yard

Definitions

General English

Agriculture

  • noun a unit of length in the US and British Imperial Systems equal to 3 ft or 0.9144 m.
  • noun an open space in a farm, surrounded on three sides by barns, stables and farm buildings

Commerce

Construction

  • A unit of length in the English system equal to 3'.
  • A measure of concrete. One cubic yard = 3' x 3' x 3' in volume, or 27 cubic feet.
  • A term applied to that part of a plot not occupied by the building or driveway.

Electronics

  • A unit of distance equal to exactly 0.9144 meter. Its abbreviation is yd.

Military

  • noun a unit of linear measure corresponding to 3 feet or 0.9144 metres
  • noun an area of enclosed ground attached to a building

Slang

  • noun the penis. A usage said to be archaic by most authorities, but still revived from time to time by those in search of a robust or rustic-sounding euphemism.
  • noun Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the London Metropolitan Police
  • noun one thousand. Also one hundred (dollars).
  • noun Jamaica. A nickname used by the local inhabitants, probably deriving from the notion of ‘my own backyard’.
  • noun money

Origin & History of “yard”

Yard ‘enclosed area’ (OE) and yard ‘three feet’ (OE) are distinct words, both of ancient ancestry. The former probably goes back ultimately to Indo-European *ghorto-, which also produced Latin cohors ‘court’ (source of English cohort and court) and hortus ‘garden’ (source of English horticulture) and Russian gorod ‘town’ (as in Leningrad). Its prehistoric Germanic descendant was *gard-, which, as well as providing English with yard, has produced garden, garth (14th c.) (via Old Norse), and the second syllable of orchard.

Yard ‘three feet’ originally meant ‘stick, rod’ (a sense preserved nautically, as in yardarm (16th c.)). It goes back ultimately to prehistoric Germanic *gazdaz ‘pointed stick’ (source of the gad of gadfly (16th c.), etymologically the fly with the ‘sting’). from this was derived west Germanic *gazdjō, which evolved into German gerte ‘sapling, riding cane’, Dutch gard ‘twig, rod’, and English yard. The Anglo-Saxons used the term as a unit of measurement of land, equal to about five metres (what later became known as a rod, pole, or perch), but its modern use for ‘three feet’ did not emerge until the 14th century.
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