Definition of British in English:



  • 1Relating to Great Britain or the United Kingdom, or to its people or language.

    • ‘In fact, the first seven presidents of the United States were born as British subjects.’
    • ‘The service commemorated Iraqi military and civilian dead as well as British losses.’
    • ‘If only British builders were as receptive to gifts of bread, biscuits and pineapples.’
    • ‘Indeed, some saw British institutions as engaged in an elaborate plot against them.’
    • ‘Research shows that British parents who wish to select the sex of their baby are just as likely to wish for a girl as a boy.’
    • ‘Is all this just one other sign of the times: the gradual dumbing down of British society?’
    • ‘I went back for a Spring Fair, looking for British goods for the shop we now have.’
    • ‘Have you been watching the Olympic Games, and if so, what do you think of the British effort so far?’
    • ‘We would not have had a united movement and we would have failed a generation of British Muslims.’
    • ‘Yet objective truth is not much mentioned nowadays in connection with the British press.’
    • ‘This is one of only two dates she is playing in Ireland as part of her British and Irish tour.’
    • ‘Friends say she is rather shy, retiring and eccentric in the best British sense.’
    • ‘Some in the British establishment seem happy to support a war, so long as they don't have to fight in it.’
    • ‘In truth the problems facing the American and British governments are of their own making.’
    • ‘Can it really be that William Hague has struck a chord with the British people?’
    • ‘So, if British farmers are to have a future, they must market themselves on their quality.’
    • ‘Over a month, this means that such a film will only be seen on 20 British cinema screens.’
    • ‘The poll also acts as an interesting reflection of what is important in British society today.’
    • ‘I call the British embassy to see if they're having anything to do with all this.’
    • ‘An interesting aspect is that it also helps its clients understand the British way of working.’
  • 2Of the British Commonwealth or (formerly) the British Empire.

    • ‘The inability of Britishness to act as a focus for Australian policies and priorities left a void in the Australian self-image.’


as plural noun the British
  • The British people.

    • ‘It also fits the change in attitude of the Americans and the British towards armed conflict.’
    • ‘Even if he had taken Paris, the Americans and the British would have continued to fight.’
    • ‘Could we, the British, or indeed any nation, have behaved as badly as the Germans did?’
    • ‘We might also consider why so many Americans hate the British and all other Europeans.’
    • ‘For many of the British and American troops massing near Iraq, this is also the reality.’
    • ‘Over many years the Bengal army had fought faithfully for the British, but on their own terms.’
    • ‘Do you really think that the British would want to lose their national identity?’
    • ‘To the British and Americans, however, it was central to their conduct of the war.’
    • ‘Almost twice that number are killed by the British and Americans after they invade Iraq.’
    • ‘Almost from the time of European contact it was disputed by the British and the French.’
    • ‘So in Kenya the British managed to contrive a land system similar to the clearances in Britain.’
    • ‘We may also note that war itself has a particular significance for the British.’
    • ‘At Arnhem, the British met much stiffer opposition than they had been lead to believe.’
    • ‘The courage of the Indian troops who fought with the British and the Gurkhas was never in doubt.’
    • ‘It followed an ultimatum from the British that the Irish agree to their terms or face the renewal of war.’
    • ‘Here he witnessed at first hand the lack of comprehension between the British and French.’
    • ‘Seemingly unable to influence events in Palestine, the British looked for a way out.’
    • ‘We should send the President home with a message from the British to the American people.’
    • ‘One strategy is to try and wean the British off their age-old preference for cod.’
    • ‘The people who voted on Sunday were not the British, nor the Europeans, but the French.’


Old English Brettisc ‘relating to the ancient Britons’, from Bret ‘Briton’, from Latin Britto, or its Celtic equivalent.