What are the small round flat batteries that you use in small devices such as watches, timers etc. called? Are they called the same in British and American English?

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They are called Button Cells or Coin Batteries. They are widely used in watches, calculators etc, as you mentioned. Quoting Wikipedia,

"A watch battery or button cell is a small single cell battery shaped as a squat cylinder typically 5 to 25 mm in diameter and 1 to 6 mm high—like a button on a garment, hence the name. Button cells are used to power small portable electronics devices such as wrist watches, pocket calculators, artificial cardiac pacemakers, implantable cardiac defibrillators, and hearing aids. Thinner variants are usually called coin cells."

And as for the usage, these things are called as "Batteries" or "cells". And no matter where you say 'battery', everybody understands what it means. As far as 'cells' go, some people might not interpret its meaning as a portable power source, but as a biological term or a jail cell.

  • 5
    I've also heard these called watch batteries, even though they can be used in devices other than watches. (For example, that how this website catalogs them). That would be a good term to use if you were to, say, ask a store clerk if they carried them. Asking, "Do you sell batteries here?" would get an affirmative answer, even if the store only sold AA, AAA, C, and D batteries. Asking, "Do you sell any watch batteries here?" would get you the answer that you seek.
    – J.R.
    Apr 6 '16 at 8:35
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    Indeed. I would call them "watch batteries", and have never heard "button cells", though I would probably understand the term.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 6 '16 at 10:16

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