British edition only)
U.S.: headlight.

In Britain, "holiday" can refer to any day or time off (as in leave from work) rather than just a vacation or official holiday. National holidays are usually called Bank Holidays, because the banks are closed.

  • 'Ever since Harry had come home for the summer holidays, Uncle Vernon had been treating him like a bomb that might go off at any moment.' (CS1)

  • 'Enjoy your holidays!'
    - Mafalda Hopkirk (CS2)

  • 'But they get paid?' she said. 'They get holidays, don't they? And - and sick leave, and pensions, and everything?'
    - Hermione on the Hogwarts house-elves (GF12)

  • 'weren't going home for Christmas because they wanted to spend it alone. You know, first holiday after they were married.' (DH20)

  • 'Well, who wouldn't want a nice little holiday after all the hard work he's been putting in?'
    - "Rapier", referring to Voldemort (DH22)

Someone on holiday, i.e., on vacation.

  • 'Record numbers of stranded holidaymakers fill airports...' (OP1)

Garden hose.

  • the use of hosepipes had been banned due to drought (OP1)

  • 'What did she want to talk about Cedric for, anyway? Why does she always want to drag up a subject that makes her act like a human hosepipe?'
    - Harry Potter on women (OP25)

Hard candy pieces, usually flavoured with peppermint and recognisable by their black and white stripes. They are often round-ended but can be seen as angular lumps. The origin of humbug is unknown. The word also means deceptive talk, an impostor or a hoax.

Primary editor: Michele L. Worley.
Original page date 28-October-2005; Last page update 4-August-2007 MLW