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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English city, citie, citee, cite, from Old French cité, from Latin cīvitās (citizenry; community; a city with its hinterland), from cīvis (native; townsman; citizen), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱey- (to lie down, settle; home, family; love; beloved). Cognate with Old English hīwan pl (members of one's household, servants). See hewe. Doublet of civitas.

Displaced native Middle English burgh, borough (fortified town; incorporated city) and sted, stede (place, stead; city).


Part of New York City, a large city with many tall buildings.
Despite its small size, Wells is a city because of its cathedral.
  • IPA(key): /ˈsɪti/
  • (North of England) IPA(key): /sɪtɪ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈsɪɾi/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪti
  • Hyphenation: ci‧ty


city (plural cities)

  1. A large settlement, bigger than a town; sometimes with a specific legal definition, depending on the place.
    São Paulo is the largest city in South America.
    • 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter IV, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 731476803:
      So this was my future home, I thought! [] Backed by towering hills, the but faintly discernible purple line of the French boundary off to the southwest, a sky of palest Gobelin flecked with fat, fleecy little clouds, it in truth looked a dear little city; the city of one's dreams.
    • 2014 June 14, “It's a gas”, in The Economist, volume 411, number 8891:
      One of the hidden glories of Victorian engineering is proper drains. Isolating a city’s effluent and shipping it away in underground sewers has probably saved more lives than any medical procedure except vaccination.
    • 2020 July 15, Mike Brown talks to Paul Clifton, “Leading London's "hidden heroes"”, in Rail, page 42:
      All our stations have changed. We have to constrain numbers. We have to mandate face coverings. These are massive changes in what is a public transport city. This is not a car city.
  2. (Britain) A settlement granted special status by royal charter or letters patent; traditionally, a settlement with a cathedral regardless of size.
    • 1976, Cornelius P. Darcy, The Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Lancashire, 1760-1860, Manchester University Press (→ISBN), page 20
      Manchester, incorporated in 1838, was made the centre of a bishopric in 1847 and became a city in 1853. Liverpool was transformed into a city by Royal Charter when the new diocese of Liverpool was created in 1880.
    • 2014, Graham Rutt, Cycling Britain's Cathedrals Volume 1, (→ISBN), page 307
      St Davids itself is the smallest city in Great Britain, with a population of less than 2,000.
  3. (Australia) The central business district; downtown.
    I'm going into the city today to do some shopping.
  4. (slang) A large amount of something.
    It's video game city in here!


Derived terms[edit]

Place names ending in City

Pages starting with “city”.

Related terms[edit]


  • French: City
  • German: City
  • Italian: city
  • Swedish: city


See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • "city" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 55.






  1. nominative/accusative/vocative/instrumental plural of cit



Borrowed from English city. Doublet of città.


city f (invariable)

  1. city (financial district of a city)

Derived terms[edit]



Borrowed from English city.



city n

  1. inner city, the commercial centre of a medium-sized or larger city
    Lite närmare city, i närheten av konstmuseet, ligger Norrköpings mest attraktiva lägenheter.
    A little closer to the town centre, next to the art museum, you'll find Norrköping's most attractive apartments.
    Det finns mycket att förbättra i vårt city.
    There are many things that need improvement in our inner city.

Usage notes[edit]

  • centrum is used for the commercial centre of suburbs and small or medium-sized towns.