Thursday, August 16, 2012

quicko: tacky

Aside from the definition involving Christmas yard decor in February, Australians also use "tacky" the same way Americans use "sticky."  It all came out in conversation the other day when some co-workers said their "Blu-Tack" (Australians have issues spelling the word pronounced "blue."  More to come on this in a subsequent post.) wasn't looking so blue, but more gray, so of course I told them that that was why "Sticky Tack" is such a better name for the squashy entity of goo.  They argued that was redundant, because "sticky" and "tacky" have the same meaning, which I said was ridiculous, because of course they don't.

Hence we discovered:  in Australia they really are synonyms, but in America they are not.


Laetitia :-) said...

To me the main definitions of 'tack' (in no particular order) are:

gear for horse-riding (saddle, bridle etc.);
a pin with a large, flat head, used for pinning flyers to a noticeboard;
an indication of the 'dryness' of paint (as in 'tack dry') - won't leave paint on your finger if you touch it lightly and quickly but will coat your pants if you sit on a tack-dry seat; has a slightly sticky quality to it.

It's the last one that means we can use tacky synonymously with 'sticky'.

Mom said...

Actually, this must just be one of those very few definitions you missed along the way in America; tacky actually is used as a synonym for sticky here, too. It usually means just a little bit sticky, though, and not full strength stick power. For instance, if something is tacky and you touch it, it will adhere to your finger for a half a second but then release itself, whereas if it was sticky it might not let go at all. Fresh varnish will be a bit tacky to the touch until it is completely dried; heated marshmallows are sticky.