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.
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- mansion on the Modern Society wikia, a very similar article (both are based on the Wikipedia article)