the English: people from England, or sometimes from all of Britain
(Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English)
the English: infml the people of Britain
(Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture)

When I first learned English, “he is an English” meant he is a man who comes from the island country that is located on northern part of France, from whichever part of the country he may come. But after knowing that the England soccer team does not represent the whole country - more than one soccer team from UK participate in the World Cup qualifier, I mean, I become hesitated to call whoever from the island or the northern part of Ireland, English. For if any foreigner doesn’t call me Korean but one of any wrong part of my country, I would be not pleasant, although it was from her ignorance - but that would be okay because it was from her very ignorance. Do the people not from England would be unhappy to be called English? (There would be a big probability, I guess, for I heard a Scottish interviewee say, in the referendum for his country's independence from the UK, that his heart wants to be independent from UK, but his head wants to remain in the UK on YouTube, but I want to hear the voice of Scottish, Welsh, Irish, etc.)

  • I suggest you clarify your title and improve your grammar to get an answer - large parts of your question make little or no sense at all. I'm interested as to what you mean by "the England soccer team does not represent the whole country".. any Englishman can play for England. Jul 3, 2014 at 23:59
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    Thanks for the clarification. If someone is from Scotland, they are Scottish, and if they are from England they are English. Someone from Scotland is never English. However, people from England, Scotland or Wales could all be called British. Jul 4, 2014 at 0:13
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    Are you looking for something like this?
    – Pockets
    Jul 4, 2014 at 1:14
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    Might be relevant: youtube.com/watch?v=rNu8XDBSn10
    – jinawee
    Jul 4, 2014 at 8:13
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    By way of an analogy, calling all British people English is quite a lot like calling Canadians Americans. A politicaly more accurate analogy, since England and Scotland are parts of the same country, would be that it's like calling all Americans Texans. Jul 7, 2014 at 7:52

1 Answer 1


People from the country of England are English. People from the country of Scotland are Scottish. People from the United Kingdom (also referred to as [Great] Britain, though technically that is the name of the island England is on) are British.

The UK is the set of countries under British rule. This includes Scotland and England. Thus, someone Scottish is also British but not English.

Some Brits take their national identity within the UK quite seriously, and may find it insulting to be called English if they're not from England.

I become hesitated to call whoever from the island or the northern part of Ireland, English

This is wise. They (most likely) aren't English. They may identify as Irish (this one is your best bet), British, or both. It's complicated; Northern Ireland is particularly sensitive to the Irish / English / British distinctions, for historical reasons.

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    But we're free to ignore the Cymry and how they feel about it? Jul 4, 2014 at 6:06
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    @StoneyB I don't understand the basis for your (apparently) rhetorical question. I didn't mention Wales, true, but it wasn't brought up directly in the question and I've clearly stated what the distinction is; logically, it would apply to Wales the same as Scotland and Ireland. Your remark is a significant misrepresentation of my answer and a strawman. Jul 4, 2014 at 6:16
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    Note that this distinction has only been made "since the early 20th century" and "colloquial usage of 'England' as a synonym for 'Britain' is still widespread outside the UK". Terminology of the British Isles Mar 22, 2017 at 20:21

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