Jersey barriers (1969)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 24 16:57:36 UTC 2005

FWIW, I'm quite familiar with the term, "Jersey barrier," but I first
knew this kind of low, sectioned, (re)movable, concrete wall as a
"Jersey dike." I continue to use this latter term in preference to the
former, just for the hell of it. In both cases, I learned the term by
reading it somewhere at some time later than 1969.


On 8/24/05, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Jersey barriers (1969)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Tue, 23 Aug 2005 14:58:30 -0400, bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
> >OED doesn't have "Jersey barriers." Is it in DARE? Anybody got a good
> >date for it? Other names for it?
> [...]
> >Harbor Freeway Will Test Concrete Divider; Chain-Link Fence Repairs
> >Caused Jams So Experiment Is Being Tried on 3-Mile Stretch
> >LEE DYE. Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.:
> >Mar 2, 1969. p. B1 (1 page)
> The L.A. Times cite is for "New Jersey barrier":
> -----
> 1969 _L.A. Times_ 2 Mar. C1/5 These and other reasons compelled the
> Division of Highways to look with interest when the state of New Jersey
> began experimenting with a new type of concrete divider. "The New Jersey
> barrier has been effective in virtually eliminating cross-median
> accidents," Russel said.
> -----
> But here's a cite for "Jersey barrier" from the same year:
> -----
> 1969 H. ELLISON "Along the Scenic Route" in _The Essential Ellison_ (2001)
> 480 He watched the vehicle skid, wheelless, for a quarter of a mile down
> the Freeway before it caught the inner breakwall of the Jersey Barrier,
> shot high in the air, and came down over.
> -----
> I'm sure this could be antedated by a decade or so, but there's an
> unfortunate dearth of digitized sources from NJ.
> --Ben Zimmer

-Wilson Gray

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