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A mansion is a very large dwelling house. U.S. realtors define a mansion as a dwelling of over 8,000 square feet (740 m2). A traditional European mansion was defined as a house which contained a ballroom and tens of bedrooms. Today, however, there is no formal definition beyond being a large and well-appointed house.
The word itself derives (through Old French) from the Latin word mansiō ("act of remaining or staying", a verbal noun from manere "to remain" or "to stay".) In the Roman Empire, a mansio was an official stopping place on a Roman road, or via, where cities sprang up, and where the villas of provincial officials came to be placed. The Scots word "manse" originally defined a property large enough for the Minister of the parish to maintain himself, but a mansion is no longer self-sustaining in this way (compare a Roman or medieval villa). 'Manor' comes from the same root — territorial holdings granted to a lord who would remain there — hence it can be seen how the word 'Mansion' came to have its meaning.
The "modern" mansion Edit
Mansions built during the last and present centuries usually have specially designed rooms meant to accommodate leisure activities of a particular kind. Many will have a conservatory or greenhouse, while others will have an infinity pool or a home theatre. Some have all of these features. The relative importance of these specially designed rooms changes with the times: At the beginning of the 20th century no true mansion would have been built without a room to house a private library or office, while at the beginning of the 21st century the presence of a room designed for a home theatre or cinema is a must. Most recently, mansions have been built with integrated domotics.
A modern mansion today may not necessarily be limited to a single house standing alone. Compounds, or a grouping of larger houses have become more popular. The Kennedy Compound is an example of one family building surrounded by large houses on a single plot.