AskDefine | Define township

Dictionary Definition

township n : an administrative division of a county; "the town is responsible for snow removal" [syn: town]

User Contributed Dictionary





  1. The territory of a town; a subdivision of a county.
  2. In the context of "South African English|Pre 1994": An area set aside for non-white occupation.
  3. In the context of "South African English|Post 1994": A non-white (usually sub-economic) area attached to a city.
    • 1972, Daily Dispatch: "In addition, the council has completed the planning of a new Coloured township on the site of the existing African township"


territory of a town


  1. In the context of "South African English": Relating to a township.
    Township life
    Township music
    • 1970, Drum: The play is a departure from most musicals which treat township life as an unending song, one bout of drinking; one long knife fight.

Related terms

squatter camp

Usage notes

In the U.S., the term "township" refers to a division of a county, and may include one or more towns, villages, hamlets, or small cities. It may also be an administrative district for an unincorporated rural area. The exact nature of a township, and its role in local administration, differs from state to state.


1978: A Dictionary of South African English edited by Jean Branford. Oxford.

Extensive Definition

A township (or municipality) is a settlement which has the status and powers of a unit of local government. Specific use of the term to describe political subdivisions has varied by country.
The term township is a more common official term in English-speaking countries than municipality. In a number of countries (including Canada and the United States), the terms township and municipality are both used, with differing legal senses. However such differences are specific to the given country and represent no actual difference in the general sense of the words. Such a distinction is possible only in English-speaking countries, since other languages have only one word for the concept (Canada must therefore use canton for French-speakers instead of township). .
The existence of two English words corresponding to a single word in other languages is a common phenomenon due to the mixed Germanic and Romance origins of English. The word township is Germanic in origin, derived from Old English tún meaning "manor", while the word municipality is ultimately derived from Latin.

Uses of the term

Township (or municipality) is generally associated with an urban area. However there are many exceptions to this rule, especially in the U.S. In the Scottish Highlands the term describes a very small agricultural community, usually describing a local rural or semi-rural government within a county.
In most countries, a municipality is the smallest administrative subdivision to have its own democratically elected representative leadership.
The largest municipalities can be found in Canada and Greenland. Possibly the largest municipality in the world is Baie-James in northern Quebec, Canada, with a land area of 297,330 km² (114,800 sq. miles), which is larger than either Italy or the United Kingdom.

First-level entities


township in Arabic: بلدية
township in Czech: Obec
township in German: Gemeinde
township in Modern Greek (1453-): Δήμος
township in Spanish: Municipio
township in Finnish: Kunta
township in French: Municipalité
township in Japanese: タウンシップ制
township in Norwegian: Township
township in Polish: Township
township in Chinese: 乡 (中国行政区划)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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