A shire is a traditional term for a division of land, found in the United Kingdom and Australia. The word derives from the Old English scir, itself a derivative of the Proto-Germanic skizo (cf. Old High German scira), meaning care or official charge.] In Britain, "shire" is the original term for what is usually known now as a county; the word county having been introduced at the Norman Conquest of England. The two are nearly synonymous. Although in modern British usage counties are referred to as "shires" mainly in poetic contexts, terms such as Shire Hall remain common. Shire also remains a common part of many county names.
In some rural parts of Australia, a shire is a local government area; however, in Australia it is not synonymous with a "county", which is a lands administrative division. Individually, or as a suffix in Scotland and in the far northeast of England, the word is pronounced /ˈʃaɪər/. As a suffix in an English or Welsh place name, it is in most regions pronounced /ʃɜːr/, or sometimes /ʃɪər/. (In south-east England the /r/ is dropped in accordance with normal regional phonology, so that (for instance) "Berkshire" becomes /ˈbɑːkʃə/.)
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