As a Europhile living in England, it really bothers me when journalists refer to mainland Europe as "Europe". We're in Europe! But I appreciate that it offers a neat shorthand for referring to the continent.

Is there an alternative that doesn't offend my inclusive sensibilities?

2 Answers 2


The Continent

In the United Kingdom, the Continent is used to refer to the mainland of Europe.


A famous, perhaps apocryphal, British newspaper headline once read "Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off".


Derivatively, the adjective "Continental" refers to the social practices or fashion of continental Europe, as opposed to those in Britain. Examples include breakfast and, historically, long-range driving before Britain had motorways.


  • Does 'the Continent' include Norway, Sweden, and Finland? Although the parts of the former Soviet Union that join Finland to Poland are geographically considered to be part of Europe, they are often lumped into Asia, along with the rest of the former Soviet Union.
    – oosterwal
    Mar 10, 2011 at 23:48
  • In this usage, The Continent, notwithstanding the dictionary definitions of continent, may include not only the mainland Europe, but also European islands other than the British ones.
    – jsw29
    Jan 19, 2022 at 16:27

Continental Europe

Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands. Notably, in British English usage, the term means Europe excluding the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Ireland and Iceland.


For example, here in England you may have heard "continental breakfast" as a reference to the kind of breakfast that is common in most countries in Continental Europe: croissants, butter, coffee, etc.

  • 1
    as a _short_hand for "mainland Europe" this doesn't work, as it's two syllables longer...
    – Seamus
    Oct 4, 2010 at 12:15
  • Ok. I just posted a separate answer with the alternative "the continent".
    – b.roth
    Oct 4, 2010 at 12:37

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