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  1. a unit of local government, usually a subdivision of a county, found in most midwestern and northeastern states of the U.S. and in most Canadian provinces.
  2. (in U.S. surveys of public land) a region or district approximately 6 miles square (93.2 sq. km), containing 36 sections.
  3. English History.
    1. one of the local divisions or districts of a large parish, each containing a village or small town, usually with a church of its own.
    2. the manor, parish, etc., itself.
    3. its inhabitants.
  4. (in Australia)
    1. a small town or settlement serving as the business center of a rural area.
    2. the business center of a town or suburb.
  5. (in South Africa) a segregated residential settlement for blacks, located outside a city or town.

Origin of township

before 900; Middle English tounship community, Old English tūnscipe village community. See town, -ship Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples of township

Historical Examples of township

British Dictionary definitions for township


  1. a small town
  2. (in the Scottish Highlands and islands) a small crofting community
  3. (in the US and Canada) a territorial area, esp a subdivision of a county: often organized as a unit of local government
  4. (formerly, in South Africa) a planned urban settlement of Black Africans or Coloured peopleCompare location (def. 4)
  5. English history
    1. any of the local districts of a large parish, each division containing a village or small town
    2. the particular manor or parish itself as a territorial division
    3. the inhabitants of a township collectively
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

Word Origin and History for township

Old English tunscipe "inhabitants or population of a town." Applied in Middle English to "manor, parish, or other division of a hundred." Specific sense of "local division or district in a parish, each with a village or small town and its own church" is from 1530s; as a local municipal division of a county in U.S. and Canada, first recorded 1685.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper