Commonwealth English

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Commonwealth English (uncountable)

  1. (uncommon) The generalised variety of English spoken and written primarily in the United Kingdom and its former colonies, sometimes excluding Canada (especially in the context of pronunciation); always excluding the United States of America. (i.e. non-American English)
    • 2006, Namrata Palta, Preparing for Call Center Interviews, →ISBN, pages 80–81:
      The written form of the language universally taught in schools is Commonwealth English with a slight emphasis on a few words which might be more common in the specific areas than others.
    • 2008, Icon Group International staff, Disturbances: Webster’s Quotations, Facts and Phrases, Icon Group International [entry adapted from “Amnesia” in Wikipedia], 2005, p 384:
      Amnesia (or amnaesia in Commonwealth English) is a condition in which memory is disturbed.
  2. (rare) The group of varieties of English used in the ex-colonial member states of the Commonwealth of Nations, in distinction to the varieties used in Britain itself
    • 1954, J.A. Sheard, The Words We Use[1]:
      There are also other reasons to account for differences between British English on the one hand and American and Commonwealth English on the other.
    • 1966, John A. Nist, A Structural History of English[2], New York: St. Martin's Press.:
      17: The three major forms of Modern English—British, American, and Commonwealth—are very nearly identical on the printed page, a great source of the linguistic unity and cultural solidarity of the Anglo-Saxon civilization.
      25: Commonwealth English is very young in the prestige of its independent status.
    • 2006, Larry Beason, Eyes Before Ease: The Unsolved Mysteries and Secret Histories of Spelling:
      164: For instance, the terms “United Kingdom spellings,” “English spellings,” and “Commonwealth spellings” are not synonymous, and many of the so-called American spellings will frequently be found as alternate choices in other countries.
      169–70: Across the world, many former U.K. colonies use English as a major language, and their standard resembles the British standard more than the American. The term “Commonwealth English” is a general term used to refer to this variety of English, which in theory differs little from “British English” as used in Great Britain. ¶ Australia is the best-known example, but even in nations where English is not the official or most widely used language, Commonwealth English is extremely important in commerce and government—as is the case in Nigeria, Pakistan, and India, which is the second-most-populated country in the world.




  • (variety of English used in the UK and former colonies, excluding North America): North American English (Canada and U.S.), American English (U.S.) (variety of English used in the U.S.)