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Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Say it with me.  Suprural.

I just made that word up. As far as I know, or at least as far as Google is able to tell me, it doesn’t exist in the English language. It’s not in the dictionary, which surprises me. Even after adding words like 'Muffin Top' and 'OMG' to the Oxford Dictionary, the word suprural is nowhere to be found. Spell Check is even yelling at me for this one. I’m sure someone else may have said the word suprural, before. They may have even used it the way I am. But no one has officially coined the term as far as I know.

But what does it mean?

Over the years, I’ve written about growing up in my hometown and I’ve struggled to classify it among the available words for residential communities. This is a city of less than 10,000 people, according to the 2000 census. It was around 13,000 in 1940. Estimated population in 1909 was 22,000. The peak came during the coal days. Even in the 1970s there was still a substantial amount of business being done in the city thanks to the glass plant on the outskirts of the Southern part of the city. But that ended years ago and the city has sort of stagnated.

But what is the exact type of classification of where I grew up? The downtown areas and the residential areas bleed into each other with no clear definition. I can’t call it suburban because we lived on the main street.

When we built the house that my parents live in now, we moved out of the actual city limits and into a township. The residential sprawl had a patch work of houses and housing plans dotting the landscape primarily filled with farms and pastures. Over time, newer developments overtook the farms and the once rural area became more like the suburbs but not quite.

It was nice to be able to stand out in my yard on a full moon night and not need a flashlight and to be able to hear total silence in the crisp winter air. I could climb out onto the roof right outside my window and see the lights of downtown and or the various moving tail lights heading up the hill a mile away. It was a huge contrast to my college years of in the urban setting of tall buildings, hospitals, hospital transport helicopters flying over my dorm.

So, it wasn’t exactly suburban because it was more rural in nature, yet it wasn’t rural because of all the houses in the area. That’s why I thought of suprural. If suburban is a smaller classification of an urban area, usually residential, then suprural is a larger classification of an area that is more developed than a rural area.

Get Oxford on the phone. Hopefully, they won’t refudiate my submission.

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