The Marine View Driver: A Waterland Automotive Lexicon for the Holidays


In which the author gifts the reader an easier drive through life.

by Mike Smith

Cars have influenced our lives in many ways. One of the ways, of course, is in our language.

The language of the average American male used to consist of many phrases and colloquia connected to working on, driving in, or watching cars. We went for drives. We stopped by for a visit. We drove on over to visit relatives. We even defined our mood by “putting the top down.” Everyone knew what the phrase “you are down a quart” meant. My friends and I even performed what we called bench racing. We would be working on our cars together and bragging lying about our automotive exploits.

All of these phrases find their origins in the vicinity of an automobile.

datsunAlas, the car does not seem to loom so large in our vocabulary anymore. Even car ads have taken on a more or less philosophical or sensual tone that doesn’t translate well to the work shop or diner.

Many of our standard usages now have completely different connotations, taking on new meanings and implications. I decided for Christmas to update everyone on the new lingo, from A through Z.  Observe my new glossary of American terms.

By the way, the first listing is what I grew up with, while the second is what is now the norm. I’ll fully label the first two to get you started.

A: Back in the day: Apple n, a fruit you take in your lunch, which is on the seat next to you.
A: In 2014: Apple n, the Entertainment system in your new Honda.

B: Olden Brain: n, that thing inside your head. You should use it when you drive.
B: New Brain: n, the computer that leans out*(see leans out below) your fuel when you’ve neglected to do proper maintenance.

C: Connect: v, what you do when you hang out with friends at the drive-in.
C: Connect: n, the entertainment system in your Ford

D: Drag: n, a straight-line race, usually a quarter mile, where the fastest car wins and the prettiest girl signals go.
D: Drag: v, a mode of dress opposite to your gender. Often accompanied by… queen.

E: Exit: n, the roadway that enabled you to leave the freeway to travel on regular roads.
E: Exit: v, what you are instructed to do to when your entertainment system in your Honda or Ford malfunctions.

F: Friend: n, those you went places with in your car and those whom you let borrow your car “anytime.”
F: Friend: n, one of, oh about a hundred thousand who have “liked” your cat pictures on Facebook.

corvetteG: Gas, n, fuel for your car. Almost always gasoline
G: Gas, n, fuel for your car. Usually gasoline, but now including diesel and electricity.

H: Hippie: syn, another name for the person driving a VW bus.
H: Hippy:, n, Nikki Minaj.

I: Intersection: n, a place where two or more roads meet.
I:  Intersection: sym,  Hmm. via text.

J: Jake: n, a special brake used on trucks which uses engine compression to slow it down instead of the brakes.
J: Jake: personal pronoun, a famous actor. See Gyllenhaal.

K: Killed it!: exclamation, What is said when someone “dumps” the clutch and the engine conks out.
K: Killed it!: exclamation, when you say something really funny.

L: Leans out: v, what you did when you saw a friend on the corner and you wanted their attention.
L: Leans out: v, your car’s brain will try to get your car to run even if you’ve neglected it.

M: Mag.: n, as in Mag wheels, originally magnesium and other alloys. Much cooler after-market wheels than those pop offs they gave you at the dealership. Usually spoked.
M: Mag.: n, a magazine. In some cases still an after-market wheel, but usually stock now so what is there to talk about? Buy a magazine with the savings.

ferrariN: Nice!: a complete sentence in itself, a car. A really nice car, one that you wish your friend did not have       but you did. Then people could look at your car and say, “Nice!”
N: Nice!: no longer a complete sentence, not a car. Current usage is an incident of the word regressing to its more original meaning.

O: Over-drive: n, sometimes a fourth or even fifth gear where the engine turns at a slower speed than the axles due to mechanical reduction. You told your Dad that you needed over-drive to save fuel, but you really needed it to go faster than the engine could actually go.
O: Over-drive: n, an app for reading library books on your smart phone or tablet.

P: Peel out: v, to go like heck, synonymous with “pedal to the metal.”
P: Peel out: v, leave, obviously an overstatement.

Q: Quart: n, the size of a bottle of engine oil. “You are down a quart.”
Q: Quart: n, the size of a large beer, or a Slurpee.

triumphR: Rag top: n, a convertible car. The roof is removed thereby allowing free-flowing air, sun-catching joy, the smells of summer; and the top was made of canvas, hence rag top.
R: Rag top: n, the remnants of the whole rag which are found in your engine compartment when you have a discount shop work on your car.

S: Summer: n, a season when driving your car was fun. Gas was plentiful and you could drive to the coast and back in one day. The roads are clear and the sun is shining, it’s, it’s the best, especially with a rag top and a girl on a bender. See T.
S: Summer: n, Gas, Electric, and Diesel prices go up and so you stay close to home. Also, see Summer Glau.

T: Topless: n, the convertible in its primary use. As in driving when the top is actually down.
T: Topless: adj, a person, usually a woman, who asserts her protestations publically and unequivocally. Also, same woman when not agitated, but a passenger in a rag top while on a bender at the coast.

U: U-joint: n, the funny looking coupling thing that holds your drive shaft to the back of the transmission.
U: U-joint; n, what’s a drive shaft… dude?

W: Waterland: n, where everyone goes the end of July to watch a parade and fireworks and connect.
W: Waterland: n, still valid, thank God!

X: X body car: n, an early abortive attempt by US automakers to come up with a fuel efficient front-wheel drive car.
X: X body car: -n, Extinct, too ugly and mechanically problematic. Try to find a non-front wheel drive car now, though.

Y: Yahoo: coloq, what all say when driving in a convertible at a high rate of speed. Also see “ragtop.”
Y: Yahoo: n, a search engine.

Z: “Z”: n, Camaro Z-28
Z: “Z”: n, Nissan 380Z

You’re welcome. Happy Christmas!

1952-Chevrolet-ad


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