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Brexit Vocab

/ˈbrek-sɪt/

The term Brexit entered the English language in the year 2012 as a blend of British (or Britain) and exit. It quickly became useful shorthand for “the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union”, and has since spawned many variants and alternative terms, most of them humorous, some of them explored below.

BrexitBritish + exit

The word “exit” comes from the Latin verb exire meaning “go out” (ex- “out” + ire “go”). It is used in English as a verb and as a noun. Look at these example sentences using the term “exit”:

exit (noun):

  • Walk down the corridor and take the second exit.
  • England made an early exit from the World Cup.
  • Where is the fire exit?

exit (verb):

  • You can exit from the changing rooms.
  • The bullet entered his chest and exited from his back.
  • The actor exits the scene at this point.

Combining BRITISH and EXIT gives us the “portmanteau” word Brexit, which is always capitalized to reflect its part-origin as a proper adjective or proper noun (British/Britain). It quickly became part of the language and is widely used in colloquial speech, newspapers, television, Parliament, websites, books and more.

Look at these sentences using Brexit as a noun:

  • They debated the impact that Brexit might have on the City of London.
  • It is inevitable that Brexit will reduce the EU’s gross domestic product.
  • Brexit means Brexit.

But note that while Brexit is a noun, Brexit may also be used as an adjective:

  • They believed that Brexit negotiations would go smoothly.

At the time of writing, the word Brexit has not yet been seen in the wild as a verb.

Brexit was probably formed on the pattern of Grexit, coined earlier in 2012 to mean “Greek exit from the Eurozone“.

Varieties of Brexit and Other Variations

bespoke Brexit (noun): a Brexit agreement made-to-measure for the UK and EU, which does not simply copy and paste from trade agreements of other countries (for example Canada or Norway) with the EU

blind Brexit (noun): a vague agreement for a transition period without clearly-defined final terms (which would be hammered out later)

Brexchosis (noun): a feeling of despair among those who voted to stay in the EU

Braccident (noun): the possibility of Brexit occurring unintentionally, “by accident”

Brexiety (noun): a state of anxiety about Brexit experienced by Brexit opponents

Brexit (noun): British exit from the European Union

Brexit Day (noun): 29 March 2019 – the date of the official departure of the UK from the European Union (at 23:00 hours)—followed by a transition period until the end of 2020

Brexit concept flags

Brexiteer also Brexiter (noun): a person in favour of the UK leaving the European Union

Brexodus (noun): a higher than usual number of EU nationals emmigrating from the UK

Brexthrough (noun): sudden progress in UK-EU negotiations (hardly used)

Brino (noun): Brexit in name only

hard Brexit also clean Brexit (noun): Brexit

no deal Brexit (noun): Brexit without any final agreement

regrexit (noun): a supposed regretting of the decision to vote for Brexit

soft Brexit (noun): a watered-down agreement leaving the UK half-in and half-out of the EU

Possible Exit Terms for Other EU Countries

Many possible tongue-in-cheek variations have been proposed, such as:

Austria

  • Oustria, Outstria

Belgium

  • Balegium, Beljump

Bulgaria

  • Nullgaria

Cyprus

  • Byeprus

Czech Republic

  • Czechout

Denmark

  • Donemark

Estonia

  • Extonia

Finland

  • Finish, Fin-land

France

  • Frexit

Greece

  • Grexit

Ireland

  • Retireland

Italy

  • Quitaly

Latvia

  • Leavia

Malta

  • Maltalavista

Netherlands

  • Neverlands

Portugal

  • Portugo

Slovakia

  • Slovacate

Sweden

  • Swedone

exit (verb): go out; leave a place

exit (noun): way out of a building, room, airplane etc

blend (noun): a word made from two other words

spawn (verb): release and deposit (a lot of) eggs (of a fish, frog etc)

shorthand (noun): a type of rapid writing for taking notes quickly

portmanteau word (noun): a word that combines the sound and meanings of two other words

colloquial speech (noun):  informal speech or speaking

bespoke (adjective):  made-to-measure; created just for one person or thing

tongue-in-cheek (adjective): not serious; in an ironic or insincere way

Do you have any ideas for Brexit-type names for other countries? Feel free to leave your ideas, comments or questions in the comments box below.

See also:

Written by Joe Essberger for EnglishClub September 2018
Joe started teaching English in 1991 and founded the popular website EnglishClub for learners and teachers in 1997, followed by TEFL.net for teachers in 1998. He is author of several ebooks including English Prepositions List.

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