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From The Great War 1914-1918

An informal slang term for Britain or, in many cases, England, used by British soldiers serving on foreign soil to describe home.[1] Used largely during the First World War, it's origins go back further to British India. It is a corruption of the Hindi word ‎vilāyatī, meaning "foreign," which in turn is related to the Arabic wilāyah, meaning "state" or "province." [2] The term "foreign" was used for foods and drinks not native to the country. One example of this was soda-water, which was commonly called vilāyatī pānī, meaning "foreign water." [2]

The transition from vilāyatī to Blighty was not an overnight one with British soldiers beginning to use it during the First World War, eventually coming into common use in France about 1915. It became popular in contemporary music with the popular songs "We wish we were in Blighty" and "Take me back to dear old Blighty, put me on the train for London town." [2]

References / notes

  1. Blighty Oxford Dictionaries, UK English. Accessed 27 July, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Blighty Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Accessed 27 July, 2016.

Glossary of words and phrases

The above term is listed in our glossary of words and phrases of the Armed Forces of Great Britain during the Great War. Included are trench slang, service terms, expressions in everyday use, nicknames, the titles and origins of British and Commonwealth Regiments, and warfare in general. These words and phrases are contemporary to the war, which is reflected in the language used. They have been transcribed from three primary sources (see Contents). Feel free to expand upon and improve this content.
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