ˈshī(-ə)r How to pronounce shire (audio)
 in place-​name compounds  ˌshir,
: an administrative subdivision
especially : a county in England
: any of an old breed of large heavy draft horses of British origin having heavily feathered legs

Illustration of shire

Illustration of shire
  • shire 2

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web While Bilbo, played by Martin Freeman, is enjoying a quiet life in the shire, the wizard Gandalf, played by Sir Ian McKellen, asks him to join a group of dwarves on a quest to reclaim the kingdom of Erebo. Catherine Santino, Peoplemag, 7 Dec. 2022 More recently, his works have also provided a fertile shire for nationalists who see themselves in his heroic archetypes. Jason Horowitz,, 21 Sep. 2022 To hear Cleveland’s brass, strings, and percussion was to be there on the battlefield with Aragorn, in the shire with Frodo, or in the molten depths beneath Saruman’s tower. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, 25 July 2022 The shire; the ring; the elves; the evil of Saruman and his minions: Over and over, Shore conjures these and other elements with musical wizardry equal to Gandalf himself. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, 25 July 2022 The shire covers 68,000 square kilometers (26,000 square miles). Rod Mcguirk, ajc, 21 Oct. 2021 Prince Charles came face to long face with Prince George on a day out in West Wales on Thursday — though this George wasn't the third in line to the throne, but instead a handsome shire horse who shares a name with Charles's 7-year-old grandson. Simon Perry,, 8 July 2021 From your grandparents watching telly in the deepest corners of the shire, to an agenda-setting chef religiously tuning in from central London each week, who couldn’t help but adore Nigella? Liam Hess, Vogue, 30 Apr. 2021 Vengeful Christians took possession of Jewish property and lands, acquiring their wealth and driving them from hearth and shire. Talia Lavin, The New Republic, 29 Sep. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'shire.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near shire

Cite this Entry

“Shire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


ˈshī(ə)r How to pronounce shire (audio)
 in place-​name compounds  ˌshi(ə)r,
: a county in England
: any of a British breed of tall draft horses

Geographical Definition


geographical name

Shi·​re ˈshē-(ˌ)rā How to pronounce Shire (audio)
river 250 miles (400 kilometers) long in southern Malawi and central Mozambique flowing from Lake Malawi south into the Zambezi River

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