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I've just come across a sentence like this and couldn't figure out what dredge is in it:

Anyway, he lives here, in Texarkana, near here, out by the dredge.

Now in dictionaries a dredge is defined as below:

An apparatus for bringing up objects or mud from a river or seabed by scooping or dragging.

That's what a dredge looks like

I couldn't find any place called Dredge, either. So does it mean that he lives near the river or something?

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  • By the looks of the picture, it's just a (local?) variant on what most Brits would call a dredger. But even without the picture I think this would be General Reference Oct 26, 2014 at 21:29
  • Thank you but what do you understand by "living by the dredge?" living near this dredger thing?
    – aytug2001
    Oct 26, 2014 at 21:36
  • Well, as a Brit, the form dredge seems odd to me anyway. Plus I don't really know anything about dredging. So I might be tempted to assume "the dredge" actually means a particular location or short stretch of the waterway where the silt & sediment collects more than usual, or the place where the dredger is normally moored when not in use. Having just discovered that dredge is apparently common in AmE for the vessel itself, I think I'd go for that as the most obvious meaning. But how much does it really matter if it means the vessel itself, or its normal location? Oct 26, 2014 at 21:44
  • The only thing I could add to what @FumbleFingers has suggested is that it might be referring to a local, well-known dump/disposal site where the non-salvageable waste from all the area's dredging operations is dumped/disposed. (Thanks to your question!) I am now aware that such dump sites are usually called "permanent dredge sites," but maybe a local would shorten that to "dredge site" or even "dredge pile" (like a sludge or slag pile") and then from that, even shorter to just "the dredge."
    – Papa Poule
    Oct 26, 2014 at 22:33
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    It's another way of saying he "lives in a van, down by the river".
    – Dan Bron
    Oct 26, 2014 at 22:49

2 Answers 2

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The eastern third of Texas has a number of rivers that lie in plains with very gradual changes in topology. As a result, sedimentary deposits tend to build up fairly quickly. Dredging the mud makes the rivers deeper (and therefore more navigable), and it provides earth for various purposes such as dikes, levees, and erosion control. When I was growing up in Houston, a huge dredging operation in Galveston Bay provided vast amounts of mud to shore up the 5-mile-long, man-made Texas City Dike about 50 miles east of Houston. The project took many months to complete.

Dredging is a major undertaking, and in some regions (perhaps including Texarkana, which sits near a huge bend of the Red River) dredging machines may be kept in continuous operation somewhere in the vicinity. It wouldn't be surprising to see a place near the river where a dredging machine was located referred to as "out by the dredge."

I wouldn't assume that any habitation "out by the dredge" is necessarily impoverished and ramshackle, though it certainly might be. The main drawback of a house in such a location isn't that it is appreciably hotter or swampier than a house in any other neighborhood of a city built on a vast floodplain, but that it is considerably noisier when the dredge is in operation. The other problem is that it is likely to be more vulnerable to floods.

Without more information about the person's living quarters, I would take the description at face value: the guy lives on or near the river, out by the dredge.

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The dredge could just be the place where they dredge, in the same way that a dig is a place where an archaeologist digs. It suggests a place on the margins, swampy and undesirable.

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