a sovereign state consisting of an autonomous city with its dependencies.

1890–95 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
a state consisting of a sovereign city and its dependencies. Among the most famous are the great independent cities of the ancient world, such as Athens, Sparta, Carthage, Thebes, Corinth, and Rome

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Example sentences
The word finance is a slavish word, unknown in the city-state.
Discusses the island-based city-state's management of forests on the mainland.
While oil revenues fueled its early development, now trade and tourism power
  this city-state's phenomenal growth rate.
The sorrowful satchel was the mascot of a citizens' rebellion against a
  proposed school restructuring in the city-state.
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