Alternative names for the British include nicknames and terms, both affectionate and derogatory to describe the British people.
Limey is an old American and Canadian slang nickname for the British, originally referring to British sailors. The term is believed to derive from lime-juicer, referring to the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy practice of supplying lime juice to British sailors to prevent scurvy. The benefits of citrus juice were well known at the time thanks to the acute observations of surgeon James Lind, who noticed that the cabbage-eating Dutch had fewer problems with scurvy. Limes were used over lemons because limes were more readily available from Britain's own Caribbean colonies. The term is thought to have originated in the Caribbean in the 1880s. A false etymology is that it is a derivative of "Cor blimey" ("God blind me!").
The term pommy, often shortened to pom, is commonly used by speakers of Australia, New Zealand, and sometimes speakers of South Africa as well as Afrikaans. It was originally a derogatory term; in 2006 the Australian Advertising Standards Board ruled that it is now not offensive. Despite this, some Britons still consider the expression offensive or racist, with the community group British People Against Racial Discrimination protesting the decision.
The origin of this term is not confirmed and there are several persistent false etymologies. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) strongly supports the theory that pommy originated as a contraction of "pomegranate". The OED also suggests that the reason for this is that pomegranate is extinct Australian rhyming slang for immigrant; it cites an article from 14 November 1912, in a once-prominent Australian weekly magazine The Bulletin: "The other day a Pummy Grant (assisted immigrant) was handed a bridle and told to catch a horse." A popular alternative explanation for the theory that pommy is a contraction of "pomegranate", relates to the purported frequency of sunburn among British people in Australia, turning their fair skin the colour of pomegranates. However, there is no hard evidence for the theory regarding sunburn.
A false etymology (or "backronym") popularly believed in Australia and New Zealand is that 'Pom' originated as an acronym for "prisoner of (his/her) majesty", "prisoner of mother England". Although many of the first British settlers in Australia were convicts sentenced to transportation to Australia, there is no evidence for this. Some proponents of this theory claim that upon arrival in the country they would be given a uniform with "POHM" or "POME" emblazoned on the back, which apparently stood for Prisoners Of Maidenhead Prison but there are no images or examples of these uniforms.
One explanation of this French term is that rosbif originally referred to English style of cooking roast beef, and especially to the song The Roast Beef of Old England. Another explanation is linked to the appearance of white-skinned British tourists after a few hours in the French sun, especially in the South (this refers to Britons becoming sun burned with a colour close to a rare cooked roast beef).
In Portugal, the term bife (literally meaning steak, but sounding like beef) is used as a slang term to refer to the British. There is a feminine form, bifa, mainly used to refer to British female tourists.
Another common term in South Africa used mostly by the Afrikaans is Soutie or Sout Piel. This is from the concept that the Brits have one leg in Britain and one leg in South Africa, leaving the penis hanging in the salt water. Sout Piel means Salt Penis (or rather "dick").
The term Britisher is still used in India, and to a lesser extent in the United States, but is largely obsolete elsewhere.
Angrez is of Arabic or Persian origin and is sometimes used to refer to British people. It derives from the French "Anglais". Among South Asians, Angrez has the same meaning, although its more specific meaning is Englishman, with Angrezan for an English woman. This is mostly seen as an ethnic, rather than a territorial, term and applied specifically for people of Anglo-Saxon origin. So people of subcontinent origin living in England do not usually refer to themselves as Angrez or Angrezan. Replacing the z with j is common practice especially amongst people from the Punjab region in India; hence it would be "Angrej" (masculine) and "Angrejan" (female). Urdu speakers always retain the z.
The word Firangi is used in the same sense as Angrez. "Firangi" or Firang is derived from the word "Frank" and arose during the Crusades, when all invading Christians of the Latin Church came to be seen as Franks. It tends to refer to West Europeans and the European diaspora. The word Ferengi, derived from "Firang", is used in Star Trek to describe a race of rapacious alien traders. It could in this context be considered a somewhat obscure racial slur.
The adjective Gora (or Gora) is also commonly used amongst South Asians and South Asian British to refer to white Britons. Although the term literally translates to "fair-skinned one", and thus could and is applied to individuals of any ethnicity with a fair complexion including south asians themselves. The adjective has been incorrectly used as a noun and come to be used to describe white people—hence its potential as a racial slur. The feminine of the term is Gori.
Malayalis of Kerala use the term Sayyip to refer to a male westerner. "Sayyip" is probably derived from the word Sahib (meaning "sir"), the colloquial way of addressing the British rulers. The feminine equivalent is Madaamma, which evolved from "Madam".
In Thai, the word anggrit (อังกฤษ) is used to described both the English in particular, and the British in general. The terms Scotland and Scot are also used to describe the people and country of Scotland.
John Bull was originally a character created by John Arbuthnot in 1712 to satirise the Whig war party. Later in the 18th century, British satirical artists James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and George Cruikshank contrasted the stout and healthy British cartoon character with scrawny French revolutionary sans-culottes Jacobins. In the 19th century the U.S. cartoonist Thomas Nast also drew the character. The character has tended to be more popular in, and to be more associated with, England than Scotland and Wales. In light of this, creator Arbuthnot provided John Bull with a sister, Peg, to represent the Scots.
The name Tommy for a soldier in the British Army is particularly associated with World War I. 'Joe' has been used similarly to refer to American soldiers. The French, and Commonwealth forces also used the name. Tommy is derived from Tommy Atkins which had been used as a generic name for a soldier for many years (and had been used as an example name on army registration forms). The precise origin is the subject of some debate, but it is known to have been used as early as 1743. Rudyard Kipling published the poem Tommy (part of the Barrack Room Ballads) in 1892 and in 1893 the music hall song Private Tommy Atkins was published with words by Henry Hamilton and music by S. Potter. In 1898 William McGonagall wrote Lines In Praise of Tommy Atkins.
The term Redcoat is a defunct slang term (along with "lobsterback") for a British soldier. This term applied from the mid-17th century to around 1902 when the British Army wore distinctive scarlet tunics in their typical military dress. The term is often used in a modern sense in a playful manner, althrough it is increasingly associated with Canadians because of the traditional red uniforms of the Mounties.
German for Island Monkeys. British bricklayers in Germany in the 80's and 90's were often affectionately referred to as Inselaffen or monkeys from the island.
In many languages, the equivalent terms for 'English' and 'England' are often used interchangeably with 'British' and 'Britain', and this is also relatively common in many non-British varieties of English. For example in Turkish 'İngiltere' is wrongly used for both Britain and England, despite there being a separate word for Britain, 'Britanya'. Welsh people in particular are very often referred to in French as 'Anglais' rather than 'Gallois', in Russian as 'англичанин' Angličanin, and so on. The same occurs rather less frequently in the case of individuals from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Scotland and Ireland remained separate entities until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries respectively, when the Kingdom of Great Britain and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland were formed. However, even these countries may still sometimes be considered to form part of Angleterre or the equivalent. In some languages, as in French, forms like Britannique ('British') are restricted to more official contexts, and tend to be used for governments rather than for individuals. In Assam (became part of British India in 1828), one of the last states to join British India, British are called as Boga Bongal (literally meaning White Foreigners or White Intruders). Bongal was a derragatory word for foreigners and invaders in Assam under Ahom rule and it still is used.
In Polish a common formal term to describe an Englishman is Anglik, or Brytyjczyk for a British. The first one is derived from the vernacular Polish word for England Anglia, the latter from a Polish word for Great Britain Wielka Brytania. Derogatory terms for an English/British man coined in the recent years are Angol or Brytol respectively; however, due to its negative connotations they are not used in formal writing or by the media.
In Nepal, British are often referred as Kuires/Khaires which means people of white/pale colour. It is also used for any foreigner with white skin.
In India, especially in British India, the British were, and often still are, referred to as firangis/pirangis (aliens) or goras (literally "Whiteman" in Hindi).
The Malay word 'Mat Salleh' originated from the general depiction of British Colonial Sailors who were often drunk (Mad Sailors). Due to the inability of locals to pronounce English words correctly, it became 'Mat Salleh' (Mat and Salleh are both typical Malay names). Another alternative is 'Orang Putih' (white people) or its shortened rural version 'Omputih'. In ancient Malaccan times, the term 'Orang Feringgi' was also used.
Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese use terms for Britain/British which are derived from the words "England" and "English". The Japanese word for Britain has its origins in the Portuguese word for English: Inglês became イギリス Igirisu.
Although the Chinese Yīngguó (Hanzi: 英国), Japanese Eikoku (Kanji: 英国), Korean Yeongguk (Hangul: 영국), and Vietnamese Anh Quốc are all derived from "Eng-" in England, they are used to mean "Britain" and "British", including both Great Britain and UK. They are still used to mean England in unofficial contexts. There are also more formal specific names for the UK, such as the Chinese 聯合王國 Liánhéwángguó and Japanese 連合王国 Rengōōkoku literally meaning "United Kingdom". Separate words exist in all of these languages for each of the constituent parts of the UK, including England, although, as elsewhere, there is little awareness of correct usage. However, sport teams are called by their correct name, as can be seen in any World Cup schedule.
The written form of Yīngguó in Chinese is made up of two characters: 英国. The first 英 (yīng) means "hero" or "brave", the second is 国 (guó) which means "country", "state" or "kingdom". Originally the adjective word was written as 英吉利 Yīngjílì as an approximation of the adjective word English, and is still used to mean English in the Chinese word for the English Channel 英吉利海峡 Yīng jí lì hǎi xiá. The noun word was written as 英格兰 Ying ge lan for the noun England, also 苏格兰 Su ge lan for Scotland, 爱尔兰 Ai er lan for Ireland and 威尔士 Wei er shi for Wales. Also in history books Great Britain is written 大不列颠 da bu lie dian, from 大 (Great) and the sounds of the words 不列颠, which also mean "can't be knocked down/tipped over". The word 英吉利 was given the reading igirisu in Japanese, and the same abbreviation was adopted, 英国 eikoku, taking the first character and using the more usual 'Chinese' reading. These days, the word is usually written using katakana script as イギリス Igirisu, although 英国 Eikoku is still common. The first character is also used in the word for the English language, 英語 eigo. Additionally, Vietnamese đảo Anh (literally, "English island") means the island of Great Britain.