barrier dike

mkb7

New Member
Dutch - the Netherlands
In a poem translated from Dutch to English I saw the title named Barrier Dike. What does barrier dike mean? Is it a regular term in English? Could it be used for every dike in the world, is it special for Dutch dikes, or is it special for one specific Dutch dike? For example, IJsselmeer Dam could only be used for one specific dike in the Netherlands.
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    A dike can be used to channel water as well as to simply restrain it, so I would interpret a barrier dike as being specifically for the latter purpose. In common US usage a dike is usually, in effect, a barrier.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    A barrier dike would be a dike that served as a barrier between the sea and the protected land behind the dike. If I am not mistaken, the dike between the Ijsselmeer and the North Sea is called the Afsluitdijk -- and "barrier dike" is simply a literal translation of that word into English. Is the poem about the Afsluitdijk? If so, I think you have your answer there.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    What does barrier dike mean? Is it a regular term in English?
    It is used here in a translation. It is not a regular term in English.

    The dikes of Holland are famous, and there is a traditional US/UK children's story about the brave little boy who stuck his finger in the dike, plugging a hole and keeping out the sea, never leaving until finally adults came. Even in that story, it is simply called "the dike" and not "barrier dike".
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    A dyke is basically a ditch but, in context, is usually understood as an artificial waterway for drainage purposes.

    Confusingly, a dyke is also a barrier against the sea or a river. It is usually in the form of a levee/embankment that sits with the sea or river on one side and the land on the other.

    The use of "barrier dyke" seems to be to distinguish it from a watercourse dyke.
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Paul, I have never heard "dike" used to mean a ditch or other below-ground-level channel for water. Only a wall or embankment, higher than the surrounding ground level. I have also never seen it spelled "dyke". I wonder if this is more common in BE.

    The WR dictionary lists "ditch" as one meaning, which it calls a "civil engineering" meaning. It also shows both spellings. So you are certainly correct.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Dykes - watercourses for drainage - are very common in the Eastern counties of England (we imported Dutch engineers some 300 years ago.) Here are some pictures of dykes in Lincolnshire from Google

    You will have seen that I have edited away the reference to water levels: it was not worded very well. In the search page (link above), many of the larger dykes can be seen to have a water level that is often, at most, only 2 foot lower than the surrounding land.

    As far as spelling is concerned, I've never seen it spelled "dike" but that's perhaps me - I used to live on the northern bank of the River Humber and there are villages there with such names as Gilberdyke, and Howdendyke - probably the Dutch influence and the fact that it was the part of England settled by the Danes and their kind.
     
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