the British Isles pl
- (geography) A group of islands off the north-west coast of mainland Europe and separated from it by the English Channel and the North Sea, including Great Britain, Ireland, Anglesey, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, the Hebrides, the Shetland Islands, the Orkney Islands, the Isles of Scilly, the Channel Islands, and many smaller islands.
The name is usually applied in a geographical or territorial sense, rather than as a term for a political unit. In Ireland, some prefer not to use the term. Use may exclude the Channel Islands, which are closer to mainland Europe than to the other islands.