There's a difference between avenues, roads and streets

What's the difference between a road, street, drive, avenue, way and boulevard?

— Mike A., White City


Roadways do go by many a name, Mike, and for good reason. The different labels describe the size of the roadway and the area it serves, as well as the types of places it connects.

An avenue is a broad roadway in a town or city, according to Merriam-Webster. Riverside's wide makeup in Medford is a good local example.

A boulevard is a broad and often landscaped thoroughfare, Webster's dictionary says. The Oxford American College Dictionary, which Google uses, adds that it's typically lined with trees. Think of Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland, with its greenery in the center of the motorway.

A drive is a type of road short for "driveway," typically a private road or public roadway that provides access to a small, relatively private group of homes or structures.

Highways are main, direct roads, according to Merriam-Webster, and the Oxford dictionary adds they are described as main roads that connect major towns or cities. 

Lanes are narrow roads meant for a single line of vehicles, Webster's dictionary shows. They're typically busier than a drive.

Roads are thoroughfares that often lie outside of an urban district, according to Webster. The Oxford dictionary says they often lead from one place or town to another, such as how Biddle Road connects Medford and Central Point.

Streets, however, are paved roads lined with houses or buildings. According to the website Mental Floss, it was paving that once made a roadway a street. Streets typically apply to roadways that stay in city limits.

A way is a thoroughfare for travel from place to place, according to Webster's dictionary. Mental Floss describes a way as a minor street in a town that turns off a road.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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