Definition of shire in English:



  • 1British A county, especially in England.

    • ‘From the battlements, she can look over a bend in the River Thames, across the treetops to Eton College and out over farms, villages and shires of Berks and Bucks.’
    • ‘I'm looking forward to the conference tomorrow, mainly for a chance to hear from more people from the surrounding Shires.’
    • ‘Plans to revive traditional shire county names has received a favourable response in Westmorland.’
    • ‘At first, they thought of moving out into one of the shires.’
    • ‘Labour will represent the rural shires and the Conservatives can try Sheffield.’
    • ‘What is lacking, however, is a map of all the counties and shires across the archipelago, given the number of references to them in Smith's narrative.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, he's enjoying the English shires - Essex and Leicester.’
    • ‘"This has been interpreted as a precursor to the demise of the three shire counties.’
    • ‘Sessions of the shire court were held under the jurisdiction of the Commissioners for each circuit.’
    • ‘The English shires will disappear and another bit of our heritage will be lost.’
    • ‘In three out of ten questions asked, Wiltshire was top of all shire counties in England.’
    shire, province, territory, administrative unit, sector, department, state
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    1. 1.1Used in reference to parts of England regarded as strongholds of traditional rural culture, especially the rural Midlands.
      • ‘I thought something similar happened with the Irish and the Welsh too, denied the prosperity of the ‘leafy shires of the south of England’.’
      • ‘But no matter what the perspective - from shocked reader from the shires to shrill debunker from the radical left - no one ever seems to say exactly what it is they're objecting to.’
      • ‘Its average member is 65 years old - mainly wealthy retirees concentrated in the rural Shires.’
      • ‘We have a lot of buildings that were built over 100 years ago and cannot compare with the leafy shires.’
      • ‘The shires are up in arms, with many staging a campaign of passive resistance, only prepared to pay reasonable inflation-linked increases to their bills.’
      • ‘Middle England still exists, life goes on in the shires as it has for many centuries, people still work hard, toil the land and protect the countryside.’
      • ‘Unlike the Tories who are a regional party of the English shires, we can truly say we speak for the wider community in Britain.’
      • ‘But this is what took place two years ago in the heartland of England's shires.’
      • ‘Chaps who came double-barrelled in girth as well as surname, their powerbases were in the shires and they had had a good war.’
      • ‘But my favourite adjective here is ‘all-night’ - in the shires, you see, people sometimes get home from a party before midnight.’
      • ‘Our fellow guests, two couples from the Shires, join us and soon the house party is in full swing.’
      • ‘There's even a polite cheer from the family from the shires who are sitting directly behind us in the stalls.’
      • ‘To have the tally-hoes of the English shires coming in droves to Ireland's hunting counties would severely disrupt the relationship between the hunts and the landowners.’
      • ‘Working, as I do, in the Shires, there are going to be patients who have strong religious views, and think ‘this is of the devil’ or whatever.’
      • ‘It looks like it's been written by a teenage girl from the shires.’
      • ‘In the bar you might find yourself standing next to a TV personality, a Bristol barrister, an Italian actress or land-owning couple from the shires.’
      • ‘True, you will have to charm the decrepit blimps and blue rinses from the shires into voting for you.’
    2. 1.2historical An administrative district in medieval times ruled jointly by an alderman and a sheriff.
      • ‘In the medieval period the shire was fertile and prosperous.’
      • ‘The franchises of the bishop of Durham and the earl of Chester stood outside the shire system of England and had a special independence.’
      • ‘The shire or county courts were the most important of the communal courts which governed all aspects of local life in Anglo-Saxon and Norman England.’
      • ‘England was divided into shires, or counties, which were subdivided into hundreds.’
      • ‘The whole system was run by a set of royal officers, the shire reeves, with individual reeves looking after each hundred.’
      • ‘The shire court and the sheriff are among the most important Anglo-Saxon legacies to later medieval government.’
      • ‘The Midland shires and the shires of the south-east Danelaw conformed to the usual English patterns, as did the East-Anglian divisions of Norfolk and Suffolk.’
  • 2Australian A rural area with its own elected council.

    • ‘Lennox is the fastest growing area in the shire.’
    • ‘In rural shires some councils need to be given a bit of leeway.’
    • ‘The first indigenous woman elected onto a shire council reflects on her years at the helm.’
    • ‘First elected as a shire councilor in the mid-1990's he resigned mid term.’
    • ‘The bushfire season has started early this year and local shires are already in total fire ban status.’
    • ‘And being a rural shire, that means a lot of driving.’


Old English scīr ‘care, official charge, county’, of Germanic origin.