Street, Road, Ave, Boulevard, etc. (Definitions Explained)

If you sent physical mails to friends and family, or if you researched property ownership information when home hunting, you would notice a common variable to every address.

Terms like Street, Road, and Avenue may sound like synonyms of one another, but there are subtle differences between each term that make each address considerably more unique.

Anyone can make a vaguely accurate comparison between a Freeway and a Lane, but a comparison between a Lane and an Avenue may require a little bit more research to nail down.

So, what exactly are the differences between these terms?

Note that the definitions below conform primarily to the United States’ naming conventions. Other countries may introduce additional categories and alternative descriptions to describe and categorize their automotive transportation system.

what is the difference between street road avenue boulevard lane highway freeway

What is a Street?

A Street is a dominantly urban term used to describe a road with building on one or both sides. Streets tend to be thoroughly planned before construction and are the primary means of transportation within a town or city.

In many cases, Streets are numbered to make navigation easier, another facet of their often intrinsic urban planning.

These often run perpendicular to Avenues.

How Wide is a Street?

Streets frequently vary in width, with most being two to four lanes in width depending on population density or other factors. It usually amounts to a width between 20 and 39 feet.

What is a Road?

A Road is comparatively straightforward and refers simply to a connection between two other driving mediums, such as a Highway and a Street connection.

There is no convention that states who owns a Road or what might be built parallel to a Road.

How Wide is a Road?

Roads are typically two lanes and just wide enough to comfortably accommodate typical automotive traffic in both directions. The average width of a Road is approximately 20 feet.

What is an Avenue?

Most people think of larger cities when they think of Avenues, and this assumption is largely accurate.

Avenues are found perpendicular to streets in an urban area and are generally longer than Streets, sometimes extending the entire length of a town or city center. Like Streets, Avenues typically have structures on one or both sides.

How Wide is an Avenue?

Avenues are greater than Streets in length but generally the same in width. Depending on the Avenue and number of lanes, the width can fluctuate between 20 and 39 feet.

What is a Boulevard?

A Boulevard can be considered a glorified Street or Avenue. They generally serve the same function of moving traffic through an urban area, but with a few extra boons.

For one, Boulevards typically tend to be multi-laned. Secondly, trees, flowers, decorations, or grassy medians aesthetically adorn Boulevards.

How Wide is a Boulevard?

Boulevards are on the broader end of Streets and Avenues and almost exclusively feature multiple lanes. As such, Boulevards are typically at least 39 feet wide.

What is a Lane?

Lanes are the smallest of the terms in this list and are usually exclusive to rural and suburban areas. Lanes are straight and narrow and may be parallel to homes or small, privately owned pieces of land.

How Wide is a Lane?

Lanes are the narrowest entry on this list and can accommodate two lanes at most, but Lanes are often one-way. The widest Lanes are rarely more than twenty feet wide, with most ten feet in width translating to a single lane.

What is a Highway?

Highways are large public roads used to connect different towns, cities, and municipalities. Most Highways have four lanes and cover great distances, frequently up to one hundred miles or more.

How Wide is a Highway?

Highways need to be wide enough to safely accommodate four lanes of high-speed traffic, and as a result, they tend to have sizeable widths of no less than 49 feet.

What is a Freeway?

Many people might get Highways and Freeways confused or think them to be synonymous; while all Freeways are Highways, not all Highways are Freeways.

A Freeway generally has a median and four or more lanes in addition to a higher length and speed limit. Freeways may also be called “expressways” or “motorways.”

How Wide is a Freeway?

With faster speeds and more lanes than Highways, Freeways are even wider than Highways. They are greater than 84 feet across.

Additional Terms:


Interstates are named for their purpose of facilitating travel between states. Interstates are nationally funded and are often thousands of miles in length.

However, the H-1 interstate in Hawaii proves that there are exceptions to these systems’ rules crossing state borders.


Drives are roads that follow the land’s natural contours, appearing in various shapes from windy mountain paths to wavy coastal fronts. Drives are unique in that their profile is dictated more by nature than engineers.


A Terrace might connect to a Drive at the top of a mountain. These roads take their name from the geologic feature upon which they lie.


Alleys are the only term on this list that are not designed to accommodate automotive traffic. Alleys are narrow walkways, often between buildings, that may or may not connect two Streets.

Generally, the only wheels to touch an Alley’s pavement are those of bikes and skateboards.


Plazas – also known as squares – are rectangular sections of public roads typically home to businesses and parks. Plazas often feature festivals and local events and are a common place for a city’s residents to get together.


A Place usually refers to a dead-end road that may or may not include homes.


Courts are often found at the end of places and are circular features in which traffic may turn around. Courts are a common feature of residential areas and are commonly called “cul-de-sacs.”


Ways are somewhat synonymous with roads, but with a few common caveats.

Ways are generally a little bit smaller than roads and may sometimes serve as a connection between two larger roads. You find them in both urban and rural areas.