Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



oxymoron, prairie


The meaning of the word ‘‘prairie’’ seems to have changed in recent years, as the Silicon Prairie replaced the Silphium prairie. There are bewildering uses of prairie that have nothing to do with native grasslands. The word is often used in a generic way, such as calling farmland, a vacant lot, or other open space a prairie. It is frequently used evocatively, as in Lakewood Prairie, a subdivision without a lake, a wood, or a prairie; a shopping center with no prairie for miles around is called Prairie View. Oxymorons like prairie golf or prairie fishing are common. Prairie reverie is a thoughtful meditation on the disappearance of the tallgrass prairie.