Harrap's New Shorter French and English Dictionary, Ed. 1985 [Harrap's Shorter French Dictionary], points up adjectival "Anglican" as an Americanism for "English", and "Anglicanism" as an AmE equivalent for "Anglomania", i.e. an excessive respect for English customs, etc. source

Though RH, MW, WNW and the AED all validate the sense "English" of adjectival "Anglican" [of or pertaining to England, its inhabitants, or the English language] source source source source , I can't seem to find a US dictionary online to state the sense "Anglomania" of "Anglicanism" as fact.

Does adjectival "Anglican" actually have (or once had) currency in AmE to refer to what pertains to, or is characteristic of England, or its inhabitants, its institutions, etc.?

Also, is any one of you folks familiar with "Anglicanism" used -- apparently by analogy with Americanism (3rd sense source) -- as another term for "Anglomania"?

Even though I couldn't seem to find any sourced evidence of the latter, I got to find "Anglicanism" used -- by analogy with the most common meaning of "Americanism" -- for "Anglicism", or as a broad equivalent to "Briticism".


"Boffin" is an Anglicanism for researcher. source


Yes, I know, we Colonialists mispronounce "scone', but the OED gives Anglican pronunciation. source

Though staying true to the 20th-century Anglican idiom -- some Britten and even more Vaughan Williams (though quite a bit of French... source

If you insist upon using the archaic word vampir, I would appreciate if you would use the Anglican pronunciation -- "vampire"... source

Kevin doesn't mind this, and in fact he usually introduces himself to others using this Anglican pronunciation... source

"It's not our problem, lieutenant," he said, choosing the more Anglican pronunciation. [Starsky & Hutch] source

And the thick Anglican accent when he did answer "that would be nice unless you wanted to finish off what you brother started." source

To any whom speak colloquial Anglican/American... source

At least Russell Crowe was attempting a Northern vernacular, and can be forgiven for at least trying to incorporate Anglican colloquialisms... [Movies Stack Exchange 2014] source

It is an effortless read, barring the few Anglican colloquialisms that creep into every now and then. [Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone reviews] source

Dog farts. Ugh. We have a Staffordshire-Rat Terrier mix. These breeds are known as "fiests", which turns out to be an Old Anglican slang for fart. source

lummox: A clumsy, stupid person (1825 Anglican slang, root "lummock"... source


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    Nobody uses Anglican to mean English. – tchrist Mar 28 '14 at 17:13
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    Sounds like the three dictionaries are wrong then. Anglican is a Church, and not even an exclusively English one. Never heard of it used in any other sense. – Oldcat Mar 28 '14 at 18:03
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    Look, if you want to ask native speakers a question, you might as well accept their answers that it is as commonly seen as Hen's Teeth. Actually less rare, as I have seen Hen's Teeth before. Perhaps they are all copying each other. – Oldcat Mar 28 '14 at 18:17
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    @Patrick87: I don't begin to understand why, but this OP has a particular tendency to present (perforce, scant) evidence supporting non-standard usages, and try to get ELU users to agree such usages are "acceptable". – FumbleFingers Mar 28 '14 at 18:21
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    OED Anglican - In non-religious contexts: English. Now rare. – FumbleFingers Mar 28 '14 at 18:23

Whatever the multiple dictionaries say, they don't give an idea what people actually use.

At least to an American, you will sound very, very strange if you use 'Anglican' instead of 'English'. It may have once been a synonym for 'English' but isn't anymore.

There is some subtlety here, because the overwhelmingly preferred term for that Christian sect is called 'Episcopalian' in the US. The word 'Anglican' (for that church) is recognized but not the preferred use. But there is no subtlety to the fact that in whatever context 'Anglican' is presented, it always refers specifically to the religion, not to general English things.

Going through your examples one by one, to a native speaker they sound like malapropisms or, more bluntly, mistakes. For each example there is a perfectly good much more common term, namely 'British'.

So, yes, some Americans use 'Anglican' for English or British (see this question for further distinction between those two). We're all telling you that when they do, everyone else cringes. So if you want to pass the 'spy test' don't use 'Anglican'

  • You might want to consider this link, Mitch archive.thetablet.co.uk/article/16th-november-1912/30/… – Elian Mar 29 '14 at 13:26
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    NG: I think that letter proves my point more than yours. That letter was published in 1912 in a Catholic (religious) journal. So the letter was using 'Anglican' to mean English in the religious sense, namely the Curch of England, not generally English. – Mitch Mar 29 '14 at 13:58
  • To my perspective, that letter proves on the contrary that the term "Anglican" to refer to a thing characteristic of England as opposed to the rest of the English speaking world was seemingly not, back in the old days, as uncommon as one might think, and still might be in currency in some parts of the US. Look, it's relatively in common use on my side of the pond to refer to what pertains to, or is characteristic of Germany as "Teutonic" e.g. Teutonic art, or what roots from Portugal as "Lusitanian". Sure enough such adjectival terms compared with respectively "German" and "Portuguese". – Elian Mar 29 '14 at 14:51
  • That quote, sourced from Movies StackExchange, is from a 28 year old American: "At least Russell Crowe was attempting a Northern vernacular, and can be forgiven for at least trying to incorporate Anglican colloquialisms' movies.stackexchange.com/questions/17615/… – Elian Mar 29 '14 at 15:01

It's probably best to use English instead of Anglican (and Anglomania instead of Anglicanism), as Anglican is used to describe the Church of England, while "English" does not have this confusion.

Dictionary.com reflects this in its meaning for "Anglican":


1. of or pertaining to the Church of England.

2. related in origin to and in communion with the Church of England, as various Episcopal churches in other parts of the world.

3. English ( def 1 ) .


4. a member of the Church of England or of a church in communion with it.

5. a person who upholds the system or teachings of the Church of England.

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    I'm nowhere near unfamiliar with "Anglican" used nominally and adjectivally to a member of the Church of England, ASA it has the same meaning in France. However, "Anglican" used adjectivally as a synonym for "English" sounds unnatural to my ear, and so I wish someone could tell if it has or once had currency in AmE in such sense, and also could explain what the story is to it. – Elian Mar 28 '14 at 16:15
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    To my American (NE) ear, Anglican means a member of the Church of England, or of a more conservative Episcopalian church. That said, one might find examples of Anglican for "English" in American speech that I'm not aware of. – outis nihil Mar 28 '14 at 16:35

OED does note that Anglican has been used to mean English:

2. gen. In non-religious contexts: English. Now rare.

1871 J. Ruskin Fors Clavigera I. iii. 19 The quite Anglican character of [King] Richard, to his death.
1959 Amer. Lit. 30 449 The sources of future enrichings of the Anglican speech are the same old fountains.

Sense 1 is the “Church of England; Episcopalian” sense which Ronan has explained.

The two citations I reproduce are the latest OED has. Both are literary, and the last is (a) American — the English would not have used Anglican to mean English by the 1950s — and (b) very literary. In fact, out of context, the entire sentence is obscure.

I conclude that Anglican has been used to mean English, but is no longer.

A better word for Anglicanism nowadays might be Anglicism.

1. a. A characteristically English word, phrase, or idiom, esp. one introduced into a sentence in another language.

OED has citations for that word and use from the 1640s to after 2000.

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No one seems to have mentioned the prefix 'Anglo'.

'Anglo' is widely used. Some people are 'Anglo-Jewish', 'Anglo-Italian', Anglo-Indian' etc. We talk of an 'Anglo-Japanese venture', and of 'Anglo-dominated business practices'. The English speaking world is sometimes referred to as 'The Anglosphere'.

Whilst 'Anglican' is nowadays mostly confined to religion, 'Anglo' is alive and well as a prefix meaning 'English'.

This fact is confirmed by the OED.

  • The thing is the prefix "Anglo" is fairly common and easily perceivable by most people to not be confused with what is characteristic of the Amglican Church. This apparently is not the case for "Anglican". In one or two of my last examples, the sense to "Anglican" is actually borderline equivocal whether it is the religious or nonreligious meaning that is conveyed. :-) – Elian Mar 29 '14 at 0:23
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    @NourishedGourmet Do you similarly rule out, as being irrelevant to this discussion, words like 'Anglicise', Anglicism etc. which clearly are used by many Americans to refer to what is English? I am rather losing track of the motion under debate here. Is it entirely about the word 'Anglican' , used in a non-religious context? May I also ask if there is any reason why it is so important to you to establish that there might be some little corner of America where 'Anglican'is still used to mean 'English'? – WS2 Mar 29 '14 at 5:29

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