In my neck of the woods

comsci

Senior Member
Mandarin, Taiwan(Yankees 40 Wang)
I often hear you guys say "in my neck of the woods"; though it's understood, I was wondering about its origin and whether it's AE or BE. How about "on my side of the pond"? Do both of these phrases convey the notion of "the part of the world" in which one resides? It's almost as if a pet phrase that you guys would naturally tag onto virtually every reply, at least in many I've noticed. :D
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Hi Comsci,
    "neck of the woods" is common in AE. I don't know about BE.

    On this side of the puddle (The Atlantic Ocean, for me) we understand 'my side of the pond' as a colloquial way to distinguish Europe from the Americas.
     

    equivoque

    Senior Member
    Australia - English
    I don't use it very often but have used it twice recently in this forum. I also noticed another Aussie used it in the same thread as my reference and I'm pretty sure that was "tongue in cheek".

    It means "in my neighbourhood" or "in my vicinity".
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    From Online Etymology Dictionary:

    "Phrase neck of the woods (Amer.Eng.) is attested from 1780 in the sense of "narrow stretch of woods;" 1839 with meaning "settlement in a wooded region.""
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    I did a little net searching.

    It seems to be an American expression

    Here and here you may find some interesting information on its origins (saw them in other sites too).
     

    stranger in your midst

    Senior Member
    English / Scotland
    'In my neck of the woods', to my ear, tends to suggest 'in my neighbourhood', therefore is quite colloquial, as opposed to 'on this side of the pond', or 'in this part of the world'. It's well used in BE, although the distinctly AE 'in the hood' is catching on, albeit it has a rather ironic slant to it.
     

    comsci

    Senior Member
    Mandarin, Taiwan(Yankees 40 Wang)
    As I have figured, quoting from another Aussie .,, in another thread "In my neck o the woods supper is a light snack taken between sunset and midnight", the meaning is then quite clear.

    Thank you equivoque, cuchu, and et al. Any ideas about the origins of these phrases? Many thanks.

    Thank you ireney for the links; they are very helpful.

    Got it, thank you all for your prompt replies, really appreciated.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I'd thought we already had a thread on this topic, but the post I remembered was tangential to the topic. Here's what I wrote about "neck of the woods"

    "My neck of the woods" simply means my area, my particular environs. The word neck applies to a stretch of coastline that doubles back on itself, I'd say it's a protrusion not prominent enough to be a promontory, or a narrow connective bit of land connecting a small promontory. Sometimes necks are submerged at high tide, and the "promontory" becomes a small island, or simply "rock." On a larger, more continental scale you'd call such a feature an isthmus-- but it usually goes the other way in AE, where people give up on the tongue-twisting borrowed-Greek term and call an isthmus a neck.

    As the great forests have long been reduced to isolated island-like stands of woods, I think neck must've come into the language by analogy. A neck connects a protrusion of wooded growth into an upper drainage, just as a neck connects a small promontory to the mainland. Often settlers cleared the upper part of a drainage and left the narrow (neck-like)entry to their particular "holler" overgrown except for the trail or lane, an easily-defended entryway that would be regionally known as someone's particular neck of the woods.
    .
    .
     

    Bottoman

    Member
    italian
    Well, maybe I should be asking this in some slang forum but I wanted to try posting it here nevertheless.

    What the expression "neck in the woods" mean??

    Read that in an American chatroom...
     

    Bottoman

    Member
    italian
    yes! exactly! that was the exact phrase and its meaning! thank you very much! I 'm always eager to learn every subtleties and sayings from UK and US
     

    Fred_C

    Senior Member
    Français
    << merged with a previous thread - please remember Rule 1 >>

    Hi.
    I came across a sort of quick online poll, while visiting an English website, that asked the users to answer the question if they are working or not on this Christmas week.
    Among the answers, there were «Yes», «no», «just a few days» and «this week isn’t a holiday in my neck of the woods».
    I think I can guess that the neck of the woods means «part of the world», my question is about the usage of that phrase :
    Is it just an innocently fancy or familiar phrase,
    or does it show some contempt to the described parts of the world that do not consider Christmas as a holiday?

    Thank you in advance for your answers.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    elchinitovaliente

    Senior Member
    Standard Edited American English
    Well, at first glance, I wouldn't read the sentence as showing any sign of contempt. The phrase ''my neck of the woods'' is very familiar and colloquial within the United States. Maybe outside our borders you might find more of an emotional connotation attached to it. Perhaps we should see what the other English-speakers across the Pacific or Atlantic think. :D
     

    Fr FUL

    New Member
    English-Midwestern transplanted to NYC
    In a meeting of conversational English teachers this morning, a South African remarked that "in my neck of the woods" was completely new to him and wondered at its context. While I appreciate the suggestion that "neck" may be a sylvan application of the coastal "neck" used as equivalent to "isthmus," its early attestation in an 18th century American context makes me wonder about a Pennsylvania Dutch origin. Could "my neck" come from "mein Eck" ("my corner")?
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    Is it just an innocently fancy or familiar phrase,
    or does it show some contempt to the described parts of the world that do not consider Christmas as a holiday?
    If anything, it is slightly self-deprecating. In my little neck of the woods (and I know it's really just one part of the big world) Christmas is a holiday. If I wanted to be contemptuous of other customs I would take the opposite tack and say "Not in my world!" implying that my world is the world that matters.
     

    dimelo2

    Senior Member
    English-United States
    It's definitely a phrase that I would use, but to me it's a little bit comical to use it refer to the U.S. vs the U.K., because to me, it typically refers to a much smaller area. I come from Maine, a fairly rural state. Here, a "neck of the woods" would be used to distinguish between two places only an hour apart. If I'm going to do some errands in a town an hour away, and I'm thinking of meeting up with a friend while I'm there, and he calls me on the phone while I'm my way, I might say something like, "well I've been driving for 15 minutes, so I'll be up in your neck of the woods in about 45."
     
    In a meeting of conversational English teachers this morning, a South African remarked that "in my neck of the woods" was completely new to him and wondered at its context. While I appreciate the suggestion that "neck" may be a sylvan application of the coastal "neck" used as equivalent to "isthmus," its early attestation in an 18th century American context makes me wonder about a Pennsylvania Dutch origin. Could "my neck" come from "mein Eck" ("my corner")?
    You are probably right. The Middle English Dictionary of the University of Michigan has incidents that show that "neck" was originally "egge", the Middle English word for edge.
    There is a very long thread about this topic here

    http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/159812/idiom-in-my-neck-of-the-woods-ame/160058?noredirect=1#comment553990_160058

    and here

    http://forum.thefreedictionary.com/postst55766_Idiom--in-my-neck-of-the-woods--AmE.aspx
     
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