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Alternative words for British

There are many alternative ways to describe United Kingdom nationals. The usual terms are the adjective British and noun Briton (see also demonym). The latter is sometimes abbreviated to Brit. Some other terms are humorous or derogatory slang, and used mainly by people from other countries, although they can be used in a self-deprecating way by British people themselves. These include Limey, Pom, and Pommy. Other terms are serious or tongue-in-cheek attempts to coin words as alternatives to the potentially ambiguous standard terms. An example is the term UKian.

Table of contents
1 Slang
2 Proposed alternatives
3 See also
4 External link


Limey is a old American and Canadian slang nickname for the British, initially specifically sailors. The term is believed to derive from lime-juicer, referring to the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy practice of supplying lime juice (an antiscorbutic) to English sailors to prevent scurvy in the 19th century. The term is believed to have originated in Australia in the 1880s. A folk etymology is that it is a derivative of "Gor-blimey" ("god blind me!").

The term Pommy for a British person is commonly used in Australia and New Zealand, and is sometimes shortened to Pom. The origin of this term is uncertain. A folk etymology is that it comes from an acronym of Prisoner Of His Majesty, purportedly stencilled on convict clothing, but no evidence supporting this has ever been produced.

Proposed alternatives

Use of alternative terms has been practiced and advocated by some people to distinguish UK nationals from people living specifically in the British Isles or Great Britain. In practice, this is not usually necessary in British English because British without any modifier (like British cooking) is usually understood to refer to the UK. However, British is related to the names of both the British Isles and Great Britain, and literally means "of Britain". This makes the term potentially ambiguous.

See also