• toboggan •
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.