Sunday, 3 November 2013

Briton - The Good, The Bad and the Irrelevant

Once known as Britishers too, apparently


Noun & adjective. Middle English.
[Old & modern French Breton from Latin Britto, -on- or its Celtic equivalent (whence Welsh Brython).]

A1 noun. A native or inhabitant of (Great) Britain;
(now rare excluding History of the British Empire) a British subject. ME

A2 noun. Specifically (now more fully ancient Briton).
A member of the (Celtic) people living in S. Britain at the time of the Roman conquest. ME

B obsolete. adjective. = BRITISH adjective. M16-17

Britoness noun (rare) a female Briton. L16

So what is someone that's British? Well, if you're really old-fashioned, you could say he or she is a Britisher, but the accepted noun for a British person is Briton, which isn't used very often, other than in patriotic or historical contexts. And, of course, in lists of the best and worst Britons of all time, which we can have a gander at here. So, according to a BBC poll in 2002:

The Top 10 Greatest Britons:

  1. Sir Winston Churchill
    Prime Minister during WWII and all round clever bod renowned for giving Hitler a good kicking.

  2. Isambard Kingdom Brunel
    Engineer of near superhuman brilliance. Creator of the Great Western Railway and hero to millions of train-spotting anoraks everywhere.

  3. Diana, Princess of Wales
    Member of British Royal Family and philanthropist, Diana's death still resonates profoundly with the British public today.

  4. Charles Darwin
    Naturalist and by all accounts a jolly nice chap. Originated the theory of evolution through natural selection and wrote On the Origin of Species.

  5. William Shakespeare
    Poet and playwright, he is The Bard and probably the greatest writer of all time.

  6. Sir Isaac Newton
    Physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher and Biblical scholar. And we remember him because an apple fell on his head.

  7. Queen Elizabeth I
    Popular monarch of England whose reign from 1558-1603 is considered a Golden Age.

  8. John Lennon
    He wrote Imagine. Enough said.

  9. Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson
    Naval commander and inspirational commander. And Napoleon had it coming.

  10. Oliver Cromwell
    Military and political leader, Cromwell is certainly a complicated and controversial character.
    Even after 400 years, his name still provokes revulsion in Ireland.

You can have a look at the full list of 100 Greatest Britons here. Or, if you're feeling in a dark mood, why not have a look at the 100 Worst Britons? Tony Blair tops that list, closely followed by Katie Price. It's a bit less historical, true, but it's still a lot of fun to read.

Who would you have in the list of Greatest Ever Britons?

Who would you have in your Worst Ever List?

Do please leave your most opinionated rants in the comment box below.


  1. Obviously, everybody's idea of who should be #1 etc., will be varied, but I was very surprised not to see Alexander Fleming in the top ten.

    As for the Worst list, Cliff Richard?? Why?

    1. Did someone really just ask why Cliff Richard is on the Worst Britons list?


  2. Jessica Ennis springs to mind. Possibly the greatest all round female athlete in the world, and all round good un.

    Hugh Grant has to be on the list of worst because of promoting the image across the world in movie after movie of a British chap being a floppy haired, clumsy, socially awkward, stuttering twit.
    They're not all like that surely?

    1. "Springs to mind" - brilliant. If there were a Lexi competition for pun of the day (and there isn't), you'd have won it.

  3. Allan Partridge not in the top 10? Who compiled this list?


    1. Popular vote. I've said it before and I'll say it again: people are idiots.