trunk vs boot

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Tue Dec 3 13:57:57 UTC 2002

In a message dated 12/3/02 7:05:31 AM Eastern Standard Time, mlv at POBOX.COM

> I would wonder if the trunk/boot difference mirrors the hood/bonnet
>  difference (if where people say boot instead of trunk, they also say
>  bonnet instead of hood).

Wasn't the rear luggage area of a stagecoach known as the "boot" on both
American and British stagecoaches?  If so, then it appears obvious why the
British refer to the "boot" of an automobile, and a good question why
Americans switched to "trunk".

As far as I am aware, Americans refer to the "hood" and "trunk" of a car, and
British to the "bonnet" and "boot".  Again the British use is more
consistent, since both ends of a car are called by names of items of clothing
which in fact are worn on opposite ends of the body.

Perhaps Americans a century ago were in the habit of putting belongings in
footlockers or steamer trunks and lashing them on the back of automobiles, oe
perhaps early American automobiles had rear luggage compartments that
resembled steamer trunks.

If Henry Ford had been an Inuit, would we refer to the covering over the
engine as a "parka"?

And then there is the problem of what to call the front luggage compartment
of a Volkswagen.

      -   James A. Landau
          systems engineer
          FAA Technical Center (ACB-510/BCI)
          Atlantic City Int'l Airport NJ 08405 USA

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