from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A fundamental unit of length in both the US Customary System and the British Imperial System, equal to 3 feet, or 36 inches (0.9144 meter).
  • noun Nautical A long tapering spar slung to a mast to support and spread the head of a square sail, lugsail, or lateen.
  • noun A square yard.
  • noun A cubic yard.
  • noun A tract of ground next to, surrounding, or surrounded by a building or buildings.
  • noun A tract of ground, often enclosed, used for a specific business or activity.
  • noun A baseball park.
  • noun An area where railroad trains are made up and cars are switched, stored, and serviced on tracks and sidings.
  • noun A winter pasture for deer or other grazing animals.
  • noun An enclosed tract of ground in which animals, such as chickens or pigs, are kept.
  • intransitive verb To enclose, collect, or put into a yard.
  • intransitive verb To gather together into a yard.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A rod; a stick; a wand; a branch or twig.
  • noun Rule; direction; correction.
  • noun A measuring-rod or -stick of the exact length of 3 feet or 36 imperial inches; a yardstick.
  • noun The fundamental unit of English long measure.
  • noun Nautical, a long cylindrical spar having a rounded taper toward each end, slung crosswise to a mast and used for suspending certain of the sails called either square or lateen sails according as the yard is suspended at right angles or obliquely.
  • noun A long piece of timber, as a rafter.
  • noun In heraldry, a bearing representing a staff or wand divided into equal parts, as if for a measure.
  • noun The virile member; the penis.
  • noun Hence— A pint of ale, beer, or wine served in a yard-glass, and usually drunk for amusement or on a wager, on account of the likelihood of spilling or choking. Compare ale-yard.
  • To put into or inclose in a yard; shut up in a yard, as cattle: as, to yard cows.
  • To resort to winter pastures: said of moose and deer.
  • To shoot deer in their winter yards.
  • To summon for hiring: a process formerly used in the Isle of Man, and executed by the coroner of the sheading or district on behalf of the deemsters and others entitled to a priority of choice of the servants at a fair or market.
  • noun A piece of inclosed ground of small or moderate size; particularly, a piece of ground inclosing or adjoining a house or other building, or inclosed by it: as, a front yard; a court-yard; a dooryard; a churchyard; an inn-yard; a barn-yard; a vineyard.
  • noun An inclosure within which any work or business is carried on: as, a brick-yard; a wood-yard; a tan-yard; a dock-yard; a stock-yard; a navy-yard.
  • noun In railway usage, the space or tract adjacent to a railway station or terminus, which is used for the switching or making up of trains, the accommodation of rolling-stock, and similar purposes.
  • noun A garden; now, chiefly, a kitchen- or cottage-garden: as, a kale-yard.
  • noun The winter pasture or browsing-ground of moose and deer; a moose-yard.
  • noun A measure of land in England, varying locally: in Buckinghamshire, formerly, 28 to 40 acres; in Wiltshire, a quarter of an acre. Compare yard-land.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete A rod; a stick; a staff.
  • noun obsolete A branch; a twig.
  • noun obsolete A long piece of timber, as a rafter, etc.
  • noun A measure of length, equaling three feet, or thirty-six inches, being the standard of English and American measure.
  • noun The penis.
  • noun (Naut.) A long piece of timber, nearly cylindrical, tapering toward the ends, and designed to support and extend a square sail. A yard is usually hung by the center to the mast. See Illust. of Ship.
  • noun (Zoöl.) A place where moose or deer herd together in winter for pasture, protection, etc.
  • noun (Astron.) a popular name of the three stars in the belt of Orion.
  • noun [Obs.] under contract.
  • noun An inclosure; usually, a small inclosed place in front of, or around, a house or barn
  • noun An inclosure within which any work or business is carried on
  • noun a liberty, granted to persons imprisoned for debt, of walking in the yard, or within any other limits prescribed by law, on their giving bond not to go beyond those limits.
  • noun an inclosure about a prison, or attached to it.
  • noun (Bot.) a low-growing grass (Eleusine Indica) having digitate spikes. It is common in dooryards, and like places, especially in the Southern United States. Called also crab grass.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English yerde, stick, unit of measure, from Old English gerd.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English geard; see gher- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English yerd, ȝerd, from Old English ġierd, ġerd ("yard, rod, staff, stake, fagot, twig; measure of length"), from Proto-Germanic *gazdijō. Cognate with Dutch gard ("twig"), German Gerte.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English yard, ȝerd, ȝeard, from Old English ġeard ("yard, garden, fence, enclosure, enclosed place, court, residence, dwelling, home, region, land; hedge"), from Proto-Germanic *gardaz (“enclosure, yard”) (compare Dutch gaard, obsolete German Gart, Swedish gård), from Proto-Indo-European *gʰórdʰos < *ǵʰortós, from *ǵʰer- 'enclosure' (compare Old Irish gort 'wheat field', Latin hortus 'garden', Tocharian B kerccī 'palace', Lithuanian gardas 'pen, enclosure', Russian город (górod) 'town', Albanian gardh 'fence', Romanian gard, Ancient Greek χόρτος (chórtos, "farmyard"), Avestan gərədha 'dev's cave', Sanskrit gŗhás 'house').

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Corruption of French milliard.


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  • Dray in reverse.

    November 3, 2007

  • Do you know where the saying "the whole nine yards" stems from... I have heard yards of cloth to make a kilt or something to do with yards of beer... Help?

    July 10, 2014

  • Prior to the adoption of the Latin word in English the penis was referred to as a "yard". The Oxford English Dictionary cites an example of the word yard used in this sense from 1379, and notes that in his Physical Dictionary of 1684, Steven Blankaart defined the word penis as "the Yard, made up of two nervous Bodies, the Channel, Nut, Skin, and Fore-skin, etc.

    June 25, 2015

  • I grew up hearing the expression, "to yard (something) around," or "yarded (something) around." The connotation I learned was to impel or twist something forcefully. For instance, if my grandfather had to frog-march some young man out the door, he yarded the lad around any obstacles in the way. Grandfather would also use the word as a synonym for the verbs winch or lever. "Yard that up."

    I always assumed that this use of the word had to do with yardarm, lines, and pulleys, but, after seeing the definitions here, I wonder if it derives from yanking someone's penis to forcefully guide him along his way.


    July 12, 2015

  • If observation did not establish this either your grandfather was a master of discretion or you are remarkably inattentive.

    July 13, 2015

  • Well, now I am curious about the verb to yard. I grew up around a lot of logger talk, and there were frequent references to yarding logs. I called my brother the logger-cum-school administrator for a definition. After a short pause, he said that the pedantic answer would be that to yard is to draw in. I had the misapprehension that one yarded logs out. Very, very wrong. One yards logs in to a spar-tree. The area where they lay around the spar tree is called the cold deck.

    July 13, 2015

  • slumry- Thank you, thank you for your comment. It was very interesting. Words and phrases unknown to me.

    July 13, 2015

  • Thanks, VM. When I was growing up the logger-talk was tedious and incomprehensible to me. Nevertheless some of the words stuck and now I enjoy learning about how that work was/is done.

    July 13, 2015