Yesterday was crossword day… our daughter thinks we are so quaint (and maybe weird) that we copy the crossword from the Saturday newspaper so we can each do it. we each do our own crossword, and only when we are utterly stuck do we compare answers, but one at a time so that the other person has a chance to work out some collateral clues which had been elusive. it is a general knowledge crossword so there are always words which neither of us know, and some areas of knowledge that are a mystery. We each have our strengths, but there is also a common black hole of ignorance!
So when we were doing the crossword and came across a simple clue ‘old word for ship’s kitchen‘ and the only word I knew ‘galley’ didn’t fit, I hoped that my other half would know the answer as he came from a family much connected with the sea, and he was in love with it too… but no, he too was defeated! We both ended up with _ A _ O _ _ _ .
After much pondering we gave up, and having nearly completed everything else, we capitulated and looked up the missing answers. If the clue had been something like ‘an American railway carriage at the end of a freight train’ I think my husband would have got the answer, ‘caboose‘, and although I would never have guessed it I do know what a caboose is… or so I thought.
So a caboose as a ship’s galley… I did a MOOC (massive open on-line course) on maritime architecture and there was a whole section on ships, ship building, etc going back to ancient times and I don’t think the word caboose in that sense cropped up… I may have forgotten though!!
caboose (n.) 1747, “ship’s cookhouse,” from Middle Dutch kambuis “ship’s galley,” from Low German kabhuse “wooden cabin on ship’s deck;” probably a compound whose elements correspond to English cabin and house ….. (it) may have come from the Danish word for a galley, kabys…
If I look to Wikipedia it gives a more detailed answer: apparently it’s an obsolete Low German/Dutch/Danish word Kabhuse/kabhuis/ kabys, and it was a small shack actually on a ship’s main deck where all the food was prepared. Apparently there was a similar French word used in the French navy, and with so many words from the sea, it slipped into English, possibly through the French connection with the American sailors during the War of Independence.
The Wikipedia entry doesn’t say anything about the word being used by British sailors or in the British navy, so I’m thinking that it was a bit of an unfair clue as it didn’t specify on which ships this term was used! A clue which said ‘warship‘ to which the answer was ‘trireme‘ would be a bit unfair since it didn’t specify a Roman warship… but maybe I am just being a bad loser
One thing which did amuse me, was that apparently there is an argument as to how to pluralise caboose; should it be ‘caboose/cabeese‘, like ‘goose/geese‘, or caboose/caboose’ like ‘moose/moose’ or should it be ‘caboose/cabooses’? Or should it follow the Danish pattern, kabys/kabyser, and become caboose/cabyooser? The answer it seems is that as it is a ‘loan’ word it just stays the same.
This is the definition from my favourite etymological site:
… and Wikipedia: