Cambridge Dictionary gives this definition about "block"

the distance along a street from where one road crosses it to the place where the next road crosses it, or one part of a street like this, especially in a town or city

Consider the area pointed out by the red rectangle shown below

enter image description here

From the left to the right, the first part "the distance along a street" becomes "the distance along Independence Avenue"; then second part "where one road crosses it to the place where ..." becomes

"where 4th st SW crosses it to the place where ..."

question#1: Is the area pointed out by the red rectangle called a block?

question#2: Does "it" here refer to Independence Avenue?

question#3: Does "the place" here refer to the block?

question#4: I guess "one part of a street like this" means some other style/shape of block, What does that refer to?

  • You are parsing the sentence incorrectly: "the place" belongs to the clause "the place where the next road crosses it". In this case, it would be "the place where 3rd St SW crosses it".
    – TonyK
    Mar 16, 2020 at 15:16
  • A block can be a linear distance along a single street, or a two-dimensional area enclosed by four streets.
    – TonyK
    Mar 16, 2020 at 15:18

1 Answer 1


1) The definition in Cambridge dictionary is not describing a "block" as the area you have outlined in red on your map. It is describing it in terms of the distance along one street. Let us take Independence Avenue as that street. Now, start at the intersection of that avenue with 4th Street. Now, move along Independence Avenue to the right (east), until you arrive at 3rd Street. That is a block, as they are defining it. It is a distance along Independence from 4th to 3rd.
2) Yes, "it" refers to the street.
3) The word "place" just means the intersection.
4) I don't know what they mean by "one part of a street like this".

Note that the definition given is of a linear distance along a street, not of a two-dimensional shape.
However, "block" can also mean the two-dimensional shape, as you can see in the definition from Merriam-Webster dictionary.
M-W "block"
At that link, definition 6a(1) refers to a shape like the square on your map, while 6a(2) : refers to the linear distance along a street.

  • Thank you! Geometrically, with the definition in Cambridge dictionary, a block is line segment rather than a rectangle, right?
    – WXJ96163
    Mar 16, 2020 at 7:43
  • Yes, that's right. Mar 16, 2020 at 7:59

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