park (n.)

mid-13c., "tract of land enclosed as a preserve for beasts of the chase," from Old French parc "enclosed wood or heath land used as a game preserve" (12c.), probably ultimately from West Germanic *parruk "enclosed tract of land" (source also of Old English pearruc, root of paddock (n.2), Old High German pfarrih "fencing about, enclosure," German pferch "fold for sheep," Dutch park).

Internal evidence suggests the West Germanic word is pre-4c. and originally meant the fencing, not the place enclosed. It is found also in Medieval Latin as parricus "enclosure, park" (8c.), which likely is the direct source of the Old French word, as well as Italian parco, Spanish parque, etc. Some claim the Medieval Latin word as the source of the West Germanic, but the reverse seems more likely. Some later senses in English represent later borrowings from French. OED discounts the notion of a Celtic origin: Welsh parc, Gaelic pairc are from English.

Meaning "enclosed lot in or near a town, set aside and maintained for public recreation" is attested from 1660s, originally in reference to London; the sense evolution is via royal parks in the original, hunting sense being overrun by the growth of London and being opened to the public. It was applied to sporting fields in American English from 1867.

New York's Park Avenue as an adjective meaning "luxurious and fashionable" (1956) was preceded in the same sense by London's Park Lane (1880). As a surname, Parker "keeper of a park" is attested in English from mid-12c. As a vehicle transmission gear, park (n.) is attested from 1949.

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park (v.)

1812, "to arrange military vehicles in a park," from park (n.) in a limited sense of "enclosure for guns, wagons, horses, provisions, etc." (attested from 1680s). General non-military meaning "to put (a vehicle) in a certain place" is first recorded 1844. Related: Parked; parking. Park-and-ride is from 1966.

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car-park (n.)

"place for parking automobiles," 1926, British English, from car (n.) + park (n.).

Oh the torn up ticket stubs
From a hundred thousand mugs
Now washed away with dead dreams in the rain;
And the car-park's going up
And they're pulling down the pubs
And it's just another bloody rainy day
[The Pogues, "White City," 1989]
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surname, literally "the keeper of a park," mid-12c.; see park (n.).  

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parkland (n.)

1907, "grassland with scattered trees;" by 1937 as "land used for a park," from park (n.) + land (n.).

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overpark (v.)

also over-park, "to park (a car, etc.) longer than permitted," 1938, American English, from over- + park (v.). Related: Overparked; overparking.

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paddock (n.2)

"a small field or enclosure," 1620s, apparently an alteration of Middle English parrock, from Old English pearroc "enclosed space, fence" (see park (n.)). Or possibly from Medieval Latin parricus (8c.), which ultimately is from Germanic. Especially a small pastured enclosure near a stable.

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parking (n.)

"act of putting (a vehicle) in a certain place," 1915, verbal noun from park (v.). Parking lot "plot of ground used for parking vehicles" is from 1920; parking ticket "notification of a parking violation" attested by 1925; parking meter "device to measure the time allowed for parking" is by 1935. Parking brake "brake used to hold a parked vehicle in place" is recorded from 1927.

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parquet (n.)

1816, "patterned wooden flooring," from French parquet "wooden flooring; enclosed portion of a park," from Old French parchet (14c.) "small compartment, enclosed space; part of a park or theater," diminutive of parc (see park (n.)).

Meaning "part of a theater auditorium at the front of the ground floor" is recorded by 1754 in a French context. The noun use in English has been influenced by the verb meaning "provide with a floor of parquet work" (attested from 1640s, from French parqueter. Related: Parquetry "inlaid flooring in which a pattern is formed by different types of wood" (1842).

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ballpark (n.)

also ball-park, "baseball stadium," 1893, short for baseball (or football) park; see ball (n.1) + park (n.).

To be in the ballpark in the figurative sense of "within an acceptable range of approximation" is first recorded 1954, originally in the jargon of atomic weapons scientists, perhaps referring to the area within which a missile was expected to return to earth; the idea is broad but reasonably predictable dimensions. Hence ballpark (adj.) "approximate" (1967), of figures, etc.

The result, according to the author's estimate, is a stockpile equivalent to one billion tons of TNT. Assuming this estimate is "in the ball park," clearly there is valid reason for urging candor on the part of our government. [Ralph E. Lapp, "Atomic Candor," in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October 1954]
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