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Yard vs. Yardstick

If you arrived here wondering about the connection between “yard” and “yardstick”, we’ve got your back! After reading the explanations we've prepared for you below, you’ll have a clear and exact picture in mind not only about the meaning that each of these two words carry, but also the correct circumstances under which you can safely and correctly use them.So, what does “yardstick” mean, and what is a “yard”? Are the two words related in any way, or is this one of those word sets that look similar but have nothing else than spelling in common? Check out the information below to get all the answers you need.

2:10 min read
  Charlotte B  —  Grammar Tips
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Yard vs. Yardstick

To keep it brief, the short answer is yes! The word “yardstick” is derived from the primary meaning of the word “yard”. Let's check out both below in detail, to understand more.

When do we use “yard”?

“Yard” has three different definitions, and all of them function as nouns. So, first and foremost, a “yard” is a unit used for measuring length. More specifically, one “yard” equals 3 feet, or 0.9144 meters.

As a secondary meaning, “yard” is also used to define an area of land behind or in front of a house – this is the word mainly used for US English, and its equivalent in UK English is “garden”.

And last but not least, “yard” can also define a small area of ground right next to a house or a building, usually surrounded by a wall or a fence.

Here are some quick examples to illustrate all these definitions clearly:

Example 1: You have to walk about one yard from here to get to the church. – “yard” is a unit for measuring length, equal to three feet or 0.9144m.

Example 2: They planted some flowers and vegetables in the small yard in front of their house. – a “yard” can be the area of land belonging to a house.

Example 3: Let your children play in the yard, they will be safe – lastly, a “yard” may also refer to the area of ground next to a building.

Yard vs. Yardstick

When do we use “yardstick”?

“Yardstick” has two definitions and both derive from the primary definition of “yard,” referring to a measurement.

Firstly, a “yardstick” is an actual stick! A measuring device measuring three foot long - exactly the length of a yard - 0.9144 meters. So here we can clearly see the precise connection between the two words.

Another use of the word “yardstick” is a way of measuring success, or judging something by a certain minimum standard - a yardstick is a non-specific measure used to judge how successful or good something is.

Example: If money was the yardstick for happiness, I’d say he’s a very happy man. – “yardstick” is used as a way of judging how successful or how good something else is.


If you keep in mind that “yardstick” comes from the word “yard” you’ll easily remember the association between the two - a unit of measure.

But, as a quick go-to solution, feel free to come back here and check this article anytime you need a reminder or in-detail explanation for your confusion regarding “yard” and “yardstick”.

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