Road kill or roadkill

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Road kill is a relatively new term that was coined for a phenomenon that is fairly recent in the history of civilization. We’ll look at the definition of road kill, where the term comes from, the preferred spelling and some examples of its use in sentences.

Road kill is a dead animal that is lying in a road or on the side of a road, such animals have been hit by vehicles and died. The term road kill was coined in the late 1950s or early 1960s in the United States, a time when many American families took to the highways. The Interstate Highway system in the United States began construction in 1956 in the state of Missouri, when a part of U.S. Route 66 was redesignated Interstate Highway 44. The Interstate Highway building program was declared finished in 1992, when the last section of Interstate 70 was opened in Colorado. Before the advent of high-speed vehicular travel, animals could scramble away from being trampled on roads frequented by horses and wagons, so road kill is a fairly new phenomenon. In the 1990s, the term road kill also took on a figurative meaning, to signify something or someone mowed down, something or someone flattened by the competition or the vagaries of life. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, road kill should be rendered as two words. However, like many compound words, the term is almost exclusively seen as one word, as in roadkill.


“I work my life around roadkill,” said Speakman, 45, whose Facebook page declares her alter ego, Laurie the Moose Lady. (The Alaska Dispatch News)

Where there are scientific projects that use animal remains, roadkill bodies can provide valuable data in the form of DNA, fatality mapping, and as bait for predators that scientists want to tag and study. (National Geographic Magazine)

He’s roadkill in a GOP primary. (The Bangor Daily News)