Stereotypes of the British

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


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] Monty Python was a well-known British comedic group, and 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]

Anti-social behaviour

In some southern European countries such as Spain and Greece, British holidaymakers are associated with unruly behaviour.[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". Inews.co.uk. 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". Moviehub.com. 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". Bloomsbury-international.com. 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". www.tea.co.uk. 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". yougov.co.uk. 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". www.scotsman.com.
  20. ^ Nardelli, Alberto (26 September 2014). "Most Europeans can speak multiple languages. UK and Ireland not so much" – via www.theguardian.com.
  21. ^ Worne, John (27 January 2015). "Language learning in the UK: 'can't, won't, don't'" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  22. ^ Paton, Graeme (20 November 2013). "Three-quarters of adults 'cannot speak a foreign language'" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  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. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2020.

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