Neck of the woods

FRITZ JUENGLING juengling_fritz at SALKEIZ.K12.OR.US
Mon Feb 23 15:46:31 UTC 2004

I know 'neck of land,' as in "The narrow neck of land between Columbia and Costa Rica is called Panama." I'm sure you know that, too.

>>> pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU 02/20/04 04:49PM >>>
A member of our English dept. recently asked me about this expression, and
now it's driving me crazy. I've poked around in various dictionaries, and
several of them have "neck of the woods" as an entry and an 1839 first
occurrence, but none hazards an explanation of its derivation.  If there's
a sense of "neck" that denotes "part" or "area" in any expression but this
one, I've missed it.  Extending the meaning of "woods" to mean something
like "neighborhood" is transparent enough, but I can't figure out how
"neck" could ever have been chosen to designate a part of a forest.

Perhaps I'm failing to see the forest for the trees.   Can anybody shed
light on the origins of this expression?

Peter Mc.

Peter A. McGraw       Linfield College        McMinnville, Oregon
******************* pmcgraw at ************************

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