Town - Encyclopedia




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TOWN, in its most general sense, a collection or aggregation of inhabited houses larger than a village. The O. Eng. tun (M. Eng. toun) meant originally a fence or enclosure, cf. Ger. zaun, hedge, hence an enclosed place. The Scottish and Northern English use of the word for a farmhouse and its buildings, a farmstead, preserves this original meaning, and is paralleled by the Icel. tun, homestead, dwelling-house. A cognate Celtic form meaning a fastness, a strong place, appears in Gael. and Irish dun, Welsh, din, fortress, hill-fort (cf. Welsh dinas, town). This is familiar from the many Latinized names of places, e.g. Lugdunum, Augustodunum, &c. In English law "town" is not a word defined by statute. For purposes of local government there are boroughs, urban districts and rural districts, but many urban districts are rural in character and the distinction is purely an administrative One (see BOROUGH; CITY; COMMUNE (MEDIEVAL); MUNICIPIUM; ENGLAND: Local Government, and the sections on local administration under various country headings). The meaning attached to the term "township" in the local administration of the United States is treated under UNITED STATES: Local Government.

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