Words related to Britain

Briton (n.)

c. 1200, "a Celtic native of the British Isles," from Anglo-French Bretun, from Latin Brittonem (nominative Britto, misspelled Brito in MSS) "a member of the tribe of the Britons," from *Britt-os, the Celtic name of the Celtic inhabitants of Britain and southern Scotland before the 5c. Anglo-Saxon invasion drove them into Wales, Cornwall, and a few other corners. In 4c. B.C.E. Greek they are recorded as Prittanoi, which is said to mean "tattooed people."

In Middle English it was exclusively in historical use, or in reference to the inhabitants of Brittany (see Breton); it was revived when James I was proclaimed King of Great Britain in 1604, and made official at the union of England and Scotland in 1707.

Brexit (n.)

"withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union," 2012, from Britain + exit.


Latin name of Britain, preserved in poetry and as the proper name of the female figure who personifies the place on coinage, etc.

When Britain first, at Heaven's command
     Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
     And guardian angels sang this strain:
"Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
"Britons never will be slaves."
[James Thomson, 1740]
Britannic (adj.)

"of or pertaining to Great Britain," 1640s, from Latin Britannicus, from Britannia (see Britain).

Brittany (n.)

c. 1200, Brutaine, Britaine, from Old French Bretaigne, named for 5c. Romano-Celtic refugees from the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain who crossed the channel and settled there (see Britain). The Little Britain or Less Britain (lasse brutaine, c. 1300) of old, contrasted with the Great Britain. As a name for girls (variously spelled) it was all but unknown in U.S. before 1970, then a top-10 name for babies born between 1986 and 1995. The Brittany spaniel dog breed is attested by 1929.

Great Britain 

c. 1400, Grete Britaigne "the land of the Britons before the English conquest" (as opposed to Brittany), also "England and Wales;" see great (adj.) + Britain.