exurb / exurban

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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exurb / exurban

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:29 am

<2013 “But embracing solar power is not just a matter of energy costs or reliability. It’s also about jobs. Like many exurban areas in California, Lancaster was hit hard by the housing bust and the recession.”—New York Times, 8 April>
Never came across the expression before, but it’s easy enough to figure out its meaning. An exurb is an area that was ‘formerly urban.’ But how would you go about building one? First you’d have knock down miles and miles of buildings on a city’s periphery. Then . . .

That was a good guess, but no cigar. (>:)

EXURB noun originally U.S [1955]: A district outside a city or town; specifically a prosperous area situated beyond the suburbs of a city. [ex- out of + urbs city, or backformation of exurban adjective.]

EXURBAN adjective [1901]: Of or belonging to a district outside a city or town; suburban; specifically pertaining to, or characteristic of, an exurb. [ex- + urban adjective (after suburban)] [[Note: The 1901 quote is an outlier. The next quote after that is from 1955]]

(Oxford English Dictionary )

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources. For most of these I’ve chosen examples where there is a clear distinction between ‘exurb/suburb’ and ‘exurban/suburban.’ However, in most of the quotes I came across while sifting through the archives, one would be hard pressed – even though in context – to tell one from the other:
<1955 “Spreading outward from New York City, roughly the first twenty-five miles is solid Suburbia; thereafter, for a belt extending another twenty-five miles, come the exurbs.”—Exurbanites by A. C. Spectorsky, ii. page 14>

< 1961 “It . . . anticipates the present ‘exurban’ emphasis on informal clothing.”—City in History by L. Mumford, xvi. page 485>

<1966 “To reach the fashionable exurb fifteen miles beyond the city limits, Qwilleran drove through complacent suburbs.”—The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1967) by L. J. Braun, ii. page 16>

<1986 “This 454-square-mile county with a population of 440,372 is a mecca of exurban tranquility.”—Chicago Sun-Times (Illinois), 11 July>

<1999 “Riverside is an exurban city about an hour's drive from Los Angeles proper.”—Newsweek, 11 January>

<2006 “. . . new census figures released this week show that more Americans are moving to the extreme outer edges of metropolitan areas. Away from suburbs and into what are called exurbs.”—NPR Weekend Edition, 18 March>

<2013 “. . . environmental groups helped to push chemical warehouses, pesticide companies and coal-fired power plants from rural and exurban areas, . . .”—Washington Post (D.C.), 25 March>

Ken G – April 9, 2013

Re: exurb / exurban

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:14 am

Apparently exurbs can be further categorized into several subspecies. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_town

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