If I were to explain the (pedantic) difference between "English" and "British", what would be the word for "British"?

I might want to perform the following explanation in Japanese as in this question on ELU: Difference between English and British. What would be the word for "British" in the context of that discussion?


3 Answers 3


イギリス sounds like English, but actually イギリス is NOT equivalent to English. According to this web page, イギリス is an import word from Portuguese language. It originally means England, but its meaning has changed in Japan. It doesn't only mean England, but entire land of the UK now.

So, イギリス is the equivalent to the UK.

イギリス人{じん} is equivalent to British people, usually means people who have British nationality.

イングランド is the equivalent to England.

イングランド人{じん} is the equivalent to English people.

By the way, there is a Japanese word [英国人]{えいこくじん}. It sometimes means English people, sometimes means British people. So you should avoid using it if you want to make it clear difference between English and British.

  • But I can't come up with better any better word.>>「イングランド人」でもいいかもね・・・ あっbetter二回言うてる
    – chocolate
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 6:23
  • +1 for イングランド人. 時々聞くように思います.
    – Yosh
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 7:09
  • @Chokoさん、ご指摘ありがとうございます。修正しました。イングランド人は私も考えたんですが、それだとイングランドが独立した国家のようなニュアンスがあるような気がして書かないことにしました。カリフォルニア人とか違和感ありますよね。でも、スコットランド人というと違和感ないし、関西人という言葉もあるのでイングランド人でもいいのかもしれませんね。
    – Takashi
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 7:35
  • 1
    @Yoshさん、@Chokoさん、調べてみたらイングランド人という言葉があるので、説明を修正しました。 ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Takashi
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 7:53
  • 英国 is strictly UK, and in fact what the British embassy in Japan prefers to call their own country, probably to avoid from using their potentially controversial toponym. Only US and UK do such a thing in western countries. It's also interesting to know that when Portuguese first brought the word, England and Scotland was not united yet. Commented Jul 2, 2018 at 23:38

英国 えいこく also stands for british. 英国人 えいこくじん Bitish People

  • Did you see this answer by Takashi? 英国人 is used to mean both "British" as well as "English", so it's not a good choice to explain the difference between them...
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Jun 23, 2015 at 9:11

I would transliterate British as "ブリティッシュ" and Britain as "ブリテン".

And I would explain the difference as Barrie England has done in the article you referred to, together with a short history of the Norman conquest which led to name the isles "Great Britain" in contrast to "Bretagne".

  • In particular situation, we say ブリテッシュ, for example, we call British-style pub as ブリティッシュパブ.
    – user51966
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 3:47

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