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Eastern Railroad Discussion > Railroad slang in everyday use


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Date: 09/10/08 10:59
Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: pilotblue

Hello to All!

Watching the news regarding Hurricane Ike "picking up steam" got me to thinking. How much terminology from the railroad industry has made its way permanently into our language?

We are all familiar with "Give me a break!" I have heard that this comes from the days of the engineer signaling to brakemen riding on car roofs to apply hand brakes.

A friend of mine from lower Virginia uses the phrase "He lies like a cross tie!" (Usually applied to politicians)

The standard "Getting back on track" or "stay on track" is a pretty obvious example.

Like to hear your thoughts on this. Info and other examples appreciated!!!



Date: 09/10/08 11:21
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: SVTS

Off the top of my head, "3 step".

Chris Bogley
Bowie, MD



Date: 09/10/08 11:42
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: ejeliberty

"You can hear a pin drop" comes from the old link and pin coupler days, when all was quiet at the rail yard. " A china mans chance" comes from the building of the railroad over the Sierra's and how they used to lower down a "volunteer" to set the dynamite to blast the side of the mountain, and hopefully bring him back up in time.



Date: 09/10/08 11:45
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: K3HX

pilotblue Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hello to All!
>
> Watching the news regarding Hurricane Ike "picking
> up steam" got me to thinking. How much terminology
> from the railroad industry has made its way
> permanently into our language?
>
> We are all familiar with "Give me a break!" I have
> heard that this comes from the days of the
> engineer signaling to brakemen riding on car roofs
> to apply hand brakes.

I disagree. "Brake" and "break" have quite different meanings.

> A friend of mine from lower Virginia uses the
> phrase "He lies like a cross tie!" (Usually
> applied to politicians)
>
> The standard "Getting back on track" or "stay on
> track" is a pretty obvious example.

As is: "On the wrong track."

> Like to hear your thoughts on this. Info and other
> examples appreciated!!!




"running out of steam" Getting tired.

"Runaway train" As in: "A runaway train of fiscal irresponsibility."

Frequently followed by.....

"Train wreck" used as metaphoric hyperbole to describe a perceived catastrophe. "His spending plan will result in a financial train wreck."

"Asleep at the switch" used to indicate failure to perform.

And for the wild tangent sector: "The sound of his teeth chattering was like a half-filled boxcar of broken castanets.

For those of us "of a certain age:" "...more powerful than a locomotive..." (from the preamble to the "Superman" TV series.)

"Red light district." RR construction crews would hang their red lantern outside a tent whilst conducting business with women of easy virtue.

"third rail" Usually in a political sense to indicate one should not touch it.

"Light at the end of the tunnel." Could be used to indicate an end to a bad thing or the approach of an oncoming train.

"Railroaded" as in getting unfair treatment. From a time when courts were in the pocket of the
railroads.

"The public be damned!" Quote attributed to Vanderbilt.

"Robber baron." See previous entry.

"Milk run" From long ago when farmers would leave cans of milk for the train to pick up, later used to refer to an easy aerial bombing mission.

"Tank town"

"Whistle stop"

"Crazy train"

Be Well,

Tim Colbert K3HX



Date: 09/10/08 11:57
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: mc5725

I always tell everyone I do indeed have a one-track mind, but a double-tracking project is underway...

>>MC



Date: 09/10/08 12:04
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: orion183

"Highball" from the old style signal indicating a train didn't have to stop, and could keep moving at speed.

"Derailed"



Date: 09/10/08 13:11
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: CCMF

"Jackson Five on the south side westbound at Hamler"



Date: 09/10/08 13:19
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: wabash2800

Tim: I think it has railroad origin but I have heard of a milk run today referred to a truck route that makes a lot of pick-ups and set-outs day in a day out.

K3HX Wrote:
>
> "Milk run" From long ago when farmers would leave
> cans of milk for the train to pick up, later used
> to refer to an easy aerial bombing mission.



Date: 09/10/08 13:51
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: EL-SD45-3632

M-636 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "Jackson Five on the south side westbound at
> Hamler"


Anything to do with "HAMLER HENRY" hee, hee, hee...!



Date: 09/10/08 14:00
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: nycman

"Jerkwater town" where steam crews had to "jerk" water from a stream.



Date: 09/10/08 14:50
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: MAB

nycman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "Jerkwater town" where steam crews had to "jerk"
> water from a stream.


I thought this had more to do with the fireman pulling down the spout on a water tank and then jerking on the chain to get water to flow....



Date: 09/10/08 15:18
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: operatorjoe

"By the wayside"



Date: 09/10/08 15:38
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: fmw

"He's just blowing off steam" comes to mind. Passengers on the platform needed to know the difference long ago.

Or how about, "That's no way to run a railroad". I'll bet there were armchair railroaders decades before armchair quarterbacks.(Or did TCI just make that one up?)



Date: 09/10/08 15:58
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: wiscotrainmaster1

"hooping it up" -Jim Towar,Milwaukee WI.



Date: 09/10/08 17:53
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: ESPEEFAN

"Smoking like a freight train" or "Greasy spoon" off the top of my head.



Date: 09/10/08 17:57
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: CO5232

"Sorry, I got sidetracked".



Date: 09/10/08 18:07
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: mkostecky

You derailed my train of thought!!



Date: 09/10/08 19:53
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: Mastadon

"She's ugly enough to make a freight train take a dirt road..."



Date: 09/11/08 02:44
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: sixaxle

When speaking about a new car or truck "Did you get it with all of the bells and whistles"



Date: 09/11/08 06:01
Re: Railroad slang in everyday use
Author: Phil

Mastadon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "She's ugly enough to make a freight train take a
> dirt road..."

OR-- Ugly enough to stop a freight train..



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