n [pl]
a traditional name for the counties in the English Midlands which have names ending in -shire (= an old word for county). Originally they were called this by people from southern counties which did not have -shire in their names. In modern times the shires refer mainly to counties famous for hunting, especially Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, where people have been using dogs to hunt foxes since the 17th century. Many British people think of the shires as country areas where people have old-fashioned attitudes:

Gay MPs may win votes in London but they wouldn’t stand a chance in the shires.

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Universalium. 2010.

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