Definition of country in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈkəntrē/

noun (plural countries)

1A nation with its own government, occupying a particular territory: the country’s increasingly precarious economic position
More example sentences
  • It is more than four times what all the European Union countries together spend on arms.
  • He also wants European states to slash aid to the poor countries that refugees flee from.
  • In some ways it seems like a better option for some countries to turn to democracy.
nation, (sovereign) state, kingdom, realm, territory, province, principality, palatinate, duchy
homeland, native land, fatherland, motherland, the land of one's fathers
1.1 (the country) The people of a nation: the whole country took to the streets
More example sentences
  • Let's leave motorists alone and concentrate on the many other problems within the borough and the country as a whole.
  • Incentives and discipline work together to secure a desirable outcome for the country as a whole.
  • Over the past 12 months, the country as a whole has seen a series of appalling incidents involving guns.
the people, the public, the population, the populace, citizenry, the nation, the body politic;
the electors, the voters, the taxpayers, the grass roots
informal John Q. Public, Joe Blow, Joe Schmo
2 (often the country) Districts and small settlements outside large towns, cities, or the capital: the airfield is right out in the country [as modifier]: a country lane
More example sentences
  • Then he said they had died in a gun battle with soldiers on a country road outside the capital.
  • Shoppers, workers and students we spoke to complained of the country roads outside the town.
  • It is vitally important that the people here are united in this thrust to depopulate the country area.
woods, back of beyond, hinterland, bush, backcountry
informal sticks, middle of nowhere, boondocks, boonies
Australian  outback
3An area or region with regard to its physical features: a tract of wild country
More example sentences
  • It is a wild and woolly country which drew me in and one that continues to find new ways to embrace me.
  • But his true appeal lies in his own personal evocation of wild country.
  • It was a wild, rugged country that used horses and carts for transport and grew wheat in their fields.
terrain, land, territory, parts;
landscape, scenery, setting, surroundings, environment
3.1A region associated with a particular person, especially a writer, or with a particular work: Steinbeck country includes the Monterey Peninsula
More example sentences
  • A farming family in Herriot country is offering death with dignity for all creatures great and small.
  • Once you arrive at D.H. Lawrence Country you can begin to enjoy the Lawrence countryside which he referred to as ‘The Country of my Heart’.
  • This area is also famous as Macbeth Country, and the The Birnam Wood, made famous by the witches' prophesy in Shakespeare's MacBeth, is on the south bank of the River Tay.
4 short for country music.


across country

Not keeping to roads: their route was across country, through fields of corn
More example sentences
  • We looped off the road and went again across country.
  • And really, he wants to date her, so he agrees to take her kids in a road trip across country.
  • Two-thirds of it will be on roads and the rest across country.


Middle English: from Old French cuntree, from medieval Latin contrata (terra) '(land) lying opposite', from Latin contra 'against, opposite'.

  • Country comes from medieval Latin contrata terra, meaning ‘the land lying opposite, the landscape spread out in front of you’. This is based on Latin contra ‘against or opposite’ and terra ‘land’, the source of words at terrace. A country fit for heroes to live in is a phrase associated with the British prime minister David Lloyd George (1863–1945). In a speech in 1918, he said ‘What is our task? To make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in.’ A person from a rural background who is unfamiliar with, and alarmed by, urban life can be called a country mouse. The allusion is to one of Aesop's fables, which contrasts the country mouse with the streetwise city-dwelling town mouse. In the fable each mouse visits the other, but is in the end convinced of the superiority of its own home.

Words that rhyme with country


For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: coun·try

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.