Fwd: "derailleur, n." - Word of the Day from the OED

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Sat Jun 29 16:00:25 UTC 2013

I don't like using this word, because I don't like pronouncing it as
"derailer" when I know it's spelled such that it should be pronounced
[deRaj9R]. Why hasn't the spelling been changed long ago?


On 6/28/2013 9:37 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Fwd: "derailleur, n." - Word of the Day from the OED
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Today's OED WOTD is derailleur, n. I don't have an issue with the
> definition as such, but it's a few decades out of date. Even in the
> 1980s we regularly referred to the front switching gear as
> "derailleur"--I've replaced and adjusted quite a few of them in college.
> Bicycle maintenance books take this reference at least into the 1970s.
> Basically, a derailleur is /any/ switching gear, front or rear, that
> makes the chain jump from one sprocket to another. Most are attached by
> cable to shifting levers or rings. Chances are the earlier definition
> only mentioned the rear because there was only one front sprocket.
> Modern bikes have as many as 4 in front and as many as 9 in the back
> (not both at the same time though--normal gear is 3x6 or 2x8 with 2x9 on
> some pro models, with other options available; the 80s bikes had 2x5 or
> 2x6 on 120 and 126 mm rear axles, respectively).
> Here's an obvious example from today: http://goo.gl/YRDTr
> Here's a blog post from a bike tool company from 2006: http://goo.gl/MA9NL
> It should not be too difficult to find examples from bike magazines
> manuals going back into the 1970s. I'd offer some, but mine are all in
> storage.
>       VS-)
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject:        "derailleur, n." - Word of the Day from the OED
> Date:   Sat, 29 Jun 2013 01:30:00 +0100
> From:   oedwotd at oup.com
> Reply-To:       oedwotd at OUP.COM
> Etymology: <  French dérailleur (Trésor, 1927), <  dérailler derail v.
>     A bicycle gear in which the ratio is changed by switching the line of
> the chain (while pedalling) so that it jumps to a different sprocket on
> the rear wheel. Also derailleur gear.
> 1930 Cycling 11 Apr. 337/1 The Derailleur system of multi-speed gearing
> is..well-tested..on the Continent, but comparatively new to this
> country.. The gear works by âEUR~de-railingâEUR^(TM) the chain from one back
> sprocket to another of different size, thus giving a different gear.
> 1950 Chambers's Encycl. II. 307/2 The most popular variable gear in
> Great Britain is the 3- and 4-speed hub gear... On the Continent and in
> America the dérailleur-type gear is more favoured.
> 1959 Elizabethan Apr. 35/1 My lightweight bike with 4-speed hub gear,
> which is not so vulnerable as the derailleur.
> 1975 Which? May 140/3 All our drop handlebar bikes..had derailleur gears.
> 1984 N.Y. Times 23 Sept. v. 2/1 The whir of well-oiled machinery is
> interrupted only by decisive clinks as derailleurs move chains to a
> lower gear for the long, steady climb over the terminal moraine.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list