Dashboard Definition

Mar 09, 2002

RAY: This puzzler was sent in to us by Bob Shea from cyberspace. It's quasi-automotive -- and quasi-historical.

Everyone knows that the panel on an airplane is called an instrument panel because it contains all of the flight instruments, which help the pilot and copilot know where their plane's going.

Well, a car also has instruments but it's not called an instrument panel. We call it --

TOM: A dashboard.

RAY: Exactly. My question, very simply, is, where does the term "dashboard" come from?

TOM: Because when you have an accident, your brains get dashed against the board?

RAY: Not quite.


RAY: You were pretty close but, anyway, before there were cars, people used to get around using horses and buggies, and as you might imagine the roads were dirt and when it rained the roads became muddy. You with me so far?

TOM: Yeah.

RAY: So if you were in a buggy and the horse was trotting along, the rear hooves would kick up mud. So carriages or wagons had a board that was fixed at an angle not unlike the dashboards of cars, and it was called the "dashboard." In fact, if you remember, Ward Bond leading the wagon trains across the plains.

TOM: Yeah, they put their feet on.

RAY: They used to put their feet on there. And when they started building cars, of course, they were really adapting carriages.

TOM: Sure.

RAY: So the thing that they attached the instruments in the car to, or the horseless wagon, was called the "dashboard" because it looked just like the dashboard of a wagon. And it was called the "dashboard" because it did its job primarily when the horses were kicking up mud when they were dashing. So horses' hooves --

TOM: Get out. Do you mean dashing and debonair or dashing down the road.

RAY: No, no. They were dashing through the snow.

TOM: Geez.

RAY: When the horses were dashing that's when their hooves were throwing up the greatest amount of mud and it just so happened that the thing in the car looked like the dashboard in a wagon. Oh Tommy's making the face, he's making the face.

TOM: Aw, I don't like it.

RAY: We're going to have to have some corroboration from the good people at the Smithsonian, I think.

TOM: The Smithsonian would be good because it sounds, I would have to say that this is on the bogus scale of one to ten, I'd say this is like a seven.

RAY: OK, never mind.

TOM: Ten is bo-oh-oh-oh-gus. And this is up there. A dashboard, there have been so many other possibilities. The running board.

RAY: No, the running board is alongside.

TOM: Huzzah, why not, why? When the horses run --

RAY: That's next week's puzzle, the running board. Where did the running board come from?

TOM: The gallop board. Yeah, the running board. That'll be next week's puzzle.

RAY: I'm going to state Bob, what's this guy's name?

TOM: Bob Shea.

RAY: Robert C. Shea.

TOM: OK. We'll forward all the hate mail right to him.

RAY: His reputation is on the line. But Bob, I'm with you.

TOM: Send it to Ray at Bogus.com.

RAY: I've done extensive research on this, which consisted of reading your email. And I concluded that you're right on, brother.

TOM: Well, we do.

RAY: Oh God.

TOM: Every week is getting -

RAY: Well, you're getting old.

TOM: It's a little bit stretching of something there, come on.

RAY: I don't think so, go ahead.

TOM: Well Laurie Wiley agrees with you anyway, she's from Maple Shade, New Jersey.

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