County vs. Province - What's the difference?

Main Difference

The main difference between County and Province is that the County is a geographical and administrative region in some countries and Province is a territorial entity within a country or state.

County

A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposes, in certain modern nations. The term is derived from the Old French conté or cunté denoting a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of a count (earl) or a viscount. The modern French is comté, and its equivalents in other languages are contea, contado, comtat, condado, Grafschaft, graafschap, Gau, etc. (cf. conte, comte, conde, Graf). When the Normans conquered England, they brought the term with them. The Saxons had already established the districts that became the historic counties of England, calling them shires (many county names derive from the name of the county town (county seat) with the word "shire" added on: for example, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire). The Anglo-Saxon's "earl" and "earldom" were taken as equivalent to the continental use of "count" and "county" under the conquering Normans, and over time the two blended and became equivalent terms. Further, the later-imported term became a synonym for the native English word scir ([ʃiːr]) or, in Modern English, shire. Since a shire was an administrative division of the kingdom, the term "county" evolved to designate an administrative division of states (federal states like those of Germany and the United States) or of a national government in most other modern uses. In the United States and Canada, founded 600 years later on the British traditions, counties are usually an administrative division set by convenient geographical demarcations, which in governance have certain officeholders (e.g. Sheriffs and their departments) as a part of the state/province mechanisms, including geographically common court systems. A county may be further subdivided into districts, hundreds, townships or other administrative jurisdictions within the county. A county usually, but not always, contains cities, towns, townships, villages, or other municipal corporations, which in most cases are somewhat subordinate, or dependent upon county governments. Depending on the nation and the municipality and local geography, municipalities may or may not be subject to direct or indirect county control—the functions of both levels are often consolidated into a city government when the area is densely populated. Outside English-speaking countries, an equivalent of the term "county" is often used to describe sub-national jurisdictions that are structurally equivalent to counties in the relationship they have with their national government; but which may not be administratively equivalent to counties in predominantly English-speaking countries.

Province

A province is almost always an administrative division, within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman provincia, which was the major territorial and administrative unit of the Roman Empire's territorial possessions outside Italy. The term province has since been adopted by many countries, and in those with no actual provinces, it has come to mean "outside the capital city". While some provinces were produced artificially by colonial powers, others were formed around local groups with their own ethnic identities. Many have their own powers independent of federal authority, especially in Canada. In other countries, like China, provinces are the creation of central government, with very little autonomy.

County vs. Province

County

Table of contents

1. Etymology
          3.1. Usage notes
          3.2. Related terms
          3.3. Descendants

Province

Table of contents

1. Etymology
          3.1. Usage notes
          3.2. Synonyms
          3.3. Coordinate terms
          3.4. Derived terms
          3.5. Related terms
          3.6. Translations

County

1. Etymology

From Middle English countee, counte, conte, from Anglo-Norman counté, Old French conté (French comté), from Latin comitātus (jurisdiction of a count), from comes (count, earl). Doublet of comitatus, borrowed directly from Latin.

2. Pronunciation

  • (General American, Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈkaʊnti/
  • Rhymes: -aʊnti

3. Noun

county (plural counties)

  1. (historical) The land ruled by a count or a countess.
  2. An administrative region of various countries, including Bhutan, Canada, China, Croatia, France, Republic of Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania and Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  3. A definitive geographic region, without direct administrative functions.
    traditional county

3.1. Usage notes

  • In American usage, counties are almost always designated as such, with the word "County" capitalized and following the name — e.g., "Lewis County", rarely "Lewis", and never "County Lewis".
  • In British usage, counties are referenced without designation — e.g. "Kent" and never "Kent County". Exceptions are; Durham, which is often "County Durham" (but never "Durham County"); and the counties of Northern Ireland. An organisation such as Kent County Council is the "County Council" of "Kent" and not the "Council" of "Kent County".
  • In Irish usage, counties are frequently referenced, but like Durham precede the name — e.g., "County Cork" or "Cork" and never "Cork County."
  • In Canadian usage, counties are typically designated as such, with the word "County" capitalized and usually preceding the name — e.g., "the County of Two Hills". Occasionally, "County" follows the name, as in "Sturgeon County".
  • count

3.3. Descendants

  • German: County

4. Adjective

county (comparative more county, superlative most county)

  1. Characteristic of a ‘county family’; representative of the gentry or aristocracy of a county.
    • 1979, John Le Carré, Smiley's People, Folio Society 2010, p. 274:
      She was a tall girl and county, with Hilary's walk: she seemed to topple even when she sat.

Province

1. Etymology

Middle English provynce, from Anglo-Norman province, Middle French province, from Latin prōvincia (territory brought under Roman domination; official duty, office, charge, province), from Proto-Indo-European *prōw- (right judge, master). Cognate with Gothic 𐍆𐍂𐌰𐌿𐌾𐌰 (frauja, lord, master), Old English frēa (ruler, lord, king, master). See also frow.

2. Pronunciation

  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈpɹɑvɪns/
  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈpɹɒvɪns/

3. Noun

province (plural provinces)

  1. A region of the earth or of a continent; a district or country. [from 14th c.]
    • 1859, Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species:
      We should find, as we do find, some groups of beings greatly, and some only slightly modified […] in the different great geographical provinces of the world.
  2. An administrative subdivision of certain countries, including Canada and China. [from 14th c.]
    • 2016, The Guardian, 4 May:
      All of Fort McMurray, with the exception of Parson’s Creek, was under a mandatory evacuation order on Tuesday, said Robin Smith, press secretary for the regional municipality of Wood Buffalo in the Canadian province.
  3. (Roman history) An area outside Italy which is administered by a Roman governor. [from 14th c.]
    • 2008, Mark Brown, The Guardian, 28 November:
      He reminded his audience of events in 88BC, when the same Mithridates invaded the Roman province of Asia, on the western coast of Turkey.
  4. (Christianity) An area under the jurisdiction of an archbishop, typically comprising a number of adjacent dioceses. [from 14th c.]
    • 1838, The Churchman, p. 44:
      In 1309, neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor his suffragans would attend in Parliament while the Archbishop of York had the cross borne erect before him in the province of Canterbury.
  5. (in the plural, chiefly with definite article) The parts of a country outside its capital city. [from 17th c.]
    • 1937, The Guardian, 1 April:
      To-day the first part of the new Indian Constitution comes into force with the granting of a large measure of autonomy to the provinces.
  6. An area of activity, responsibility; the proper concern of a particular person or concept. [from 17th c.]
    • 1984, Dorothee Sölle, The Strength of the Weak: Toward a Christian Feminist Identity, page 37:
      Just as money is the province of the economy and truth the province of science and scholarship, so love is the province of the family (Niklas Luhmann).

3.1. Usage notes

"Province" is the generic English term for such primary divisions of a country, but is not used where another official term has widespread use, such as France's regions and departments or America's states. "Territories" and "colonies" are sometimes distinguished from provinces as unorganized areas of low or foreign population, which are not considered an integral part of the country. Sovereign subdivisions of a larger whole, such as the principalities of the former Holy Roman Empire or the countries with the European Union, are likewise not usually described as provinces.

3.2. Synonyms

  • (principal subdivision of a state): circuit, tao, dao, route, lu (imperial and early Republican China)

3.3. Coordinate terms

  • canton (Swiss); county (British); department (French); oblast (Russian); state (USA, Australian)
  • shire
  • territory

3.4. Derived terms

  • provincehood
  • provincewide
  • provincial

3.6. Translations


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