Is it Pike or Pipe?

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Fern

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Which is it? "Everything coming down the pike" or "everything coming down the pipe"?

I always thought "pike". Lately, I've heard people saying "pipe".
 

alleycat

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I think "pipe" is used chiefly in Britain, while "pike" is more common in the US. I can't cite any references however.
 

Variant Frequencies

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I wasn't sure either, so I did a search. It looks like there's not a lot of agreement on this. Lots of hits on Google for either one. I thought this site had an interesting discussion, complete with origins for both. For what it's worth.
 

newmod

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I´m from London and, for what it´s worth, I´ve never heard this expression, with pipe or pike, referring to something coming to prominence:Shrug:

Can anyone give me a context for when you would use this?

Cheers,
newmod
 

Becky Writes

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I am an American, from the Southestern US, and I have never heard this phrase either.

However, my DH is from a town in Ohio where the main drag is Pike Street. I've gone down that pike many times. :D
 

CaroGirl

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I don't use this expression, although I think I've heard of it. I would imagine it would be pipe. I just can't picture stuff "coming down the fish". :D
 

MidnightMuse

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I've heard it as "pike" a lot. Now and again I'll hear someone use "pipe", but I don't know if one or the other is right or wrong.
 

MMo

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Pike is a term for road. I live near "Old Pike Road" whereupon the pike was the way to get over the mountains to the next town. It is the parent for part of the word "turnpike." If something is coming, it is more than likely coming down the pike, and faster than it can come over the fields or through the woods, or even down the path or lane.

Mo
 

CaroGirl

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Ah. Must be an American thing. No wonder I wasn't getting it right (and picturing a fish in the process).

Thanks for clarifying.
 

alleycat

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Pike has been another name for road for a long time.

Now, is it "pig in a poke" or "pig in a pike"?
 
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Shadow_Ferret said:
I've heard of TURNpike. Can't say I've ever heard a road called a PIKE before though.
Actually I believe if you were writing the phrase out it would be "Down the 'pike" - an abbreviated version of turnpike... Much like you would say Get 'em. It is a colloquialism that probably started out as a regional expression.
 

alleycat

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persiphone_hellecat said:
Actually I believe if you were writing the phrase out it would be "Down the 'pike" - an abbreviated version of turnpike...
And the dictionary would disagree with you, since pike is listed as its own word, meaning a turnpike, but not as an abbreviation for turnpike.
 

SeanDSchaffer

I've always heard it as "Coming down the Pike".

I'm an American, from the Pacific Northwest. I am pretty sure I have never heard it with the word 'Pipe', before.

But that does not mean anything. People in other parts of the same city I live in talk completely differently than I do. I think it's a matter of dialect, personally.
 

Fern

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Thanks for all the answers, y'all. I felt sure one or the other would be the "correct" way to say it. Appears either is acceptable, depending on your area, etc.

I always thought it had something to do with coming down a mountain, such as over the mountain pass. . . once a pass was cleared, it was much easier to get down, so "everybody & his dog" then came down the pike.

I equated it with some of the other old sayings meaning you don't know what you might get, i.e.:

She'll sleep with anything in britches (or breeches).
He'll take up with any old Tom, Dick and Harry.
You never know what's coming down the Pike.

The World's Fair thing certainly sounds like a plausible explanation. . .especially after looking at that link.
 

Puma

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If you look at old maps, there are a lot of pikes - it was the common term for a road (which wasn't used). Mo did a good job in his response up the thread.

Maestro, you are correct about things in the pipeline. But pike and pipe (as in pipeline) are very different.

Fern, if you're writing something historical set in the US, you need to use Pike. Puma
 

Fern

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Thanks, Puma, and johnnysannie too.
 

Jamesaritchie

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pike

We must have a couple of hundred roads in my state that have the name "pike" attached. It's a very common term in the eastern half of the United States. There was a time in many states when darned near every road was called a "pike."

The closest to my house is "Spiceland Pike." It's the main road, of course, that goes through Spiceland. We also have "Old Spiceland Pike," which is the road that used to be the main road through Spiceland. Both roads are small, curvy, and slow.

Most newer dictionaries get this wrong, seeming to think that "pike" is short for "Turnpike," and it isn't. Nor is a "pike" usually a broad, fast roadway, though it may have been considered such when it was built. It's most often a state highway at best, and often just a side road to a specific place.

Traditionally, a "turnpike" is actually not a road at all. It's the gate across a toll road where you pay the toll, and the term has been in use for at least four hundred years. It's pretty hard to imagine anything coming down the turnpike, even though the road itself is now usually referred to as a "turnpike" because it has turnpikes on it. Now we just refer to the toll booth, rather than the gate.

But the expression "coming down the pike" is a very old one. Far older than modern, high speed roads, and "pike" isn't short for anything. It's just another way of saying "coming down the road."
 

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I always heard it as "coming down the pike", but didn't really know what a "pike" was until I moved to the Boston area, where the Mass Pike goes right through the city and across the state. In that case "pike" is short for "turnpike".
 

Puma

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Excellent response and explanation, James. Thank you for continually helping everyone with all the different types of grammatical and usage questions. It was strange but our Columbus (Ohio) paper yesterday had a map from an accident scene and one of the roads shown was a Pike. Ohio has quite a few Pikes too. Puma
 
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