Squeegee

A squeegee

The other day I discovered that the thing I clean my windows with is a squeegee – I was familiar with the name, and knew it had something to do with cleaning, but wasn’t sure exactly what a squeegee was. From the sound of the name I guessed that it was a soft, squeezy kind of thing, which doesn’t quite match a window cleaning squeegee.

According to Wikipedia:

A squeegee, squilgee or sometimes squimjim, is a tool with a flat, smooth rubber blade, used to remove or control the flow of liquid on a flat surface. It is used for cleaning and in printing.

The original squilgee was a long-handled, wooden-bladed tool fishermen used to scrape fish blood and scales from their boat deck, and to push water off the deck after it had been washed.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word squeegee come perhaps from the nautical word squeege (to press), a strengthened form of squeeze, which the OED suggests is a strengthened form or quease (to press, squeeze).

Are there any tools of other implements you use that you don’t know the names of?

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This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Language.

8 Responses to Squeegee

  1. Did I spend all this time wrongly thinking that Squeegee was perhaps an onamonapoeia?

  2. Jerry says:

    DJ’s comment reminds me of the first time I heard someone explain ‘click’, ‘bang’, etc. She wasn’t sure how it was spelled and told me it sounded like ‘onamonapoeia’. It took a while before I got it – onomatopoeia. So ‘onamonapoeia’ is actually an onomatopoeia itself? ;)

    On topic – the Dutch ‘ramentrekker’ is quite boring as it only describes what you do with it, literally: you drag it over the window, so it’s a window dragger. Squeegee is a fun word, it almost sounded to me like a trademark name!

  3. Dennis King says:

    This reminds me of a popular YouTube video (made by Norwegians, if I recall correctly) in which a Danish man goes into a traditional Danish hardware store to get something to repair his bike, but can’t think of the name for it. Linguistic chaos ensues.

    To answer your question: Yes! That’s when doohickey and whatchamacallit prove their worth.

  4. dreaminjosh says:

    I remember hearing the word squeegee for the longest time and not realizing what it meant myself; it was never really anything we used growing up. I knew it was something you cleaned or wiped up water with, but didn’t make the connection until I was probably 20 or so.

  5. Chris Miller says:

    A decade and a half ago in Canada, squeegees were a big thing. Homeless kids, usually festooned in the vestimentary trappings of the punk subculture, would dart out into traffic with their squeegees and wash drivers’ windows while they were stopped at a red light, then demand payment. Needless to say, this provoked some degree of resentment in certain quarters.

    We called them “squeegee kids” in English; in French they were called “less squeegees”, often abbreviated to “les squidges”.

  6. Vijay John says:

    I think there are some things whose names I’m not absolutely sure of. In particular, there’s something I use for cleaning plaque off my teeth that’s a bit like a metal toothpick, although maybe “plaque remover” is more appropriate.

    I had a classmate once who (for a while) even called me “Squeegee”! (I’ve had lots of names/nicknames in my life).

    As for “squeegee kids,” I’ve heard of them in New York (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeegee_man!). In Kerala (if I remember correctly what my parents taught me!), there is a similar practice called “pirivu” where kids will force you to pay for something (e.g. force you to buy some books they’re selling), or else they threaten to set fire to your house. (I may be wrong about this. Apparently, “pirivu” means a bunch of other things, too…).

  7. Yenlit says:

    “Squeegee” isn’t a new word to me but I thought it was a fairly recent word and also thought it was onomatopoeic or a proprietary brandname coined from the imitative sound of rubber squeaking on wet windowpanes such as car window wipers?
    Squeegee as semantically transferred to the accoutrements of window cleaners is a term I think I’ve only noticed in the last, say, fifteen years or so and if asked before I was aware of the word I probably would’ve called the utensile something prosaic like ‘window wiper’, ‘window cleaner’s blade’ or what-not?
    I was suprised to find ‘squeegee’ in my old 1960 edition of Y Geiradur Mawr (1953) which defines squeegee as:
    brws rwber – ‘rubber brush’
    but whether it’s referring to the window cleaner’s tool or printing equipment or other earlier meanings of the word I don’t know?

  8. Trond Engen says:

    In Norwegian a rubber blade on a handle used to wipe windows is a nal ([na:l]), a word I think I first encountered when I was in my twenties. I see that it’s originally a brand name made by inverting the name Lahn. My older dictionaries don’t have it.

    This reminds me of a popular YouTube video (made by Norwegians, if I recall correctly) in which a Danish man goes into a traditional Danish hardware store to get something to repair his bike, but can’t think of the name for it.

    Yes, from a series of documentary parodies on NRK, a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uti_v%C3%A5r_hage_%28TV_series%29″>Ut i vår hage. It’s not that he can’t think of a name for it. The point (at least for Norwegians) is that the original Danish word is useless, since (being Danish) it can’t be discerned from any other Danish word.