Berm (Re: tree lawns; was Re: Off and on)

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Thu Sep 22 07:15:49 UTC 2011

On Sep 21, 2011, at 11:41 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> On Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 1:18 AM, Ben Zimmer
> <bgzimmer at> wrote:
> Hm. Apparently, every term except "beltway" is used in or around Saint
> Louis. But then, I haven't actually *lived* in StL for over fifty
> years. Things change.
> And the overwhelming majority of respondents *don't* have a word for it.
> FWIW, I learned "berm" as the military term for a dike- or levee-like
> structure backstopping a rifle range.

The word "berm" seems to have outgrown the dictionaries. Golden Gardens in Seattle has two uses that appear to not be in the OED.

My Mac dictionary comes close, but no cigar:

a flat strip of land, raised bank, or terrace bordering a river or canal.
• a path or grass strip beside a road.
• an artificial ridge or embankment, e.g., as a defense against tanks.
• a narrow space, esp. one between a ditch and the base of a parapet.

At least number 2 below is neither flat or raised; it is near a stream, but does not border it.

1. September 2003 -

Prepared by Sound Tree Solutions (Elizabeth Walker) and Arboriculture and Restoration (Paul West) for City of Seattle Department of Parks & Recreation
Trees planted in sandy or loamy soils should have a 3” high berm erected just past the
perimeter of the planting hole to funnel water to the root ball and wet the hole/sidewall
Berms should not be constructed in clay soils or on heavily compacted sites

2. c. 2010 -

by bikerchick

Btw, there are so many things closer to this stream than yards up the hill!!

there is a berm close to the GG dog park, intended to prevent dog feces pathogens from filtering down from said park. But how many times have I seen stupid dog owners who let their dogs bath in the stream post-work-out in the dog park?!

This berm has a sign designating it as such. It is located downhill from the off-leash area, and the trees and bushes are intended to filter out the dog waste before it reaches the creek/sound.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

The American Dialect Society -

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