Printable Version
Pronunciation: gahrth Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A small court attached to or containing a building, a quadrangle, a close. 2. A yard, paddock, or garden.

Notes: Here is a rarely used word, more common in the UK than across the pond. On the other hand, if capitalized, it occurs as a given name and surname more often on both sides. As a given name it occurs 1 in 14,385 times and as a surname it occurs 1 in 15,000 times in written English.

In Play: Garth is usually associated with cloisters: "The cloister is surrounded by a rather large, bare garth, where monks come out for prayers on sunny days." However, any designated plot of land may be called a garth: "Behind her cottage, Gerda had a small garth where several fruit trees grew among potatoes, tomatoes, and other vegetables."

Word History: This word is a redesign of Old Norse (Viking) garðr "yard, courtyard", which was its rendition of PIE gherdh-/ghordh- "to enclose", source also of Old English geard "fenced enclosure" (today yard) and garden, German Garten "garden", Old Church Slavonic gradu "city", as in Leningrad, Latin hortus "garden", as in horticulture, Greek khortos "pasture", Lithuanian gardas "stall, pen", Breton garzh "hedge", Irish gort "field", and Russian gorod "city", for cities once were enclosed in walls. (Now an e-bow to Susan Maynard for finding the meaning of the name "Garth" and sharing it with us as today's rare but fascinating Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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