Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lexicon -- Backlash/Lash

Strictly speaking, the accepted term for clearance between mechanical components, especially with respect to the mating teeth of a geartrain, is 'backlash'. At, I found this etymology:

'backlash  1815, of machinery, from back (adj.) + lash. In metaphoric sense, it is attested from 1921.'

It seems to me that the 'back' portion of 'backlash' introduces a needless specificity to the term for many purposes. Hence, I'm inclined to simply use the word 'lash' as a catch-all term for any sort of clearance/play/slop in a mechanical relationship, even though I can find no authoritative support for that usage. Though I tend to be a stickler about correct, authoritative word usage, in this particular case I'm entirely at ease with taking the attitude, "Authority? We don't need no stinking authority!"

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