Is “the size of Belgium” derogatory?

I have previously asserted that there is nothing derogatory in  comparing something to the size of Belgium (or any other country).  However yesterday’s opinion piece in The Guardian makes this surprising claim …

Seen from China or India, the difference between the UK and Belgium is a rounding error: 0.87% of world population versus 0.15%. But this is not at all how Britain sees itself – consider the popular derogatory expression “a country the size of Belgium”

The author does not provide any supporting examples of derogatory use and although there may be some examples, the majority of comparisons with the size of Belgium relate to either:

  • a measure of area
  • an exaggerative simile such as “I woke this morning with a hangover the size of Belgium”.

Leave a Reply