Since the town square is named after its most common shape, what happens if it has a different shape? Is there a different word you can use or is it completely normal to call it a square anyways?

  • Yes, I can. From ODO for square: 2. an open, typically four-sided, area surrounded by buildings in a village, town, or city. "a market square" synonyms: marketplace, close, quadrangle, quad, courtyard; arcade, mall, galleria, precinct, forum; plaza; piazza
    – NVZ
    Jul 7, 2016 at 7:21
  • 1
    Same idea for boxing ring which according to wikipedia "The name ring is a relic from when contests were fought in a roughly drawn circle on the ground. "
    – k1eran
    Jul 7, 2016 at 12:09

1 Answer 1


Square is used to refer to:

  • [countable] an open area in a town, usually with four sides, surrounded by buildings. (OLD)

It is an old usage that has become idiomatic also for public spaces that have different geometric shapes, in other words, you should not expect a public square to have the geometric shape of a square.

  • Square - Sense of "open space in a town or park" is from 1680s; that of "area bounded by four streets in a city" is from c. 1700. (Etymonline)

A famous fan-shaped square:

  • Siena, Tuscany, Italy ( The square paving divided into nine sectors, representing members of the Coucil of Nine).

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