English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Do plaza and square have a different meaning, when referring to a place?
From my English studies, I recall that I was taught that plaza and square were two different kinds of "square".

Is it true? Are the words used as synonymous?

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted


Wiktionary says:

  • An open space in a town, not necessarily square in shape, often containing trees, seating and other features pleasing to the eye.

Wikipedia describes it as "a public meeting place" and provides two examples:

  • Town square, an open area commonly found in the heart of a traditional town used for community gatherings.
  • Market square, an open area where market stalls are traditionally set out for trading.


Wiktionary says:

plaza (plural plazas)

  1. a town’s public square.
  2. an open area used for gathering in a city, often having small trees and sitting benches.

Wikipedia is more verbose:

In modern usage, a plaza can be any gathering place on a street or between buildings, a street intersection with a statue, etc. Thus contemporary metropolitan landscapes often incorporate the "plaza" as a design element, or as an outcome of zoning regulations, building budgetary constraints, and the like.


More recently plaza has been used to describe a shopping complex, similar to a shopping mall, borrowing its connotations of a center of cultural life. The name is currently even applied to a single building with some semi-public street-level areas, often with a hotel or office tower above, while mall more often refers to multiple buildings or a street.

share|improve this answer
To summarize - yes they're synonyms. – Ray Sep 13 '15 at 7:47

There is essentially no difference between a Plaza and a Square. Both the words are used for Public Spaces and can be used interchangeably.

share|improve this answer
Can you post a link that confirms your answer? – Mari-Lou A Jul 25 '13 at 5:43

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.