The Dashboard Definition

Mar 20, 2021

RAY: This puzzler was sent in to us by Bob Shea from cyberspace.

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 co-pilot know where their plane's going.

Well, a car also has instruments but it's not called an instrument panel. We call it a dashboard. My question, very simply, is, where does the term "dashboard" come from?



RAY: Before there were cars, people used to get around using horses and buggies. The roads were dirt and when it rained they became muddy. 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" because it did its job primarily when the horses were dashing along kicking up mud. And when they started building cars, of course, they were really adapting carriages, so the thing that they attached the instruments in the car to was called the "dashboard" because it looked just like the dashboard of a wagon.


Get the Car Talk Newsletter