views updated May 11 2018

BRITICISM. Also Britishism. A word or other expression typical of English as used in Britain, particularly after the late 18c, when varieties of the language were established beyond the British Isles and, especially in the case of AmE, began to develop their own standard and critical traditions. The term may or may not subsume ANGLICISM and SCOTTICISM, and contrasts with AMERICANISM in particular and also with AUSTRALIANISM, CANADIANISM, INDIANISM, IRISHISM, NEW ZEALANDISM, etc. Because AMERICAN ENGLISH AND BRITISH ENGLISH are the major forms of the language, are used by the largest number of native speakers, and are the most widely known of all national varieties, they tend to be defined and discussed in terms of each other. Scholars of English in the US are as inclined to point out Briticisms as their colleagues in the UK are to point out Americanisms. The term applies to all aspects of usage, but is most often applied to vocabulary: where government is often used in the UK in the sense of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the nearest US equivalent is administration; while in BrE school is generally restricted to pre-university education, in AmE it applies to any educational level. Technological fields that developed independently in the two nations have often had different terminologies, as in the automotive industry (BrE first in each pair): bonnet/hood, boot/trunk, bumper/fender, dip switch/dimmer, dynamo/generator, fascia/dashboard, indicator/blinker, quarterlight/vent, silencer/muffler, windscreen/windshield, wing/fender.


views updated Jun 27 2018

Brit·i·cism / ˈbritiˌsizəm/ (also Brit·ish·ism / ˈbritishˌizəm/ ) • n. an idiom used in Britain but not in other English-speaking countries.

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