Great Britain

A forum topic to allow members to talk about Great Britain thereby allowing other forum topics to stay on headline subject.

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As long as nothing political😁.
Open question: is it still great?
Personally I’m not sure it is anymore, though I’m not sure there’s anywhere I’d rather live permanently and into old age than the British Isles (not all of which is technically in GB),.

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I think another thread has been started. I am happy to defer to that if Richard would like to remove this.

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Do you mean the island in the Atlantic consisting of mainland Scotland, Wales and England? Or are you referring to the nation state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

It’s hot.

Put it in a bucket of ice.

Isn’t the first greater Britain?

Pedants revolt. :grinning:

I suppose that works just as well. Either way, it’s a geographical term, and isn’t another way of saying the UK.

Pedants unite! :wink:

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Oh I’m sorry, is this a five minute argument, or the full half hour?


I thought GB included Scottish, English and Welsh islands in the British Isles, but not the island of Ireland (Northern Ireland & Eire), nor the Channel Isles nor the Isle of Man. And UK = GB + NI, though increasingly becoming disunited.


That reminds me of the Alexei Sayle sketch

Nobody says ……

F£&@ing brilliant France
Not bad Italy

I’m thinking I’ve missed something here.

The ghost of Sir Galahad momentarily stalked these hallowed walls.

Seems he had been slain by the Great Dane.


I believe so - large Britain (as opposed to small Britain - possibly Brittany? IDK).

That depends on your source. We fundamentalists don’t include the associated islands, but, God knows, we might be wrong.

This message is brought to you by the United States of Pedantry.

From The Gentleman’s Instant Genius Guide by Tom Cutler:

How to understand the British Isles

I have a friend who was born in the United Kingdom but not in Great Britain. He votes in English elections but isn’t English and he has an Irish passport but wasn’t born in the Republic of Ireland. Confused? You are in good company because everybody is confused when it comes to understanding what’s what in the British Isles. Mistakes in terminology are easy to make, even if you’re English, I mean British, or do I mean Great British, or United Kingdomish? It’s terribly confusing.

If you have a look at the Euler (pronounced ‘oiler’) diagram below you’ll see a clear illustration of the messiness of this problem.

In geographical terms, the British Isles are an archipelago (a scattering of islands) consisting of Great Britain and Ireland - two separate countries - and more than 1,000 surrounding islands, many of which are very small.

Part of the difficulty in using the right terms for this mess is that the political and geographic descriptions get confused and sometimes overlap. Also, of course, people use words loosely in everyday conversation.

Take ‘the British Islands’ for example, which is a legal term that nobody ever uses in ordinary speech. Considered as a unit, it consists of the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey (much nearer France than England) and the Isle of Man (or just Mann). The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are so-called 'Crown Dependencies’, which are independently administered jurisdictions, with their own tax systems, that are not part of the UK although the British monarch is their head of state.

The UK, which is part of the British Isles and part of the British Islands, is sometimes wrongly referred to as Great Britain or Britain. Precisely speaking, the UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a constitutional monarchy that occupies the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern bit of the island of Ireland - not the same thing as the country of Ireland - and the other islands of the archipelago, except for the Crown Dependencies. The four countries of the United Kingdom are England, Seotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The three countries of Great Britain are England, Scotland and Wales. Got all that?

If not, have another look at the diagram.


Now we come to Ireland, which is a sovereign republic (that is to say, a separate country, not run by, and nothing to do with, the UK). The Republic of Ireland, as it is often called so as to avoid confusing the political state with the geographical island, occupies the bigger, bottom left-hand bit of the island of Ireland. It is sometimes referred to by its Irish name, Eire, to avoid confusion (some hope), even though ‘Éire’ just means Ireland’. Not surprisingly, especially if you know anything about the history of these islands, people in the Republic often take exception to having their country referred to as part of the British Isles.

Northern Ireland, which is often called ‘Ulster’, mainly by Unionists (who wish to keep Northern Ireland as part of the UK), has its own unhappy history, which would require a whole book to go into. ‘Ulster’ is one of Ireland’s four historic provinces, and consists of the nine northern counties. The United Kingdom, however, governs the six counties that are part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland governs the other three.

By the way, that friend I mentioned at the beginning of this section was born in Northern Ireland and chose to have an Irish passport - though he’s entitled to both British and Irish. He lives in London, so can vote in English local elections.

Time for a lie down by the pool.


That neatly covers my understanding - with all the English, Scottish and Welsh islands counted as part of those countries respectively, so part of Great Britain.

Wow. As a citizen of a former colony (Nova Scotia, Canada) I was going to say how much respect I have for Great Britain both historically and as a major functioning democracy.

I had no idea there was a debate over the meaning of the United Kingdom.

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There isn’t a debate over the meaning - that’s defined legally, in accordance with my post above - although there is much misunderstanding. However, there is much ongoing debate over which countries want to remain within the UK.


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…which is of course a debate that’s rife with politics and so not appropriate here.

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