Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there a certain size for each of these terms?

share|improve this question
add comment

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Historically in the UK. A village had a church, a hamlet didn't, a town had a market and a city had to have a cathedral.

Now it's decided by various local authorities so there were some new cities created recently, while there are places with a population of only a few 1000 (village size) which are cities because they were important in the middle ages.

Metropolis isn't really used in the UK - except for London, hence Metropolitan police (London's police) or the Metropolitan line (tube)

share|improve this answer
    
I can confirm that in the UK, 'Metropolis' is the place where Batman lives. Other than that it's a word that's hardly ever used. –  Danack May 5 '13 at 17:57
1  
@Danack I believe you mean Superman. Batman is from Gotham City. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  corsiKa Aug 14 '13 at 21:20
add comment

Here's the order as described by the New Oxford American Dictionary:

  • hamlet: a small settlement, generally one smaller than a village
  • village: a group of houses and associated buildings, larger than a hamlet and smaller than a town, situated in a rural area
  • town: an urban area that has a name, defined boundaries, and local government, and that is larger than a village and generally smaller than a city.
  • city: a large town
  • metropolis: the capital or chief city of a country or region, or: a very large and densely populated industrial and commercial city
share|improve this answer
    
could you associate prefectures with metropolis? –  MalsR Mar 27 '11 at 13:09
    
@MalsR: prefectures are the head city of an administrative division. Unlike other terms, which are mostly focused on population, this reflects an administrative choice of government. –  F'x Mar 27 '11 at 13:15
    
add: ... conurbation, megalopolis. –  Mitch Mar 27 '11 at 15:01
add comment

As to specific thresholds, no, just that they are relative (according to F'x's list). Such terms are naturally (i.e. in common usage) vague.

The only way any specific threshold can be made is by explicit authorities, set either by population size, area, or some other feature, and by some legal or authoritative fiat (a local government says place 'X' is a town, or my grandmother always used to call this a village). That is, in my part of the world, a particular place called a town might have much smaller population/area than a village in yours for very arbitrary reasons.

share|improve this answer
add comment

protected by RegDwigнt Nov 11 '12 at 22:48

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.