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Merriam Webster defines acreage as:

area in acres

oxforddictionaries.com defines it as:

An area of land, typically when used for agricultural purposes, but not necessarily measured in acres.

To a native speaker, does the word acreage have a "business-like" connotation that would imply that the land is for sale or part of a deal?

Would it be pragmatic to use acreage to refer to any plot of land that, theoretically, could be used for agricultural purposes?

Please note that I am not looking for alternatives, such as plot or parcel.

@the guy who edited this questions' title: Whether or not the land is up for sale is not my main question. Sorry if this has been unclear.

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    Yes, you can use it to address any plot of land. You could equally say “square footage” for any plot of land. Both are sensible, because whether it’s customary for a given plot or not, any plot can be measured in acres or in square feet, so any plot possesses the attribute of acreage or square-footage. They’re, in that sense, synonymous with area. Now, for a given plot, it may or may not be idiomatic to refer to it as acreage. For example, it would be idiomatic for farmland or national parks, but not for NYC apts, where square footage would be more idiomatic (and vice-versa). – Dan Bron Oct 14 '17 at 19:08
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    In other words, you’re at no risk of being misunderstood. The risk is you may be seen to be taking a strange word choice (that is, your question boils down to the fundamental difference between semantics and pragmatics). – Dan Bron Oct 14 '17 at 19:09
  • @DanBron Thank you. I have slightly edited my question to take that into consideration. – Sprottenwels Oct 14 '17 at 19:16
  • I don’t know the answer to your question, but I think even restricting our focus to farmland has its limits: what about little Sally’s 5’x5’ pea patch in the back yard? Can we call that tiny patch acreage? What about in English-speaking counties which don’t customarily measure land in acres (I’m assuming such exist, but as an American I have .... limited knowledge of geography and the customs of other countries ;)? Maybe if you edit in a few examples of the borderline cases which are causing you concern we can be more helpful and prescriptive? – Dan Bron Oct 14 '17 at 19:23
  • M-W goes on to give two examples where 'area' is a very reasonable replacement for 'acreage'. Their definition is at best incomplete. But these two examples do, as is commonly but by no means always the case, refer to areas of farmland. The third example they give uses 'acreage' as a metaphor for 'amount'. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 14 '17 at 21:14
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Acreage has two common meanings in US English:

  1. A term for the area of a piece of land. What is the acreage of that parcel? It's 5.3 acres.
  2. A term to refer to a piece of land, generally one that is larger than a few hundred square feet and smaller than, say, a square mile. My dad has some acreage in Houston county.

References such as Merriam Webster tend to list only the first meaning, even though the examples they quote use both.

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In Australian English, acreage brings to mind a large piece of rural land, large enough for production farming and much bigger than a house. Although etymology isn't always in sync with the contemporary use of particular words, in the case of acreage, the etymology of acre fits:

"[O]riginally 'open country, untenanted land, forest'; ... then, with advance in the agricultural state, pasture land, tilled land, an enclosed or defined piece of land" [OED]. In English at first without reference to dimension; in late Old English the amount of land a yoke of oxen could plow in a day, afterward defined by statute 13c. and later as a piece 40 poles by 4, or an equivalent shape [OED cites 5 Edw. I, 31 Edw. III, 24 Hen. VIII]. The older sense is retained in God's acre "churchyard." Adopted early in Old French and Medieval Latin, hence the Modern English spelling, which by normal development would be *aker (compare baker from Old English bæcere). - etymonline.com

There's no transactional connotation to the term that would imply that the land is for sale, unless the context specifies it.

Here's an example of the term used in an insurance ad:

The typical Small Farm policyholder will be someone who has a small acreage, with enough space to keep a few animals, pony for the children or grow vegetables for their own use and maybe selling some at the local weekend market. - WAW

The description is an example of the use of the term acreage in a context that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with buying or selling the property. Now, there are instances of 'acreage for sale', but that doesn't intrinsically tie acreage to sales. (Compare this with 'house for sale'.)

You also ask:

Would it be pragmatic to use acreage to refer to any plot of land that, theoretically, could be used for agricultural purposes?

Based on the above, such usage would likely be fine, unless the context strongly suggests otherwise.

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Landwatch is advertising a vast number of plots in many states of the USA and I have not found any mention of 'acreage' at all.

Whether or not it is pragmatic to use the word may not be as important as whether or not it is current practice. From the catalogue it would seem that it would not be 'business-like' to use the term, since they do not.

They advertise land descriptively - Farm Land, Ranch Land, Waterfront Land - and merely quote a number of acres.


Farmers are measuring land but I can find no mention of any ground measurement, only Google, smartphone apps and GPS. Whatever units the technology is measuring they are generally not talking about it - the technology does it all for them - save once, when it is 'acres'.

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