\ˈshī(-ə)r, in place-​name compounds ˌshir, shər\

Definition of shire 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an administrative subdivision especially : a county in England

2 : any of an old breed of large heavy draft horses of British origin having heavily feathered legs


geographical name
Shi·​re | \ˈshē-(ˌ)rā, ˈshir-ē\

Definition of Shire (Entry 2 of 2)

river 250 miles (400 kilometers) long in southern Malawi and central Mozambique flowing from Lake Malawi south into the Zambezi River

Illustration of shire

Illustration of shire


shire 2

In the meaning defined above

Examples of shire in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Since its inception, in ninth-century England—when the sheriff was called the shire reeve, or county guardian—the office has been a kind of one-man government. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "The Renegade Sheriffs," 23 Apr. 2018 Just before Sheela’s departure at the end of April, the shire council in Pemberton rejected the Rajneesh plans for Karri Valley, and the Australian minister of education ordered the new Rajneesh school there closed. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, "Bhagwan’s Final Year," 12 Apr. 2018 Muslims, Dreher has suggested, could form their own shires. Sarah Jones, New Republic, "Rod Dreher’s Race Problem," 25 Jan. 2018 These shires will be free of birth control pills, and transgender people, and presumably Aaliyah; the hobbits will speak Latin and revere liturgy and their insularity will protect them from everything and everyone that could corrupt them. Sarah Jones, New Republic, "Rod Dreher’s Race Problem," 25 Jan. 2018 Like Frodo, these features are unlikely saviors of the system (or the shire). Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post, "What Frodo the Hobbit can teach scientists about protecting the planet," 10 July 2017 Glen Plaid Originated: In Glenurquhart in Inverness-shire, Scotland, where the checked wool was first used in the 19th century. Micaela English, Town & Country, "What Your Favorite Plaid Says About You," 14 Nov. 2014 Shire said the U.A.E. military base at Assab consists of an airport and a naval facility. Nizar Manek,, "U.A.E. May Fly Warplanes From Somalia as Africa Reach Grows," 24 May 2017 Everything is going so well that the town has reached out to New South Wales, hoping to get something going with the Australian shire of Bland. Ken Jennings, Condé Nast Traveler, "Boring, Oregon and Dull, Scotland: Sister Cities United in Tedium," 17 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shire.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shire


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for shire


Middle English, from Old English scīr office, shire; akin to Old High German scīra care

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Dictionary Entries near shire






shire ground

shire hall

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Time Traveler for shire

The first known use of shire was before the 12th century

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English Language Learners Definition of shire

: a county in England

: a type of tall, strong horse used for pulling heavy loads

More from Merriam-Webster on shire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shire Encyclopedia article about shire

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having a pattern of small flowers

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