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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — redbrick

Good evening Netizens...

April 04, 2013

Word of the Day

  • redbrick
  • audio pronunciation
  • \RED-brik\


: built of red brick
: of, relating to, or being the British universities founded in the 19th or early 20th century

The round-table forum brought four distinguished Redbrick professors to face off against four renowned scholars from Oxford and Cambridge.

"As the product of redbrick universities rather than the rarefied spires of Oxbridge, the Goldman Sachs oracle gives the impression of being a slightly hesitant candidate to succeed Sir Mervyn King at the Bank of England." — From an article by Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail (London), June 21, 2012


Although red brick is a perfectly innocent building material in America, the British usage of "redbrick" is often potentially uncomplimentary. "Redbrick" is a British coinage created to denote the universities which were newer and perhaps less prestigious than Oxford and Cambridge (and sometimes the ancient universities of Scotland). These newer universities tended to be constructed of red brick, rather than the stone used for Oxford and Cambridge, and were most often created in industrial cities such as Liverpool. Sometimes the term is also used to distinguish these universities from those built after World War II. Limited evidence suggests that "redbrick" may be developing an extended meaning of "lower-class" or "working class," but this is not yet established enough to merit a dictionary entry.


Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.