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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?

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

square

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.

plaza

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.

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

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