• Language: British
  • Alternate names:
  • Language code:
  • Language family: Indo-European, Celtic, Insular, Brythonic
  • Number of speakers: Extinct
  • Script: Latin script


British was an ancient Celtic language spoken in much of southern and central Britain, up to the central lowlands of Scotland. According to Julius Caesar, it was similar to the language spoken in central Gaul. It is not known when the British language arrived - times from the Neolithic to the Iron Age have been suggested. The language is likely to have been modified during the Roman period by the influence of Latin.

British was later replaced in much of Scotland by Gaelic.


British competed with Latin since the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43, at least, in major settlements. A number of Latin words were borrowed by British speakers. The Anglo-Saxon invasions several centuries later marked the beginning of a decline in the language, as Germanic languages spread through England and the south of Scotland. By AD 700, British was mainly spoken in Cumbria, Cornwall and Wales possibly together with parts of Scotland. Its descendants today are Cornish, Cumbric? (extinct, but reconstructions are being attempted), Welsh and Breton.