"Call It In The Air"



When we participate in the flipping of a coin, the command given is to predict the outcome as "heads or tails."  For centuries most American and British coins have featured a bust or profile of a head of state on one side of the coin (two-cent pieces, three-cent pieces, and shield nickels would be exceptions).  For the other side, the OED explains with  a citation from 1810 that it is called a tail "without respect to the figure upon it."

When the coin flipped comes from another country, however, the terminology may change.  When the kopeck above is flipped, the choice is "lattice or eagle."  The figure on the obverse is a monogram of the ruler, but to the common people it was viewed as a lattice.  Other countries offer other choices:
For a Hungarian it is so obvious to call this game fej vagy írás, “head or script” that he would not believe if somebody told him that no other people says it exactly like this. The Germans say Kopf oder Zahl, the Spaniards and Italians Cara o cruz and Testa o croce, the Poles – just like Russians, and obviously after the same kopeiki – Orze? czy reszka, the Irishmen Head or harps, the Greeks (crown or script), and the ancient Latins Navia aut caput (ship or head [of Janus]), depending on the actual designs of their coins.

What comparable phrases have readers of Neatorama encountered in their home countries?

Link.

Addenda from Neatorama readers:

Bojan Zarkovic - Serbians also use "head or script."

Joris Slob - the Dutch use "kop of munt" (head or coin) because the queen is on one side and the number of cents/euro on the other.

nunov - its "face or crown" in Portugal.

Informantxgirl - in Thailand, it's "heads or pinky (koy)" - the "pinky" side showing a building or monument.

Paavo Ojala - in Finnish its "kruuna vai klaava," words borrowed from Swedish ("krona eller klave").  Some people don't know which word means which side.

DW - in Mexico it's "aguila o sol" (eagle or sun).

Tom T - in Portguese it's "Cara ou Coroa" (Head or Crown) - even though there is no crown on current coins.

nadiv - in Hebrew it's Etz (tree) or Pali. "These two terms come for the time of the British mandate over Palestine. The English "heads" was transformed to Etz, even though there's currently no head or tree on that side of the coin. Pali comes from Palestine, the writing on the other side of the coins back then."

cforeroo - in Colombia: Cara o sello (face or seal); commonly the flip is called 'carisellazo.'

Anton aka LT - Russians call "oryol ili reshka" (eagle or face).

Stubb - in Norway, it's "kron eller mynt" (crown or coin/value).

Madmolf - the French say "pile ou face" (mark made by seal of the coinmaker vs. head).

Bex H - Aussies call "heads or tails."  There are animals on the "tails" side of all coins except the newer $2 ones, which feature an aboriginal person; The Black Adder says when these are flipped, the call is "black or white."

Shrinath - in Tamil Nadu (a state in South India), it's called "poova thalaya," meaning "head or flower."

A hat tip to everyone above.  I'll keep updating the addenda as more information arrives.

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

In China it is ?? zheng mian ?Main side) for the side with the picture, and ?? fan mian (Reverse side) for the side with the number.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Umm - I think you've been trolled by the 'Aussie' Black Adder.

Its always been heads or tails over in Australia, only the $2 coin (introduced in 1988) has an aboriginal person on it - all the others have animals on the reverse. BA might like to be rascist on occasion but the rest of us are better than that.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Well, here in France it's "pile ou face".

Pile gets it's origin in the tiny mark made by hammering the seal of the coin maker.
Face means head, as in face obviously.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
In Norway, we say "kron eller mynt", which translates to "crown or coin". This is because the lower value coins only had an engraving of the crown, not the King's profile. The other side had the coin value.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.





Check out Twaggies' very funny clip:

Give a Man a Fish - Twaggies by Twaggies
Email This Post to a Friend
""Call It In The Air""

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window