parterre

noun
par·terre | \pär-ˈter \

Definition of parterre 

1 : an ornamental garden with paths between the beds

2 : the part of the main floor of a theater that is behind the orchestra especially : parquet circle

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Parterre Has French Roots

Parterre comes to English by way of French, where it means "on the ground". And in the early years of the theater, the parterre was truly on the ground. In Shakespeare's day, an English theater's parterre was the cheap standing-room area right in front of the stage, normally filled with rowdy spectators. The original idea of the French parterre garden, with its carefully designed plots and walkways, was to present an artistic pattern when seen from above—from a balcony, a raised terrace, or the top of an outdoor staircase. English gardeners responded with garden designs that tried to make their viewers half-forget that they were seeing something created by humans rather than untamed nature itself.

Examples of parterre in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

True to the period of the house, this one encloses a parterre garden accented by crape myrtle, camellia, sago palm, and banana. Lindsay Bierman, Southern Living, "The New Must-Have Coffee Table Book: New Roads and Old Rivers," 20 Aug. 2012 Room furnishings in the main house are classical, with four-poster beds, but are updated with light, subtle fabrics and have hypnotic views of woods and parterres. Condé Nast Traveler, "Coworth Park," 20 Oct. 2017 There are no richer parterres to my eyes than the dense beds of dwarf andromeda (Cassandra calyculata) which cover these tender places on the earth’s surface. Henry David Thoreau, The Atlantic, "The Swamp Lover," 6 Oct. 2017 OUTDOOR SPACE: The area around the house is landscaped, with brick patios and more than 2,600 azaleas, as well as a fenced parterre with roses and vegetable beds. Mike Powell, New York Times, "$900,000 Homes in Dallas, Maryland and Wisconsin," 14 Dec. 2016 True to the period of the house, this one encloses a parterre garden accented by crape myrtle, camellia, sago palm, and banana. Lindsay Bierman, Southern Living, "The New Must-Have Coffee Table Book: New Roads and Old Rivers," 11 July 2017 At the fete, attendees filled the side parterre garden, the house and back courtyard, where Deacon John and the Ivories entertained, with an audience not shy to dance. Sue Strachan, NOLA.com, "Beauregard-Keyes Historic House and Garden sensational sunset soiree," 6 June 2017 Victorian walled vegetable plots, orchards, parterres and pergolas, wildflower meadows, shady dells … USA TODAY, "Photo tour: British hotels with gorgeous gardens," 22 May 2017 Often regarded as England’s Versailles, Cliveden House also features the Prince of Wales Suite, complete with views of the lush 19th-century parterre. Michaela Trimble, Vogue, "9 Grand European Mansions Where You Can Spend the Night," 30 June 2017

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

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First Known Use of parterre

circa 1625, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for parterre

French, from Middle French, from par terre on the ground

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Time Traveler for parterre

The first known use of parterre was circa 1625

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More from Merriam-Webster on parterre

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about parterre

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