Angles and Anglos

By Maeve Maddox

The word Anglo, like English, derives from the Latin name for one of the Germanic tribes that settled in Britain after the Romans abandoned their colony there.

The first documented use of the word Anglii is in a history of the German tribes by the Roman historian Tacitus (56-c.117 CE). The Angles were only one of several Germanic tribes that later settled in Britain after the Romans left, but it is their name that has given us the words England, English, and Anglo.

Anglo has various meanings, depending upon context.

Anglo as a Combining Form with a Hyphen
One use of Anglo is as a combining form to create compounds relating to England, Britain, or the English language. Here are some examples:

Despite its sentimentality, “The Bright Side” is expressive of real moral outrage, and founded largely on valid observation of the plight of Anglo-Germans during the war. —“Anglo-Germans” designates people of German origin who were living in England at the outbreak of the war.

This work examines aspects of Anglo-French relations since the late eighteenth century.—“Anglo-French relations”: diplomatic relations between England and France.

This book discusses the “Anglo-Italian” identity politics of post-Napoleonic British expatriates in Italy.—“Anglo-Italian” refers to people of English origin living in Italy.

Journalist Kris Griffiths was born to a Welsh father and Anglo-Indian mother.—“Anglo-Indian” indicates that one of the mother’s parents was British.

Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum belongs to the category of Anglo-Latin literature.—“Anglo-Latin literature” is literature from Britain originally written in Latin.

Anglo as a Combining Form without a Hyphen
These words are used as nouns and adjectives. Sometimes they are written in lowercase. Here are definitions for their use as nouns:

Anglophobe: A person who has a strong aversion or hostility to England (or Britain), its people, culture, etc.

Anglophile: A supporter or admirer of England (or Britain), its people, customs, etc.

Anglophone: A person who speaks English.

Anglosphere: A group of countries that maintain a close affinity of cultural, familial and political links with one another, notably, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Anglo as a Noun
In Canada, Anglo refers to an English-speaking Canadian.

In India, an Anglo is a person of mixed British and Indian descent.

In the United States, Anglo refers to a resident who is not of Hispanic origin.

Note: The hyphenated form Anglo-American can refer to a) relations between Great Britain and the United States, b) the culture shared by the United States and Anglo-phone Canada, and c) English-speaking nations in the western hemisphere contrasted with non-English-speaking nations.

Related post:
Anglos and Saxons Before England

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1 Response to “Angles and Anglos”

  • Jesse

    Anglo basically means ‘White’. The more white you are, the more you are described as ‘anglo’ in some countries. You could be an Anglo and an african, or an anglo and an asian, but it would be comparative to the other people you are around at least in my experience…

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