15 February 2011

Why is it called a "dashboard" ?

Pictured above is the dashboard from a Jeep.  World Wide Words explains where the word comes from:
This key component of vehicles, with its gauges and controls, has been called a dashboard since early in the history of motoring. Despite the obvious associations, however, it has nothing to do with speed...

It’s an example of technological and linguistic conservatism... The builders of the early motor vehicles likewise borrowed their methods and their language from the horse-drawn vehicles they had long been familiar with...
"In front there is a high leather dashboard to protect the riders against the splashing from the hooves of the absent animal..."
The sense of dash is the one that refers to the “violent throwing and breaking of water or other liquids upon or against anything”, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it. The dashboard was a wooden board, or a leather apron like the one that the article mentions. It was placed at the front of a carriage, sleigh or other vehicle to catch the mud or water thrown up by the horses’ hooves and stop it from soaking the driver and his passengers...

It has recently stepped even further away from its origins by being borrowed for a computer display that shows useful real-time data such as the time, weather, news headlines, stock prices and phone numbers...
More at the link.  Photo credit.

1 comment:

  1. That Willys Jeep is so sweet.
    I once had CJ5.
    First "New" car I ever bought.
    1979 AMC years, so it had a few issues, but still lot's of fun to drive.
    One of these days I'm gonna get an old Willy's like that and restore it.


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