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Apr. 8th, 2010

Poll #1548718 Propeller head

If you heard someone described as a 'Propeller head', what would you think was meant?

He has a strong interest in computers or technology.
He has a strong interest in aviation.
He likes to play computer flight simulations.
He is a science fiction fan.
He is generally a geek.
He wears one of those little hats with a propeller on it.
Other (please comment).

If you heard someone described as a 'Petrol head', what would you think was meant?

He has a strong interest in car maintenance and tuning.
He is a performance car enthusiast.
He drives dangerously and loudly, in the fashion of a 'boy racer'.
He has a strong interest in motor sport.
He thinks that environmentalists should not stop him from driving his car.
He likes to play motor racing video games.
Other (please comment).


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 8th, 2010 12:06 pm (UTC)
For 'petrol head' all of the above.

He is Jeremy Clarkson? Except that Jeremy doesn't do personal maintenance and tuning.

Oh, and those "little hats" have a proper name: "propeller beanies".

Edited at 2010-04-08 12:08 pm (UTC)
Apr. 8th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
The results are interesting. For 'Petrol head', the consensus is clearly that it's someone who is into performance cars. So I would be a petrol head, but most people reading this probably aren't. Evo magazine has a discussion on the subject here:

Even more interesting are your views on 'Propeller head'. Most people went for the 'strong interest in aviation' option, which is what I would have gone for. askoxford.com doesn't recognise the term at all (bit behind the curve there guys...).

Mirriam-Webster says a "propeller-head" is "an enthusiast of technology and especially of computers" and says the phrase derives from "cartoon images of science fiction fans wearing caps with a propeller protruding from the top", going as far back as 1982. Wikipedia gives much the same definition but dates the usage as far back as the 1940s when "science fiction fanzine artist Ray Nelson (himself still in high school) adopted the use of the propeller beanie as emblematic shorthand for science fiction fandom". Wikipedia goes on to say that "references to it (i.e. the propellerhead beanie) are ironically now used to identify old-fashioned fans" - I make no comment on the ages of the two people who voted for that option...

Urban Dictionary has pretty much all of the definitions I used in the poll, EXCEPT for the one about aviation. It does give propeller head as meaning a Jew or a BMW enthusiast (because of BMW's propeller logo).
Apr. 8th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
My "Other" answers really mean "I don't know."

"Other" number 1 = I've never heard this term before, so wouldn't think anything. If pushed, I'd guess something like "someone who is obsessed with helicopters."

"Other" number 2 = This is a term I've only ever heard in a Top Gear context. I couldn't pin it down to exactly what aspect of car enthusiasm it refers to.

"Performance car," by the way, gives me an image of cars in sequins, dancing in chorus lines.
Apr. 8th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
Your last paragraph has just made my day. :-)

Allow me to reciprocate, if possible. Whenever I hear the phrase "drag racing", I always have a mental image of gentlemen in little black dresses, feather boas, exotic makeup and high heels teetering along a race track at great speed, trying manfully not to sprain their ankles.

Some mental images are more mental than others.
Apr. 8th, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC)
But helicopters don't have propellers!

I've certainly heard it used on Top Gear. The word "petrol" suggests an English rather than American English derivation.

Not sure what phrase to use other than "performance car".
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )