a common unit of linear measure in English-speaking countries, equal to 3 feet or 36 inches, and equivalent to 0.9144 meter.
Nautical. a long spar, supported more or less at its center, to which the head of a square sail, lateen sail, or lugsail is bent.
Informal. a large quantity or extent.
Slang. one hundred or, usually, one thousand dollars.


    the whole nine yards, Informal.
    1. everything that is pertinent, appropriate, or available.
    2. in all ways; in every respect; all the way: If you want to run for mayor, I'll be with you the whole nine yards.

Origin of yard

before 900; Middle English yerd(e), Old English (Anglian) gerd orig., straight twig; cognate with Dutch gard, German Gerte rod




the ground that immediately adjoins or surrounds a house, public building, or other structure.
an enclosed area outdoors, often paved and surrounded by or adjacent to a building; court.
an outdoor enclosure designed for the exercise of students, inmates, etc.: a prison yard.
an outdoor space surrounded by a group of buildings, as on a college campus.
a pen or other enclosure for livestock.
an enclosure within which any work or business is carried on (often used in combination): navy yard; a brickyard.
an outside area used for storage, assembly, or the like.
Railroads. a system of parallel tracks, crossovers, switches, etc., where cars are switched and made up into trains and where cars, locomotives, and other rolling stock are kept when not in use or when awaiting repairs.
a piece of ground set aside for cultivation; garden; field.
the winter pasture or browsing ground of moose and deer.
the Yard, British. Scotland Yard(def 2).

verb (used with object)

to put into, enclose, or store in a yard.

Origin of yard

before 900; Middle English yerd, Old English geard enclosure; cognate with Dutch gaard garden, Old Norse garthr yard, Gothic gards house, Latin hortus garden, Old Irish gort field; akin to garden
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for yards

Contemporary Examples of yards

Historical Examples of yards

  • You wouldn't think it was a hundred yards back from the track, would you?

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Looking round, I saw a native running along about 300 yards from me.

  • Marked a tree sixty yards south of camp F 74, being 74th camp from Geraldton.

  • It was a short distance to the trees—twenty-five to forty yards, perhaps.

  • "Seven yards windage, Hal," said one, whose hair was streaked with gray.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

British Dictionary definitions for yards




a unit of length equal to 3 feet and defined in 1963 as exactly 0.9144 metreAbbreviation: yd
a cylindrical wooden or hollow metal spar, tapered at the ends, slung from a mast of a square-rigged or lateen-rigged vessel and used for suspending a sail
put in the hard yards Australian informal to make a great effort to achieve an end
the whole nine yards informal everything that is required; the whole thing

Word Origin for yard

Old English gierd rod, twig; related to Old Frisian jerde, Old Saxon gerdia, Old High German gertia, Old Norse gaddr




a piece of enclosed ground, usually either paved or laid with concrete and often adjoining or surrounded by a building or buildings
  1. an enclosed or open area used for some commercial activity, for storage, etca railway yard
  2. (in combination)a brickyard; a shipyard
a US and Canadian word for garden (def. 1)
an area having a network of railway tracks and sidings, used for storing rolling stock, making up trains, etc
US and Canadian the winter pasture of deer, moose, and similar animals
Australian and NZ an enclosed area used to draw off part of a herd, etc
NZ short for saleyard, stockyard

verb (tr)

to draft (animals), esp to a saleyard

Word Origin for yard

Old English geard; related to Old Saxon gard, Old High German gart, Old Norse garthr yard, Gothic gards house, Old Slavonic gradu town, castle, Albanian garth hedge



the Yard British informal short for Scotland Yard
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for yards



"ground around a house," Old English geard "enclosure, garden, court, house, yard," from Proto-Germanic *garda (cf. Old Norse garðr "enclosure, garden, yard;" Old Frisian garda, Dutch gaard, Old High German garto, German Garten "garden;" Gothic gards "house," garda "stall"), from PIE *gharto-, from root *gher- "to grasp, enclose" (cf. Old English gyrdan "to gird," Sanskrit ghra- "house," Albanian garth "hedge," Latin hortus "garden," Phrygian -gordum "town," Greek khortos "pasture," Old Irish gort "field," Breton garz "enclosure, garden," and second element in Latin cohors "enclosure, yard, company of soldiers, multitude").

Lithuanian gardas "pen, enclosure," Old Church Slavonic gradu "town, city," and Russian gorod, -grad "town, city" belong to this group, but linguists dispute whether they are independent developments or borrowings from Germanic. Yard sale is attested by 1976. Middle English yerd "yard-land" (mid-15c.) was a measure of about 30 acres.



measure of length, Old English gerd (Mercian), gierd (West Saxon) "rod, stick, measure of length," from West Germanic *gazdijo, from Proto-Germanic *gazdaz "stick, rod" (cf. Old Saxon gerda, Old Frisian ierde, Dutch gard "rod;" Old High German garta, German gerte "switch, twig," Old Norse gaddr "spike, sting, nail"), from PIE *gherdh- "staff, pole" (cf. Latin hasta "shaft, staff"). The nautical yardarm retains the original sense of "stick."

Originally in Anglo-Saxon times a land measure of roughly 5 meters (a length later called rod, pole, or perch). Modern measure of "three feet" is attested from late 14c. (earlier rough equivalent was the ell of 45 inches, and the verge). In Middle English, the word also was a euphemism for "penis" (cf. "Love's Labour's Lost," V.ii.676). Slang meaning "one hundred dollars" first attested 1926, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

yards in Science



A unit of length in the US Customary System equal to 3 feet or 36 inches (0.91 meter). See Table at measurement.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with yards


see all wool and a yard wide; in one's own back yard; whole nine yards.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.