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crossbuck (KROS-buk) noun

An X-shaped warning sign at a highway-railroad crossing.

[From cross- + buck, from sawbuck.]

"The federal investigation could result in an upgrade of warning equipment at the crossing, which is marked only by stop signs and X-shaped railroad crossbuck signs."

Truck Driver is Charged in Amtrak Train Collision, The Houston Chronicle, Jul 13, 1999.

As a parent of a three-year old daughter, I'm constantly besieged with questions. While on an after-dinner walk, the enquiry comes up, "Where's the sun gone?" "He's sleeping." "Why?" "Because his mommy put him to bed." "Why?" "Because he has to go to pre-school tomorrow." "Why?" "Because he likes playing with his friends and teachers." "Why?" ... A few more whys later, I'm ready to confess ignorance. Such a small question -- Why? -- yet so hard to answer. Fortunately, the whats are easier to tackle. As it happens, the English language has a word for almost everything around: from the disc on the top of a flagpole (truck), to the spot on a die or a domino (pip), to the little circle that comes out of a punched paper (we all know it by now). This week we'll look at some more words that answer, "What is this called?" -Anu


He is the best physician who is the most ingenious inspirer of hope. -Samuel Taylor Coleridge, poet, critic, and philosopher (1772-1834)

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