ditch

Definitions

General English

Agriculture

  • noun a channel to take away rainwater
  • verb to dig channels for land drainage

Aviation

  • verb to land a plane in the sea, in an emergency

Construction

Military

  • noun a man-made channel used for drainage
  • verb to make an emergency landing in the sea

Slang

  • verb to play truant, bunk off. The term has been used (intransitively) by schoolchildren since at least 2000. It may be a transferral of the older colloquial sense of ‘ditch’ meaning to abandon or dispose of. Mitch is a contemporary synonym.

Origin & History of “ditch”

like its close relative dyke (13th c.), ditch probably comes ultimately from a long-lost language once spoken on the shores of the Baltic. Its source-word seems to have represented an all-embracing notion of ‘excavation’, including not just the hole dug but also the mound formed from the excavated earth (which perhaps supports the suggestion that dig belongs to the same word-family). this dichotomy of sense is preserved in dyke, whose original meaning, from Old Norse dík, was ‘ditch’, but which came in the 15th century to denote ‘embankment’ (probably under the influence of middle Dutch dijc ‘dam’).
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