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See also: Dyke and dike


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Alternative forms[edit]

  • dike (standard US spelling for most senses)


Etymology 1[edit]

A variant of dike, from Northern Middle English dik and dike (ditch), from Old Norse díki (ditch). Influenced by Middle Dutch dijc (ditch; dam) and Middle Low German dīk (dam).[1] See also ditch.


dyke (plural dykes)

  1. (Britain, historical) A long, narrow hollow dug from the ground to serve as a boundary marker.
  2. (Britain) A long, narrow hollow dug from the ground to conduct water.
  3. (Britain, dialect) Any navigable watercourse.
  4. (Britain, dialect) Any watercourse.
  5. (Britain, dialect) Any small body of water.
  6. (obsolete) Any hollow dug into the ground.
  7. (now chiefly Australia, slang) A place to urinate and defecate: an outhouse or lavatory.
    • 1977, Ian Slack-Smith, "The Passing of the Twin Seater" in The Cubbaroo Tales:
      In Cubbaroo's dim distant past
      They built a double dyke.
      Back to back in the yard it stood
      An architectural dream in wood.
  8. (Britain) An embankment formed by the creation of a ditch.
  9. (obsolete) A city wall.
  10. (now chiefly Scotland) A low embankment or stone wall serving as an enclosure and boundary marker.
  11. (Britain, dialect) Any fence or hedge.
  12. (Britain) An earthwork raised to prevent inundation of low land by the sea or flooding rivers.
    • 1891, Susan Hale, The Story of Nations: Mexico, p. 100:
      The king of Texcuco advised the building of a great dike, so thick and strong as to keep out the water.
  13. (Britain, figuratively) Any impediment, barrier, or difficulty.
  14. (Britain) A beaver's dam.
  15. (Britain, dialect) A jetty; a pier.
  16. (Britain) A raised causeway.
  17. (Britain, dialect, mining) A fissure in a rock stratum filled with intrusive rock; a fault.
  18. (Britain, geology) A body of rock (usually igneous) originally filling a fissure but now often rising above the older stratum as it is eroded away.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]


dyke (third-person singular simple present dykes, present participle dyking, simple past and past participle dyked)

  1. (transitive or intransitive) To dig, particularly to create a ditch.
  2. (transitive) To surround with a ditch, to entrench.
  3. (transitive, Scotland) To surround with a low dirt or stone wall.
  4. (transitive or intransitive) To raise a protective earthwork against a sea or river.
  5. (transitive) To scour a watercourse.
  6. (transitive) To steep [fibers] within a watercourse.

Etymology 2[edit]

Unknown. Attested US 1942, in Berrey and Van den Bark’s American Thesaurus of Slang.[2]


dyke (plural dykes)

  1. (slang, usually pejorative) A lesbian, particularly one with masculine or macho traits or behavior.
Usage notes[edit]

This term for a lesbian is often derogatory (or taken as such) when used by heterosexuals but is also used by some lesbians and bisexual women to refer to themselves positively. See reclaimed word and reappropriation for discussion.

Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionaries. "dyke".
  2. ^ "dike, dyke, n.3" The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989, OED Online, Oxford UP, April 4, 2000.[1].
  • Oxford English Dictionary, "dike | dyke, n.¹" & "dike | dyke, v.¹".




Old English dīc



dyke (plural dykes)

  1. A dry-stone wall usually forming a boundary to a wood, field or garden.
  2. A mound of earth, stone- or turf-faced, sometimes topped with hedge planting, used as a fence between any two portions of land.
  3. A hedge