Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Word Of The Week


With the grape harvest in full swing, I wake up nearly every morning to the sound of the tractors and harvesters rolling down the roads to the vineyards and the hum of the harvesters plying the rows of vines.

As I lay there in the few minutes before I get up and walk Callie, I think we need to get out there and back so we don't run into one of those engins that scare the dog. But am I using the word correctly ?

A tractor pulls a trailer full of white grapes past our kitchen window on the way from the vineyard to the winery.

According to the Petit Robert, the original meaning of engin, from the Latin ingenium, is instrument or tool, something designed for a precise function.

In the middle ages, engin was used to refer to war machines, such as they were, that launched projectiles, like a catapult. The word is still used this way to refer to modern mortars, other artillary, tanks, and even missiles.

Les engins can also be construction vehicles like backhoes, bulldozers and the like. Often I see signs saying "Attention, sortie d'engins" around a construction site, warning you to watch for exiting trucks .

The most recent use of the word is to describe space vehicles and satellites or anything man-made in space.

Based on all of that, I've come to the conclusion that it's ok to refer to the harvesters and tractors as engins.

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