What’s in your ‘glove’ compartment?


Source: Q4RadioGuy, Wikimedia Commons

I might have been a spelling bee champion when I was younger, but these days, I find myself checking the dictionary more than ever. There seem to be more exceptions than rules these days, and the other day I was nosy about the word “glove box,” which I gather is what many folks up north call what I’ve always referred to as a “glove compartment.”

And that got me to thinking, why do we continue to call this feature either a “glove box” or a “glove compartment” when it most likely hasn’t held any gloves a) ever or b) even in a vintage car, not for a few decades? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, either of these terms can be used to refer to “a small storage cabinet in the dashboard of an automobile.” And you probably won’t be surprised to learn the word’s first known use was in 1916, at which time I imagine gloves were indeed being stored in automobiles. An article on Wikipedia (so take this for what it’s worth) says,  “Driving gloves were considered necessary equipment in early cars, many of which lacked a hard top, to prevent the cooling effect of fast-moving air from numbing drivers’ hands.”

I propose we come up with another term for the glove compartment. Here are some contenders:

  • Vehicle junk drawer
  • Mobile storage bin
  • Drop-down compartment
  • Car-manual storage

What’s in your glove compartment? I’ll bet it’s not gloves. Mine currently contains my car’s owner manual, a pair of wooden knitting needles (I must have been knitting on a road trip when my husband drove my car), and extra napkins and straws from fast-food restaurants. Language changes, and this is a case where it’s time to retire “glove compartment” and find a more useful, more accurate term.

Next up: I’m on a mission to get everyone to stop saying they’re “dialing” numbers on their cell phones or that they’ve got someone “on the line.” I’ll let you know how it goes!

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