Sunday, December 15, 2013

Is there a word for terms that are created for one thing and applied where they don't make sense?

Example that comes to mind “hedge fund”. It was originally a fund that pursues hedging strategies, but has come to be used nearly synonymously with "private equity".

Another example is “clipless pedals”. Bike pedals used to have toe clips (aka "rat traps") that covered the toe of your shoe, to help hold your foot against the pedal, and more importantly, provide the ability to get some power from the upstroke, not just the downstroke.

20 years ago, they were replaced with a far superior mechanism, involving a cleat on your shoe that locks in to a receptacle on the pedal. Since the new, cleated mechanism replaced toe clips, they were referred to as "clipless". Thing is, the act of locking in the cleat is very much a process of "clipping in". So when people new to cycling see clipless pedals demonstrated, they find it confusing.

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