• (UK) IPA(key): /ˈbɹɪt.ən/, [ˈbɹɪt.n̩]
  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈbɹɪt.ən/, [ˈbɹɪɾ.ᵊn̩], [ˈbɹɪʔ.ᵊn̩]
  • Rhymes: -ɪtən
  • Hyphenation: Brit‧ain
  • Homophone: Briton

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English Breteyn, from Anglo-Norman Bretaigne, Bretaine, from Latin Brittannia, variant of Latin Britannia, from Britannī; reinforced by native Old English Breten, from the same Latin source. Ultimately from Proto-Brythonic *Prɨdėn (Britain) from *Pritanī (also compare *Prɨdɨn (Picts) from *Pritenī), attested to in Ancient Greek as Πρεττανική (Prettanikḗ), compare Welsh Prydain. Doublet of Brittany. More at Britto.

Proper nounEdit

Britain (plural Britains)

  1. (loosely) The United Kingdom.
  2. The island of Great Britain, consisting of England, Scotland and Wales, especially during antiquity. [from 10th c.]
  3. (historical) Brittany. [from 13th c.]
  4. (in the plural) The British Isles.
  5. (historical) The British state and its dominions and holdings; the British Empire. [from 17th c.]
  6. (in the plural) The British Empire. [from 19th c.]
    • 1874, The Times, 14 July 1874:
      The name of 'Britain' [] ought to answer every purpose, or if that be thought too condensed, it may be pluralized into ‘The Britains’.
Related termsEdit
  • Hawaiian: Pelekāne
  • Tokelauan: Peletānia

Etymology 2Edit

From Latin Britannus (adjective and noun, plural Britannī), apparently from Brythonic (compare Old Welsh Priten).


Britain (plural Britains)

  1. (now rare, historical) An ancient Briton. [from 15th c.]
    • 2002, L. C. Lambdin and R. T. Lambdin, Companion to Old and Middle English Literature, 2002, page 12:
      The Britains’ struggles with the Scots and Picts [...] led to the Britains asking the Romans for help in constructing a great wall.


Britain (comparative more Britain, superlative most Britain)

  1. (obsolete) Briton; British. [16th–18th c.]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit