Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Non-writers just don’t understand: What’s the name for the rope things they use at airports to make lines?


cant finishDoes this ever happen to you? Here you are writing awesomeness and then you get stuck on the name for something. You know what it is, you can picture it in your head, but you just…don’t…know what it’s called! This JUST happened to me. I’m trying to fix up an airport scene in Hooligans in Shining Armour describing how Fiona bought her plane ticket back to the U.S. and her brothers are waiting to say goodbye to her just past the… WHAT ARE THOSE STRETCHY ROPE THINGS THAT MAKE LINES CALLED?

linesLol sorry for shouting, but that totally cramped my awesome flow of narration.By the way, apparently they’re called line divider rope. Thank God for the internet. So I wonder if in the U.K. and Singapore and most of the rest of the world they’re called queue divider rope. Cue that drumbeat ending with a cymbal crash always used for bad jokes that I ALSO don’t have a good way to describe 😛

Other personal examples:

1. The thing that stores, generally not in the U.S. that I’ve seen, pull down over their storefronts when they close?

shuttered shopAnswer (I think): shutter, so you’d say shuttered shops

2. The part of the door frame where you close the door, so like if you were leaning on an open door, what would you be leaning on?

Door_In_Door_FrameAnswer: door jamb

3) What you call the up and down rail things in a metal gate. Rods?

scrirg185Answer: So my brain just kind of failed me on this one. Apparently they’re just bars haha. We’ll just say I over-thought it.

All these things you never consider until you have to describe them in words so other people know what you’re thinking.

What’s the last last object or sensation or whatever you realized you didn’t know the word for?

19 thoughts on “Non-writers just don’t understand: What’s the name for the rope things they use at airports to make lines?

  1. Charles Colp

    I actually had this same problem the other day. The major difference, I knew the word but I was misspelling it. I had decided in my head the inside of the door was made of jelly and it was spelled “door jam” It took sever times before I realized what I had done wrong.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      my research revealed it is in fact called a line divider rope. Then THAT made me wonder…. in the UK and Singapore and Australia and all that, is it a QUEUE divider rope? I spend way too much time thinking about British English….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. leesha0304

        I’ve actually added British English words to my vocab (due to reading an ungodly amount of regency romance novels) – including, referring to a group of people as “you lot.” :p

        Queue divider rope sounds cooler.


      2. sjoycarlson Post author

        Hahahaaaa yeah I’ve adopted dodgy. I really want to use gutted as well but I don’t feel I have the street cred. Also contemplating “give it a miss”


  2. phantomwriter143

    Oh, my. I don’t think I can remember the last one. It happens so frequently that it’s become a habit and something I forget as soon as it’s happened. You’re such a writer. And yes, you’re right, non-writers just don’t get it.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Hahaaaa. I really had to think about what other examples were lol. Maybe a need to get a day job again. But I bet our vocabulary is far superior to all those non-writers because we know crazy words like….oh crap now I forgot the examples.:P But really though, I bet we do.


      1. phantomwriter143

        Oh, I know we do. I’m not being arrogant about that. It’s just a fact. My co-workers look at me all the time when I pull out the big guns. Some recent ones were: scuttlebutt, anthropomorphism, and sans (a small word, but apparently a lot of people don’t know it). Embrace the vocabulary!!!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Eliza

    What did writers do before the internet? Well Shakespeare and Dr Seuss just made up words. Sometimes that seems very tempting.

    I have a first-person narrator who has a legitimate reason not to know words and last week I wrote “what’s the word?” as a place holder until I figure it out, but I’m thinking about leaving it there. Blame it on my narrator.


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