I don't know what I was expecting for the etymology of caboose, but this wasn't it. Turns out that the word I and many other North Americans associate with "last railcar of a train" used to mean "ship's cookhouse" and got applied to locomotives in the nineteenth century because cabooses usually held eating facilities for the train crew. Just a simple matter of applying one established transportation term to a new invention in a fledgling different method of transportation, but then the older definition died out. The older definition, by the way, comes from the Middle Dutch word for "ship's gallery", kabuis. That in turn derives from Low German kabhuse, which may incorporate the same elements as the words "cabin" and "house", but etymologists aren't too sure if that's true, or what comes after it otherwise.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy philosophy, trivia, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.