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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small, usually uncultivated area adjoining or (now especially) within the precincts of a house or other building (Wikipedia).
  • n. An enclosed area designated for a specific purpose, e.g. on farms, railways etc.
  • n. One’s house or home.
  • v. To confine to a yard.
  • n. A long tapered timber hung on a mast to which is bent a sail, and may be further qualified as a square, lateen, or lug yard. The first is hung at right angles to the mast, the latter two hang obliquely.
  • n. Any spar carried aloft (Wikipedia).
  • n. A staff, rod or stick.
  • n. A unit of length equal to three feet (exactly 0.9144 metres in the US and UK; Wikipedia).
  • n. One-hundred dollars.
  • n. The penis.
  • n. 109, A short scale billion; a long scale thousand millions or milliard.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A rod; a stick; a staff.
  • n. A branch; a twig.
  • n. A long piece of timber, as a rafter, etc.
  • n. A measure of length, equaling three feet, or thirty-six inches, being the standard of English and American measure.
  • n. The penis.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A place where moose or deer herd together in winter for pasture, protection, etc.
  • n. An inclosure; usually, a small inclosed place in front of, or around, a house or barn
  • n. An inclosure within which any work or business is carried on
  • transitive v. To confine (cattle) to the yard; to shut up, or keep, in a yard.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A rod; a stick; a wand; a branch or twig.
  • n.
  • n. Rule; direction; correction.
  • n. A measuring-rod or -stick of the exact length of 3 feet or 36 imperial inches; a yardstick.
  • n. The fundamental unit of English long measure.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A long piece of timber, as a rafter.
  • n. In heraldry, a bearing representing a staff or wand divided into equal parts, as if for a measure.
  • n. The virile member; the penis.
  • n. 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 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. A garden; now, chiefly, a kitchen- or cottage-garden: as, a kale-yard.
  • n. The winter pasture or browsing-ground of moose and deer; a moose-yard.
  • n. 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.
  • 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.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a unit of volume (as for sand or gravel)
  • n. a tract of land where logs are accumulated
  • n. a unit of length equal to 3 feet; defined as 91.44 centimeters; originally taken to be the average length of a stride
  • n. a long horizontal spar tapered at the end and used to support and spread a square sail or lateen
  • n. the enclosed land around a house or other building
  • n. a tract of land enclosed for particular activities (sometimes paved and usually associated with buildings)
  • n. an enclosure for animals (as chicken or livestock)
  • n. the cardinal number that is the product of 10 and 100
  • n. an area having a network of railway tracks and sidings for storage and maintenance of cars and engines


Middle English yerde, stick, unit of measure, from Old English gerd.
Middle English, from Old English geard.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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'). (Wiktionary)
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. (Wiktionary)
Corruption of French milliard. (Wiktionary)



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  • 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

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

    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

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

    July 13, 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Dray in reverse.

    November 3, 2007