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I am looking for the correct/common way to call the single spaces which are generally clearly visibile in parking lots as you can see from the picture:

enter image description here

I would probably call them "parking slots," but I am not sure if that is correct and I could not find any reference apart from this one, which clearly refers to a different context.

According to the Collins Dictionary a parking bay is:

a space in a car park designed to be large enough to park a vehicle in

Any reference to American English or British English would be appreciated.

12 Answers 12

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In American English, we generally call them parking spots. Occasionally we refer to them as parking spaces, but parking spot is what I hear most commonly.

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    I have to slightly disagree with this since I (an American) hear "parking space" more than "parking spot", although neither is particularly rare in my experience. So there may be some regional or subcultural variation as to which term dominates. – David Z Nov 2 '17 at 23:39
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Reading all the comments and answers so far it seems to me that both US and UK usages are actually pretty similar.

A parking 'space' is the usual term for a formally delineated 'space-to-park-a-car' (e.g. in a car park/parking lot). It can be impersonal and classificatory.

A parking 'spot', on the other hand, is rather like a picnic spot - namely somewhere you find for the purpose of parking (or picnicking) irrespective of whether or not it is formally set aside for the purpose. It is not (yet!) typically impersonal and classificatory.

Parking bay has always sounded like a US import to my British ears. Ngrams shows 'parking bay' usage began around 1940 with 'parking bay's first entry in the OED (almost twenty years after usage begins on ngrams)

1957 Times 30 Nov. 3/2 A dustcart could use a parking bay without charge.

In my mind a parking bay is associated especially with corporate parking provision.

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  • Parking space need not be formally delineated -- when parking on the street, any suitably large gap between cars would be a parking space. – Dave Mar 22 '16 at 22:05
  • @Dave - agreed. The OP asked for the name when formally delineated. – Dan Mar 22 '16 at 23:28
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    This is the correct answer. Basically, you find a parking space in a parking lot, while you find a parking spot along the street (although, as usual with language, there's overlap, especially in spoken usage). – Marthaª Mar 23 '16 at 16:43
  • Some streets have markings to delineate explicit parking spaces, often in 1-1 correspondence with parking meters. The lack of such marking may correlate to the use of "spot" rather than "space". Parking lots/garages generally have explicit spaces marked, thus have no "spots". – Monty Harder Mar 23 '16 at 21:54
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In British English they are commonly known as Parking spots. We get headlines about parking spots selling for hundreds of thousands of pounds, and colleagues who complain that somebody has nicked their parking spot.

Here's some google hits for parking spot.

In more formal British English these are also described as parking spaces. This is the term suggested by Longman's Dictionary:

Use parking space or parking place when you mean 'a place in a street, car park etc where a vehicle can be left'

There's a parking space (NOT a parking) in front of that house.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Sep 3 '16 at 20:54
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It depends on how precise or pedantic you want to be. In the photo you provided, a single location for a vehicle would commonly be called a parking spot, particularly in the commercial transportation industry where each location is uniquely numbered. I would propose this as the best answer regarding the information you have given.

Another common term for the same thing is a parking space, though you are probably more likely to hear that term regarding locations along a street. Although these may also be numbered, it is not as common.

A parking stall impiles that there is a three-dimensional structure fencing in the location, though this, too, is a generally used term, particularly in an enclosed or walled-in area.

A parking bay is like a stall, but is typically a larger area that may contain multiple spaces or stalls for large vehicles, such as trailers or buses. Access is usually limited by walls or posts, as you would find in a multi-level parking deck or under a roofed area like a bus terminal.

Parking slot would not be incorrect, either. I would say this term should be reserved for locations that tend to be used by uniformly-sized vehicles. It also brings to mind an automated parking system where vehicles may have to be placed by some means other than simply driving into the space.

Parking lane would be for multiple vehicles, usually placed end-to-end in a queue. The last vehicle would be driven into one end of the designated area and the first vehicle would be driven out. Other vehicles in the line would typically have to wait until they are at one end or the other before they could be removed from the lane. Informally, this same term could be used for a line of parking spaces along a street or road where vehicles may parallel-park.

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    In my experience, colloquial usage of space vs. spot is exactly opposite yours: a parking spot is any place your car happens to fit, often curbside paralleling the street. A space is a demarcated spot. – Timbo Mar 22 '16 at 18:40
  • I agree with @user69710. I would also add that I hear "parking space" and "spot" most often. I have (almost?) never heard it termed "parking spot". – Jed Schaaf Mar 22 '16 at 22:05
  • I've certainly seen "stall" used in cases where there was no physical structure enclosing the space, only the typical line. – Nate Eldredge Mar 23 '16 at 18:38
  • @Timbo After stewing on this a while, I disagree about which is marked, but I agree that parking space is likely the most common - hence, better - answer. – Suncat2000 Jun 17 '16 at 21:05
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The following check with Google Ngram may help understand where the expressions suggested are more common. Parking spot appears to be much more common in AmE, while parking bay appears to be more common in BrE. Parking space is common both in AmE and BrE:

Parking spot: AmE vs BrE.

Parking space: AmE vs BrE

Parking bay : AmE vs BrE

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  • Here – Peter Shor Mar 22 '16 at 20:14
  • ... is Google Ngram with "parking place", "parking spot", and "parking place" in AmE and BrE; "parking bay", "parking stall", and "parking slot" are less common than any of these three. – Peter Shor Mar 22 '16 at 20:15
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In American English at least, there is a subtle distinction in connotation between parking spot and parking space: the former is a specific location in the world, the latter indicates the region in which you park.

The unfilled spaces between the paint lines are parking spaces -- read it literally as a space in which you can park. Similarly the gap between two cars at the side of a road into which you could parallel park is a parking space. Parking space is used to indicate these regions into which you maneuver your car in order to park it. "I pulled into the fifth parking space".

Parking spot is used to designate the location at which you parked. In the context of your picture, someone might say "Your car is in parking spot number 5" in order to indicate where in the lot your car is.

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The usual word used on car park signage in the UK is spaces. "Parking bays" is also used in official documents, but I think the original usage of "bays" referred to designated loading/unloading points for buses (i.e. the coach station equivalent of a railway station "platform")

Typical UK car parking signage (showing the number of free spaces near the location of the sign): http://www.sarfend.co.uk/images/southend_parking.jpg

Use of "bays" for "spaces" (both for cars and coaches): http://www.derby.gov.uk/transport-and-streets/public-transport/information-and-advice/

In BrEng a parking spot would usually refer to a general geographical location (e.g. "there are often some empty parking spots on XYZ street") rather than to a marked space for one vehicle. FWIW, "parking spot" is not in http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/)

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Consider, parking stall

STALL

North American A marked-out parking space for a vehicle: a parking stall

ODO

A space marked off for parking a motor vehicle

M-W

A rectangular space marked off or reserved for parking a car or other vehicle, as in a parking lot.

Random House

(US) Any of the spaces marked off, as in a garage, for parking individual automobiles.

Collins American English Dictionary

I've never used the term 'parking stall' but I understand it to be one of the names for a space marked off for parking a motor vehicle in a garage or parking lot. I would call that a parking space, but of course, a 'parking space' can also be defined as any area where a vehicle can be parked, whether or not it is marked off for the purpose.

So a parking stall will always have white markings at the boundaries. A parking space may be synonymous with 'parking stall' or may be a more general area for parking. (emphasis is mine.) english-test.net

Parking stall sizes are controlled by local zoning and building codes. In most cases and most local building codes, the number of stalls is determined by the square footage of office or retail space.

Guide To Pavement Maintenance

Parking Stalls in InfraWorks InfraWorks

Stall Parking Animated Version

Waikiki complex charging USD60K for parking stall

The car is not over the line...of the actual, uh, parking stall

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In Australia, it is a parking spot or, simply, a park. Anywhere where there are parking spots is parking, and where the spots are organised it is either a carpark or parking.

A: 'Did you manage to find a parking spot at Doncaster?'
B: 'Yes, but the carpark was very busy.'

A: 'You can come visit me; there's a park out the front.'
B: 'Oh, good! I won't have to pay for parking. I like the parking spot outside your house.'

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    I'd say that this is the same in New Zealand as well - it is very common to hear "Just trying to find a park". – Mike Mar 22 '16 at 23:38
  • After some reflection I (an Australian) can lay out my mental scheme regarding parking: A 'park' is the place where you happen to have been able to park your car, regardless of whether it's marked - or even legal (although not blocking traffic). 'Parking spot' implies a park that's at least arguably legal. 'Parking space' implies a parking spot among other parked cars. And 'parking bay' suggests a marked parking spot on a street or in a carpark. (Naturally, a car's hazard lights magically convert any location - no matter how dangerous - into a parking spot.) – Jeremy Mar 23 '16 at 13:22
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    Note that to us non-antipodean folks, a "park" is an open space with grass and trees and maybe a playground. Your "there's a park out the front" would never in a million years be interpreted as having anything whatsoever to do with parking a vehicle. – Marthaª Mar 23 '16 at 16:40
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    It means that to antipodean folks, too. Hence "I found a park near the park." – Jeremy Apr 6 '16 at 20:16
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    I know it's not common in the U.S., but it's not accurate to say (as Martha implies) that nobody here refers to a parking spot simply as a "park". My family always has. – Trevor Brown Nov 28 '16 at 19:13
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The most common usage I have heard (by far) in American English is "parking space." In my own family, however, we refer to that space as a "park."

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  • Welcome to EL&U. As StackExchange sets out to build a library of definitive answers, we favor answers that provide full explanations that are documented with suitable examples and references. I encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center, and you can edit your post to improve it when ready. – choster Mar 23 '16 at 20:05
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I guess there is no correct way of saying it some people say parking spots others parking bays it just depends on the certain person so there is no right way of saying it

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  • Hello, 259. To quote choster: Rather than personal opinion and anecdotes, we value descriptive explanations which include appropriate references and examples. I strongly encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center for a better understanding of Stack Exchange and how it operates. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 27 '17 at 18:59
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The most proper answer in the U.S. is parking stall. This is the term used in building codes and municipal codes and on architectural and civil drawings.

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  • I'm only one person, but I don't think this would count as "common", since I've never heard the term before. – jimm101 Sep 6 '19 at 0:31

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