Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: briton


English Wikipedia has an article on:


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.
    • 1926, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Land of Mist[1]:
      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, James Thomson (lyrics), Thomas Arne (music), “Rule, Britannia!”:
      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..., p. 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 depreciated 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 depreciate 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, &c. (Australia, NZ, S 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

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