city

\ \ [13] The Latin word for ‘city’ was urbs (whence English urban), but a ‘citizen’ was cīvis. From this was derived the noun cīvitās, which originally had the abstract sense ‘citizenship’. Gradually it acquired more concrete connotations, eventually coming to be used as a synonym of urbs. It passed into English via Old French cite, and at first was used for any settlement, regardless of size (although it was evidently felt to be a grander term than the native borough); the modern distinction between towns and cities developed during the 14th century.
\ \ The Italian descendant of Latin cīvitās is città. A now obsolete variant of this was cittade, whose diminutive form is the source of English citadel [16].
\ \ Cf.CITADEL, CITIZEN, CIVIL

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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