a. A subdivision or district of a city or town under the jurisdiction of or patrolled by a specific unit of its police force.
b. The police station situated in and having jurisdiction over such a district.
2. An election district of a city or town.
3. often precincts
a. A place or enclosure marked off by definite limits, such as walls: the mysterious precincts of the old monastery.
b. A boundary: Hunting is not allowed within the precincts of the estate.
4. precincts The neighborhood or surrounding area; the environs.
5. often precincts An area of thought or action; a province or domain: "It was in these spacious precincts that Dryden's imagination was most at home" (Mark Van Doren).
[Middle English precincte, a defined district or area, from Medieval Latin praecīnctum, from Latin, neuter past participle of praecingere, to encircle : prae-, pre- + cingere, to gird; see kenk- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.