shun·​pike ˈshən-ˌpīk How to pronounce shunpike (audio)
: a side road used to avoid the toll on or the speed and traffic of a superhighway
shunpiker noun
shunpiking noun

Did you know?

America's love affair with the automobile and the development of a national system of superhighways (along with the occasional desire to seek out paths less traveled) is a story belonging to the 20th century. So the word shunpike, too, must be a 20th-century phenomenon, right? Nope. Toll roads have existed for centuries (the word turnpike has meant "tollgate" since at least 1678), and were quite common in 19th-century America. Shunpike has been describing side roads since the middle of that century, almost half a century before the first Model T rolled out of the factory.

Word History

First Known Use

1804, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shunpike was in 1804


Dictionary Entries Near shunpike

Cite this Entry

“Shunpike.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on shunpike

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!