Webster 1913 Edition



. The spelling
is restricted by some to the geological meaning.

Definition 2020



See also: dike


Alternative forms

  • dike (standard US spelling for most senses)


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 on 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
  • dry-stone dyke
  • dyke-back
  • dyke bottom
  • dyke louper
  • dyke phase, dyke-phase
  • dyke road
  • dyke-rock
  • dyke swarm, dyke-swarm
  • fail dyke
  • February fill-dyke
Related terms


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

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

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.

  • See Wikisaurus:female homosexual
Derived terms



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



Old English dīc


  • IPA(key): /dəik/


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