What is a "kill"?

The first answer I found was, "a kill is a body of water.", Wikipedia adds, most commonly a creek, but also a tidal inlet, river, strait or arm of the sea. Fine, but why "kill"? There are creeks, rivers and inlets all over the United States but New York seems to call them "kills".

According to Hudson Valley Magazine, George Washington referred to the Hudson Valley as "The Dutch Belt", because many communities continued to speak Dutch well into the 1800's. Now we are getting somewhere. So "kill" is Dutch for body of water!

If you are from the Capital Region or have lived here for a decent period of time I would assume that you know what a "kill" is. The problem I had was, I have asked several lifelong New Yorkers and they usually ask me, "which one?". I don't know. Lisha Kill? I see signs for that one every day on the ride to and from Q1057.

Lisha Kill Preserve - YouTube

Upstate New York from the Capital Region south through the Hudson Valley is filled with "kills" with the most known being Catskill. When I was a kid we would visit my cousins in Catskill, NY or "The Catskills". The name comes from the Dutch Kaaterskill or “Wildcat Creek”.

Alexandra Marvar/CNN

Village of Catskill, NY

Fishkill is another town name that always made me wonder, what goes on there. I looked up the meaning of Fishkill and it means, fish creek. I suppose we could have guessed that. Prior to the Dutch influence Fish Kill was known as the Native American Peoples name of Tioranda, which means "where 2 waters meet".

Jeremy W Emery

Fishkill, NY

There are a bunch, as you may know.

So the next time some dude from Connecticut or something asks, what is a kill, you will know what to say.



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