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Street vs Avenue vs Boulevard: Glossary of Road Naming Conventions


Street vs avenue, highway vs freeway, boulevard vs plaza, and so on. What’s the difference among all these road terms and naming conventions? With this quick glossary guide, we’ll define each type so that you understand the differences.

street vs avenue comparison
Taken by F. Ongena via unsplash.com. [Public Domain].

Whether, like me, you come from a sprawling city like New York, or if you’re from the rural parts miles from your neighbor, or anywhere in between, you’ve likely encountered various types of roads throughout your life.

But what do they all mean? What’s the difference between street vs road? Or avenue vs street? Or boulevard vs road?

The English language is full of them, but don’t worry. In this complete glossary guide, we’ll go through all the road naming conventions to help get it sorted.

Connects two points to each other, often now used especially for vehicular traffic. All further definitions on this page are types of roads. (abbr: Rd.)
Another word for road, connects two points to each other.
A public road with buildings on one or both sides. The term is more commonly used in areas of larger population density (towns, cities). Often, it is shorter than, and runs perpendicular to, an avenue. (abbr: St.)
A public road often in a large town or city, usually with buildings on one or both sides. Frequently, it is longer than, and runs perpendicular to, a street. (abbr: Ave.)
A wider street or avenue that is often multi-lane, bi-directional, and a main artery in a city. Because of their prominence and traffic, they are usually spruced up more than other streets and avenues, with fancier trees, decorations, and sometimes a center median dividing the traffic that may have greenery. (abbr: Blvd.)
Often used as a synonym for road, it is also used to designate a small street connected to a road. (abbr: Way)
A narrower type of road, often in rural and suburban areas. (abbr: Ln.)
A designation for a really short street or a square (from plaza). (abbr: Pl.)
A winding road, often lengthily so, usually contouring and curving due to the natural topography, such as trees, hills, and water sources. (abbr: Dr.)
A shorter, private drive used for access to a specific building, such as a family home. These are also privately maintained, usually by the landlord or the tenant, as opposed to the municipality. (abbr: Drwy.)
A short, dead-end street that often ends in a circle. Also sometimes referred to as a cul-de-sac. (abbr: Ct.)
An open public space in a town or city, often encircled by streets, lined with trees and parks, and surrounded by more important buildings; also known as a square. (abbr: Plz.)
A cross between a street and an avenue, used officially in Tempe, AZ, USA. (abbr: Strv.)
Frontage Road
A narrow road used for maintenance and access that runs parallel to a larger road, divided from it by a median, usually; also known as an access road, service road, or parallel road. (abbr: Fr.)
A type of shorter, narrower road that usually follows the top or curve of a slope. (abbr: Ter.)
A type of curved street, usually connecting back to the same, more significant road at either end. (abbr: Cres.)
A narrow pathway or walkway, often between buildings, and usually not vehicle-accessible; it may or may not lead out to another street. (abbr: Aly.)
Also referred to as a promenade, it is a pathway that winds along the contours of a body of water, such as a river or ocean, and is usually reserved for foot traffic. (abbr: Esp.)
Any of several types of major public roads that connects distant and multiple cities. (abbr: Hwy.)
Also known as a toll road, it is a portion of a highway where a fee is charged for access. (abbr: Tpke.)
A controlled-access highway system used in the United States that connects large portions of the country, usually state-to-state. (abbr: I.)
Ring Road
Also known as a beltway or orbital, it is road or system of roads that encircle a city. (abbr: Bltwy.)
Also known as an expressway or motorway, it is a large highway system designed for high-speed movement. (abbr: Fwy.)
A kind of highway that is often straddled by greenery and parkland on both sides. (abbr: Pkwy.)
A road, usually on an embankment, that traverses bodies of water or swampland. (abbr: Cswy.)

What did you think? Know now the difference between road vs street, street vs avenue, and road vs boulevard? Got any more to add to our list? Let us know in the comments below! And, for more definitions like these, check out our travel terms glossary.

Written by
Christian Eilers
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