shire

From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Shire and -shire

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A map showing the historic counties of England. The areas in red are shires (sense 1.1) or counties with names ending in -shire, and those in orange occasionally have names with this suffix.

The noun is derived from Middle English shire (district, province, region; county; people living in a county or region; township or subdivision of some English counties; shire court; session of a shire court) [and other forms],[1] from Old English sċīr (administrative region under an alderman and sheriff, shire; district under a governor or official; status of an official, office) [and other forms], from Proto-West Germanic *skīru (district; status of an official, office); further etymology uncertain, possibly related to Latin cūra (care, concern; administration, charge, management; command, office), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *kʷeys- (to heed; to see).[2]

The verb is derived from the noun.[3]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

shire (plural shires)

  1. (British)
    1. (chiefly historical) An administrative area or district between about the 5th to the 11th century, subdivided into hundreds or wapentakes and jointly governed by an ealdorman and a sheriff; also, a present-day area corresponding to such a historical district; a county; especially (England), a county having a name ending in -shire.
      Yorkshire is the largest shire in England.
      • 1599 (first performance; published 1600), Thomas Dekker, “The Shomakers Holiday. Or The Gentle Craft. []”, in The Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker [], volume I, London: John Pearson [], published 1873, →OCLC, page 10:
        I thanke his grace he hath appointed him, / Chiefe colonell of all thoſe companies / Muſtred in London, and the ſhires about, / To ſerue his highneſſe in thoſe warres of France: []
      • a. 1604 (date written), Sampson Erdeswicke, edited by Simon Degge, A Survey of Staffordshire. [], London: [] E[dmund] Curll, [], published 1717, →OCLC, page 211:
        But thus I do conjecture it to be, That at the firſt Unitining[sic – meaning Uniting?] of the Heptarchy of the Saxons, and the Shiring out of the Kingdom, it vvas divided into Shires, and the Shires again into Hundreds, as it fell out, in ſome more, in ſome leſs: VVhich Shires (as I have ſaid) the King gave to ſuch as he pleaſed, and to their Heirs, to hold of him by an Earls Fee.
      • 1849, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter I, in The History of England from the Accession of James II, volume I, London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, →OCLC, page 113:
        In August, 1642, the sword was at length drawn; and soon, in almost every shire of the kingdom, two hostile factions appeared in arms against each other.
      • 1854 November 14 (date written), Nathaniel Hawthorne, Passages from the English Note-books of Nathaniel Hawthorne, volume I, Boston, Mass.: Fields, Osgood, & Co., published 1870, →OCLC, page 139:
        Mrs. Heywood tells me that there are many Catholics among the lower classes in Lancashire and Cheshire,—probably the descendants of retainers of the old Catholic nobility and gentry, who are more numerous in these shires than in other parts of England.
      • 1896, A[lfred] E[dward] Housman, “[Poem] XXXVII”, in A Shropshire Lad, New York, N.Y.: John Lane Company, The Bodley Head, published 1906, →OCLC, stanza 1, page 53:
        As through the wild green hills of Wyre / The train ran, changing sky and shire, / [] / My hand lay empty on my knee. / Aching on my knee it lay: / That morning half a shire away / So many an honest fellow's fist / Had wellnigh wrung it from the wrist.
      • 2016, Levi Roach, “Birth and Childhood: The Court of King Edgar, c. 966×9–75”, in Æthelred the Unready, New Haven, Conn., London: Yale University Press, →ISBN, page 26:
        The early history of the shire is hard to trace. Already in the ninth century it seems to have been the core administrative division within Wessex. Originally each shire was overseen by an ealdorman, who was charged with raising levies and perhaps also overseeing the local court (though the evidence is scant on the latter point). At the heart of the shire lay the local assembly (the ‘shire court’), at which such business was conducted.
    2. (by extension) The people living in a shire (sense 1.1) considered collectively.
    3. (by extension, informal) The general area in which a person comes from or lives.
      Coordinate term: hometown
      When are you coming back to the shire?
  2. (by extension) An administrative area or district in other countries.
    1. (Australia, often attributive) An outer suburban or rural local government area which elects its own council.
  3. Short for shire horse (a draught horse of a tall British breed, usually bay, black, or grey).
  4. (obsolete)
    1. A district or province governed by a person; specifically (Christianity), the province of an archbishop, the see of a bishop, etc.
    2. (by extension, generally) A region; also, a country.

Usage notes[edit]

After the Norman Conquest in the 11th century, sense 1.1 (“administrative area or district jointly governed by an ealdorman and a sheriff”) was generally replaced by county, a word of French origin.[2]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

  • Icelandic: skíri

Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

shire (third-person singular simple present shires, present participle shiring, simple past and past participle shired)

  1. (transitive) To constitute or reconstitute (a country or region) into one or more shires (noun sense 1.1) or counties.
    County Longford was shired in 1586.
    • 1575 December 26 (date written; Gregorian calendar), Henry Sidney, “Sir Henry Sydney to the Lords of the Councell”, in Arthur Collins, Letters and Memorials of State, in the Reigns of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, King James, King Charles the First, Part of the Reign of King Charles the Second, and Oliver’s Usurpation. [], volume I, London: [] T[homas] Osborne, published 1746, →OCLC, page 83:
      [I]t made no Matter, if the Countrie vvere never ſhired, nor her Majesties VVritt othervviſe curraunt then it is; for humblye he kepeth all his People ſubiect to Obedience and good Order; []
    • a. 1604 (date written), Sampson Erdeswicke, edited by Simon Degge, A Survey of Staffordshire. [], London: [] E[dmund] Curll, [], published 1717, →OCLC, pages 209–211:
      [pages 209–210] But vvhether it vvere ſo eſtabliſhed Egbert, Alfred, or Edvvard, vvhen they had brought it to a Monarchy, and Shired it out into parts, or that they vvere appointed Earls in every County, vvhich had an Inheritance therein, and had Juriſdiction, as by the County Court and Sheriffs Turns, it vvould ſeem it vvas: Is the Queſtion I deſire to be reſolved of. [] [page 211] But thus I do conjecture it to be, That at the firſt Unitining[sic – meaning Uniting?] of the Heptarchy of the Saxons, and the Shiring out of the Kingdom, it vvas divided into Shires, and the Shires again into Hundreds, as it fell out, in ſome more, in ſome leſs: []
    • 1889, Charles F. Keary, “Counties, The Irish”, in Sidney J[ames Mark] Low, F. S. Pulling, editors, The Dictionary of English History, London, Paris: Cassel & Company, [], →OCLC, page 324, column 1:
      The history of the shiring of Ireland is involved in more obscurity than the history of the shiring of England, though not for the same reason in the two cases. [] [T]he shiring of Ireland was purely the result of the English conquest.
    • 1998, James Lydon, “The End of the Old Order”, in The Making of Ireland: From Ancient Times to the Present, London, New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, page 160:
      In Ulster the great chieftains had become peers of the realm. The province was shired into nine counties, with sheriffs and the whole apparatus of English local government.
    • 2016, Levi Roach, “Birth and Childhood: The Court of King Edgar, c. 966×9–75”, in Æthelred the Unready, New Haven, Conn., London: Yale University Press, →ISBN, page 26:
      [T]raditionally the shiring of England is thought to have been the work of Edward the Elder and Æthelstan, and the appearance of the shire reeve is placed somewhat later; but recent work suggests that developments may have been more gradual, with shiring first becoming systematic under Edgar and his successors and the shire reeve emerging as part of this process.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ shīre, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Compare shire, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2023; “shire, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ shire, v.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023.

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]

Dongxiang[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Proto-Mongolic *sirexe, compare Mongolian ширээ (širee).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

shire

  1. table
    ijieku dunxila chukuide wo, yunjiku dunxila shire jiere wo.
    The food is in the cupboard and the things for use are on the table.

Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Old English sċīr (shire), from Proto-West Germanic *skīru. The final vowel is generalised from the Old English inflected forms.

Alternative forms[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

shire (plural shires)

  1. shire, district, county
    • late 14th c. Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales. General Prologue: 15-16.
      And specially from every shires ende
      Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
      And specially from every shire's end
      Of England they to Canterbury went,
Related terms[edit]
Descendants[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old English sċīr (bright).

Adjective[edit]

shire

  1. Alternative form of schyre (bright)

Etymology 3[edit]

From Old English sċīran, from Proto-Germanic *skīrijaną.

Verb[edit]

shire

  1. Alternative form of schiren