slightly OT: anyone say "sink" for "counter"?

shannonazDecember 22, 2013

During marathon cookie baking this week I finally got to talk to my mom about some family vernacular...

I grew up referring to the counter as the "sink."
So, we would say: "please set this glass on the sink."

This, of course, caused confusion when I talked to other people and when I got married. I still say it sometimes but I mostly say counter.

Has anyone else heard of this? My mom grew up in a typical 40s fitted kitchen. She hypothesized that it have started when sinks where free-standing and had a lot of included horizontal surface. She said that when she says "sink" she does typically think of counter adjacent to the sink. BUT in almost every kitchen she has ever lived in there wasn't much counter not adjacent to the sink...(really small kitchens)

I wish I could ask my grandmother. She was so precise about language and shared our fascination with why we say what we do...but she isn't here to ask. She presumable taught my mom to say "sink" for "counter." She did not grow up in a normal home but in an institutional setting (convents) so maybe that plays in?

So, anyway...does anyone else say "sink" to mean the counter??

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Yes. I understand perfectly. Now please hand me the warsh rag from the deemp zink.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 12:28PM
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Sounds reasonable. I'm guessing that it was only the counter right by the sink (not the fridge or range) which is where we usually put dirty dishes.

In this picture, I would say the canister/cookie jar is on the sink, not on the counter :)

From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Dating myself here, but I remember some of my childhood friends moms calling it the 'drainboard'...

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 2:04PM
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Treb, my mom says warsh rag, she goes to Warshington, and sometimes visits Chicargo. My grandmother, not Mom's mother, said Bruick (Buick). These are not ignorant, uneducated people. They are both well-traveled. But they both seem to have a surfeit of Rs that they sprinkle liberally throughout their speech.

Back to OP's question, I would be clueless if I were told to set the glass "on" the sink, but I think lavender_lass nailed it.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 2:16PM
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Oh, I have a million of these from my family...both my grandmothers said "warsh" rag, the vacuum cleaner was the sweeper, one of them always wanted to go to "Hi-Wi-Ya" but was afraid to get on a plane!! That same grandmother had a sink exactly like the one pictured above and up until the day she died she would say "put the dishes on the sink" and let's "sit a spell" before we "warsh 'em up". God I loved those women and miss them terribly! Thanks for the throwback!!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 2:46PM
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I have had elementary school teachers who said "Warshington." And I live in Warshington.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 3:11PM
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Both my mom and grandmother told us to put things on the zinc. I was never sure if that referred to the material their original counters were made from or if it meant sink (my Irish grandmother was indentured to a German family). We always called the fridge the ice box.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 4:00PM
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Dating myself here, but I remember some of my childhood friends moms calling it the 'drainboard'...

I say this too (native Ohioan). Spouse, born and raised in Scotland, looks at me oddly every time I say it. To be fair, right now I have a sink in a vintage sink cabinet where the sink and integrated drainboard take up 95% of the counter/surface area, so "drainboard", "sink" and "counter" are pretty much the same space.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 4:35PM
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Isn't it funny that when "grands" (parents and children) mispronounce and misuse words we are charmed, and find it endearing? But my mother putting a "t" sound in swiffer is so annoying! And now a couple of my children are grown enough to start rolling their eyes at some of my idiosyncrasies, too. Perhaps this is the same "once removed" phenomenon for decor trends - if it was current for our parents, we hate it...but if our grands liked it, it is beloved vintage.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 5:25PM
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When you mentioned this, I immediately went back to my younger days growing up at my grand-dad's house. We had a sink not much unlike what Lavender posted, complete with the painted white metal cabinets...only the posted sink doesn't appear to have the chips that our well-loved one did. I can remember cooking dinner for the two of us and then we would both take our positions at the sink - he would wash and I would dry and put away. It was all "sink". And looking back, there really wasn't much in the way of counter space (so why is it NOW that I think I have to have a giant counter expanse when I had almost literally none when learning to cook). We had an eat-in kitchen and looking back, most of my prep-work was done at the sink or on the kitchen table. There was nothing fancy about it at all, but a ton of wonderful moments in that kitchen.

Goodness...thank you so much to the OP who brought this up - allowing me to take that little stroll down Memory Lane.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 10:22PM
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Yes, I growing up it was "put it on the sink", "goes in the sink", it meant anywhere "at the sink". I still say it.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 3:55PM
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Nan - fridge is "Icebox" for me as well. That is what my Dad always called it....

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 5:18PM
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I grew up with a sink/integrated drainboard like LL's photo. My mom would wash my hair with me lying on my back, head over the sink. I would call that entire unit a "sink" but I wouldn't call counter in other parts of the kitchen "sink."

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 6:49PM
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I grew up in a very old house with an unfitted kitchen and a sink similar to the one shown. We would set things on the sink, or set things on the table. We didn't have counters.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 7:32PM
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We had a usual sort of sink with surrounding counter, but all the counter in the general area of the sink was called "the sink." I suppose I still sometimes say, "Just put it up on the sink." when I mean the counter near the sink.

Funny pronunciations: my friend (who grew up in Los Angeles) refers to that place you park your car as the "grr-arge." I think her parents were originally mid-western.

Names out of time: my grandmother always referred to her car as "the machine." Grandma was an adult when affordable Model T's began rolling off the production line in 1914, but she was still referring to The Machine in the late 50s. My dad called our underpants "drawers," which I presume originated with the same grandmother. My children are familiar with that term, but I don't think my grandson is.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 2:31AM
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Icebox, yup. And how about 'Davenport'?

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 3:10AM
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My grandmother (born 1899) would say that she was going to "hoover" the carpet.
My other grandmother would also say "on the sink" and she had the same as pictured above. Any kitchen work was done on the kitchen table -- her little kitchen had the sink unit, a stove, an "icebox" and the small table. No room for anything else!
Particularly today, I am happy to recall her and her little house.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 9:45AM
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My 5 yo will climb up into the recliner with her Grandpa and "sit a spell." She thinks that they then need to spell words. So he spells with her out loud. C-A-T spells cat, etc. So funny.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 4:26PM
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Thanks to everyone who weighed in! I am sure the saying comes from sinks with drainboards etc., but I have never known anyone else who says that...

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 4:30PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

So many funny words and mispronunciations.

Photo Alblum
Magazine prescription
Getting your prostrate removed
Film and Elm were 2-syllable words
Popular trees
Poison Ivory
Grandma's living room was always the parlor and you didn't turn on the stove but put the fire on.
Aunt Mary's tyrone problem (thyroid), and she always thought she needed a "physic"!

and the one that really cracked me up was my old sec'y who had "oakmeal" for breakfast because it had so much fiber!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 9:56AM
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Here's another one both my grandmother's used...anyone know what a stove "eye" is?

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 11:39AM
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No, what is a stove eye?

And does anyone else still call any round, flat musical recording a "record"? I used to sound out of touch ("mom, it's a CD"), but now that vinyl is back in, I sound hip.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 1:15PM
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Stove eye was how my grandmothers both referred to the burners...they would say turn on "the front eye on the left" or something along those lines. I've never heard the phrase outside of my family.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 3:04PM
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I love these anecdotes about our beloved grannies and grandpas!

My Grandma Elsie always served something she called "Solution." A very frugal woman, she saved everything, and every left over beverage went together into a pitcher - iced tea, lemonade, fruit punch, orange juice, etc. Since the leftover beverages were all different colors and amounts, "Solution" was always a different color. (I was always a little bit afraid of it, partly due to the odd, vaguely scientific name and partly because it never looked the same from one visit to the next.)

My inlaws say "eye-talian" instead of Italian, and pronounce coupon as if there's a "y" in it: "kyoo-pon" instead of "koo-pon." Both sound odd to me, and we all grew up in the midwest so it's not a regional thing as far as I know. (My FIL also calls our armoire a highboy; first time he said it I had no idea what he was talking about.)

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 4:03PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Dad always had an expression that I'd never heard. When he didn't want us to talk back or make up a story, he'd say, "Don't give me none of your rhubarb!"

He learned Polish before he learned English so he always had some odd addition to dese, dems and dose, he always had a sangwich for lunch.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 4:53PM
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