• close •
Pronunciation: klos • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: (UK) 1. An enclosed or formerly enclosed place, such as a school cricket or football field. 2. A courtyard, plaza, quadrangle. 3. A cul-de-sac, often the proper name of such a street. 4. The area or buildings close to or belonging to a church, farm, etc.
Notes: Here is a word we don't hear in the US but is fairly common in the UK. It is pronounced like the adjective close and not like the identically spelled verb. In fact, the adjective has some senses related to the noun: "a closed state, confined, stifling, without air circulation", the antonym of fresh.
In Play: This word may refer to an area in the vicinity of a church or farm, but usually it refers to an enclosure of some sort: "The church close includes a graveyard, a picnic area, and a copse of fir trees." It often names a dead-end street: "Hermione lives at 13 Cambridge Close."
Word History: English, as usual, borrowed this one from Old French close, the past participle of clore "to shut, to cut off from", passed down from Latin clausus, the past participle of claudere "to shut, close; to block up; shut in, confine", with combining forms -clusus and -cludere, as in the Latinate borrowings include, inclusive and exclude, exclusive. Latin inherited its word from PIE klau- "peg, hook, (branch) fork", also the source of Latin clavis "key", which we see in English words like clavichord and clavicle. Russian klyuch "key", Lithuanian kliudyti "impede, prevent", and Serbian kljun "beak, bill" are all descendants of the PIE word. (Now, appropriate recognition is due Luke Javan, long-standing Grand Panjandrum of the Agora, for today's semantically unique Good word.)