1 a: the boundary of a closed plane figure b: the length of a perimeter
3: outer limits —often used in plural
I had the pleasure of going with a small group of friends to Sewanee, TN this weekend. We left early Saturday morning and came back this afternoon. It was a lovely time, filled with books, laughter, good food, fun drinks, movies, games and an unplanned one hour hike. The hike was planned. Its length was not.
It started out as a fairly short hike this morning after an excellent breakfast of scrambled eggs, hashbrown casserole, bacon and monkey bread. (We needed a hike after that breakfast!) There's a memorial cross near the home where we were staying, so we started our walk by heading there. After that short distance, we still had an hour before we needed to leave to come home. The signs said "Perimeter Trail" with arrows pointing in opposite directions, indicating (we presumed) that the trail was a loop. After all, Webster's says that perimeter is the boundary of a closed area.
We calculated that we had about thirty minutes to walk, in order to allow enough time for me to shower before heading back, since I was going straight to a church service to see A dance. We chose a direction and headed out. About ten minutes in, one friend asked whether we should turn around and head back. I was enjoying the hike and said we should just carry on. A bit further down the trail, one friend said we seemed to be about a quarter of the way through the trail. Having no natural sense of direction, I was impressed by this assessment. Turns out, I shouldn't have been terribly impressed.
First, we crossed over a completely unfamiliar road. Then, the trail ended. We finally found ourselves on a highway several miles from our home and ended up flagging down a truck, asking directions, being told we were a little over a mile from our desination and heading back at a very brisk pace. We arrived at home at our desired departure time, took the fastest showers possible, loaded up and left. According to my rough estimates via Google maps, we hiked about 3 miles or so.
As we were booking it back to hop in the shower, a friend said to me, "Hey, I've got a word for you, WordGirl. Perimeter." How did a trail that was a perimeter trail end? Had we consulted Merriam Webster first, we might have noticed that perimeter can mean "outer limits." I posited the theory that we had walked the perimeter of the county by the time we returned home. I guess one of the lessons learned today was that it's helpful to know what you're walking the perimeter of before setting out.