The traffic is backed up, but, aside from saying this, can we say the road is backed up instead? If not, why? Thanks for helping.

  • Yes, but you'd better be more specific about the context. If you're on the road, it's the traffic that's backed up; the road is just the same. If you're elsewhere, you can talk about the road being backed up: Northbound I-5 is backed up for 3 miles at Mount Vernon. – John Lawler Jul 18 '15 at 17:28
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    Don't you mean 'If so, why?'? It's the traffic that's backed up. The rest is transference of meaning. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 18 '15 at 21:06
  • @JohnLawler I was once on a flight when the Captain said, before take off "In a couple of minutes, we shall be lining up the runway". I think we all knew what he meant, but I was glad his aeronautical skills exceeded his precision in the use of English - and yes, he was an Englishman! – WS2 Jul 18 '15 at 22:03
  • I understand, so it's correct but put more details, right? – user129000 Jul 18 '15 at 23:23
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    @john lawler, please excuse my ignorance, could you tell me the mistake in the pilot's remark? Thanks – user129000 Jul 19 '15 at 3:23

Yes and no.

Usually we would say "the road is backed up with traffic".

It's easy to find examples by Googling "road is backed up"


The Anthony Henday at Lessard Road is backed up with cars and tow trucks in Edmonton

Edmonton Journal

  • Thanks especially for the example. I actually tried googling but didn't find any – user129000 Jul 18 '15 at 23:23
  • Did you include the quotation marks? – chasly from UK Jul 19 '15 at 2:11

"To back up" and the noun "backup" referring to traffic jam seems to be American English.

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