What is a 'block'? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 07-22-2008, 12:30 AM
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I am a woman educated in the ways of UKisms and have watched enough American TV to know a few words cause life is like an episode of Friends (!!!! tee hee) but what does it mean to walk a block? I know it's a distance but can't visualize it. Help me.....can't watch films without getting sidetracked on what a block is!!!!

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#2 Old 07-22-2008, 12:52 AM
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you mean like a city block? it's the square of land formed when the streets criss-cross... as a unit of distance, it would be the distance from one street to the next...

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#3 Old 07-22-2008, 01:17 AM
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Yey...so I could substitute the word block for street and get an idea of distance. You have no idea how long that's been getting to me!!! Thanks,

Death is everywhere, there are lambs for the slaughter waiting to die and I can sense the hours slipping by, tonight - Depeche Mode
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#4 Old 07-22-2008, 05:06 AM
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We used to use the term block and we're English. As far as I can see it's the same meaning, just American's use it more. I guess in England it's less likely to be square shaped!
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#5 Old 07-22-2008, 08:27 AM
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In NYC, a block that goes north <-> south is about 1/20th of a mile. A block that goes east <-> west is about 1/5 of a mile. That's just an average though and it varies from city to city.

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#6 Old 07-22-2008, 02:12 PM
 
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kat..NO one I know here says "blocks". I've even been giggled at more than one for saying it. Trying to figure out where to go those first few weeks was quite interesting. The street names change every 1/2 mile sometimes, the numbers go up on one side of the street and down on the other (on some streets at least), streets that split in three different directions, but all have the same name (the street we live on is like this). It's a wonder I didn't end up in France.



Anyway, enough of Jen's culture shock moment.



Wikipedia has this to say:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_block

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#7 Old 07-22-2008, 02:14 PM
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kat..NO one I know here says "blocks". I've even been giggled at more than one for saying it. Trying to figure out where to go those first few weeks was quite interesting. The street names change every 1/2 mile sometimes, the numbers go up on one side of the street and down on the other (on some streets at least), streets that split in three different directions, but all have the same name (the street we live on is like this). It's a wonder I didn't end up in France.



Anyway, enough of Jen's culture shock moment.



Wikipedia has this to say:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_block



That sounds like my area.
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#8 Old 07-22-2008, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by IamJen View Post

kat..NO one I know here says "blocks". I've even been giggled at more than one for saying it.



Maybe it the accent. I just remember when I was young and bored, my mum suggested going for a walk around the block. And sometimes we'd go on our go kart around the block. Though I'd never give directions in terms of blocks, most English streets are not arranged in a grid, so it's not the way we work.



I'm pretty sure I was using the term, before New kids on the block.
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#9 Old 07-22-2008, 05:29 PM
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Everyone I know uses that word. Here in Washington anyway.
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#10 Old 07-22-2008, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WonderRandy View Post

you mean like a city block? it's the square of land formed when the streets criss-cross... as a unit of distance, it would be the distance from one street to the next...



We use it here in Montreal,Canada all the time,but the french call an apartment building a block.
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#11 Old 07-22-2008, 07:38 PM
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I say block lol. To walk around "the block" would mean to walk the side walks in a big square where the streets intersect ending back up in the same place. If you do this, usually (at least in my area) you have walked a "block"



It's a commonly used term here.
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#12 Old 07-23-2008, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by kat View Post

Maybe it the accent. I just remember when I was young and bored, my mum suggested going for a walk around the block. And sometimes we'd go on our go kart around the block. Though I'd never give directions in terms of blocks, most English streets are not arranged in a grid, so it's not the way we work.



I'm pretty sure I was using the term, before New kids on the block.



*nods* It's pretty common to use the phrase "around the block" up here in Scotland as well. In the US I gather it is far more commonly used to describe the streets and city geography, eg. "oh that's two blocks over" etc.



It took me a while to figure it out as well OP! I always remember when we flew over New York on our way to a holiday in Florida and I saw the massive grid below me. Completely overwhelming to see such regimented order compared to the meandering urban landscape here in the UK.



It would be interesting to know how the phrase "around the block" evolved but I can't seem to find much on google.
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#13 Old 07-23-2008, 03:03 PM
 
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Doesn't it have to do with blocks resembling squares?

The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory. - Jonathan Kozol
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#14 Old 07-23-2008, 03:06 PM
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block "solid piece," c.1305, from O.Fr. bloc "log, block," via M.Du. bloc "trunk of a tree" or O.H.G. bloh, both from PIE *bhlugo-, from *bhel "a thick plank, beam." Slang sense of "head" is from 1635. The meaning in city block is 1796, from the notion of a "compact mass" of buildings; slang meaning "fashionable promenade" is 1869. Extended sense of "obstruction" is first recorded 1649. The verb "to obstruct" is from 1570. Blockhead "stupid person" (1549) was originally a head-shaped oaken block used by hat-makers. Blockade first used 1680, with false Fr. ending (the Fr. word is blocus). Blockhouse is c.1500, of unknown origin.

(emphasis mine.)http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?...earchmode=none
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#15 Old 07-23-2008, 04:27 PM
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A block in my town can be about 50 steps to a quarter mile. I've never used it as distance, but rather an indication of how many intersections I'll be going through.
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#16 Old 07-23-2008, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by JLRodgers View Post

A block in my town can be about 50 steps to a quarter mile. I've never used it as distance, but rather an indication of how many intersections I'll be going through.



Some blocks will have one building on them, others 28. So it's not really a good distance measure, but as JLRodgers says, it can help you find your way to a street you've never been - 'Cross ______St., then drive 16 blocks and you're there.'
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#17 Old 07-23-2008, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by IamJen View Post

The street names change every 1/2 mile sometimes, the numbers go up on one side of the street and down on the other (on some streets at least), streets that split in three different directions, but all have the same name (the street we live on is like this). It's a wonder I didn't end up in France.



sounds like a nightmare who in the world devised this madness? it's bad enough they drive on the wrong side of the road, lol ;-)
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#18 Old 07-23-2008, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by JLRodgers View Post

A block in my town can be about 50 steps to a quarter mile. I've never used it as distance, but rather an indication of how many intersections I'll be going through.



i agree with this. i think of it in terms of giving/getting directions to a certain destination..
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#19 Old 07-23-2008, 08:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IamJen View Post

Trying to figure out where to go those first few weeks was quite interesting. The street names change every 1/2 mile sometimes, the numbers go up on one side of the street and down on the other (on some streets at least), streets that split in three different directions, but all have the same name (the street we live on is like this). It's a wonder I didn't end up in France.





I had to check out google earth to see this.....and wow, it's like a huge maze there. I can see where the term 'block' would be hard to understand. We use block around here all the time.

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#20 Old 07-24-2008, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kat View Post

Maybe it the accent. I just remember when I was young and bored, my mum suggested going for a walk around the block. And sometimes we'd go on our go kart around the block. Though I'd never give directions in terms of blocks, most English streets are not arranged in a grid, so it's not the way we work.



I'm pretty sure I was using the term, before New kids on the block.



I've heard people in England use that expression before... it's commonly used in Australia too.
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#21 Old 07-24-2008, 02:42 PM
 
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I heard people here in Oxford say block, but it's used to mean an apartment building (a block of flats), or occasionally, an office building. Maybe it's a county thing. Oxford has all sorts of interesting characteristics.

The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory. - Jonathan Kozol
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#22 Old 07-24-2008, 04:04 PM
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A block is someone who doesn't understand a simple sentence even after you've said it many times.



A: "Do you want some tea and vegan biscuits?"

B: "What do you mean??"

A: "I mean, tea and biscuits. Want any?"

B: "Huh??"

A: "*sigh* Do you want to drink tea?"

B: "I don't get it, could you repeat that?"

A: "T-e-a. Want any?"

B: "Why did you spell that word? I don't understand."

A: "Of course you don't, you're such a ****ing BLOCK."

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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#23 Old 07-24-2008, 04:21 PM
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no, that's a block head.
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#24 Old 07-24-2008, 04:28 PM
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Well in sevenseaslanguage it's a block, a blockhead on the other hand is someone whose head is literally made out of wood. The word is pretty rare because it is only used for one man living near London.

"and I stand

upon a mountain

made of weak and useless men"

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