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In Spanish and Latin American architecture, a courtyard open to the sky within a building. A Spanish development of the Roman atrium, it is comparable to the Italian cortile but provides more seclusion, possibly due to Moorish custom. The patio of the contemporary U.S. house is a paved outdoor area adjoining or partially enclosed by the building and often used for outdoor dining.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on patio, visit Britannica.com.