pigtail (v.)

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 5 03:26:04 UTC 2008

At the Marriott Courtyard Hotel in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the
directions to and from Raleigh-Durham Int'l Airport read:

Directions: Go to the light at Hwy 54 and turn right onto 54 East.
Follow approximately 1/2 mile to I-40 East. Continue for 10.5 to exit
284B, which will pigtail and put you on Airport Blvd traveling toward
the terminals. Continue straight to access both terminals.

To return: Take Airport Blvd to I-40 West. Continue on I-40 to exit
273A which will pigtail and put you onto Hwy 54W coming toward the
hotel. Follow to the fifth stoplight and take a left onto Friday
Center Drive. Take first left onto Marriott Way.

This use of "pigtail" was new to me. When I asked the clerk, he drew a
loop-the-loop in the air with his finger. The two ramps so described
make 270-degree turns.

MW and OED Online have no verb "pigtail". Google searches for phrases
like "will pigtail" or "you pigtail" produced a great many hits about
electrical connectors and some with late 19c ethnic slurs. The closest
uses I could find were nouns, including some toponyms, e.g.:

... a type of road bridge, where the road curls and passes over
itself. This allows the road to negotiate sharp changes in topography
in limited space. Most pigtail bridges are found in the Black Hills of
South Dakota, where they were first built. ...

Moto Guzzi National Owners Club
We all then did a slower, but fine, ride down twisty and narrow
Pigtail Road, and took a photo-op and stand-in-the-sun-and-tell-lies
break by the lake about ...

Peter Norbeck vs. the Diploma Boys: Building the Impossible Road
The Iron Mountain road goes out of its way to avoid destroying natural
habitat, sometimes doubling around on itself in pigtail loops to climb
up the mountain. [In S. Dakota; see Wikipedia quote]

Mark Mandel

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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