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[lahy-mee] /ˈlaɪ mi/ Slang: Usually Disparaging and Offensive.
noun, plural limeys.
a British sailor.
a British ship.
a British person.
Origin of limey
First recorded in 1885-90; See origin at lime-juicer, -y2
Usage note
This term (and the earlier lime-juicer) was probably first applied by Americans to British sailors, used with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting. Historically, it also referred to a British immigrant in Australia. Later it became a more neutral nickname for any British person. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for limey
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We are a little mortary and limey at present, but we are getting on capitally.

    Reprinted Pieces Charles Dickens
  • A plasterer with limey overalls gazed at the wagon intently until it passed by.

    Watch Yourself Go By Al. G. Field
  • The same facts exist with regard to a loam, a calcareous (or limey) soil, or a vegetable mould.

    The Elements of Agriculture George E. Waring
British Dictionary definitions for limey


a British person
a British sailor or ship
Word Origin
abbreviated from C19 lime-juicer, because British sailors were required to drink lime juice as a protection against scurvy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for limey

1888, Australian, New Zealand, and South African slang for "English immigrant;" U.S. use is attested from 1918, originally "British sailor, British warship," short for lime-juicer (1857), in derisive reference to the British Navy's policy (begun 1795) of issuing lime (n.2) juice on ships to prevent scurvy among sailors. In U.S., extended to "any Englishman" by 1924.

Midway Signs Limey Prof to Dope Yank Talk ["Chicago Tribune" headline, Oct. 18, 1924]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for limey



  1. An English person: The ''Doctor'' was a lime-juicer (1888+)
  2. A British ship (1919+)

[fr the ration of lime juice given to British sailors as an antiscorbutic; the dated use for the first sense is strictly ''an English immigrant to the Antipodes''; the generalized term probably reflects the US use, ''English sailor or soldier,'' found by 1918]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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