Is it context sensitive, for example, it will change if they are abroad or not; Or if they mean to evoke culture versus national origin?


3 Answers 3



If I am speaking to anyone from any other country in the world then I am British.

If I am speaking to an Englishman then I am Scottish.

If I meet another Scotsman in Scotland then we are British but if I meet another Scotsman in England then we are both from up the road. If I meet another Scotsman abroad then we are Scottish.

If it is sport then I am Scottish unless that sport is Team GB then I am British although Team GB victory will rely on a Scottish athlete, not a British athlete.

If any other nation is playing England at sport then I am that nation regardless. I would rather support North Korea as they flog their players to victory than see a single goal scored by England.



It should be noted that the 4 nations of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have different cultures, accents, dialects, diets and religious makeups although all are primarily Christian. However identifying as Christian is loosely defined in the UK and not really important unless you want to fight with other Christians about football or live in Ireland.

Wider Identity Crisis

enter image description here

The Best Bit

The Bank of England was invented by a Scotsman and the religious argument in Northern Ireland is really about the Monarchy. Cornwall don't actually like anyone in the UK and believe they are special and Wales and Scotland are united in hatred of the English. England believes they pay for everyone and Scottish MP's can vote on English matters but English MPs cannot vote on Scottish matters.

It's all terribly complex but as a Brit you understand it without being told.

That's without even getting started on class...The Scottish are working class and the English are middle class and upper class. Although Northern England is working class and hates Southern England because they are upper class. So Northern England feels more cultural affinity to Scotland. Everyone hates London (the banking class) but for different reasons. Old money sneers at New money and new money sneers at Middle Class. London sneers at the UK. Modern economic conditions have actually made the Middle Class the new Working Class and the Working Class (blue collar) are actually the new middle class because a plumber is worth more than a University graduate...

  • 2
    That may be the best Venn diagram ever.
    – Paulb
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 11:57
  • 2
    @Paulb Credits for that diagram go to CGP Grey.
    – Philipp
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 11:58
  • 3
    I find the comment about not supporting an English national team hilarious. As a Scot, you are indeed obligated to NOT support England under any circumstances. It is a tradition held in high esteem. Our national anthem is based around defeating the English "that one time".
    – PCARR
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 17:20
  • 4
    @PointlessSpike In his defence, I think he is being funny as a rhetorical device. I certainly laughed out loud as I read it. Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 17:28
  • 1
    @Dima Pasechnik: Only the Commonwealth realms have Elizabeth II as their respective head of state. The members of the wider Commonwealth are more loosely connected. Perhaps ask a question about it (if there isn’t already)?
    – chirlu
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 17:53

As a Scotsman I think I can answer this as definitively context sensitive.

A current event or time served with the armed forces re-instills a British identity. .

But classically in sport achievement, when an Englishman loses he becomes a Brit.

And in winning, he remains English, assuming he's English. If he is you'll be sure to know it. (If he were Scottish, he would become British!)

I think that recognizing oneself as British (with any profundity) can be related heavily to a subject's own education in history and modern studies and awareness of the world stage, and whether or not you received free milk at school as a child.

To be born in the British Isles or to hold a British crown passport creates a British identity which is used interchangeably but typically held in reserve.

Domestically 'Britishness' is often secondary to the overwhelming distinctively separate regional/national identities that can be found in the UK. The likelihood is to identify oneself as English, or Scottish, or Welsh, or N.Irish(.) by default.

  • I can confirm (as an Englishman) that it definitely does depend on who you are. I will personally almost never describe myself as English, this being a very rare exception. I am usually British when issues of nationality come up, because there are so few divisions between Scotland, England and Wales. I don't get involved in sports, though. Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 16:14

As someone born in England I find this question quite difficult. I usually try to phrase it as "I'm from the UK", because both "British" and "English" have strong negative connotations.

English has become associated with nationalists, white supremacists and others on the far right. It's also become associated with a narrow, protectionist view of the world (the "little Englander").

British has become associated with our poor international political reputation, due to Brexit and low quality politicians representing us. We also have a somewhat bad reputation on issues like mass surveillance, human rights and xenophobia.

As such, I try to avoid both and say something like "I live in the UK", which is pretty much the minimum possible association it's possible to express.

  • Why are people downvoting without commenting?
    – Kai
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 16:14
  • 1
    @Kai because of those strong negative connotations I mentioned.
    – user
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 7:56

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .