[ lahy-mee ]
/ ˈlaɪ mi /
Slang: Usually Disparaging and Offensive.

noun, plural lim·eys.

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for limey


/ (ˈlaɪmɪ) US and Canadian slang /


a British person
a British sailor or ship



Word Origin for limey

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

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