Riding (country subdivision)

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A riding is an administrative jurisdiction or electoral district, particularly in several current or former Commonwealth countries.[1]


Word history

The word riding is descended from late Old English *þriðing or *þriding (recorded only in Latin contexts or forms, e.g., trehing, treding, trithing, with Latin initial t here representing the Old English letter thorn). It came into Old English as a loanword from Old Norse þriðjungr, meaning a third part (especially of a county), cf. farthing. The modern form riding was the result of initial th being absorbed in the final th or t of the words north, south, east and west, by which it was normally preceded.[2][3]

A common misconception holds that the term arose from some association between the size of the district and the distance that can be covered on horseback in a certain amount of time.

Norse states

Ridings are originally Scandinavian institutions.

In Iceland the third part of a thing which corresponded roughly to an English county was called þrithjungr. The island of Gotland and the Swedish province Närke were also divided into þrithjungar instead of hundreds.

In Norway (excluding Iceland) the þrithjungr seems to have been an ecclesiastical division.



The ancient county of Yorkshire had three ridings,[3][4][5] North, West and East, originally each subdivided into wapentakes.

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