Definition of city in English:


nounPlural cities

  • 1A large town.

    ‘one of Italy's most beautiful cities’
    as modifier ‘the city council’
    • ‘So can we have some sensible ideas for developing our city centre and outlying towns.’
    • ‘Nearly every port city in the world has a substantial population of these rodents.’
    • ‘Still, for all our differences country folk and city slickers posses one commonality.’
    • ‘An influx of new shops and bars is set to bring the eastern part of the city centre alive.’
    • ‘Since then it has toured 73 cities in 32 countries and attracted over 7.5 million viewers.’
    • ‘She has been busy visiting cities across the country for the last couple of weeks.’
    • ‘But we do not accept this fate with the torpor of other city dwellers.’
    • ‘A torrent of people rushed from their office buildings throughout the capital, eager to leave a city under siege.’
    • ‘The survey ranked mainland cities in terms of their commercial competitiveness for the year 2004.’
    • ‘It is great to be able to follow all the events in your beautiful city as they occur.’
    • ‘Edinburgh and Glasgow were yesterday celebrating after being named Britain's top tourist cities for the second year running.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, I'm happy to leave the city of my birth at arms length for now.’
    • ‘The city centre is a beautiful mixture of old and new, all of it tinted in a reddish pink.’
    • ‘Was it in towns and cities, the countryside villages and shopping centres?’
    • ‘Of course we ended up staying and exploring Rome because it is such a beautiful city.’
    • ‘Stymied, city councilors considered other options including burning, shipping elsewhere and composting.’
    • ‘Suburban sprawl surrounds the two major northern cities of Inverness and Aberdeen.’
    • ‘The flip side of the coin is that hotels located in the heart of the city cost more.’
    • ‘Is it any wonder that our town and city centres are blighted with multitudes of empty shops?’
    • ‘His favourite is to take the city slickers out to see the Northern Lights.’
    town, municipality, metropolis, megalopolis
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    1. 1.1British A town created a city by charter and usually containing a cathedral.
      town, municipality, metropolis, megalopolis
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2North American A municipal centre incorporated by the state or province.
      town, municipality, metropolis, megalopolis
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3informal with modifier A place or situation characterized by a specified attribute.
      ‘the staff were in turmoil—it was panic city’
      • ‘Anyway this girl on Saturday was on her way to hot date city.’
      • ‘When we came out of the restaurant it was flashbulb city and you can't see a thing.’
  • 2

    short for City of London
    1. 2.1 The financial and commercial institutions located in the City of London.
      ‘the Budget got a stony reception from the City’
      as modifier ‘a City analyst’
      • ‘Rose, who is originally from London, used to work in the heart of the City.’
      • ‘He works for a bank in the City and set the website up a month ago.’
      • ‘Reaction in the City was on the cool side, as it also tended to be in Europe.’
      • ‘Whenever a house in W11 comes up for sale, it is paid for by millions made on Wall Street or in the City.’
      • ‘Originally from Ilford in Essex, he moved from a lucrative City job to New York in 1990.’


Middle English: from Old French cite, from Latin civitas, from civis ‘citizen’. Originally denoting a town, and often used as a Latin equivalent to Old English burh ‘borough’, the term was later applied to the more important English boroughs. The connection between city and cathedral grew up under the Norman kings, as the episcopal sees (many had been established in villages) were removed to the chief borough of the diocese.