Word of the Day: sabot
Sabot (noun) sa-BOH
1 a : a wooden shoe worn in various European countries
b : a strap across the instep in a shoe especially of the sandal type; also : a shoe having a sabot strap
2 : a thrust-transmitting carrier that positions a missile in a gun barrel or launching tube and that prevents the escape of gas ahead of the missile
3 : a dealing box designed to hold several decks of playing cards
“The spin imparted by rifling lets slugs separate cleanly from the sabot, makes them fly true, and allows them to expand.” — Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, November 2014
“The man is a venerable but unprepossessing figure; he rests his hands on a cane, he has sabots on his feet, wears cinched gaiters over his trousers and has two medals on his greatcoat.” — Michael Prodger, The New Statesman, 17 June 2015
Did You Know?
The term sabot may have first been introduced into English in a 1607 translation from French: “wooden shoes,” readers were informed, are “properly called sabots.” The gun-related sense appeared in the mid-1800s with the invention of a wooden gizmo that kept gun shells from shifting in the gun barrel. Apparently, someone thought the device resembled a wooden shoe and named it sabot (with later generations of this device carrying on the name). Another kind of French sabot—a metal “shoe” used to secure rails to railway ties—is said to be the origin of the word sabotage, from workers destroying the sabots during a French railway strike in the early 1900s. The word sabot is probably related to savate, a Middle French word for an old shoe.
Hey, I know this word! I learned about it in the 1991 movie ‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.’ In it, Lt. Valeris, a Vulcan officer assigned to the Starship Enterprise teaches the crew the origin of the word ‘sabotage.’
In the scene, Lt. Valeris informs everyone that 400 hundred years earlier on Earth, workers would throw their wooden shoes, called sabots, into the machinery to stop them from working. My morning research on both sabot and sabotage found numerous instances that support her comment to the crew.
Of course, Lt. Valeris turns out to be one of the conspirators in the film. It wasn’t a great movie, but it did have a great message, one that Star Trek founder Gene Roddenberry would approve.
I did learn something more about the word. I’ve watched James Bond play baccarat film after film, passing the ‘shoe’ from player to dealer. I never knew the accurate term for the ‘shoe’ was ‘sabot.’ I also found references to arms, from everything from bullets to missiles, that use the term.
The term ‘Clogs’ also derives from ‘sabot.’ Apparently, many of today’s women’s shoes are modern versions of sabots. I never knew that either.
I love learning the different contexts of these words of the day. Don’t you? Please share your comments. I’m sure we would all like to read them.
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