It’s reckoned that around 55% of the world’s population now lives in towns and cities. With this in mind, I thought we’d take a look at the sort of words we use to describe urban and suburban areas. I hope you find it useful.
Let’s start with adjectives relating to size. A word meaning ‘relating to a large city’ is metropolitan. (A metropolis is a very large city.) It ranks as one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the US. A city that is described as sprawling covers a large area, usually in a rather untidy way, with various parts built at different times: Today, it’s a sprawling metropolis of over 10 million inhabitants.
A city – or part of a city – that is smart, with big, expensive houses is often described as affluent: They live in one of the more affluent neighbourhoods. Another adjective used like this is prosperous: He grew up in the relatively prosperous suburb of Hall Green.
The opposite – a poor area of the city – may be described as deprived: The borough includes some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. To describe an area where the buildings are in poor condition and look neglected, you can use the word run-down: She lived in a run-down council estate in the north of the city.
A residential area of a city has only private houses, not buildings such as offices or factories: The neighbourhood is predominantly residential. A built-up area of the town has a lot of buildings, especially houses: They’re talking about bringing the speed limit down in built-up areas.
Even in built-up areas, most of us like to see a little nature. A street that has plenty of trees may be described, approvingly, as tree-lined: He proudly showed me his house, which sits on a quiet, tree-lined street. The adjective leafy describes a place that is pleasant because there are plenty of trees: She grew up in a leafy suburban neighbourhood to the west of the city.
Now let’s think about what is happening in the cities. A part of the city that is very lively, with lots of people and activity may be described as bustling: This was once the city’s bustling marketplace. The adjective vibrant describes an exciting city or neighbourhood which is full of life: The streets of this vibrant city teem with colour and excitement.
Regarding the residents of a city, a place that is cosmopolitan has people from many different parts of the world, in a way that makes it very attractive: New York is a highly cosmopolitan city. A city with many people living in it may be described, formally, as populous: It was at the time Italy’s most populous city.
If you live in a city, do any of the above adjectives describe it? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear!