[Ads-l] Reflections/query on the term "glove compartment" (of a car)

Benjamin Barrett mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 31 22:11:34 UTC 2016

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glove_compartment), the BBC says the term was coined by Dorothy Levitt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Levitt), a racing driver who lived from 1882 to 1922. That antedates it at least 17 years.

According to http://www.ehow.com/about_5683371_called-glove-box_.html <http://www.ehow.com/about_5683371_called-glove-box_.html>, the glove box is not well documented.

I tried looking the US Patent site, but text search is not possible before 1976.

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA

> On 31 Jan 2016, at 13:40, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at MST.EDU> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Cohen, Gerald Leonard" <gcohen at MST.EDU>
> Subject:      Reflections/query on the term "glove compartment" (of a car)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Yesterday a precocious child asked his father why a glove compartment has t=
> hat name, and the question was then passed along to me.=20
> The obvious answer, of course, is that the glove compartment was first inte=
> nded for gloves, but then a few more questions occurred to me:
> 1) Why was the keeping of gloves (vs. other objects) in the car so importan=
> t? For this question I found a plausible answer on the Internet:=20
> "Gloves were originally worn to keep the hands clean. Driving gloves were c=
> onsidered necessary equipment in early cars, many without a hard top, to pr=
> event the cooling effect of fast-moving air from numbing drivers' hands."
> That's a good answer. I'm convinced.=20
> 2) But then why is the first attestation in OED3 from 1939? What about thos=
> e freezing hands during the previous decades? Here's OED3's entire treatmen=
> t of "glove compartment":
> glove compartment   n. a recess in the dashboard of a motor car for small a=
> rticles such as gloves, etc.
> 1939   R. Chandler Big Sleep xvii. 138,   I went to the car and got a pair =
> of handcuffs out of the glove compartment.
> 1959   I. Fleming Goldfinger xii. 173   He took a small pair of binoculars =
> out of the glove compartment.
> And btw, neither of the two attestations in OED3 mentions gloves being in t=
> he glove compartment.
> Is there any way to find out just when glove compartments were installed in=
> automobiles and when the term originated?=20

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