Not in DARE

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 19 00:03:49 UTC 2005

Really, dInIs? Who knew? I checked the OED and the 1976 edition of the
Random House Dictionary and didn't see it. That is, I found the word in both
places, but not the relevant meaning. My wife, a Pennsylvania native, had no
idea what a gangway was, until we went to St. Louis and I showed her the old
family manse and took her through the gangway to the backyard. I've never
lived anywhere but St, Louis where I've seen anything that I would think of
as a "gangway" and I've never heard "gangway" used anyplace else. But, of
course, that could be mere coincidence.

Another oddity is that the space between the sidewalk and the curb planted
with grass and trees is commonplace in St. Louis, but I have not the
slightest idea what that is called there. I always considered it to be a
part of people's frontyards. I thought that till I saw the DARE request for
regional names for it. My wife calls that space a "tree lawn." I have
"parkway," but that refers to the grassy space planted with flowers - but
not trees - between the two sides of a "boulevard," a street eight or more
lanes wide, a paradigm example being Kingshighway Boulevard in St. Louis.


On 11/18/05, Dennis R. Preston <preston at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at MSU.EDU>
> Subject: Re: Not in DARE
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I think this is general US (urban); hence, not in DARE.
> dInIs
> >The other day, I heard a local newsreader speak of the "gangway" of a
> ship.
> >Obviously, what was meant was "gangplank."
> >
> >DARE has "gangway" as railroader and logger jargon. However, in St.
> Louis, a
> >"gangway" is a narrow, paved space between two buildings that permits
> >passage from the front of one of the buildings to the back of it. In
> >residential neighborhoods, the gangway connects to the front walk of a
> >residedence and permits passage from the frontyard of that residence to
> its
> >backyard. As you face a house, the gangway to the right leads to the
> >backyard of that house, whereas the gangway to the left leads to the
> >backyard of the neighboring house. Adolescent boys use these for
> tom-peeping
> >and males of all ages use them as emergency urinals, much to the
> annoyance
> >of the homeowners.
> >--
> >-Wilson Gray
> --
> Dennis R. Preston
> University Distinguished Professor
> Department of English
> 15-C Morrill Hall
> Michigan State University
> East Lansing, MI 48824-1036
> Phone: (517) 353-4736
> Fax: (517) 353-3755
> preston at

-Wilson Gray

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