Car Park Vs. Parking Lot

If a random person were to walk up to you on the street and ask, “Where is the car park? ”, would you know where to direct them? Would you even know what a car park is? The other day, an English woman “on holiday” who had lost her rental car in one of the many downtown Cincinnati parking lots pitched this very question to me. Like most Americans, I at first had no clue what she was talking about, but after examining the context clues and a few long seconds, I realized she was looking for the parking lot. I quickly collected myself and pointed around the corner to the nearest lot.

A few minutes later I couldn’t help but reflect on the foreign encounter. I asked myself, what word really makes more sense, car park or parking lot? Car park sounds positive, majestic, and a place where cars leisurely play while their owners negotiate their day to day. A parking lot on the other hand reminds me of concrete, oil stains, and small parking spots that are the perfect set up for a door ding or scratch. So the next time you need to use the word parking lot in a sentence, substitute it for car park. Or to avoid possible raised eyebrows and perplexed looks, at least think about a car park when you are fighting for a spot downtown or at Kenwood Mall.