Is there any difference between a waistcoat and a vest?

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There are differences from one side of the Atlantic to the other as well. I'm going to let a BrE speaker answer, because I think that's what you will want.
GG, could you give your American view first so I've something to compare with?

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We don't use the word "waistcoat" - we think of if as something that the White Rabbit would wear in Alice in Wonderland.

A vest is one of two things: either it's part of a man's three-piece suit: pants, jacket, and vest (note that our British friends wouldn't use the term "pants" either, I don't believe). It's the part that goes over the shirt, under the jacket. It doesn't have any sleeves. It's difficult to see the vest, but you can see where the jacket ends; the vest is under it.

A vest can also be a knit sweater without sleeves.

In BrE (unless it has changes since I lived there), a vest is the undergarment that you wear under your shirt, while a waistcoat is, eg, the sleeveless upper part of a 3-piece suit.

What I call a 'waistcoat', I believe Americans call a 'vest'.

a man's three-piece suit: pants, jacket, and vest (note that our British friends wouldn't use the term "pants" either, I don't believe)
Correct, we would not use 'pants' in the above.
In British English the term 'pants' = underpants worn by males.
You can also call something or someone 'pants' to mean they or it are rubbish/no good.
e.g. The England team are pants at scoring goals.
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We wouldn't use vest either for a waistcoat. A vest is what both women and men wear in the winter under their shirts and jumpers. I wouldn't use the term pants either as trousers, or as meaning no good. I would simply say 'no good' or 'useless'.

And yes, be careful, there is a difference between British English and English English. The Scots, Irish and the Welsh are not the same, with their own native celtic languages. What you need to use as a yard stick is known as BBC English, Queen's English or Received Pronunciation - and they vary as well!
Please, don't be so picky about the way you use English English, British English, American English, Scottish English, ... it's obvious that there are going to be differences depending on the place where you are. Lift and elevator, trousers, pants... it's the same with any language that is alive... Even Latin had various forms...

You waste people's time when they're just looking for an answer, not a lecture. They probably already know!

And by the way, what do you call the kind of open buttonless shirt that American Indians wear in the movies?
yes. Waistcoats do not neccesarily match the suit pieces it is worn with. Waistcoats also have lapel collars. Vests are part of the 3 piece ensemble.
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