ar·​pent är-ˈpäⁿ How to pronounce arpent (audio)
plural arpents är-ˈpäⁿ(z) How to pronounce arpent (audio)
: any of various old French units of land area
especially : one used in French sections of Canada and the U.S. equal to about 0.85 acre (0.34 hectare)
: a unit of length equal to one side of a square arpent

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web On the right bank of the Mississippi River, measuring 7/16 of one arpent, more or less, bounded on the upper line by the property of Valcour Pierre, on the lower line by that of Widow Ludger Perret, and (property No. Digital Operations,, 12 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'arpent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


borrowed from Middle French, going back to Old French, going back to Latin arepennis "measure of land area (half of a Roman jūgerum)," borrowed from a Gaulish word going back to Celtic *φare-kwenno- "end, end point" (whence also Welsh arbenn- in arbennig "chief, principal," Old Irish airchinn "narrow side of a rectangle, head, end, measure of land"), from φare- "in front of" (going back to Indo-European *pr̥H-i- "in front of, for") + kwenno- "head" (whence Old Welsh penn "head," Old Irish cenn), of uncertain origin — more at for entry 1

Note: Latin arepennis is linked to the Gauls by the Roman agricultural writer Columella ("Galli … semiiugerum quoque arepennem appellant," De re rustica 5.1 - "The Gauls also call the half-jūgerum arepennis."). Presumably the Celtic word originally denoted the end of a furrow at the field margin where the plowman reversed direction; the sense was then extended to the entire side of a field, and then to a set measure of land. The origin of the final consonant in arpent is uncertain. Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, second edition, suggests that -nd- clusters in continental Celtic were reduced to -nn-, as in British Celtic and Irish, and that the final of arpent represents a hypercorrection.

First Known Use

1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of arpent was in 1580

Dictionary Entries Near arpent

Cite this Entry

“Arpent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2022.

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