The “traditional” mansion
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 from the Latin word mansiō, 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.