Definition: Country

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English contre, contree, contreie, from Old French contree, from Vulgar Latin (terra) contrāta ((land) lying opposite; (land) spread before), derived from Latin contra (against, opposite). Cognate with Scots kintra.


country (plural countries)

  1. The territory of a nation, especially an independent nation state or formerly independent nation; a political entity asserting ultimate authority over a geographical area; a sovereign state.
  2. A set region of land having particular human occupation or agreed limits, especially inhabited by members of the same race, speakers of the same language etc., or associated with a given person, occupation, species etc.
  3. (uncountable, usually preceded by “the”) A rural area, as opposed to a town or city; the countryside.
  4. Ellipsis of country music.

Usage notes

The geographical sense of "country" usually refers to a sovereign state, that is, a nation with no administrative dependence on another one, which is the definition adopted in most world maps. In a broader sense, however, "country" may also refer to nations with some degree of autonomy and cultural identity but still under the sovereignty of another state. Examples of the latter include Scotland, Tibet, Abkhazia, and Greenland.

Derived terms

  • back country
  • Black Country
  • country club
  • country code
  • country music
  • countryside
  • country-western
  • cross country
  • developed country


country (not comparable)

  1. From or in the countryside or connected with it.
  2. Of or connected to country music.


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