What’s a spline?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: spline…

Today’s word of the week comes not from my reading but from my husband. Yesterday we happened to be talking about a piece of furniture in our house, a rocking chair, and he mentioned that a spline was broken.

“What’s that?” I asked. (I’ll spare you a description of the happy-dance my husband did after discovering he knew a word that I didn’t.) From the picture above you can see he was referring to the thin vertical rods that form the back of any rocking chair. One of our splines is currently held together with black electrical tape.

Once I recovered from learning that I’d had this piece of furniture in my house for more than 20 years and couldn’t have named all the parts of it, I looked up the etymology of the word. It dates back to 1756 and is thought to come from an East Anglian dialect. Although the origin is uncertain, some  believe it comes from the older Danish word splind or the North Frisian splinj.

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