Tuesday, November 22, 2016

There’s a word for that!

by Rick Blechta

I don’t have much time to write my post today because I’m helping my eldest son move, but I did want to share something wonderful I learned this past week.

Bus knuckles.

Ever heard of ’em? I hadn’t until I read the following articles in the Toronto Star. (https://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/the_fixer/2015/11/11/concrete-pads-used-to-eliminate-the-worst-bus-knuckles-the-fixer.html and https://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/the_fixer/2015/07/21/bus-knuckle-packs-a-surprising-punch-for-bikes-fixer.html)

So now you know what a bus knuckle is. Fascinating, no? We used to have some amazing bus knuckles on a big street near us. They got replaced by concrete pads last year. Alas. I’ll have to look elsewhere to find them.

There are words for all kinds of things you never thought about. The trades are loaded with words that are virtually unknown to the general public but very necessary. The printing trade: that dot on top of an “i” or “j” is called a tiddle. Carpentry: that about the space a saw leaves behind it as you cut through a board? That’s a kerf (kind of sounds saw-like, doesn’t it?).

Then there are the arcane words, little known and nearly forgotten. You've got to be careful of those, however, in the Age of Information, because you can be darn sure someone can find them, sometimes to your embarrassment. We have a deli chain here in Toronto called Druxy’s. Too bad they didn’t do a little more research on the name. The word druggy means “something which looks good on the outside, but is actually rotten inside”. Oops. (Druxy’s food is actually quite good.)

So there you go. My thoughts for the day. Does anyone out there have a favourite arcane word they’d like to share?

In closing, I leave you with one last word: knurl. Why don’t you look it up?


Sybil Johnson said...

Bus knuckles. I have never heard this term. How interesting.

Eileen Goudge said...

I recently discovered a term I had never heard of before: sleeping policeman. Also known as a speed bump.

Rick Blechta said...

I like that one, Eileen.

One favourite of mine is from the old railroad days: "gandy dancer". These were the men who laid and maintained railroad tracks. Often, some were assigned to a specific section of track which they'd walk to inspect for any problems so they could be nipped in the bud.

Got to remember "sleeping policeman" though! That's definitely a good one.