pightle, piddell

In the eastern England, 13ᵗʰ century – 20ᵗʰ century, and latterly in the state of New York, a patch of land of uncertain dimensions, but always small, and usually enclosed. Some sources say half an acre, and one a full acre. A great variety of spellings have been used, including pighell, pykel, pightell, pykkyll, piddle, pickell. Compare pingle.



Of the Antiquitye, Etimologie, and Varietye of Dimentions of Land in England.

Piddell or Pidella is used for a little smale close, and as it semethe is so called of Pes a diminitive, as understanding it to be, a smale foot of land.

Thomas Hearne, editor.
A Collection of Curious Discourses Written by Eminent Antiquaries … Vol. One
London: Printed for Benjamin White, 1775.
Page 199.

Hearn's suggestion of “pes” seems very farfetched; since at least the 16ᵗʰ century one meaning of “piddling” has been “trifling or insignificant”. It is common in this sense to this day in the United States, especially the south. (The meaning to urinate was acquired much later.)

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