Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
Posts: 5774
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA


Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Dec 19, 2008 12:02 am

• toboggan •

Pronunciation: tê-bah-gên • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A long, flat sled traditionally made of slats curled up in front but often made of plastic in the same shape today. 2. (Regional, US South) A plain knit cap with no bill or earflaps.

Notes: Well, winter has come to North America and the snowy hills are calling all sleds and toboggans. Down South in the US, however, where snow is seldom seen, today's word, pronounced [tow-bah-gin], usually refers to a plain knit cap with no bill or earflaps such as the one in the picture. In its standard sense, today's Good Word may also be used as a verb signifying the use of a toboggan, as to toboggan down a snowy hill. So the derivational family of this word is very simple: tobogganers toboggan on toboggans.

In Play: In the United States, be careful saying things like, "Hey, pull a toboggan on your head and let's toboggan," even if you stress both words correctly. Northerners will imagine placing a sled on your head while Southerners will think of sledding in a knit cap. "Mommie, I don't want to sled on the toboggan—Buffy holds on to me too tight and pulls me with her when she falls off!"

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from French but, this time, Canadian French, where it was originally spelled tabagane. The French Canadians picked up their word from an Algonquian language, probably Nova Scotian Micmac tapaqan. Related words in other Algonquian languages spoken in Canada include Abnaki udãbãgan, Montaignais utapan, Cree otãbãnãsk, and Ojibwe odaban-ak.
• The Good Dr. Goodword

User avatar
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 1197
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2006 4:33 pm
Location: Middle Tennessee

Postby skinem » Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:25 am

Glad to see the second regional meaning for the word.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I had first-hand knowledge of the suicidal back-breaking board, but, I'd never heard the second usage until I went to college in Nashville.

Now, living where I do, no one here knows the first meaning of the word. I still have a slight mental pause processing the sentence "Put your toboggan on before going outside."

User avatar
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 2578
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 3:56 pm
Location: Crownsville, MD

Postby Stargzer » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:39 pm

...Now, living where I do, no one here knows the first meaning of the word. ...
Tell them to watch the next Winter Olympics and think of a luge or a bobsled on downers or antidepressants, or maybe a Soap Box Derby car with no lube on the wheels.

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee

Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 1476
Joined: Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:58 pm
Location: Carolinia Agrestícia: The Forest Primeval

Postby sluggo » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:10 pm

Never heard that one (#2) either.

Valuable info- if someone had used Skinem's sentence on me it would have made for quite the headache.

One wonders how that twist came about..? I will see some Québecois co-workers next month and try to inquire about tabagane. I trust they won't think I'm cursing them.
Stop! Murder us not, tonsured rumpots! Knife no one, fink!

Posts: 293
Joined: Thu Jun 01, 2006 11:38 pm
Location: Georgia

Postby Huny » Fri Dec 19, 2008 9:08 pm

A toboggan fer yer noggin? :shock: I, too have never heard of the word used in regards to head gear. I always heard it refered to as a skull cap. I wish my sweet ( and very southern) grandmother was still alive so I could ask her what her take on the word is.

I figured I would have heard it somewhere around here during my post-California days. Before then? surprise here. Very interesting...
"What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compaired to what lies inside us." R.W.E.

Return to “Good Word Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 34 guests