Share this entry

burgh Syllabification: burgh
Pronunciation: /bərɡ/ /ˈbərə/

Definition of burgh in English:


historical or Scottish
A borough or chartered town.
Example sentences
  • Towns could be burghs of barony under a feudal superior.
  • Edinburgh and Aberdeen had less of a problem and so less despoliation took place, but Dundee and smaller towns, such as Falkirk and other burghs in the central industrial belt, were badly hit by this municipal vandalism.
  • Other exceptions to the practice of primogeniture included burghs and the county of Kent, where an alternative system of inheritance existed, known as gavelkind, under which land was divided equally between all sons.


Late Middle English: Scots form of borough.

  • borough from Old English:

    The early words burg and burh meant ‘a fortress’. Later they became ‘a fortified town’ and eventually ‘town’, ‘district’. Burgh is a Scots form. Burgher (mid 16th century) meaning ‘inhabitant of a borough’ was reinforced by Dutch burger, from burg ‘castle’. Bourgeois (late 17th century) adopted from French (from late Latin burgus ‘castle’) is related. An animal's defensive place, its burrow (Middle English) is a variant of borough.



Pronunciation: /ˈbərɡəl/
Example sentences
  • The shires, initially tied into the burghal towns for defensive purposes, evolved in the tenth and eleventh centuries into complex legal and commercial provinces, and began increasingly to function as urban hinterlands.
  • The landholders in these ‘burghal districts’ were charged with providing the men necessary to maintain and garrison the burghs, on the basis of one man from every hide of their land.
  • The reconstruction of the burghal system that was set up after 920 is a complex matter.

Words that rhyme with burgh

borough, Burra, curragh, demurrer, thorough

Definition of burgh in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day innocuous
Pronunciation: ɪˈnɒkjʊəs
not harmful or offensive