Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a small building, usually made of wood, in which you store things

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The noun shed has its origins in the noun ‘shade’. It has been used in English since the 15th century.


The noun shed is thought to have originated as a variant of ‘shade’ since early sheds were often open at the front and sides and so provided shade and shelter rather than being completely enclosed. A typical shed today is a small building used for storage, generally but not always made of wood. Shed is often preceded by another noun that reveals its function: the Macmillan Dictionary entry has the example ‘a bicycle/coal shed‘. Two further entries are tool shed and garden shed, the latter revealing the location rather than the function. A woodshed, usually written as a closed compound, is a place for storing wood for burning. Potting shed is an old-fashioned British term for a garden shed; the potting referred to is the job of potting up plants. An Open Dictionary entry from 2015 reveals that in Sri Lanka a petrol shed is what British English calls a petrol station and American English a gas station. This takes us to the second meaning of shed, a large building where large machines and vehicles are kept. Both meanings of shed are part of the thesaurus entry ‘Buildings and places for storing things‘. Shed is also a verb, of course; you can find out about its meanings here.


“Men fill up their heads and drawers and sheds with stuff from their teenage years.
(Claudia Winkleman)

“I saw something nasty in the woodshed,” said Aunt Ada Doom, fretfully moving her great head from side to side. “’Twas a burnin’ noonday … sixty-nine years ago. And me no bigger than a titty-wren.”
(Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm)

Related Words

depot, hangar, lockup, outbuilding, outhouse

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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