From Old French suburbe, subburbe, from Latin suburbium, from sub- + urbs (city). Displaced native Old English underburg, literally “sub-” or “under-city.”



suburb (plural suburbs)

  1. A residential area located on the outskirts of a city or large town that usually includes businesses that cater to its residents; such as schools, grocery stores, shopping centers, restaurants, convenience stores, etc.
    Coordinate term: exurb
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Numbers 35:1–2:
      And the Lord spake vnto Moses in the plaines of Moab by Iordane, neere Iericho, saying,
      Command the children of Israel, that they giue vnto the Leuites of the inheritance of their possession, cities to dwell in: and yee shall giue also vnto the Leuites suburbs for the cities round about them.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, volume (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: A[ndrew] Millar, [], →OCLC:
      These two circumstances, however, happening both unfortunately to intervene, our travellers deviated into a much less frequented track; and after riding full six miles, instead of arriving at the stately spires of Coventry, they found themselves still in a very dirty lane, where they saw no symptoms of approaching the suburbs of a large city.
    • 1818, Henry Hallam, View of the State of Europe during the Middle Ages:
      [London] could hardly have contained less than thirty or forty thousand souls within its walls; and the suburbs were very populous.
    • 1843, “Geographical Description of the Chinese Provinces.”, in An Historical and Descriptive Account of China[1], 3rd edition, volume III, →OCLC, page 37:
      Canton is by no means the only great city in the province. Fo-chan, a kind of suburb to it, about twelve miles distant, has been represented as almost as large.
    • 2007 June 24, Lau, Joyce Hor-Chung, “Hong Kong Is Reshaped by Mainlanders”, in The New York Times[2], →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 2015-06-05, Asia Pacific‎[3]:
      At the mountain’s base is the leafy suburb of Kowloon Tong. It has never been a big tourist draw, but in the decade since territorial control returned to China, this quintessentially Hong Kong neighborhood has had many more visitors — and important changes.
  2. (by extension) The outer part; the environment.
  3. (Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, UK) Any subdivision of a conurbation, not necessarily on the periphery.

Derived termsEdit