noun (1)
\ ˈyärd How to pronounce yard (audio) \

Definition of yard

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : a small usually walled and often paved area open to the sky and adjacent to a building : court
b : the grounds of a building or group of buildings
2 : the grounds immediately surrounding a house that are usually covered with grass
3a : an enclosure for livestock (such as poultry)
b(1) : an area with its buildings and facilities set aside for a particular business or activity
(2) : an assembly or storage area (as for dry-docked boats)
c : a system of tracks for storage and maintenance of cars and making up trains
4 : a locality in a forest where deer herd in winter



Definition of yard (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : of, relating to, or employed in the yard surrounding a building yard light
2 : of, relating to, or employed in a railroad yard a yard engine


yarded; yarding; yards

Definition of yard (Entry 3 of 4)

transitive verb

1 : to drive into or confine in a restricted area : herd, pen
2 : to deliver to or store in a yard

intransitive verb

: to congregate in or as if in a yard


noun (2)

Definition of yard (Entry 4 of 4)

1 : any of various units of measure: such as
a : a unit of length equal in the U.S. to 0.9144 meter — see Weights and Measures Table
b : a unit of volume equal to a cubic yard
2a : a great length or quantity remembered yards of facts and figures
b slang : one hundred dollars
3 : a long spar tapered toward the ends to support and spread the head of a square sail, lateen, or lugsail
4 : a slender glass about three feet tall having a flared opening and a bulbous bottom also : the amount it contains a yard of ale
the whole nine yards
: all of a related set of circumstances, conditions, or details who could learn the most about making records, about electronics and engineering, the whole nine yards— Stephen Stills sometimes used adverbially with go to indicate an all-out effort

First Known Use of yard

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1758, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for yard

Noun (1)

Middle English yerd, going back to Old English geard "fence, enclosure, dwelling, home, district, country," going back to Germanic *garđa- (whence also Old Saxon gard "garden, dwelling, world," Middle Dutch gaert "garden, yard," Old High German gart "enclosure, circle, enclosed piece of property," Old Norse garðr "enclosure, courtyard," Gothic gards (i-stem) "house, household, courtyard"; from an n-stem *garđan-: Old Frisian garda "family property, courtyard," Old Saxon gardo "garden," Old High German garto), perhaps (if from *ghortós) going back to Indo-European *ghortos "enclosure," whence also Old Irish gort "arable or pasture field," Welsh garth "field, enclosure, fold," Breton garz "hedge," Latin hortus "garden," Greek chórtos "farmyard, pasturage"

Note: The above is only one possible account of this somewhat problematic etymon. If not from a Verner's Law variant of a putative stem *ghor-to-, the Germanic word could go back to *ghordho-, which would correspond to Slavic *gordŭ (Old Church Slavic gradŭ "town, garden, yard," Russian górod "city," Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian grâd) and Lithuanian gar͂das "pen, fold." The Slavic and Baltic words have, alternatively, been taken as loans from Germanic. This explanation would not, however, cover Albanian gardh "fence, wattled partition," or, more crucially, Sanskrit gṛháḥ "house," if it goes back to *ghr̥dhos, a zero-grade derivative. The Germanic etymon has traditionally been connected with a hypothetical verb base *ǵher- "grasp, enclose," seen in Sanskrit harati "(s/he) takes, fetches, bears," jahrur "were fetched," though the Albanian, Balto-Slavic and Sanskrit words do not show a palatovelar. A palatovelar is evidenced, however, in a group of semantically related words: Lithuanian žárdas "rack for drying grain, flax or pease, cattle hurdle," ža͂rdis "fenced pasture," Old Prussian sardis "fence," regional Russian zoród, zaród "stack of hay or grain sheaves, enclosure around a stack." Also associated with Germanic *garđa- is a strong verb *gerđan- hypothetically evidenced by Gothic *-gairdan (attested only as the past participle bigaurdans, translating Greek perizōsámenos "girding oneself") and a weak verb *gurdjan- with zero grade—see gird entry 1, girdle entry 1, girth entry 1.

Noun (2)

Middle English yerd, yerde "stick, pole, rod, spar supporting a sail, unit of measure," going back to Old English gierd "stick, rod," going back to Germanic *gazdjō (whence Old Frisian ierde "stick," Old Saxon gerdia, Old High German gerta), derivative of *gazda- "stick, rod" (whence Old High German gart "stick," Old Norse gaddr "goad, spike," Gothic gazds "sting"), going back to dialectal Indo-European *ghazdh- "stick, something pointed" (whence Latin hasta "spear," Middle Irish gat "withe, osier," probably also gas "shoot, twig"), probably a loanword from an unknown source

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The first known use of yard was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Yard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yard. Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for yard


\ ˈyärd How to pronounce yard (audio) \

Kids Definition of yard

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an outdoor area next to a building that is often bordered (as by shrubs or fences) Children played in the yard.
2 : the grounds of a building a prison yard
3 : a fenced area for livestock a chicken yard
4 : an area set aside for a business or activity a navy yard
5 : a system of railroad tracks especially for keeping and repairing cars



Kids Definition of yard (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a measure of length equal to three feet or 36 inches (about 0.91 meter)
2 : a long pole pointed toward the ends that holds up and spreads the top of a sail


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