Cars: How to Talk the Designers’ Talk | English Usage for French Insights |

Now that designers often move around the globe, their language has become more eclectic. Earlier in his career, Mr. Davis worked in Europe for Fiat and G.M. In Germany, he learned gummidingers, a name for rubber thingamajigs that have no name. Mr. Davis defined the British-sounding mucketts as “complicated rubber moldings that hide nasty window-door frame areas or direct water drips to appropriate places.”

“In Italy,” he said, “what we call the plenum, the area at the base of the windshield where the wipers sit and run off is directed is called the vasca di pesce, or fish bowl.”

Companies have their own phrase books. At BMW, a crease or body line on the side of a car is a zicke, Mr. Chapman said. For New Yorkers, Mr. Chapman noted that the often-used Hofmeister Knick, referring to the traditional dogleg shape at the base of the C-pillar of BMWs, “is pronounced ka-nic, not like the basketball team.”

The shape is named for Wilhelm Hofmeister, a BMW designer in the 1960s; knick is German for fold or crease.