In the United States the word cottage is often used to mean a small holiday home. However there are cottage-style dwellings in cities, and in places such as Canada the term exists with no connotations of size at all (cf. vicarage or hermitage). In the USA this type of summer home is more commonly called a “cabin”, “chalet”, or even “camp”.
Originally in the Middle Ages, cottages housed agricultural workers and their friends and families. The term cottage denoted the dwelling of a cotter. Thus, cottages were smaller peasant units (larger peasant units being called messuages). In that early period, a documentary reference to a cottage would most often mean, not a small stand-alone dwelling as today, but a complete farmhouse and yard (albeit a small one).
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