What, specifically, is Britain?

United States
April 30, 2007 3:10pm CST
I'm terrible at geography. With that said, let me ask this: What, specifically, is Britain? In my understanding, Britain is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but how accurate is that? I'm working on a paper and referring to something as "British." I want to be certain that I'm using the term correctly. Additionally, is it just Nothern Ireland that is part of Britain, or the whole of Ireland?
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2 responses
@smuggeridge (2157)
4 May 07
yes you are right. But to confuse you a little it is actually Great Britain and Northern Ireland because britain refers to the mainland island of England, Scotland and Wales. The United Kingdom is the correct word to represent England, Scotland, Wales and northern ireland. There is also the British Isles which is the two Islands of Britain and Ireland (this does include Southern Ireland, but they are not part of the UK). So to clarify our confusing little country to give it its full name is : The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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• United States
5 May 07
Thank you for clearing that up. I'm going to have save this response to a text file.
6 May 07
To add a bit to that excellent reply, I'll say that it depends on what you are talking about. You can say British when speaking generally, but if for example you were talking about tartan, it would be correct to say Scottish rather than British as tartan is Scottish and not English or Irish (though I do believe that there are Irish tartans as well)
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• United States
6 May 07
I hadn't thought of that, but that makes perfect sense. I suppose "British" can be, and often is, too general a term.
@feliniti (875)
9 May 07
Perhaps Britain is too general a term, but it is just like calling someone American when they are from Texas. Yes they are an American, but they are also a Texan. (For example) I think the rest of your question has also been answered well, so I just wanted to add that. :)
• United States
12 Dec 07
Point taken! You're right, quite right. It's a bit of a generalization and an easy one to make, as someone from the outside looking in.