country

Definitions

General English

Cricket

  • noun the area of the field furthest from the wicket; the deep
    Citation ‘The amount of runs that can be saved or given away during two long inningses by a fieldsman in the country … is astonishing. It would do no one any harm to write up a memorandum of the fact above his bed [!]’ (Ranjitsinhji 1897)
    Citation ‘He was caught in the country one short of a hundred against New Zealand at Perth’ (Haigh 2005)

Military

  • noun land forming the territory of a nation or state

Politics

  • noun a land which is independent and governs itself
  • noun the area outside a town

Origin & History of “country”

Etymologically, the meaning of country is virtually ‘surroundings’. It originated in medieval Latin contrātus ‘lying on the opposite side’, an adjective formed from the proposition contrā ‘against, opposite’. this was used in the phrase terra contrāta ‘land opposite or before one, spread out around one’, and soon broke free to act as a noun in its own right. In Old French it became cuntree, the form in which it was borrowed into English. Its original notion of ‘area of land’ had quickly become narrowed down to ‘district controlled or occupied by a particular people’, hence ‘nation’, but its use for ‘rural areas as opposed to cities’ does not seem to have developed until the 16th century. The compound countryside originated in Scotland and northern England, probably in the 17th century.
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