Definition of parcel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɑːs(ə)l/


1An object or collection of objects wrapped in paper in order to be carried or sent by post: the lorry was carrying a large number of Royal Mail parcels a brown paper parcel [as modifier]: a parcel bomb
More example sentences
  • Viewers on either side of the world now share knowledge of these soft white papers, delicately wrapped parcels and small metal plates, the same shape as calling cards and full of curious codes.
  • We have also heard from people who used the post office to send parcels and things, so we are determined to have one in the village.
  • They found Tom Fisher standing there holding a large parcel wrapped in brown paper.
package, packet;
pack, carton, bundle, box, case, bale
archaic fardel
2A quantity or amount of something, especially as dealt with in one commercial transaction: a parcel of shares
More example sentences
  • Big charities can bundle share parcels together, making them much more valuable.
  • ABN Amro Craig's Matt Willis said this was not an excessive discount, given the size of the parcel of shares.
  • Standard Life policyholders are likely to be offered parcels of shares in the flotation of the insurance giant next year as it claims support for the conversion is now ahead of the required threshold.
group, band, pack, gang, crowd, mob, company, collection, horde, party, troop
informal crew, bunch
2.1A piece of land, especially one considered as part of an estate: she decided to divide her property into three parcels and invite sealed bids
More example sentences
  • Holdouts are dealt with by real estate developers assembling parcels of land in a variety of ways.
  • At Wild Turkey, which opened in June, Rulewich had to piece together several distinct parcels of land into one seamless golf course.
  • The legal estate of two separate parcels of land at Baydon Farm amounting to some 184 acres and some 108 acres vested in Major Stibbard prior to his death.
plot, piece, patch, tract, area, section, allotment;
North American  lot, plat
2.2 archaic, derogatory A group of people of a specified sort: a parcel of rogues
More example sentences
  • A greater parcel of dimwits I never saw.

verb (parcels, parcelling, parcelled; US parcels, parceling, parceled)

[with object]
1Make (something) into a parcel by wrapping it: he parcelled up his only winter suit to take to the pawnbroker
More example sentences
  • Each present must be brand new and unwrapped - this will help care managers to organise the gifts before parcelling them up and giving them to the children.
  • I parcelled them up and gave them to my local Member of Parliament to ask the government to consider holding a referendum on whether New Zealand should introduce Capital Punishment.
  • The food on the display table was parcelled for home, the buses pulled in to take the students away, the teachers, chefs and their guests smiled at the good of it all.
pack, pack up, package, wrap, wrap up, gift-wrap, tie up, do up, box, box up, bundle up, fasten together
1.1 (parcel something out) Divide into portions and then distribute: the farmers argue that parcelling out commercial farmland in small plots will reduce productivity
More example sentences
  • When the money was redistributed among each organization, it was parceled out and divided into 20 equal shares.
  • It provides 85 percent of the state budget and is the basis of the state's optimistically named Permanent Fund, whose dividends are parceled out annually: Last fall, every man, woman and child in Alaska received a check for US $1,963.86.
  • Perhaps the idea is that if you parcel something out into shares, everyone gets a different piece; and therefore it makes sense to talk about A and B sharing properties X and Y, where you mean that A gets X and B gets Y.
divide up, portion out, distribute, share out, allocate, allot, apportion, hand out, give out, deal out, dole out, mete out, dispense, split up, carve up
informal divvy up, dish out
2 Nautical Wrap (rope) with strips of tarred canvas, before binding it with yarn as part of a traditional technique to reduce chafing.


pass the parcel

Pronunciation: /ˌpɑːs ðə ˈpɑːsl/
A children’s game in which a parcel is passed around to the accompaniment of music, the child holding the parcel when the music stops being allowed to unwrap a layer: the last party I went to, I ate too much jelly and was sick during pass the parcel
More example sentences
  • After he has extracted himself from the room full of children, he is relieved to remove his hat and beard; he's feeling rather hot after the children's party games of pass the parcel and musical statues.
  • Wilde's epigrams slip from character to character like a game of pass the parcel and significant moments flutter helplessly alongside the frivolous, until it all starts to sound the same.
  • It is little wonder that we have this sort of chaos within the building industry when that is the sort of game of pass the parcel that this Labour Cabinet plays in its approach to building issues.


Late Middle English (chiefly in the sense 'small portion'): from Old French parcelle, from Latin particula 'small part'.

  • Latin particula ‘small part’, from pars source of part, has given us parcel. In early use it shared with part the notion of something forming a section of a larger whole, as in a parcel of land. This survives in contexts such as part and parcel [16th], and to parcel out. The modern sense developed in the 17th century and initially concentrated on its contents, which would usually be a quantity of a substance or a number of goods wrapped up in a single package.

Words that rhyme with parcel

castle, metatarsal, tarsal

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: par¦cel

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