Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum
More Railroad Word and Phrase Origins:
"picking up the slack"
"full head of steam"
"the real McCoy"
posted from CPRR Discussion Group at 6:25 PM
From: GUSHARD@aol.com"Dead End"—Wayne Gushard
Can anyone verify whether the phrase "Dead End" was originally railroad terminology as suggested by Wayne Gushard?
From: KyleWyatt@aol.comI can't speak to "Dead End" – Certainly no specifically railroad association comes to my mind.As toSabotage – "the practice by striking French railway workers of cutting the sabot [metal shoe] that held railroad tracks in place. The word appears in English in 1910 and early use specifically refers to the French railroad strikers." My understanding has always been that this work derived from (French) anti-industrial workers that threw their sabots (wooden shoes) into factory gears to break them. I never heard a railroad association before.On sabotage, the following is by far the most extensive, and appears to support the much earlier origin of Sabotage.See also the followingWikipedia raises questions about this definition, but doesn't present particularly compelling evidence for its own much later railroad origins of the word.Dictionary.com dates the origins of the word back to 1865-70. See here for Sabot.Also scroll down here to "Sabotage."A more thorough discussion is here and also here.—Kyle
From: "Evan Clark" email@example.comIn your Railroad Idioms web page (which I loved by the way), you ask for additional railroad terminology in common usage today. Here are a couple of others:train wreck - as in, "This project is a train wreck"freight train - as in, "He hits like a freight train"end of the line - as in, "It's the end of the line for you"A couple of the idioms you list are probably not from the railroad originally:fast track - probably refers to horse racing (see this and this)backtrack - probably has reference to a way of avoiding being tracked by scentThanks for putting up an interesting page.—Evan Clark, NetControl Terminal, Union Pacific Railroad
"Sir John Herschel ... made protean contributions to the invention of photography, including the discovery of fixer and the words "positive," "negative," and "snapshot" (a term he imported from hunting, as when a "broken" (open) shotgun is quickly snapped closed again to enable the hunter to quickly fire at a flushed bird). His greatest contribution to the lexicography, of course, was the word "photography," which, quoting Wikipedia, was "created from the Greek roots φωτός (phōtos), genitive of φῶς (phōs), 'light,' and γραφή (graphé) 'representation by means of lines' or 'drawing,' together meaning 'drawing with light.'" " —Mike Johnston
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