By in Random

A Reluctant Admission of Ignorance

I've shared in the past that I have difficulty falling asleep at night, often due to the ongoing meanderings of my thoughts. An hour into lying in bed, yet awake, it came to me that I didn't know the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom.

Yes, at nearly sixty years of age, I didn't know the answer to this simple geography question. Americans, what can I say? (Much easier to blow off personal ignorance to that of an entire nation.) Sheepishly, I looked up the answer. To my relief, what is so evident to many people in the world -- and a number of community members here -- is misunderstood by many others.

In case you, too, are scratching your head, this link provides the answers, not all that simple to the uninformed.

I apologize to my fellow members that I've been so egocentric as to not have known this information. Anyone else here who was also puzzled by the nomenclature and specific differences?

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MegL wrote on August 24, 2015, 1:28 PM

Don't worry about it, many people in the British Isles (different again) don't know the difference either, nor whether they live in Britain or Great Britain. Hope that puts you to sleep tonight. emoticon :grin:

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 2:08 PM

Oh, MegL , there is more to know? There is Britain AND Great Britain...and the British Isles? Maybe you'd write a post explaining those differences. I know I'd be interested and grateful and expect others would be, too. (And then I can really sleep tonight, because right this moment, I have more questions. lol)

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 2:10 PM

I'm certain I learned all this during geography in school, but I lost my grasp of it. I'm happy hear you are well-informed. : )

MegL wrote on August 24, 2015, 2:17 PM

It's all explained here: The Ordnance Survey is the official part of Government that maps Great Britain (but not Northern Ireland). Northern Ireland has its own Ordnance Survey department

Rufuszen wrote on August 24, 2015, 2:18 PM

Knowing you don't know something is the first step to wisdom. Didn't the Buddha say that?

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 2:18 PM

You're a peach! Promise me there won't be a pop quiz, though, eh?

MegL wrote on August 24, 2015, 2:20 PM

My sister is the quiz expert, she runs them. She and my brother were banned from playing the quiz machines in the local pubs because they could clean them out!

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 2:20 PM

I am sure someone wise said it, although I don't know the origin offhand. I can say this: If knowing I don't know something IS the first step to wisdom, I've got a ladder built. : )

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 3:03 PM

I don't know, MegL . I keep seeing more fodder for post material every time I read your comments. Brother and sister quiz experts? There's a story there. : )

CoralLevang wrote on August 24, 2015, 3:05 PM

Though I knew there was a difference, I did not know the fine details of it. Having read the link (thanks for the share), I cannot say that I understand it much better than I did before! LOL

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 3:08 PM

Whew, I thought it was just me! I've read it through more than once and in more than one sitting to try and grasp the differences. Then, though, MegL above added in Britain versus Great Britain...and the British Isles being yet something else, too.

VinceSummers wrote on August 24, 2015, 4:33 PM

I still don't know the difference. England? Britain, U.K.?

MegL wrote on August 24, 2015, 4:50 PM

England is one country in Britain. The other country is Wales, whereof I have written a few times. Britain is part of Great Britain, when you add in Scotland. When you add in Northern Ireland, you have the UK - the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 4:51 PM

Now that's an explanation I can understand! Now another question: Is the UK a country in and of itself, or a region of countries?

MegL wrote on August 24, 2015, 4:57 PM

It is not a federation, if that is what you mean. It has one sovereign government. in London, however, the regions have been getting more autonomy in recent years with devolved powers to legislative bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These bodies have powers in certain areas (different powers for different assemblies) but not on, for instance, currency, foreign policy, defence, etc. Some large areas are also getting certain powers. For instance, London has its own Lord Mayor and has certain powers it can use, for instance, congestion charging, to try and keep the number of vehicles down.

VinceSummers wrote on August 24, 2015, 5:00 PM

Maybe a new designation should be decreed to cover it all. The Land of the Lime.

Last Edited: August 24, 2015, 5:01 PM

MegL wrote on August 24, 2015, 5:11 PM

LOL. If you mean "Limey" that is usually an Australian term for someone from England, so it wouldn't cover someone from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Some people in Northern Ireland prefer to be called British, others prefer to be called Irish and some don't mind either way. In Wales, it is said that Rugby supporters will support Wales and whichever team is playing England. In Scotland, there is a big move for independence.

VinceSummers wrote on August 24, 2015, 5:14 PM

The U.S. is said to be part of North America. Some common designation would make life easier. I guess I'm going to have to say England, Scotland, or Ireland most of the time. The U.K. doesn't quite match for my discussions.

WordChazer wrote on August 24, 2015, 6:17 PM

I'm British, yet I was born in England.

I'm British because my parents were both born in Crown Dependencies (place that are independently administered English-speaking juristictions, which are part of the Commonwealth, hence recognise Queen Elizabeth as nominal head). However, I was born on the mainland of England.

Do not call me English. I'm English by an accident of place of birth. I'm a Brit. A member of the wider Comonwealth. I'm closer in feeling and thought to many Europeans than to the English.

BarbRad wrote on August 24, 2015, 6:42 PM

Thanks. I've been a bit confused between the United Kingdom and Great Britain myself.

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 9:21 PM

MegL , I so appreciate your patient instruction. More questions are running through my noggin, but will wait until there is some cohesiveness to them to ask anything else. : )

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 9:26 PM

I understand what you're saying, and now because you've explained it to me, I would refer to you as British. If I did not know this about you, if you were a stranger that I knew to be born in England, I am sure I would refer to you as English, without meaning any offense. (Not that being English is offensive -- only if you consider yourself to be British.)

And now I have a new item to consider: the Commonwealth. I will leave that for tomorrow's learning.

Feisty56 wrote on August 24, 2015, 9:28 PM

I had a feeling I wasn't the only person who didn't quite have the distinction down pat.

bestwriter wrote on August 24, 2015, 9:47 PM

Some relief to know there are those who do not know. Sometimes it is so confusing that one wonders for example whether Oslo is in Norway or Norway is in Oslo emoticon :grin:

Paulie wrote on August 25, 2015, 3:19 AM

I, too, must admit my ignorance. I always thought the U.K. and Great Britain were the same. And I was teaching my students in Thailand this for six years! Thanks for pointing this out!

Feisty56 wrote on August 25, 2015, 4:19 PM

I don't recall that geography was given much emphasis in school -- of course, I have had forty years since then to educate myself but have evidently done a poor job.

Feisty56 wrote on August 25, 2015, 4:24 PM

Happy to have helped. : ) Now I'm on to gaining an understanding of the British Isles and the Commonwealth. Wish me luck!

valmnz wrote on August 25, 2015, 4:55 PM

Confess that while I may live in a Commonwealth country I'm not sure myself. I'm far removed in more ways than one from the rest of the world down here. Just goes to show though, we're all on going life long learners. The teacher in me says Yay!

Feisty56 wrote on August 25, 2015, 5:23 PM

At least I wasn't alone in my ignorance of this topic. I felt silly not knowing something that seemed rather basic, but I do have any understanding of it now. Thank goodness we CAN teach older dogs new tricks. : )

valmnz wrote on August 25, 2015, 5:27 PM

But, now that I've thrown the British Commonwealth into the mix, do you understand that? emoticon :smile:

Last Edited: August 25, 2015, 5:27 PM

Feisty56 wrote on August 25, 2015, 6:35 PM

Actually, the Commonwealth and the British Isles are my next self-education process -- with what I hope will be plenty of input from those truly in the know.

Gossamer wrote on August 25, 2015, 9:55 PM

Just wait until you look into the Commonwealth Games (formerly the Empire Games). For all intents and purposes, it is open to all countries which were once part of the British Empire. For some unknown reason, however, Mozambique has been allowed in (never a British possession, only ever Portuguese or independent).

Gossamer wrote on August 25, 2015, 10:04 PM

I thought the island of Britain is (or was originally) called Great Britain to distinguish it from Brittany (the region of France also known as Bretagne), which was seen more or less as Lesser Britain.

buzymommy wrote on August 25, 2015, 10:40 PM

Don't feel bad! There is a website I've seen where the UK members were asked to fill in the USA states and it's hilarious what some of their responses are emoticon :grin: Most people don't know that much outside of their own little world :)

buzymommy wrote on August 25, 2015, 10:41 PM

I found the link :)

Paulie wrote on August 26, 2015, 12:08 AM

I just read your article on it, and it is excellent!

AliCanary wrote on August 31, 2015, 2:28 PM

I commend your act of looking up something you realized you didn't understand, as that seems to be way too much to ask of some people. That's the hallmark of intelligence--you may not know everything. You WANT to know everything.

agvulpes wrote on September 1, 2015, 8:34 AM

Great explanation and not so easy to get your head around! Then of course you have the British Empire or The Commonwealth of Nations etc.. lol

xstitcher wrote on September 1, 2015, 5:02 PM

You have some interesting thoughts at night ! ;)

lexiconlover wrote on September 30, 2015, 1:45 PM

Reading this backwards, means that I already know the answer a little better. Lol. Oops.