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High Street, or the High Street, is a metonym for the generic name (and frequently the official name) of the primary business street of towns or cities in the United Kingdommarker. It is usually a focal point for shop and retailers in city centres, and is most often used in reference to retailing.

The equivalent in the United Statesmarker, Canadamarker, and Irelandmarker is Main Street, a term also used in smaller towns and villages in Scotlandmarker. In Jamaicamarker, North East England, and some sections of Canada and the United States, the usual term is Front Street. In Cornwallmarker and some places in Devon, the equivalent is Fore Street; in south Lancashire (historic county) the most common name for a "main street" is Market Street.

High Street is the most common street name in the UK. According to a survey by the Halifax, there are 5,410 High Streets, compared to 3,811 Station Roads, and 2,702 Main Streets.


Starting at least 10 centuries ago, the word high gradually evolved to also mean something excellent or of superior rank, as evidenced in high sheriff and high society. It was applied to roads as they improved, and the word highway has been recorded from the early 9th century. "High Street" began to be used to describe the thoroughfares containing the main retail areas in villages and towns.

In recent years, although the term "High Street" is still used to refer to commerce, shopping has begun to shift to purpose-built out-of-town shopping centres and supermarkets. However compared to the United States town and city centre shopping remains widespread. The town centre of many larger British towns combines a group of outdoor shopping streets, one or more of which may be pedestrianised, with an adjacent indoor shopping centre. The large presence of chain stores on High Streets repeated in settlements around the UK is part of the clone town theory. In the UK, provides a mapping of local towns in cities.

Irish usage

The term is far less common in Ireland. Neither of Dublin's two main shopping streets (Grafton Streetmarker and Henry Street) carry this name, nor does its main thoroughfare, O'Connell Streetmarker. While Dublin does indeed have a street named "High Street", near Christchurchmarker, it is not a shopping street. Corkmarker's main shopping street is St. Patrick's Streetmarker and Limerickmarker's is also O'Connell Street, which is also used in a number of other Irish towns (after Daniel O'Connell). Main Street is used in many smaller towns and villages. For example, the OSI North Leinster Town Maps book lists 16 Main Streets and only two High Streets in its index of street names (of 30 towns). Similarly, the OSI Dublin Street Guide, covering all of Dublin City and County Dublin, lists 20 Main Streets, but only two High Streets. Killarneymarker is one of the few large Irish towns in which the shopping street is named High Street. Nonetheless, the term high street is still often used in the Irish media in a generic sense to refer to shopping streets.


The term "High Street" is often used to describe common stores found on a typical high street, to differentiate them from more specialist or less common outlets. For example, someone might refer to "High Street banks" or "High Street shops".

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