From the International Herald Tribune (emphasis mine):

King George and Queen Mary were the guests at breakfast to-day [May 23] of Sir Edward Goschen, the British Ambassador to the Prussian Court. Before breakfast their Majesties received a deputation from the British colony in Berlin, which presented a loyal address. The address was read to their Majesties, who listened to it standing, by Mr. J. W. Louth, the dean of the colony, who also had the honor of reading the colony’s loyal address to King Edward in 1909.

The dictionary definition of colony doesn't seem to apply here, there was no British settlement in Berlin in 1913 (or any other time). What would be the exact definition of the word "colony" in context?

  • This question was inspired by a highly related History.SE question.
    – user515
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 14:53
  • Everyone knows that a group of brits is referred to as a "colony".... right?
    – Aric
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 7:45

2 Answers 2


I think colony is used to mean "a group of people from the same place or with the same work or interests who live in a particular city or country or who live together" (the third meaning listed in that page). For example, you could talk of "the American colony in Paris"; that would not mean that Paris is governed from American people.

  • Well, that's my reading as well, but is the use of the word in that way idiomatic? Is there a reason the author used "colony" instead of "community" (for example)?
    – user515
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 18:54
  • I can be wrong, but community probably would not be used to mean "a group of people from the same place and living in the same city/country."
    – apaderno
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 19:15
  • 1
    Colony in this sense does feel a bit dated to me, but that's just my personal impression.
    – user230
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 19:20
  • 1
    @snailboat Considering the quoted text also uses to-day, it seems so to me too. :) The fact it says "the Prussian Court" could be another hint.
    – apaderno
    Commented May 24, 2013 at 19:21
  • 2
    The original sense of colony was a ‘settlement in a new country’, effected by a formal ‘plantation’. It did not necessarily imply political dominion of the motherland over the new country; that arose only in the late 1880s, when European colonialism and imperialism became central terms of political discussion. The basic sense was from early in the 18th century extended to such informal communities as described here; that sense is still current in phrases like those here, or artists’ colony, although as @snailboat says, interference from the political sense has dated the national sense. Commented May 25, 2013 at 12:48

A good dictionary has more than one definition of 'colony'.

Chambers Dictionary includes the definition "a group of the same nationality or occupation forming a distinctive community within a city"

This is the definition of colony intended in the passage quoted in the question.

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