List of counties in the United Kingdom

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This list shows the etymology of the names of the counties in the United Kingdom . It includes traditional counties and administrative counties .

Note: The commonly used word shire comes from Old English and means "administrative district".


county Language of origin meaning
Avon British Named after the River Avon ( Avon means river in British )
Bedfordshire Old English Shire of Bedford : Ford of the Bieda
Berkshire British Hilly area (+ shire)
Buckinghamshire Old English Shire of Buckingham : home of the Bucca
Cambridgeshire Old English Shire of Cambridge : Bridge on the River Cam ( Cam is a derivation of the word Granta , the origin of which is disputed). The town was formerly called Grantbridge , which means Bridge on the Granta , but the county has always been known as Cambridgeshire.
Cheshire Old English / Latin Shire of Chester (after the Roman city name " Castra Devana")
Cleveland Old English Cliff land
Cornwall British /
Old English
Land of the British Cornovii Tribe ( People of the Peninsula )
Cumberland Old English Region of the Cambrian Britons
Cumbria Welsh Territory of the Cymry ( Cymry was the British word for the Britons of that region, similar to 'Cymru' ( Wales ))
Derbyshire Old Norse Shire from Derby : Animal Village
Devon British Territory of the Dumnonians (the name of this Celtic tribe is of unknown origin)
Dorset Old English Dorchester Settlement : Roman city ​​of Durnovaria ( Durnovaria is British and means place with fist-sized pebbles )
County Durham Old Norse from Dunholme : island with a hill
Essex Old English East Saxony
Gloucestershire Old English / Latin Shire of Gloucester : Roman city ​​of Glevum ( Glevum means light place in British ) + Latin castrum
Hampshire Old English Formerly known as 'Southamptonshire', meaning is 'shire of Southampton ': southern city of Hamo ( Hamo refers to an Anglo-Saxon conqueror and settler of the 5th century)
Hereford and Worcester English Combination of Herefordshire and Worcestershire
Herefordshire Old English Shire of Hereford : A ford that is suitable for an army to cross (see also the German city of Herford )
Hertfordshire Old English Hertford Shire : ford used by deer
Humberside English Next to the River Humber ( Humber is a British word of unknown origin)
Huntingdonshire Old English Shire of Huntingdon : Hill of the Hunta
Isle of Wight English /
Island at the place of division
Kent British Land of the Cantii or Cantiaci: the name of a Celtic tribe meaning white, bright
Lancashire Old English / Latin Shire of Lancaster : Roman fort ( castrum ) on the River Lune ( Lune is a British word and means pure )
Leicestershire Old English / Latin Shire of Leicester : Roman city ​​or army camp ( castrum ), named after the Ligore people ( Ligore is a Celtic tribal name of unknown origin)
Lincolnshire British /
Shire of Lincoln : Roman Colony of Lindum Colonia
Greater Manchester English /
British /
Greater Manchester County : Roman city ​​( castrum ) near Mamm ( Mamm was the British name of Manchester and means breast-shaped hill )
Merseyside English Next to the River Mersey ( Mersey is an Old English word meaning border river )
Middlesex Old English Central Saxony
Norfolk Old English Northern people
Northamptonshire Old English Northampton Shire : North Homestead
Northumberland Old English Land of the people who live north of the River Humber ( Humber is a British word of unknown origin)
Nottinghamshire Old English Shire of Nottingham : Home of the Snot ( Anglo-Saxon proper name)
Oxfordshire Old English Shire of Oxford : Ochsenfurt (see also the German city of this name)
Rutland Old English Land of the Rota
Shropshire Old English Shire of Shrewsbury : paved place by the scrub ( scrub )
Somerset Old English Somerton Settlers: Farm used in summer
Staffordshire Old English Shire of Stafford : ford at an anchorage
Suffolk Old English Southern people
Surrey Old English Southern District
Sussex Old English South Saxony
Tyne and Wear English Area between the rivers Tyne and Wear ( Tyne is an alternate British word for river , Wear is a British word meaning water )
Warwickshire Old English Shire of Warwick : Weir Settlements
West Midlands English Western central region
Westmorland Old English District west of the moors
Wiltshire Old English Shire of Wilton : farm where willow trees grow
Worcestershire Old English / Latin Shire of Worcester : Roman city ​​( castrum ) of the tribe of the Weogora ( Weogora is a British name meaning from the meandering river )
Yorkshire British /
Old Norse
Shire of York : Originally a British word meaning yew , which was misunderstood by the English and Vikings and was given the meaning of wild boar settlement. They derived the name Jorvik from it, which means wild boar mouth .

Northern Ireland

county Language of origin meaning
Antrim Irish Detached house
Armagh Irish Macha hill
Down Irish Downpatrick County : Patrick's Fort (originally Dún Lethglaise or Fort on the Brook )
Fermanagh Irish Men of the tribe of Manaigh
Londonderry or Derry English /
Irish Derry means oak grove . The name London was added to the place and county in the 17th century by Protestant settlers from London. Its use has long been controversial, so that both forms of name are often used in parallel.
Tyrone Irish Land of Eoghain


county Language of origin meaning
Aberdeenshire Pictish Shire of Aberdeen : mouth of the river Dee ( Dee refers to the Celtic goddess Devona ) But means mouth in the Gaelic language, and Dee is the river. See also the Nordic Inver .
Angus Pictish Oengus , King of the Picts in the 8th century
Argyll Gaelic Coastal area of ​​the Gaels
Ayrshire Gaelic Shire on the River Ayr
Banffshire Gaelic Shire from Banff : Piglet
Berwickshire Old English Shire of Berwick : Barley Farm
Buteshire Gaelic Fire
Caithness Old Norse Foothills of the cats
Clackmannanshire Welsh Shire of Clackmannan : Stone of Manau ( Manau is a word of unknown origin)
Cromartyshire Gaelic Shire from Cromarty : Means probably crooked
Dumfriesshire Gaelic Shire from Dumfries : Fort of the Frisians (the origin of Frisians is unknown, but the word is believed to mean curly , as in curly hair)
Dunbartonshire Old English (Previously written 'Dumbartonshire') Shire of Dumbarton : City of Dunbar (after Hugh Dunbar )
East Lothian Gaelic Place of Leudonus
Fife Pictish Location of the fib
Inverness-shire Gaelic Shire of Inverness : mouth of the River Ness ( Ness comes from the Old Norse näs (nose), which also means isthmus )
Kincardineshire Gaelic /
Shire from Kincardine : Head of the corpse
Kinross-shire Gaelic Shire of Kinross : End of the Promontory
Kirkcudbrightshire Old Norse Shire of Kirkcudbright : Church of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne
Lanarkshire Welsh Shire from Lanark : (location in) the clearing
Midlothian Gaelic Place of Leudonus
Morayshire British Shire of Moray : marine settlement
Nairnshire British Shire of Nairn : Invading River
Orkney Old English Islands of the Orkos ( Orkos probably comes from a Gaelic tribal name meaning wild boar )
Peeblesshire Welsh Shire of Peebles: place with tents
Perthshire Pictish Shire of Perth : Place by the thicket
Renfrewshire Welsh Shire von Renfrew : head of the current
Ross-shire Gaelic Shire of Ross: Moorland
Roxburghshire Old English Shire of Roxburgh : Fortress of the Hroc
Selkirkshire Old English Shire von Selkirk : Church near a hall
Shetland Old Norse Origin disputed but could refer to a person named Zet (Land of Zet)
Stirlingshire not known Shire of Stirling : meaning unknown
Sutherland Old Norse Southern country
West Lothian Gaelic Place of Leudonus
Wigtownshire Old English Shire of Wigtown : place of settlement

There is another name for each of the counties listed here:

  • Elginshire for Morayshire
  • Forfarshire for Angus
  • Haddingtonshire for East Lothian
  • Zetland for Shetland


county Language of origin meaning
Anglesey Old Norse Ongull's Island, official Cymric name Ynys Môn
Brecknockshire Welsh Shire von Brecknock : Land of the Brychan, official Cymric name Brycheiniog
Caernarfonshire Welsh Shire of Caernarfon : Fort across from Fon ( Mon is the Welsh name for Anglesey and is changed to fon after a feminine noun preposition )
Cardiganshire Welsh Shire of Cardigan : Land of Ceredig
Carmarthenshire Welsh /
Shire of Carmarthen : Fort at Maridunum (the Roman place name Maridunum means fort by the sea )
Clwyd Welsh from the river of the same name (Clwyd means hurdle )
Denbighshire Welsh Shire of Denbigh : Small Fortress
Dyfed Welsh District of the Demetae ( Demetae is of unknown origin, but describes pre-Roman inhabitants of the area)
Flintshire Old English Shire of Flint : place made of hard rocks
Glam organ Welsh Bank of the Morgan
Gwent British Trading center
Gwynedd Welsh Named after Cunedda , the founder of the Gwynedd royal dynasty
Merionethshire Welsh Shire of Merioneth: Place of Meirion
Monmouthshire Old English Shire of Monmouth : Estuary of the River Monnow ( Monnow is a British word meaning fast flowing )
Montgomeryshire French Shire by Roger de Montgomery
Pembrokeshire Welsh Shire of Pembroke : Land at the End
Powys Latin /
Provincial town
Radnorshire Old English Shire of Radnor : Red (river) bank