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Saturday, May 5, 2012

What is a Devil Strip?

“I’ve never heard this phrase before, a devil strip. When I asked someone at work, they said it was the strip of land between the sidewalk and the road. I’ve always lived where there are no sidewalks. Why is it named that?” The Newton Falls Public Library staff was familiar with the term, but had no other knowledge about it.

We began our search by searching a variety of books such as the Oxford English Dictionary, TheCassell Dictionary of Slang (1998) by Jonathon Green, and Descriptionary [a Thematic Dictionary] by Marc McCutcheon. Failing to find the information we needed, we extended our search online.

Two sources seemed to fit our patron’s need., defined it as the “grassy area between the street and the sidewalk. This term is unique to the Akron, Ohio area.” The second,, quoted Dictionary of American Regional English( vol II; 1991) stating that a “Devil Strip (or Devil's Strip) is the grass between the sidewalk and street in the front yard.  The phrase is not unique to Akron but can be heard throughout Northeastern Ohio.  Some versions of the legend hold that it keeps the devil out of your house.  The term is more likely derived from the area being a no-man's land between public and private property

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