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See also: briton


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From Old French Breton, from Latin Britto or its Celtic equivalent (Welsh Brython). Doublet of Breton.



Briton (plural Britons)

  1. An inhabitant of Great Britain, particularly (historical) a Celt from the area of Roman Britain or (obsolete) a Welshman.
    • 1905, Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall, Our Island Story, page 59:
      At last the Saxons had killed nearly all the Britons, and the few who remained took refuge in the mountains, in that part of the country which we now call Wales, and in Cornwall.
    • 1925 July – 1926 May, A[rthur] Conan Doyle, “(please specify the chapter number)”, in The Land of Mist (eBook no. 0601351h.html), Australia: Project Gutenberg Australia, published April 2019:
      He writhed for twenty minutes under the flowery and eulogistic periods of the president, and rose himself in the state of confused indignation which the Briton feels when he is publicly approved.
    The ancient Britons were particularly fond of Anglesey, which the Romans knew as Mona.
  2. (sometimes proscribed) A citizen of the United Kingdom or (historical, obsolete) its overseas empire.
    • 1547, James Harrison, An Exhortacion to the Scottes..., G v b:
      ...when these hateful termes of Scottes and Englishemen, shalbe abolisshed, and blotted oute for euer, and we shal al agre in the onely title and name of Britons...
    • 1740, “Rule, Britannia!”, James Thomson (lyrics), Thomas Arne (music):
      Rule, Britannia! Britannia rules the waves:
      Britons never, never, never will be slaves.
    • 1760, King George III, quoted in George Rose's 1860 Diaries and Correspondence..., Vol. II, p. 189:
      I glory in the name of Briton.
    • 1902, George Stoddart Whitmore, The Last Maori War in New Zealand..., page vi:
      Many of the rank and file had no better conception of the proud and sensitive Maori than was implied in the degrading 'nigger' theory, invariably applied by the unthinking Briton to all coloured races.
    The victims included 3 Canadians, 2 Irishmen, and 1 Briton.
    The hiker was a Briton from New Zealand.

Usage notes[edit]

Citizens of Britain are usually known collectively as the British and informally as Brits. Englishman was traditionally used whenever a formal countable demonym was required, although this is increasingly deprecated as a general term except in exclusive reference to the people of England proper. Briton has been used for modern people since the personal union of England and Scotland under James I, but some speakers continue to deprecate that sense and use it exclusively to refer to the ancient Celts in the region of Roman Britain, which covered modern England and Wales south of Caledonia. When a speaker is accustomed to calling modern Brits Britons, the former Celtic peoples are usually distinguished as the ancient Britons.


  • (native of Great Britain, subject of the UK): the British (collective); Brit (colloquial); Britisher (now chiefly Canada, US, India); limey (jocular); pom, pommy, etc. (Australia, NZ, South African slang, sometimes offensive); see Englishman (proscribed, sometimes offensive)
  • (Celts of ancient Britain): ancient Briton
  • (native of Wales): See Welshman


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]





Briton m anim

  1. Briton (historical: Celtic inhabitant of southern Britain at the time of the Roman conquest)


This noun needs an inflection-table template.