I have a question about the word 'united' and its use with singular nouns. For example, the word united is used in the name 'United Kingdom'. How can a single thing (kingdom) be 'united'? I can understand the use of the word for the United States - the States are considered to have joined/ been joined together', but how can one kingdom be deemed to be united? The same applies to names of football teams, for example, Manchester United. Is the word united meant to refer to the people making up the kingdom/football team?


1 Answer 1


In the context of use with singular nouns, the word "united" most closely means "complete" or "whole," and often refers to the coming-together of separate parts.

For example, the United Kingdom is actually made up of four countries; England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, so is the unity of separate parts (like the United States). In this example, the four countries (or kingdoms, as they used to be) have been united into one singular kingdom: The United Kingdom.

Hope that's clear, but, if not, feel free to ask for clarification. :)

Editing to add on the useful link left in a comment to your post: https://www.ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=united

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    Thank you both for the clarification. I had only checked the Oxford Dictionary and its entries were not as clear. Jul 29, 2021 at 7:44
  • Thank you for your answer, do I understand it correctly? despite England, Scotland, N Ireland, and Wales have their own local governments, they form one kingdom because they are all under the rule of a Queen. Hence the singular word "Kingdom" is used in the country name. But in the USA, states are largely governed by themselves. Although there is a central government, all the states together didn't form any institution that is larger than the individual states, hence the use of plural "states" in the country name.
    – Elizabeth
    Sep 18, 2021 at 10:08
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    @Elizabeth. The states of the modern United States are actually fairly similar in structure to the kingdoms of the United Kingdom (as far as I know). One could argue about minute differences, but I'd say that the states of the United States are as unified under the central government as the United Kingdom's "kingdoms" are. The use of "states" over "state" is more semantics than anything. Each US state also has a strong sense of individuality, so that plurality in the country name is reflecting that individuality.
    – PaulD
    Sep 19, 2021 at 17:27

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