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Nickname for the highway (I-495) that encircles Washington DC through the surrounding states of Virginia and Maryland.

A defining feature of your DC-respective locale is whether it is inside or outside the beltway.

Inside the beltway can also refer generically to politics in the US capital city.

Person 1: I live in DC.
Person 2: No you don't. You live in Bethesda.
Person 1: Well, yeah, but it's inside the beltway.

Commuter 1: Traffic on the beltway sucked this morning.
Commuter 2: It always sucks. That's why I take the Metro.
Urban Dictionary
(May 16, 2006)

a highway skirting an urban area

  • capitalized : the political and social world of Washington, D.C., viewed especially as insular and exclusive

“understanding better than Beltway insiders what really interests voters” —L. I. Barrett

Merriam Webster

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