British Empire

  1. a former collective term for the territories under the leadership or control of the British crown, including those in the Commonwealth of Nations and their colonies, protectorates, dependencies, and trusteeships.

Origin of British Empire

First recorded in 1595–1605

Words Nearby British Empire Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use British Empire in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for British Empire

British Empire

  1. (formerly) the United Kingdom and the territories under its control, which reached its greatest extent at the end of World War I when it embraced over a quarter of the world's population and more than a quarter of the world's land surface

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

Cultural definitions for British Empire

British Empire

The empire of Britain, which began in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with the establishment of colonies in North America and ended in the twentieth century as dozens of nations, formerly British possessions, became independent. At the empire's greatest extent, around 1900, it included Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, vast portions of Africa, and many smaller territories throughout the world. The empire ceased to have an “emperor” in the late 1940s, when the British king renounced the title of emperor of India. The empire has been succeeded by the British Commonwealth, which was formed in 1931.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.