BIK Terminology—

Solving the terminology puzzle, one posting at a time

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    Barbara Inge Karsch - Terminology Consulting and Training

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How gridiron became a term

Posted by Barbara Inge Karsch on February 3, 2011

When I was looking at football terminology the other day, I noticed many terms which used to be words in common everyday language and have become technical terms in sports terminology. That is what terminologization is all about.

ISO 704 formally defines terminologization as “the process by which a general-language word or expression is transformed into a term designating a concept in a language for special purposes”. gridiron (sports)

gridiron (cooking)

The following entry from the Merriam Webster shows quite well that the original meaning of “gridiron”, first recorded in the 14th century, was that of the cooking grate. You can find more about the etymology of gridiron in this entry of the Online Etymology Dictionary. Today, the meaning of the football field is probably more common, especially in the United States. Gridiron has moved from the everyday language of cooking into the language for special purposes of American football.

gridiron in Merriam Webster

Another good example is “fumble.” In the past, fumble, the meaning of which most of us are painfully aware, moved from verb to noun in the 1640s. Here is an excerpt from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

fumble in Online Etymology Dictionary

Today, it has a very specific meaning in football terminology, as this entry from the About – Football Glossary shows. Note that the definition used in this glossary is, by terminology management standards, not a proper definition. But the sample sentence shows how “fumble” is used as a noun in football today.

fumble (sports)

The reverse effect of terminologization is called de-terminologization. There are some good examples in sports, too. Stay tuned for those.


2 Responses to “How gridiron became a term”

  1. Bob Smith said

    Good information which answers a question of mine. “Terminologization”… great handle. It frequently occurs in math and science as words are brought into more general use. Younger students often know the vernacular meaning of a term and miss the pecifics of the term applied in more technical use.

  2. […] Gridiron: Another name for the playing field. Because it looks like a gridiron. The kind you cook on. […]

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