Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/City
CITY. This word, derived through the French cité from the Latin civitas, is used in England with consider able laxity as little more than a synonym for town ; while at the same time there is a kind of traditional feeling of dignity connected with it. It was maintained by Coke and Blackstone that a city is a town incorporate which is or has been the see of a bishop ; and this opinion has been very generally adopted since. It does not correspond, how ever, with actual English usage ; for Westminster, on the one hand, is called a city though it has no corporation ; and Thetford, Sherbourne, and Dorchester are never so designated though they are regularly incorporated and were once episcopal sees. It is true, indeed, that the actual sees in the country all have a formal right to the title, and that Westminster is the only place without a bishop that has the same claim. In the United States, where the ecclesiastical distinction does not exist, the application of the term depends on the kind and extent of the municipal privileges possessed by the corporations, and charters are given raising from the rank of town to that of city. This use of the word is much more in keeping with its deriva tion, which leads the mind back to the idea of the social life and corporate action of a body of freemen ; and it also agrees better with sush classical English phrases as " a free city," an imperial city. Both in France and in England the word is popularly used to distinguish the older and central nucleus of some of the larger towns such as London and Paris. The history of the rise of cities and towns has been given in the article Borough.