General English


  • noun a long wall of earth built to keep water out
  • verb to build walls of earth to help prevent water from flooding land


  • noun a lesbian. The only common slang term to describe a female homosexual; it was first used derogatorily by heterosexuals, but it is now used by gay women themselves, though often wryly. When said by a heterosexual the word usually still carries overtones of the ‘aggressive masculine’ stereotype of a lesbian. No one has satisfactorily explained the term’s ultimate origin; it might be from an old pejorative euphemism for a woman’s genitals. Another, rather far-fetched, theory is that it is inspired by the story of the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke. Whatever its origin the word seems to have been imported into British English from America between the world wars.