I'm looking for an English term for this:

enter image description here

Notice it's a single piece of road that is elevated, having another one pass underneath it. I wouldn't call it a bridge since a bridge usually goes over a natural feature like a river.

  • 17
    "Overpass" would be a common term in the US. (It's an "underpass" if the bottom road is routed through a ditch so that the top road remains mostly flat.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 12:16
  • 1
    Overpass in the US. Most of the time what's called an overpass in the US would be called a flyover in other regions.The two words are not completely equivalent- flyover is also used in the US, but to distinguish an overpass that more literally "flies over" another. I don't know if a structure as low as the one in your picture is called a flyover in, for example, the UK.
    – bobro
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 12:21
  • 2
    @oerkelens A viaduct passes over a valley, river, etc. This structure elevates itself so another road can pass under it. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 12:22
  • 2
    In order to decide, go to Yahoo and search for overpass images, then for "elevated road" images, and see which set of images is closer to your idea. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 15:08
  • 2
    The part in the middle is a bridge. Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 2:47

4 Answers 4



1. A road, pedestrian walkway, railroad, bridge, etc., crossing over some barrier, as another road or walkway.


  • 1
    Referring to Chenmunka's answer, in America at least, "flyover" has a similar use, though it evokes a higher, more disconnected feeling in the road. I've seen it used for the ramps used to switch between major highways at an interchange, particularly at the more complex interchanges.
    – Paul Rowe
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 12:45
  • 9
    I'm from the American Midwest and have never heard of "flyover" used in such a sense. It may be a regionalism. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 17:51
  • 3
    @LightnessRacesinOrbit: Maybe so, but it's a strong enough regionalism that I've never heard "flyover" in Cincinnati OH, Columbus OH, or Madison WI. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 20:27
  • 1
    @AndrewCoonce: I guess my point is that not everybody lives in Cincinnati OH USA, Columbus OH USA, or Madison WI USA! Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 20:30
  • 3
    My comment was merely provided as regional context. They're looking for a single word, and someone said that flyover has a similar use. If they're in the American Midwest, which is the context I provided for my comment, they're unlikely to find many people who know what a flyover is and should use the overpass term. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 20:35

In Britain, this is known as a flyover.

One road flies over another. Sometimes, overpass is used but this is much less common.

  • 1
    I agree in BrE we're much more likely to use flyover in general. But speaking for myself at least, if I'm describing a major urban throughway with both types of "route crossover" I'd often refer to them as overpasses and underpasses. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 13:31
  • 2
    In British English, it's almost inevitably a flyover. I've never heard it called an overpass. Here are two (of different sizes) very close to each other: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammersmith_flyover and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogarth_Roundabout
    – abligh
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 16:05
  • This term is also used in Canada but is far less frequent than overpass.
    – Cat
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 17:25
  • @Eric I think Canada tends towards American for automotive vocabulary.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 20:58
  • @ChrisW Yeah, just thought it was worth noting that both were understood and acceptable.
    – Cat
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 20:59

Well, it all depends on what specifically you want named. As a civil engineer with bridge design experience, I'm happy to provide the technical terms.

The exact bit where one road passes over another is called a bridge. (No, a bridge does not have to pass over a "natural feature"). But the term "bridge" doesn't cover the ramps either side - these are approach embankments supported by mechanically stabilised earth walls.

To describe the whole thing, the previous answers of overpass or flyover would both be valid engineering terms. For this particular case, where the structure carries traffic which is avoiding a junction of the road it is travelling on, flyover would be the most typically used in the UK.

  • So in purely engineering terms, whether the elevation is provided by pillars or approach embankments suppoerted by mechanically stabilised earth walls does not influence what the structure is termed? That’s very interesting. As I just commented on Chenmunka’s answer (before I read yours), that would be the main differentiator between the two for me: whether the elevated road looks like it’s ‘flying’, or like it’s on a little hill that the road it’s travelling on goes ‘through’. Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 19:57
  • 1
    @Janus - If there was never any actual bridge in it, then it wouldn't be a flyover or overpass, it would just be an elevated road. If you had a multi-span bridge supported on piers (or "pillars") then as well as being a flyover/overpass it would also be a viaduct. That said, if you asked me to describe a flyover I would describe a multi-span viaduct; if you asked me to describe an overpass I'd describe a steel footbridge which connects the footways either side of a road. Neither of these "typical" uses of the words stops the same words being used to describe the OP's structure though.
    – AndyT
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 8:14

I think it is also called road bridge:

  • a structure spanning and providing passage over a gap or barrier, such as a river or roadway.

    • something resembling or analogous to this structure in form or function:


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.