In the United States, for example, the title is frequently bestowed upon a couple of hovels and a deserted gas station. Here, in the UK, we have the Welsh metropolis of St Davids (population 1,600) and the heaving Somerset hotspot of Wells (home to about 12,000).
Which makes Scotland’s newest city seem pretty crowded, with a headcount tally of about 58,000, and growing. But let’s not get too sizeist.
Dunfermline, where I was born and bred too many years ago, is said new city. Scotland’s eighth, officially, after Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth and Stirling.
The move seems a little belated, given the centuries-old connections between the town, sorry city, and Scottish royalty.
Truth be told, most residents have always thought of Scotland’s ancient capital as a city.
As Fife Provost Jim Leishman pointed out when the news of the winning bid emerged, Dunfermline is already home to the City Car Park, the City Hotel and City Cabs.
The irrepressible former Pars manager has become one of the royal burgh’s greatest advocates, even though Big Jim actually hails from nearby Lochgelly. Famous sons and daughters of Dunfermline include the much missed Big Country frontman Stuart Adamson, the beguiling Barbara Dickson and some bloke called Andrew Carnegie. But then every city, town and hamlet can boast a few famous offspring.
What does matter is the level of interest and crucially investment that gaining city status can attract. In the decade since Perth was granted the title, the local economy has grown by 12 per cent.
Much as Dunfermline has some fantastic assets, including its abbey and sprawling public parks, the area is crying out for further development.
I think every person has an attachment to their hometown. Bruce Springsteen famously sang about escaping his New Jersey roots and being Born to Run, yet he now resides in… New Jersey.
How do I feel a week on from Dunfermline’s big moment? Well, city is just a word. But then so is proud.