This evening, my wife and I took the ferry over to Toronto Island and went to a beach near Hanlon’s Point, after which walked over to the Ward’s Island end by way of the boardwalk. We saw a whole lot of bollards.
What’s a bollard? You may not guess correctly from the above sentence. Where would we have seen them? Not on the beach, for one thing. They’re not birds or body parts. We saw them in two places, actually: the ferry docks and the ends of the boardwalk.
A bollard, you see, is a short post. At the ferry docks, they’re the short things that the ropes from the boats are slung onto and tied around. At the ends of the boardwalk, they’re the waist-high posts spaced close enough together to keep the four-person cycles and other largeish vehicles off. (Some of those big cycles got on from a side entrance anyway.) The traffic posts are named after the nautical posts, which in turn are probably named after a bole, which is a tree trunk. Bollards are also called posts, but that’s kinda boring and unspecial, isn’t it?
After all, post doesn’t have two big posts sticking right up in the middle of it (plus another at each end) like you see in bollard. It also doesn’t have that ring of boulevard and bully and blowhard and a few other similar words, plus bothered. And it doesn’t have that ard ending that has a slight smack of French. Post is a shorter and punchier word, but bollard still has an explosive /b/ to start with. And it has two syllables, and it’s a less common word. So of course it must be the better word, right?