The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Shire \Shire\, n. [AS. sc[imac]re, sc[imac]r, a division,
province, county. Cf. Sheriff.]
1. A portion of Great Britain originally under the
supervision of an earl; a territorial division, usually
identical with a county, but sometimes limited to a
smaller district; as, Wiltshire, Yorkshire, Richmondshire,
An indefinite number of these hundreds make up a
county or shire. --Blackstone.
2. A division of a State, embracing several contiguous
townships; a county. [U. S.]
Note: Shire is commonly added to the specific designation of
a county as a part of its name; as, Yorkshire instead
of York shire, or the shire of York; Berkshire instead
of Berks shire. Such expressions as the county of
Yorkshire, which in a strict sense are tautological,
are used in England. In the United States the composite
word is sometimes the only name of a county; as,
Berkshire county, as it is called in Massachusetts,
instead of Berks county, as in Pensylvania.
The Tyne, Tees, Humber, Wash, Yare, Stour, and
Thames separate the counties of Northumberland,
Durham, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, etc. --Encyc.
Knight of the shire. See under Knight.
Shire clerk, an officer of a county court; also, an under
Shire mote (Old. Eng. Law), the county court; sheriff's
turn, or court. [Obs.] --Cowell. --Blackstone.
Shire reeve (Old Eng. Law), the reeve, or bailiff, of a
shire; a sheriff. --Burrill.
Shire town, the capital town of a county; a county town.
Shire wick, a county; a shire. [Obs.] --Holland.