Origin of verb “park”
Posted: 17 May 2007 09:28 PM   [ Ignore ]
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What is the origin of “park” to describe positioning and stopping a vehicle?

Was it in use when people got around horse-drawn carts, carriages etc., or did they use another verb?

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James Bull

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Posted: 17 May 2007 10:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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What a good question, I’d never thought to consider it.

Well, the OED says that it comes from the noun ‘park’ Cf. Middle French, French parquer ‘to put (animals) in an enclosure’ (1380), ‘to fortify (a camp)’ (1470), ‘to establish oneself in a strategic position’ (1488), ‘to set up camp’ (1495).

And here’s a citation referring to wagons:

1846 G. B. MCCLELLAN Mexican War Diary Nov. (1917) 10 To the left of the sand hills in front are a number of wagons parked, to the left of them a pound containing about 200 mules.

So there seems to be a nice logical set of semantic leaps: from enclosing animals in a park, to setting up a camp, to positioning wagons, to positioning other vehicles.

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Posted: 18 May 2007 12:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I had thought that to “park” a car came from the term “car park” which was originally “a park (as in Hyde Park or Central Park) for cars”.  I remember that an influential post-war town planner called Thomas Sharp used the term “car stand” as he thought the term “car park” was unnecessarily euphemistic.  Unfortunately I can’t find a citation for this, but it is interesting that this false etymology seems to have a history of its own.

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Posted: 19 May 2007 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I remember an American writer pointing out that in the States one can drive on the parkway and park on the driveway.

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Posted: 19 May 2007 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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In England one could park in the drive and drive in the park (at least, if it’s a big park like Hyde Park, with a road running through it).

Edit to define drive, in case it’s a sense peculiar to the UK.

Drive, n 2. a. A carriage road; esp. the private road leading to a house. Also, a broad path in a wood.

[ Edited: 19 May 2007 12:21 PM by aldiboronti ]
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Posted: 27 May 2007 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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In 18th and 19th century military speak, the area of your encampment where you put your artillery equipment was known as the artillery park. When the gunners turned up at the designated campsite, they parked their cannon, gun limbers, ammunition wagons and all the rest of their stuff in the park.

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Posted: 28 May 2007 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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aldiboronti - 19 May 2007 12:18 PM

In England one could park in the drive and drive in the park (at least, if it’s a big park like Hyde Park, with a road running through it).

Edit to define drive, in case it’s a sense peculiar to the UK.

Drive, n 2. a. A carriage road; esp. the private road leading to a house. Also, a broad path in a wood.

We use the term in the same way, except one would need a rather large property to have a drive. Most live in more modest accommodations and have a short driveway connecting the garage to the street. I think George Carlin did a bit about “Why do we park on the driveway, and drive on the parkway?”

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Posted: 29 May 2007 06:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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And a football coach once said to me after a particularly back play I made, “Park your butt on the bench.”

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Posted: 01 June 2007 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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venomousbede - 19 May 2007 11:10 AM

I remember an American writer pointing out that in the States one can drive on the parkway and park on the driveway.

I think that’s a George Carlin joke.

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Posted: 01 June 2007 07:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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sandinmyears - 01 June 2007 03:20 PM

I think that’s a George Carlin joke.

So did HappyDog

I think George Carlin did a bit about “Why do we park on the driveway, and drive on the parkway?”

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Posted: 02 June 2007 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Oecolampadius - 01 June 2007 07:52 PM

sandinmyears - 01 June 2007 03:20 PM

I think that’s a George Carlin joke.

So did HappyDog

I think George Carlin did a bit about “Why do we park on the driveway, and drive on the parkway?”

Oops.  I missed that post.

[ Edited: 02 June 2007 12:13 PM by sandinmyears ]
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