Stereotypes of the British

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Stereotypes of British people are found in several cultures.[1] Some of these stereotypes are completely false,[2] while others have some truth to them.

Common stereotypes[edit]


Both historically and in the present day, the British have often been associated with good manners by many people around the world,[3] similar to Canadians.[4]


British people are well known for their use of sarcasm and irony.[5] Some of the most highly regarded television comedies, such as Fawlty Towers and Mr. Bean, are British.[6]


Football originated and is very popular within the United Kingdom.[7][8]


Tea is seen as a key part of British culture.[9] Originally introduced as a luxury product in the 17th century, cheap imports from colonial India allowed its consumption to significantly increase during the second half of the 19th century.[10] Today it remains a massively popular beverage. One survey of British adults from 2017 found that almost three quarters of responders who drank tea daily drank on average two or more cups a day.[11] Whilst research from a similar time showed that the UK had the twelfth largest per capita tea consumption in the world.[12] Though other hot drinks such as coffee are also very popular.[13]


According to a popular stereotype, weather in the United Kingdom is often seen as being poor,[1] mostly consisting of either heavy rain or fog.[14] In reality, British weather is generally fairly mild but changeable. [15] Though, in recent years, climate change has caused the UK's weather to become more extreme with incidents such as heatwaves, heavy snow and flooding occurring more frequently.[16]


Americans often joke about the British having bad or even bucked teeth.[2]


Jokes are often told about British food being either poor in quality or inedible. Though historically British cuisine was generally fairly bland since around the post-WW2 period onwards, globalisation and immigration have caused it to become significantly more diverse.[2][17]


There is a common stereotype that the British are only able to speak English. This stereotype has some level of truth to it as, like in many English-speaking countries, levels of bilingualism are relatively low.[18][19][20][21][22] Additionally, the number of people who speak a language other than English as their first language is reasonably low, especially among those who were born in the UK (even among those with immediate immigrant ancestry).[23] However, most British children receive at least a few years of compulsory lessons in foreign languages at school. Traditionally, this was during the first years of their secondary education.[24] Though, in recent years, the teaching of foreign languages at an earlier age has been viewed as increasingly important.[25][26][27][28]

Binge drinking[edit]

In European countries which are popular holiday destinations including Spain and Greece, British holidaymakers have become synonymous with binge drinking and poor behaviour, examples of which include public nudity and all-night partying.[29]


  1. ^ a b "12 Stereotypes of British People You Need to Know About". Gap Year. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Finnis, Alex (24 April 2018). "The stereotypes Americans have about Britain which are actually completely wrong". Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  3. ^ Mills, Sara (19 October 2017). English Politeness and Class. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107116061. Retrieved 20 May 2019 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "Most Common Cultural British Stereotypes". 15 July 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  6. ^ Ivie, Devon (21 November 2018). "The Definitive Guide to British Comedy TV Since Fawlty Towers". Vulture.
  7. ^ "Why is football so popular in England? - There are reasons". 16 May 2014. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Colin; Reeves, Jon; Tyler, Daniel (20 May 2019). The History of English Football Clubs. New Holland Publishers. ISBN 9781780094496. Retrieved 20 May 2019 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ "English Stereotypes: Fact or Fiction?". Tandem - Speak Any Language. 30 August 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  10. ^ "UK Tea & Infusions Association - A Brief History". Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  11. ^ "UK: average cups of tea per day 2017". Statista. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  12. ^ Smith, Oliver. "Which country drinks the most tea? The answer might surprise you". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Tea vs. Coffee | YouGov". Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  14. ^ Murdoch, H. Adlai (20 May 2019). Creolizing the Metropole: Migrant Caribbean Identities in Literature and Film. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0253001184. Retrieved 20 May 2019 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ Winterman, Denise (8 October 2013). "Is the British weather unique in the world?". Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  16. ^ "Extreme weather in the UK - AQA - Revision 3 - GCSE Geography". BBC Bitesize. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  17. ^ "Chicken Tikka Masala and its History". Analida's Ethnic Spoon. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Oh, to be bilingual in the Anglosphere". New Scientist. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  19. ^ "British people 'least likely' to speak foreign language".
  20. ^ Nardelli, Alberto (26 September 2014). "Most Europeans can speak multiple languages. UK and Ireland not so much" – via
  21. ^ Worne, John (27 January 2015). "Language learning in the UK: 'can't, won't, don't'" – via
  22. ^ Paton, Graeme (20 November 2013). "Three-quarters of adults 'cannot speak a foreign language'" – via
  23. ^ "Languages in the UK". Multilingual Capital. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  24. ^ Tickle, Louise (13 May 2013). "Languages in UK schools: where we are vs where we need to be". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  25. ^ "Languages to be compulsory in England". BBC News. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  26. ^ Pisanu, Angela (22 January 2019). "Welsh pupils to learn new languages at an earlier age". Education Business. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  27. ^ "Most P1 pupils learn a foreign language". 11 February 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  28. ^ "learning a second language in Northern Ireland's primary schools". Queen's Policy Engagement. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  29. ^ "From Barcelona to Malia: how Brits on holiday have made themselves unwelcome". The Guardian. 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2020.