From Middle English borwe, borgh, burgh, buruh, from Old English burh, from Proto-Germanic *burgz (“stronghold, city”). Cognate with Dutch burcht, German Burg, Swedish borg, French bourg, Persian بور (bur).
borough (plural boroughs)
- (obsolete) A fortified town.
- (rare) A town or city.
- A town having a municipal corporation and certain traditional rights.
- An administrative district in some cities, e.g., London.
1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 7, in The China Governess:
- The highway to the East Coast which ran through the borough of Ebbfield had always been a main road and even now, despite the vast garages, the pylons and the gaily painted factory glasshouses which had sprung up beside it, there still remained an occasional trace of past cultures.
- An administrative unit of a city which, under most circumstances according to state or national law, would be considered a larger or more powerful entity; most commonly used in American English to define the five counties that make up New York City.
- Other similar administrative units in cities and states in various parts of the world.
- A district in Alaska having powers similar to a county.
- (historical, Britain, law) An association of men who gave pledges or sureties to the king for the good behaviour of each other.
- (historical, Britain, law) The pledge or surety thus given.
Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for borough in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)