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The pike

Posted by ESC on March 05, 2000

In Reply to: Phrase posted by stretch on March 04, 2000

: Where did the phrase "that ever came down the pike" come from?

Here's what I found in "Hog on Ice" by Charles Earle Funk. "to go up (or down) the pike - We use this so commonly in America to mean up or down the road that we never stop to inquire the source." Mr. Funk says "pike" is a shorten form of "turnpike." Turnpike roads were common up to the middle of the last century and could be built by a private individual, a community or government. ".They were toll roads, the cost of maintenance paid from the tolls of those using the road. But what we today call 'tollgates' were then called 'turnpikes,' a name that itself had long ceased to have any of the original sense. The first turnpikes were really rotating constructions upon which pikes or sharpened rods were mounted. They were effective barriers until the fare of a horseman or coach had been paid, and were then probably rolled or turned out of the way."