from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of, relating to, or being the British universities other than Oxford and Cambridge.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective of, or relating to a red brick university
  • adjective made of red brick

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective of or relating to British universities founded in the late 19th century or the 20th century


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[So called because many of the buildings of such universities were built of red bricks.]


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  • "Lacking prestige. The term usually describes universities. A redbrick university is one built in the UK after WWII, as opposed to the older prestigious institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge. The term is mostly used in the UK."

    - A.Word.A.Day

    January 23, 2008

  • Not quite, AWAD. Wordnet is correct. Redbrick universities are basically those built in England before WWII, with the exception of Oxbridge, UCL, and arguably Durham. Many of the original structures were indeed built from Victorian red brick. See Wikipedia.

    Universities founded in the 60's / 70's / 80's explosion in higher education, and initially referred to as polytechnics, are traditionally looked down-upon by redbricks, just as redbricks have been traditionally scorned by Oxbridge. So in the sense of education, this word has gone from meaning "lacking prestige" to somewhat the opposite. To graduate from a redbrick university is comparatively respectable these days.

    January 23, 2008

  • Oh dear. Is this the start of a Wikipedia-A.Word.A.Day smackdown? I'll get the popcorn!

    January 23, 2008

  • I associate the term redbrick with the University of Reading. Which is well-regarded, and was given its charter between the two world wars. Suggesting that AWAD is indeed off the mark on this one.

    January 23, 2008

  • Reading is a redbrick, although one of the shabbier ones.

    January 23, 2008