Definition of shire in English:



  • 1British A county, especially in England.

    • ‘Labour will represent the rural shires and the Conservatives can try Sheffield.’
    • ‘Plans to revive traditional shire county names has received a favourable response in Westmorland.’
    • ‘In three out of ten questions asked, Wiltshire was top of all shire counties in England.’
    • ‘I'm looking forward to the conference tomorrow, mainly for a chance to hear from more people from the surrounding Shires.’
    • ‘At first, they thought of moving out into one of the shires.’
    • ‘"This has been interpreted as a precursor to the demise of the three shire counties.’
    • ‘The English shires will disappear and another bit of our heritage will be lost.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, he's enjoying the English shires - Essex and Leicester.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sessions of the shire court were held under the jurisdiction of the Commissioners for each circuit.’
    province, territory, administrative unit, sector, department, state
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    1. 1.1 Used in reference to parts of England regarded as strongholds of traditional rural culture, especially the rural Midlands.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Its average member is 65 years old - mainly wealthy retirees concentrated in the rural Shires.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Chaps who came double-barrelled in girth as well as surname, their powerbases were in the shires and they had had a good war.’
      • ‘Our fellow guests, two couples from the Shires, join us and soon the house party is in full swing.’
      • ‘True, you will have to charm the decrepit blimps and blue rinses from the shires into voting for you.’
      • ‘It looks like it's been written by a teenage girl from the shires.’
      • ‘I thought something similar happened with the Irish and the Welsh too, denied the prosperity of the ‘leafy shires of the south of England’.’
      • ‘We have a lot of buildings that were built over 100 years ago and cannot compare with the leafy shires.’
      • ‘But this is what took place two years ago in the heartland of England's shires.’
      • ‘But my favourite adjective here is ‘all-night’ - in the shires, you see, people sometimes get home from a party before midnight.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There's even a polite cheer from the family from the shires who are sitting directly behind us in the stalls.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2historical An administrative district in medieval times ruled jointly by an alderman and a sheriff.
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘The shire court and the sheriff are among the most important Anglo-Saxon legacies to later medieval government.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In the medieval period the shire was fertile and prosperous.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2Australian A rural area with its own elected council.

    • ‘The bushfire season has started early this year and local shires are already in total fire ban status.’
    • ‘In rural shires some councils need to be given a bit of leeway.’
    • ‘Lennox is the fastest growing area in the shire.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And being a rural shire, that means a lot of driving.’


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