When you split your time between the East Coast and the West Coast, you can call yourself “bicoastal.” What about when you’re splitting your time between two cities?
When you split your time between the East Coast and the West Coast, you can call yourself “bicoastal.” What about when you’re splitting your time between two cities, like a listener named Jeff, who splits his time between New York City and Boston?
This seems like an answer only Charles Dickens could provide, but instead, we wanted Grammar Girl readers and listeners to weigh in on the matter, so we asked people on the Grammar Girl Facebook page. Two of the most popular suggestions were bi-metro and bi-urban.
'Interurban': The Word That Already Exists
A few people suggested the word interurban, and pointed out that it already exists. For example, the entry at dictionary.com lists interurban as an adjective meaning “of, located in, or operating between two or more cities” and also as a noun meaning “a train, bus, etc. or a transportation system operating between cities.”
Popular for about three decades during the early 1900s, the interurban—which was a type of electric railway car similar to a trolley, tram, or streetcar—specialized in stops between small and mid-sized cities. The interurban allowed people living in rural communities to experience suburban life by riding the few short miles instead of traveling by horse and buggy and dealing with unpaved roads.
Other suggestions included
- unicoastal nomad
Hyphenating After the Prefix 'Bi-'
As you can tell, the bi- prefix was popular because it means “two” or “twice.” Your bifocals have two lenses, and your bicycle has two tires, so if you’re splitting your time between two cities, it seemed common for people to gravitate to that bi- prefix for ideas.
As an aside, a hyphen isn’t typically required after the bi- prefix. However, hyphens are always allowed when they help avoid confusion, and since words such as bi-metro and bi-urban are unfamiliar and a hyphen makes them more readable.
We enjoyed reading all the suggestions, but since interurban already exists, that’s our winner.
So that’s your Quick and Dirty Tip: If you regularly split your time between two or more cities, you can call yourself interurban just like the 20th century electric railway.
Image courtesy of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis via Wikimedia.