Definition 2024


British English


Alternative forms

Proper noun

British English

  1. The English language as written and spoken in the United Kingdom (in contrast with other places, particularly other countries where English is predominant or at least an important language)
    • 1861, “The Shakespeare Mystery”, in The Atlantic Monthly, v 8, n 47, Boston: Ticknor and Fields, p 258 (note):
      We shall not say that this is British English; but we willingly confess that it is not American English.
    • 1863, George Perkins Marsh, “The English Language in America”, in Lectures on the English Language, 4th ed., New York: Charles Scribner, p 667:
      Some noticeable and general differences between American and British English may be explained by the fact, that considerable bodies of Englishmen sometimes emigrated from the same vicinity, and that in their new home they and their multiplied descendants have kept together and continued to employ dialect peculiarities of their native speech, or retained words of general usage which elsewhere perished.
    • 1867, Richard Grant White, “Words and their Uses: British English and American English”, in The Galaxy, v 4, New York, p 102:
      Now, according to my observation, no man whom the Dean of Canterbury, or the Public Orator of Cambridge, would accept as a speaker of pure English, says, with thick utterance, “a gloss of ayull;” and yet thousands of their countrymen do speak thus, and this peculiarity of British English passes very gradually away as social and mental culture increase, until among the best-bred and best-educated people it vanishes, and is heard no more than it or a nasal twang is heard among similar people here.


Related terms



British English (comparative more British English, superlative most British English)

  1. Of or relating to, or spoken or written in British English.



  • For usage examples of this term, see Citations:British English.