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

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 humour is well known for its use of sarcasm, dark comedy, and irony.[5] Monty Python was a famous British comedic group and some of the most highly regarded television comedies, such as Fawlty Towers and Mr. Bean, are British.[6]


Drinking tea is seen as a key part of British culture.[7] 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.[8] Today it remains a massively popular beverage. One survey of British adults from 2017 found that almost 75% of people who drank tea daily had at least two cups a day.[9] Research from a similar time showed that the UK had the 12th largest tea consumption per capita in the world.[10] Other hot drinks, especially coffee, have become extremely popular.[11]

Lack of emotion

The British are often seen as reserved and unemotional.[12] This perspective has been bolstered by popular British phrases such as "stiff upper lip", which means displaying an emotionless and determined exterior in the face of hardship; "keep calm and carry on", which was taken from a motivational poster produced by the UK government in preparation for World War II; and "always look on the bright side of life", which was lifted from a popular Monty Python comedy song about persevering in the most dire situations.[13]


The weather in the United Kingdom is often seen as being poor and mostly consisting of cold air, heavy rain, clouds, and fog.[1][14] The weather is actually mild most of the time, but prone to large changes at short notice.[15] In recent years, climate change has caused the UK's weather to become more extreme with incidents such as heat waves, snow storms, and massive flooding occurring more frequently.[16]


Americans often joke about the British having bad teeth.[2] This stereotype appears to stem from a particularly American view of dental health in which artificially straightened and whitened teeth (sometimes referred to as "Hollywood teeth") are the healthiest,[17] but this primarily affects only the outer appearance of teeth and some evidence has shown that artificial whitening actually has a negative effect on dental health.[18] In reality, British teeth have been ranked as the fifth healthiest in the world, with American teeth behind in ninth place.[19]


Jokes are often told about British food being either poor quality or inedible. Historically, British cuisine was generally fairly bland since around the post-World War II period, but globalisation and mass immigration have caused it to become significantly more diverse.[2][20]


There is a common stereotype that the British are only able to speak English. This has some truth to it, as (like in many English-speaking countries) levels of bilingualism are relatively low.[21][22][23][24][25] 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 UKā€”even among those with immediate immigrant ancestry.[26] However, most British schoolchildren receive at least a few years of compulsory Spanish or French lessons. This used to happen during the first years of high school,[27] but teaching foreign languages at an earlier age has been viewed as increasingly important.[28][29][30][31]

Anti-social behaviour abroad

In some tourist-heavy European countries such as Cyprus, Greece, and Spain, British holidaymakers are closely associated with anti-social and violent behaviour, usually related to binge drinking.[32] Like Americans, British tourists have also been stereotyped as preferring to shout and talk slower in English when interacting with foreigners instead of making an effort to use the local language (see "monolingualism" above).[33]


  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. ^ "English Stereotypes: Fact or Fiction?". Tandem - Speak Any Language. 30 August 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  8. ^ "UK Tea & Infusions Association - A Brief History". Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  9. ^ "UK: average cups of tea per day 2017". Statista. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  10. ^ Smith, Oliver. "Which country drinks the most tea? The answer might surprise you". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Tea vs. Coffee | YouGov". Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  12. ^ Deacon, Michael (3 October 2012). "Ian Hislop's Stiff Upper Lip: an Emotional History of Britain, BBC Two, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Geddes, Linda. "Is being reserved such a bad thing?".
  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. ^ Mamona, Sheilla. "From Kylie Jenner to Kate Middleton: The most dramatic celebrity teeth transformations". Glamour UK.
  18. ^ "How dangerous is teeth whitening?". September 20, 2015 – via
  19. ^ "10 Countries Whose Citizens Have Healthy Teeth". Orchard Scotts Dental. October 16, 2017.
  20. ^ "Chicken Tikka Masala and its History". Analida's Ethnic Spoon. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  21. ^ "Oh, to be bilingual in the Anglosphere". New Scientist. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  22. ^ "British people 'least likely' to speak foreign language".
  23. ^ Nardelli, Alberto (26 September 2014). "Most Europeans can speak multiple languages. UK and Ireland not so much" – via
  24. ^ Worne, John (27 January 2015). "Language learning in the UK: 'can't, won't, don't'" – via
  25. ^ Paton, Graeme (20 November 2013). "Three-quarters of adults 'cannot speak a foreign language'" – via
  26. ^ "Languages in the UK". Multilingual Capital. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "Languages to be compulsory in England". BBC News. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  29. ^ Pisanu, Angela (22 January 2019). "Welsh pupils to learn new languages at an earlier age". Education Business. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  30. ^ "Most P1 pupils learn a foreign language". 11 February 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  31. ^ "learning a second language in Northern Ireland's primary schools". Queen's Policy Engagement. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  32. ^ "From Barcelona to Malia: how Brits on holiday have made themselves unwelcome". The Guardian. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  33. ^ Kampfner, John. "Shouting at Johnny Foreigner is no substitute for learning the lingo" – via