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Author Topic: "Cog", definition and misuse of  (Read 1626 times)
OldProfessorBear
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« on: May 25, 2008, 01:18:51 am »

I've noticed a tendency hereabouts to misuse the word "cog" when referring to a gear (i.e., a cogwheel). A cog is, essentially, a gear tooth.

Just sayin' ...
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2008, 01:56:16 am »

YOU, Sir, are correct. I didn't know that. Thank you for bringing this issue to the fore. I'll just be careful to refer to cogwheels as gears from now on. (I just don't like the sound of "cogwheel", sounds puritan to me for some reason. Really, don't ask Smiley)
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2008, 02:26:05 am »

Dictionary.com says it can mean a cogwheel as well as a tooth.  If nothing else, I think this "misuse" is far more widespread than this forum.  I know the Tomb Raider games, for one, use "cog" this way.
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2008, 02:59:32 am »

Problem is that the word "cog" is so widespreaqd now that if you asked for, or discussed a cogwheel with someone they may well think of somthing outside of the correct meaning. Same reason people ask about watch gears rather than wheels etc
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OldProfessorBear
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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2008, 03:21:10 am »

Interesting. I was unaware that this usage had been legitimized. The online dictionary I looked it up in (Merriam-Webster) did not include it. Not all of the dictionaries cited at dictionary.com include it either, but many do.

I think it must be a relatively recent example of synecdoche. I wonder when it entered the language.

Note that "cog" is related to "cock", in other words *cough* something that sticks out *cough*, so the meaning of gear is at least to some extent a neologism.

(P.S.: Query Google for "cog in the wheel": http://tinyurl.com/5qwdxc)
« Last Edit: May 25, 2008, 03:28:04 am by OldProfessorBear » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2008, 03:32:10 am »

Well spotted, that man.
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OldProfessorBear
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2008, 03:56:31 am »

Mmph ... yes ...

A bit more searching around in the friendly aether gives me the distinct (though possibly mistaken) impression that this usage may have originated in the bicycling community. Of course, a pennyfarthing has neither cogs nor cogwheels, but these new-fangled "bikes" with wheels of equal radius do. They of course utilize a chain-drive, rather than direct gear-to-gear interaction.

Now, the proper term for a cogwheel (or cogwheel-like device) used to transmit or receive power via chain-drive is a "sprocket wheel" (and the cognates to the cogs themselves are of course "sprockets"). Offhand I cannot think of a shorter form of "sprocket wheel" ("speel"? "spheel?" I think not.), and I'd be willing to make a (necessarily very small) wager that this is the most likely origin of the peculiar usage in question.

I am entirely open to correction and/or amendment on this matter.

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« Last Edit: May 25, 2008, 03:58:16 am by OldProfessorBear » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2008, 07:25:34 am »

Interesting! Always been partial to 'gear' myself, it's a very very very clear word.
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« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2008, 08:21:29 am »

finally someone had the balls to say it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
that has bugged me since joining BG
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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2008, 11:20:59 am »

Ah, sorry for my mistake. ^^; I'll say gear from now on!  Embarrassed
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« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2008, 12:01:30 pm »

Thank you for clearing that up.  M'Lord Drarkstar and I were having a conversation the other day about what the difference in a cog and a gear were, and he did not know.  Now, I can tell him...and we will know.

You are smashing!

Cat Von Darkstar
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