[Tagging] surface=ground/dirt/earth

Murry McEntire murry.mcentire at gmail.com
Thu Mar 13 19:04:08 UTC 2014

On Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 11:01 AM, Fernando Trebien <
fernando.trebien at gmail.com> wrote:

> It seems that:
> - if a surface can be grass or paved, asphalt, concrete,
> paving_stones, etc., then it seems the only reason to state "the
> surface consists of ground" is if it's unpaved and without vegetation,
> right?
> - the American usage of "dirt" (as in "your car will get dirty") is a
> broad description for 3 more specific values: earth, gravel and
> compacted (different from loose gravel or soil)
Ground has multiple meanings some of which are very broad. When speaking of
"I walk the ground", "breaking ground" (as in construction or farming),
"above ground", or "below ground"; it would seem to fit the Oxford
definition of: the solid surface of the earth (world). The dictionary also
gives a definition of ground as a generic term to be qualified, such as
"marshy ground". (And to muddle things, when you think it might mean a
natural surface - the Oxford gives the (British) definition of "the floor
of a room".)

Upon seeing surface=ground for a road, my first reaction is to wonder what
is meant by that? Upon pondering, it is a land surface of the world that is
not raised or improved but may be worn and could be almost any natural
surface which may include ruts through vegetation.

Of course I could ponder more and give another dozen definitions; many
"Ground" is a poor term because it has so many similar, but still different
meanings (very ambiguous) when used to describe a surface; with its most
common meaning being very general and not describing the material of the

As to American usage of "dirt", the example is poor -- if you stick with
the noun, not the related adjective, saying "your pants have dirt on them"
would likely be interpreted as loam, clay, soil, or the like; not gravel.
To me, a "dirt road" is most often a natural soil (clay, loam, sand, etc.).
It may be compacted or graded. I would refer to a road surfaced with gravel
as a "gravel road".
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