Why British instead of Brittish?


Senior Member
Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
Is there any reason for British, Britain and Briton being written with one single t, instead of an expected double one?

Thanks in advance.
  • Why would two be expected? Because the vowel is /ɪ/ instead of /i/ or /ai/?
    The Old English name was Brittisc or Bryttisc, which in later spelling was Brittish**, misspelt British under the Latin influence of Britannia.

    The older name in the 'British' (Brittonic) Languages for their speakers was Brython < Brittones. The Bretons call their language Brezonek, and Cornish was once called Brethonec. All these imply an original *Brittonika.

    It is said that the -tt- spelling in Latin appeared around CE 49/50 - a full century after the oldest form in Latin with one -t- as Britann-

    ** British still rhymes with 'skittish' (two t's) rather than 'whitish' (one t).

    [See Morris-Jones, 1913: 4ff]
    Last edited: