Railroad Terms Used in Common Speech

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by RobertInOntario, Feb 17, 2008.

  1. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    There are many railway terms or slang that have been adapted into current common speech. I find it amusing that many of these date way back to the steam days and people are still using them but probably don't realize their railway connection at all!

    So I thought this would be a good question for The Gauge -- I just thought of it today when I heard one of these phrases used on the radio.

    Here are a few railway terms/slang that many "non-train" people often use in conversation:

    -- "fire up" (as in, "I'll fire up the car" or "fire up the computer" meaning to start the car or computer)
    -- "full steam ahead"
    -- "steam up"
    -- "railroaded" as in "he was railroaded into something"
    -- "highball"
    -- "on the right track"

    Can anyone think of others? I'm sure there are lots!

  2. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    A "One track mind".
  3. McGilliCutty

    McGilliCutty New Member

    Although it's not a railroad term so to speak, it still has to do with steam engines... Grease monkey.
    From Wikipedia... "during the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain when children were used to grease the large rotating axles which were used to transfer power from one centralized steam engine to all of the machines on the factory floor. These children, covered in grease and crawling in the tight spaces in the ceilings, were equated with monkeys."
    And another stretch is... Train of thought.
  4. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    -All Aboard
    -Get off track
    -Blow off steam
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    How about the ever so popular, "sidetracked"????
  6. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    Not to be a...

    ...rivet counter but I think, "Full steam ahead." is a steamship era phrase. That doesn't mean this thread will "run out of track".

  7. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Yeah, I think that's right...

    But there's always, "left waiting at the gate"...
  8. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    The real McCoy

    From wikipedia:
    Elijah McCoy (1844–1929), Black Canadian inventor of a lubrication system for steam engines. Supposedly, after failed attempts by competitors to make counterfeits of his lubricant, the phrase "real McCoy" was used to refer to his authentic product.
  9. RobertInOntario

    RobertInOntario Active Member

    Wow -- this is interesting! Looking forward to more terms/slang. Cheers, Rob
  10. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    "He's like a freight train outta control"!
    Then there's- "He's a train wreck".
    I personally like- "That's a train wreck waiting to happen"!

  11. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    "It's a runaway train on a dead end track."
    or just "Dead end"??? Not sure if that originated with the railroad.
  12. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    How about another one: It's like a cattle car in there....
  13. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

  14. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Jerk water town.
    Whistle stop campaigning
    A truck line named:Red Ball Freight.That was a hot shot freight train.
    Boxcars-2 sixes showing on dice after the throw.
  15. iis612

    iis612 Member

    "Wrong side of the tracks."
    It used to be that hand signals were used between the crew on the ground and the engineer. If you were on the wrong side of the tracks you could not be seen and were in danger.
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    "Run out of steam"

  17. mummert

    mummert Member

    telltale: as in a telltale sign
  18. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Does the expression , "pull the pin" as related to "retiring" have anything to do with uncoupling a freight car?
  19. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    "He blew his stack" - is that from railroading, or steam technology in general?
  20. Krawler

    Krawler Member

    How about "picking up steam" wife came up with this one.

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