- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbɹɪt.ən/, [ˈbɹɪt.n̩]
Audio (UK) (file)
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈbɹɪt.ən/, [ˈbɹɪɾ.ᵊn̩], [ˈbɹɪʔ.ᵊn̩]
- Rhymes: -ɪtən
- Hyphenation: Brit‧ain
- Homophone: Briton
From Middle English Breteyn, from Anglo-Norman Bretaigne, Bretaine, from Latin Brittannia, variant of Latin Britannia, from Britannī; reinforced by native Old English Breten, from the same Latin source. Ultimately from Proto-Brythonic *Prɨdėn (“Britain”) from *Pritanī (also compare *Prɨdɨn (“Picts”) from *Pritenī), attested to in Ancient Greek as Πρεττανική (Prettanikḗ), compare Welsh Prydain. Doublet of Brittany. More at Britto.
- (loosely) The United Kingdom.
- The island of Great Britain, consisting of England, Scotland and Wales, especially during antiquity. [from 10th c.]
- England, Scotland and Wales in combination.
- (obsolete) Brittany. [from 13th c.]
- (in the plural) The British Isles.
- (historical) The British state and its dominions and holdings; the British Empire. [from 17th c.]
- (in the plural) The British Empire. [from 19th c.]
- 1874 July 14, The Times:
- The name of 'Britain' […] ought to answer every purpose, or if that be thought too condensed, it may be pluralized into ‘The Britains’.
- (island): Gramarye
Britain (plural Britains)
- (now rare, historical) An ancient Briton. [from 15th c.]
- 2002, L. C. Lambdin, R. T. Lambdin, Companion to Old and Middle English Literature, page 12:
- The Britains’ struggles with the Scots and Picts [...] led to the Britains asking the Romans for help in constructing a great wall.