[Ads-l] When is a grate not a grate?

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 23 23:21:39 UTC 2015


I have a theory that the use of the word "grate" to refer to the door to
the cellar came from the days when coal-fired furnaces were in the basement
of buildings, and the grate was a mechanism for allowing smoke to escape
while still securing the space. The grates also acted as doors. For
example, coal and other supplies would enter through the opened grate.

Over time, the grates were replaced by actual doors, but the word grate has
survived, eg, in the headline of the article I linked to.

Question: should this usage be in OED?

Regards
DanG

DanG

On Fri, Jan 23, 2015 at 5:48 AM, Geoffrey Steven Nathan <
geoffnathan at wayne.edu> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Geoffrey Steven Nathan <geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: When is a grate not a grate?
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> A discussion of this around the dinner table with my wife (who grew up in
> Central Brooklyn in the fifties) revisited several songs talking about
> 'cellar doors', which is what she thought these things were
> called--definitely not 'grates', which are what cover the holes through
> which you can hear the subways.
> The songs date to the eighteen nineties, and are left as an exercise for
> the reader. They were discussed by one of the other Geoffs a few years ago.
>
> Geoff
>
> Geoffrey S. Nathan
> Faculty Liaison, C&IT
> and Professor, Linguistics Program
> http://blogs.wayne.edu/proftech/
> +1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)
>
> Nobody at Wayne State will EVER ask you for your password. Never send it
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>
> ----- Original Message -----
>
> > From: "Dan Goncharoff" <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2015 8:06:55 PM
> > Subject: Re: When is a grate not a grate?
>
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster: Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> > Subject: Re: When is a grate not a grate?
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> > This seems to a consistent usage in NYC, calling the metal doors in
> > the
> > sidewalk leading to the cellar a 'grate'.
>
> > I suspect this relates to older uses of "cellar grate" that refer to
> > an
> > actual grate, but it is tough to verify.
> > On Jan 22, 2015 8:01 PM, "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at att.net> wrote:
>
> > > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > > -----------------------
> > > Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > > Poster: "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> > > Subject: Re: When is a grate not a grate?
> > >
> > >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> > ------
> > >
> > > At 1/22/2015 02:13 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> > > >On Jan 22, 2015, at 1:23 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
> > > >
> > > > > The source story has a photo of the metal cover which does not
> > > > look like a grate:
> > > >
> > > >True. Looks rather more like a hole--not so grate.
> > >
> > > Fell through the hole left behind by the grate that went missing?
> > >
> > > Joel
> > >
> > >
> > > >LH
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > >
> > >
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__nydn.us_1CjbYs0&d=
> >
> =3DAwICAw&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYi=
> >
> ZRsMFFaLQ&m=3DgSCXPK8E2VHC2DJ58pQdzfUHcn1ysuPVbw7CrFbr2_4&s=3DmolrfMPwC05KT=
> > 55cjtPNBwC4NQar_Vc1zlMAqHbhViI&e=3D
> > > >
> > > > > Benjamin Barrett
> > > > > Formerly of Seattle, WA
> > > > >
> > > > > Lean Ainu!
> > > >
> > >
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttps-3A__sites.google.com_s=
> >
> ite_aynuitak1_home&d=3DAwICAw&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2b=
> >
> f13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3DgSCXPK8E2VHC2DJ58pQdzfUHcn1ysuPVbw7CrFbr2=
> > _4&s=3DEaiWCrrnPjMzqU3J2nBeEPb2HulI9uJy48-1l7ummuU&e=3D
> > > >
> > > > >> Dan Goncharoff <mailto:thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> > > > >> January 22, 2015 at 8:27 AM
> > > > >> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > > > -----------------------
> > > > >> Sender: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > > > >> Poster: Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> > > > >> Subject: When is a grate not a grate?
> > > > >>
> > > >
> > >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> > ------
> > > > >>
> > > > >> There was a recent news report about a man who "Falls To His
> > > > >> Death
> > > Through
> > > > >> Sidewalk Cellar Grate".
> > > > >>
> > > > >>
> > > >
> > >
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__gothamist.com_2015_=
> >
> 01_19_cellar-5Fgrate-5Fdeath.php&d=3DAwICAw&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3D=
> >
> wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3DgSCXPK8E2VHC2DJ58pQdzfUHcn1=
> > ysuPVbw7CrFbr2_4&s=3D78QLVD5mKA6g-L4sRvSM_u1J-okfkcFFPbGZwIN7CvA&e=3D
> > > >
> > > > >> As the story later reports, however, he fell doors, not a
> > > > >> grate.
> > > > A grate is
> > > > >> a lattice, not solid.
> > > > >>
> > > > >> What am I missing?
> > > > >>
> > > > >> DanG
> > > > >>
> > > > >>
> > > > >
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