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[sit-ee] /ˈsɪt i/
noun, plural cities.
a large or important town.
(in the U.S.) an incorporated municipality, usually governed by a mayor and a board of aldermen or councilmen.
the inhabitants of a city collectively:
The entire city is mourning his death.
(in Canada) a municipality of high rank, usually based on population.
(in Great Britain) a borough, usually the seat of a bishop, upon which the dignity of the title has been conferred by the crown.
the City.
  1. the major metropolitan center of a region; downtown:
    I'm going to the City to buy clothes and see a show.
  2. the commercial and financial area of London, England.
a city-state.
(often initial capital letter) Slang. a place, person, or situation having certain features or characteristics (used in combination):
The party last night was Action City. That guy is dull city.
Origin of city
1175-1225; Middle English cite < Anglo-French, Old French cite(t) < Latin cīvitāt- (stem of cīvitās) citizenry, town, equivalent to cīvi(s) citizen + -tāt- -ty2
Related forms
cityless, adjective
citylike, adjective
intercity, adjective
minicity, noun, plural minicities.
outcity, noun, plural outcities.
procity, adjective
subcity, noun, plural subcities.
Synonym Study
1. See community. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for sub-city


noun (pl) cities
any large town or populous place
(in Britain) a large town that has received this title from the Crown: usually the seat of a bishop
(in the US) an incorporated urban centre with its own government and administration established by state charter
(in Canada) a similar urban municipality incorporated by the provincial government
an ancient Greek city-state; polis
the people of a city collectively
(modifier) in or characteristic of a city: a city girl, city habits
adjectives civic urban municipal
Word Origin
C13: from Old French cité, from Latin cīvitās citizenship, state, from cīvis citizen


noun the City
short for City of London: the original settlement of London on the N bank of the Thames; a municipality governed by the Lord Mayor and Corporation. Resident pop: 7186 (2001)
the area in central London in which the United Kingdom's major financial business is transacted
the various financial institutions located in this area
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sub-city



early 13c., in medieval usage a cathedral town, but originally "any settlement," regardless of size (distinction from town is 14c., though in English it always seems to have ranked above borough), from Old French cite "town, city" (10c., Modern French cité), from earlier citet, from Latin civitatem (nominative civitas; in Late Latin sometimes citatem) originally "citizenship, condition or rights of a citizen, membership in the community," later "community of citizens, state, commonwealth" (used, for instance of the Gaulish tribes), from civis "townsman," from PIE root *kei- "to lie; bed, couch; homestead; beloved, dear" (see cemetery).

The sense has been transferred from the inhabitants to the place. The Latin word for "city" was urbs, but a resident was civis. Civitas seems to have replaced urbs as Rome (the ultimate urbs) lost its prestige. Loss of Latin -v- is regular in French in some situations (cf. alleger from alleviare; neige from nivea; jeune from juvenis. A different sound evolution from the Latin word yielded Italian citta, Catalan ciutat, Spanish ciudad, Portuguese cidade.

Replaced Old English burh (see borough). London is the city from 1550s. As an adjective from c.1300. City hall first recorded 1670s to fight city hall is 1913, American English; city slicker first recorded 1916 (see slick); both American English. City limits is from 1825. The newspaper city desk attested from 1878. Inner city first attested 1968. City state (also city-state) is attested from 1877.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for sub-city


combining word

  1. The place or milieu of what is indicated: hamburger city
  2. A prevalence or instance of the thing indicated: trouble city/ dumb city/ fat city

Related Terms

fat city, fun city, soul city, tap city, wrinkle city

[1930s+ Jazz musicians; coined on the model of the -sville suffix]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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