I'd like to know what are those shops called that sell building materials and tools etc. I know that at least in the US they are called 'Hardware stores', but how about in the UK? I once heard one very British word for that but it sounded very old-fashioned to me... (Unfortunately I don't remember that word anymore)
Thank you for your help and greetings from snowy Finland!
In England they call these places a DIY shop - DIY stands for Do It Yourself.
However, many people choose to use the name of the shop rather than the generic name e.g. Payless DIY. I hope this helps.
PS I've just checked at http://whois.domaintools.com/diy.com ; they did it 12/13 years ago.
Last edited by BobK; 20-Jan-2010 at 18:14. Reason: Added PS
Yes, according to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English 5 Edition
i‧ron‧mon‧ger / ˈaɪənˌmʌŋɡə $ ˈaɪərnˌmʌŋɡər, -ˌmɑːŋ- / noun [ countable ] British English old-fashioned
1 someone who works in or owns a shop that sells tools and equipment for your home and garden
2 ironmonger’s a shop that sells this equipment
— ironmongery noun [ uncountable ]
Related words include fishmonger, doom-monger, warmonger, scaremonger... . In 'fishmonger' and 'ironmonger' the suffix refers to a tradesman/shop-keeper (and while that dictionary may be right in calling 'iron-monger' old-fashioned* 'fishmonger isn't (except to the extent that shops selling just fish are becoming rarer). In all the others, it's what linguists call 'a productive suffix' - used commonly to refer to someone doing or favouring something with negative connotations.
*I'm not so sure about this. Maybe it refers to an 'old-fashioned' sort of shop, but it can be used to specify exactly what service they provide: 'If you want a good range of left-handed flange grommets, don't waste your time going to a DIY store like B&Q or Wickes or Homebase; go to a proper iron-monger - like Drew's on the Caversham Road'.
(BTW, don't spend ages with a dictionary wrestling with 'left-handed flange grommets'; I invented them for the example. Drew's isn't an invention, but it'll only be of interest to residents of Reading UK.)
Last edited by BobK; 22-Jan-2010 at 15:45. Reason: Typo