In origin, pond is a variant form of the word pound, meaning a confining enclosure. As straying cattle are enclosed in a pound so water is enclosed in a pond. In earlier times, ponds were man-made and utilitarian; as stew ponds, mill ponds and so on. The significance of this feature seems, in some cases, to have been lost when the word was carried abroad with emigrants. In the United States, natural pools are often called ponds. Ponds for a specific purpose keep the adjective, such as "stock pond", used for watering livestock.
Pond usually implies a quite small body of water, generally smaller than one would require a boat to cross. Another definition is that a pond is a body of water where even its deepest areas are reached by sunlight or where a human can walk across the entire body of water without being submerged. In some dialects of English, pond normally refers to small artificially created bodies of water.
Some regions of the United States define a pond as a body of water with a surface area of less than 10 acres (40,000 m²). Minnesota, known as the 'land of 10,000 lakes' is commonly said to distinguish lakes from ponds, bogs and other water features by this definition, but also says that a lake is distinguished primarily by wave action reaching the shore.
The term is also used for temporary accumulation of water from surface runoff (ponded water).
There are various regional names for naturally occurring ponds. In Scotland, one of the terms is lochan, which may also apply to a large body of water such as a lake. In North American prairies, they may be termed playas. Rather than worrying too much about how big it needs to be, or what it is called, the point seems to be that all ponds share a common feature—shallow water and associated plants and animals.
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