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Borrowed from Old French parcelle (a small piece or part, a parcel, a particle), from Vulgar Latin *particella, diminutive of Latin particula (particle), diminutive of pars (part, piece). Doublet of particle.



parcel (plural parcels)

  1. A package wrapped for shipment.
    I saw a brown paper parcel on my doorstep.
    • 1892, Walter Besant, chapter II, in The Ivory Gate: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square, OCLC 16832619:
      At twilight in the summer [] the mice come out. They [] eat the luncheon crumbs. Mr. Checkly, for instance, always brought his dinner in a paper parcel in his coat-tail pocket, and ate it when so disposed, sprinkling crumbs lavishly [] on the floor.
    • 1905, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, chapter 2, in The Lisson Grove Mystery[1]:
      “H'm !” he said, “so, so—it is a tragedy in a prologue and three acts. I am going down this afternoon to see the curtain fall for the third time on what [] will prove a good burlesque ; but it all began dramatically enough. It was last Saturday […] that two boys, playing in the little spinney just outside Wembley Park Station, came across three large parcels done up in American cloth. []
  2. An individual consignment of cargo for shipment, regardless of size and form.
  3. A division of land bought and sold as a unit.
    I own a small parcel of land between the refinery and the fish cannery.
  4. (obsolete) A group of birds.
  5. An indiscriminate or indefinite number, measure, or quantity; a collection; a group.
  6. A small amount of food that has been wrapped up, for example a pastry.
  7. A portion of anything taken separately; a fragment of a whole; a part.
    A certain piece of land is part and parcel of another piece.


  • (package wrapped for shipment): package
  • (division of land bought and sold as a unit): plot

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit


See alsoEdit


parcel (third-person singular simple present parcels, present participle parceling or parcelling, simple past and past participle parceled or parcelled)

  1. To wrap something up into the form of a package.
  2. To wrap a strip around the end of a rope.
    Worm and parcel with the lay; turn and serve the other way.
  3. To divide and distribute by parts or portions; often with out or into.
    • Shakespeare
      Their woes are parcelled, mine are general.
    • Dryden
      These ghostly kings would parcel out my power.
    • Tennyson
      the broad woodland parcelled into farms
  4. To add a parcel or item to; to itemize.
    • Shakespeare
      That mine own servant should / Parcel the sum of my disgraces by / Addition of his envy.



parcel (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) Part or half; in part; partially.
    • William Shakespeare
      a parcel-gilt goblet
    • Sir Walter Scott
      The worthy dame was parcel-blind.
    • Tennyson
      One that [] was parcel-bearded.

Further readingEdit




parcel m (plural parcéis)

  1. a shoal, a sandbank