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[bur-oh, buhr-oh] /ˈbɜr oʊ, ˈbʌr oʊ/
(in certain states of the U.S.) an incorporated municipality smaller than a city.
one of the five administrative divisions of New York City.
  1. an urban community incorporated by royal charter, similar to an incorporated city or municipality in the U.S.
  2. a town, area, or constituency represented by a Member of Parliament.
  3. (formerly) a fortified town organized as and having some of the powers of an independent country.
(in Alaska) an administrative division similar to a county in other states.
before 900; Middle English burw(e), borwg(h), borogh, bor(u)g, bur(u)g, burgh town, Old English burg fortified town; cognate with Old Norse borg, Old Saxon, Dutch burg, German Burg castle, Gothic baurgs city; MIr brí, brig, Welsh, Breton bre hill, Avestan bərəz- height; akin to Armenian bardzr, Hittite parkus high. See barrow2.
Can be confused
borough, burro, burrow. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for boroughs
  • Get tips for getting around, including to and from the airport and throughout the five boroughs.
  • Even in the outer boroughs of polite society, nobody should walk away from a meal feeling miserable.
  • Shows the five boroughs and the neighborhoods within them.
  • Bats with rabies have also been found in all five boroughs.
  • Counties and boroughs were abolished and all boundaries were redrawn.
British Dictionary definitions for boroughs


a town, esp (in Britain) one that forms the constituency of an MP or that was originally incorporated by royal charter See also burgh
any of the 32 constituent divisions that together with the City of London make up Greater London
any of the five constituent divisions of New York City
(in the US) a self-governing incorporated municipality
(in medieval England) a fortified town or village or a fort
(in New Zealand) a small municipality with a governing body
Word Origin
Old English burg; related to beorgan to shelter, Old Norse borg wall, Gothic baurgs city, Old High German burg fortified castle
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 boroughs
O.E. burg, burh "fortified place, walled town, dwelling or dwellings within a fortified enclosure," from P.Gmc. *burgs "hill fort, fortress" (cf. O.Fris. burg "castle," O.N. borg "wall, castle," O.H.G. burg, buruc "fortified place, citadel," Ger. Burg "castle," Goth. baurgs "city"), from PIE *bhrgh "high," with derivatives referring to hills, hill forts, fortified elevations (cf. O.E. beorg "hill," Welsh bera "stack, pyramid," Skt. bhrant-, Avestan brzant- "high," Gk. Pergamos, name of the citadel of Troy). In Ger. and O.N., chiefly as "fortress, castle;" in Goth. "town, civic community." Meaning shifted M.E. from "fortress," to "fortified town," to simply "town" (especially one possessing municipal organization or sending representatives to Parliament). In U.S. (originally Pennsylvania, 1718) often an incorporated town; in Alaska, however, it is the equivalent of a county. The Scot. form is burgh. The O.E. dative singular byrig is found in many place names as -bury.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for boroughs


in Great Britain, incorporated town with special privileges or a district entitled to elect a member of Parliament.

Learn more about borough with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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