I come across some interesting words, so while I still have free access to the OED Online via the Albert Sloman Library at the University of Essex, I thought I’d do a little piece now and again on some of them. It won’t be a regular thing, hence the rather uncatchy title. Enough explanation, let’s move on to the word itself, which is: curtilage.
Found in a piece in the online Cambridge News about the Mill Road Tesco that has caused much controversy and up-in-armsness:
A Tesco spokeswoman said: “It is our intention to service our Tesco Express store in Mill Road from within the curtilage of the property via Sedgwick Street, which is a one-way road.” [Emphasis added.]
I didn’t know what a curtilage was, so I looked it up in the OED Online, which has this to say:
A small court, yard, garth, or piece of ground attached to a dwelling-house, and forming one enclosure with it, or so regarded by the law; the area attached to and containing a dwelling-house and its out-buildings. Now mostly a legal or formal term, but in popular use in the south-west, where it is pronounced, and often written, courtledge.
b. Tillage of a croft or kitchen-garden. Obs.
So it appears to be simply one’s garden or back yard or some such.