From Middle English town, toun, from Old English tūn (“enclosure, garden”), from Proto-Germanic *tūną (“fence”) (compare West Frisian tún, Dutch tuin (“garden”), German Zaun, Danish/Swedish tun), from Gaulish dunon (“hill, hillfort”) (compare Welsh din (“hill”), Irish dún (“fortress”)), from Proto-Celtic *dūnom, from Proto-Indo-European *dʰewh₂- (“to finish, come full circle”).
town (plural towns)
- A settlement; an area with residential districts, shops and amenities, and its own local government; especially one larger than a village and smaller than a city.
- This town is really dangerous because these youngsters have Beretta handguns.
2013 May 10, Audrey Garric, The Guardian WeeklyUrban canopies let nature bloom], volume 188, number 22, page 30:
- As towns continue to grow, replanting vegetation has become a form of urban utopia and green roofs are spreading fast. Last year 1m square metres of plant-covered roofing was built in France, as much as in the US, and 10 times more than in Germany, the pioneer in this field. In Paris 22 hectares of roof have been planted, out of a potential total of 80 hectares.
- Any more urbanized center than the place of reference.
- I'll be in Yonkers, then I'm driving into town to see the Knicks at the Garden tonight.
1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
- Judge Short had gone to town, and Farrar was off for a three days' cruise up the lake. I was bitterly regretting I had not gone with him when the distant notes of a coach horn reached my ear, and I descried a four-in-hand winding its way up the inn road from the direction of Mohair.
- (Britain, historical) A rural settlement in which a market was held at least once a week.
- The residents (as opposed to gown: the students, faculty, etc.) of a community which is the site of a university.
- (colloquial) Used to refer to a town or similar entity under discussion.
- Call me when you get to town.
1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 2, in The Celebrity:
- I had occasion […] to make a somewhat long business trip to Chicago, and on my return […] I found Farrar awaiting me in the railway station. He smiled his wonted fraction by way of greeting […] , and finally leading me to his buggy, turned and drove out of town.
- (law) A municipal organization, such as a corporation, defined by the laws of the entity of which it is a part.
- (obsolete) An enclosure which surrounded the mere homestead or dwelling of the lord of the manor.
- (obsolete) The whole of the land which constituted the domain.
- (obsolete) A collection of houses enclosed by fences or walls.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Palsgrave to this entry?)
- (Britain, Scotland, dialect, obsolete) A farm or farmstead; also, a court or farmyard.
An urban city is typically larger than a rural town, which in turn is typically larger than a village. In rural areas, a town may be considered urban. In urban areas, a town can be considered suburban; a village in the suburbs. The distinctions are fluid and dependent on subjective perception.