Word Origin & History
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.