Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin parricus, from pre-L *parra pole, trellis
- 1a : an enclosed piece of ground stocked with game and held by royal prescription or grant
- b : a tract of land that often includes lawns, woodland, and pasture attached to a country house and is used as a game preserve and for recreation
- 3a : a space occupied by military vehicles, materials, or animals
- b : parking lot
- 4: an enclosed arena or stadium used especially for ball games
- 5: an area designed for a specified type of use (as industrial, commercial, or residential use) <amusement parks>
A park is a protected area, in its natural or semi-natural state, or planted, and set aside for human recreation and enjoyment, or for the protection of wildlife or natural habitats. It may consist of rocks, soil, water, flora and fauna and grass areas. Many parks are legally protected by law.
Wilderness parks are intact and undeveloped areas used mainly by wild species. Protected wilderness zones are required for some wild species to survive. Some protected parks focus mainly on the survival of a few threatened species, such as gorillas or chimpanzees.
These game preserves evolved into the landscaped parks set around mansions and country houses from the sixteenth century onwards. These may have served as hunting grounds but they also proclaimed the owner's wealth and status. An aesthetic of landscape design began in these stately home parks where the natural landscape was enhanced by landscape architects. As cities became crowded, the private hunting grounds became places for the public.
With the Industrial revolution parks took on a new meaning as areas set aside to preserve a sense of nature in the cities and towns. Sporting activity came to be a major use for these urban parks. Areas of outstanding natural beauty were also set aside as national parks to prevent their being spoilt by uncontrolled development.