\ ˈshī(-ə)r How to pronounce shire (audio) , 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 How to pronounce Shire (audio) , 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 Vengeful Christians took possession of Jewish property and lands, acquiring their wealth and driving them from hearth and shire. Talia Lavin, The New Republic, "QAnon, Blood Libel, and the Satanic Panic," 29 Sep. 2020 Within that is a wide array of sounds, from the happiness of the shire to the second film’s stunning battle to the arrival of Gollum. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, "40 greatest film scores of all time," 6 Sep. 2020 The party has deep roots in the shires and has traditionally supported country pursuits. The Economist, "British farmers fret about losing their protection and their subsidies," 27 Feb. 2020 That is why, a century after Schweppes’s innovation, to quaff a gin-and-tonic on a summer’s day, in the well-to-do shires of England, was no less nostalgic than refreshing. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "The Intoxicating History of Gin," 2 Dec. 2019 The historic Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye was once a sleepy shire, home to a few hundred people who by and large made their living farming sheep. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "The Man Who Transformed a Welsh Town Into a ‘Kingdom’ of Used Books," 29 Aug. 2019 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 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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Time Traveler for shire

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

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Cite this Entry

“Shire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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How to pronounce Shire (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of shire

British : a county in England
: a type of tall, strong horse used for pulling heavy loads

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