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Ditch, Gully, Gutter, Gulch

August 29, 2018

Eenie, meenie, minie, mo
Which way does the water go?

I have a scene in one of my short stories where the bad guy tosses the lady’s car keys into the water that runs through the gully, culvert, gulch, ditch, or whatever it’s called. They’re on the interstate and there is a metal guardrail because that part of the drop-off into the gully is steep and deep. Does the location make the difference between a gulch, ditch, or a gully?
I looked up each word in dictionary.com and was surprised at how many names there were to pick from. I narrowed it down to two – ditch or gully. I’ve always thought it was ditch, but when I reread the scene I discovered I had typed ditch in one paragraph and gully in another.
Some of the definitions overlapped which did not help my quandary. I would appreciate your input as to which is better or even if it makes a difference. Maybe ditch is more a Yankee term and gulch is for Texans? I have no idea. Quirky
Definitions of Terms:
ditch
1. a long, narrow excavation made in the ground by digging, as for draining or irrigating land; trench.
2. any open passage or trench, as a natural channel or waterway.
gully (also a cricket term but we’re not playing that sport)
plural: gul·lies. Also gulley (for defs 1, 2)
1. a small valley or ravine originally worn away by running water and serving as a drainage way after prolonged heavy rains.
2. a ditch or gutter.
gutter (actually has 7 definitions!)
1. a channel at the side or in the middle of a road or street, for leading off surface water.
2. a channel at the eaves or on the roof of a building, for carrying off rain water.
3. any channel, trough, or the like for carrying off fluid.
ravine: a narrow steep-sided valley commonly eroded by running water.
gulch: a deep, narrow ravine, especially one marking the course of a stream or torrent.

From → Writer's Craft

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