[ ing-gluhnd or, often, -luhnd ]
/ ˈɪŋ glənd or, often, -lənd /
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the largest division of the United Kingdom, constituting, with Scotland and Wales, the island of Great Britain. 50,327 sq. mi. (130,347 sq. km) Capital: London.


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is England?

England is one of the divisions that make up the country of the United Kingdom. England is the largest and most populous of the four divisions.

While England is sometimes referred to as a country, it is actually part of the sovereign nation known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly shortened to the United Kingdom or UK), along with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

England is by far the most populous of the four divisions, having over 56 million people in 2019. The next largest division, Scotland, had approximately 5.4 million people living there in 2019. England is also the largest in geographic size, being nearly 20,000 square miles larger than next-biggest, Scotland. England makes up most of the southern half of the island of Great Britain, with Wales located to its west and Scotland to its north.

The word England is often mistakenly used to refer to the whole of the UK. As well, the division between the national government of the UK and the regional government of England is much less clear than the same divisions for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. While the other three enjoy some degree of self-governance, England rarely does.

Why is England important?

The word England has been used to describe the southern area of Great Britain (usually not including Wales) as far back as the time of Old English. It comes from the name of the tribe known as the Angles, a people that once lived in much of what is now modern England.

The Angles are the ancestors to the Anglo-Saxons, who lived and ruled minor kingdoms in what is now England and Wales from around the 400s until 1066, when William the Conqueror invaded and conquered the area. All of the UK’s kings and queens since then have been descendants of William. Today, England is part of the constitutional monarchy that controls the UK.

England was an independent nation until the Act of Union of 1707 united the kingdom with Scotland to create the new nation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. However, England was the dominant member of this union and continued to exert its power, and some would claim it still does.

Did you know … ?

The current queen of England and the UK is Queen Elizabeth II, who became queen in 1952. She is the longest reigning British monarch in history, beating her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria’s record in 2015.

What are real-life examples of England?

Most people are familiar with England, although it is commonly confused with the United Kingdom as a whole and is often mistakenly used interchangeably with the name of that country.


Quiz yourself!

True or False?

England is an independent country located on the island of Great Britain.

How to use England in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for England

/ (ˈɪŋɡlənd) /

the largest division of Great Britain, bordering on Scotland and Wales: unified in the mid-tenth century and conquered by the Normans in 1066; united with Wales in 1536 and Scotland in 1707; monarchy overthrown in 1649 but restored in 1660. Capital: London. Pop: 49 855 700 (2003 est). Area: 130 439 sq km (50 352 sq miles)See United Kingdom, Great Britain
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 England


One of the countries of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. London, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester are in England.

notes for England

The king or queen of England is the king or queen of the United Kingdom.

notes for England

The name England is often used to refer to all of Great Britain.
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.