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  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbɹɪt.ən/, [ˈbɹɪt.n̩]
  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈbɹɪt.ən/, [ˈbɹɪɾ.ᵊn̩], [ˈbɹɪʔ.ᵊn̩]
  • Rhymes: -ɪtən
  • Hyphenation: Brit‧ain
  • Homophone: Briton

Etymology 1[edit]

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.

Proper noun[edit]

Britain (countable and uncountable, plural Britains)

  1. (loosely) The United Kingdom.
  2. The island of Great Britain, consisting of England, Scotland and Wales, especially during antiquity. [from 10th c.]
  3. England, Scotland and Wales in combination.
  4. (obsolete) Brittany. [from 13th c.]
  5. (in the plural) The British Isles.
  6. (historical) The British state and its dominions and holdings; the British Empire. [from 17th c.]
  7. (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’.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
  • Hawaiian: Pelekāne
  • Tokelauan: Peletānia

Etymology 2[edit]

From Latin Britannus (adjective and noun, plural Britannī), apparently from Brythonic (compare Old Welsh Priten).


Britain (plural Britains)

  1. (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.


Britain (comparative more Britain, superlative most Britain)

  1. (obsolete) Briton; British. [16th–18th c.]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]