muffler vs scarf

Who taught: Jake and John

Scarf handmade by my mother-in-law

My in-laws have been staying with me in the U.S. for about 3 and half months. My mother-in-law is a great cook when it comes to Korean food. Jessy and I have been enjoying a lot of good authentic Korean foods. She is also very good at knitting. A few days ago, I bought her one pound yarn and needles. In just two days, she had finished knitting one thing for me. It is a scarf. Actually, I am wearing it now. It is so warm that I can even feel her love.

Anyway, when I first saw the scarf. I was wondering… wondering about the correct English word for it. In Korean, it is 목도리(Mok-Do-Ree). And, people in Korea also call it muffler. They also use another English word, scarf. But, when Korean people say a scarf, it usually means a thing that is worn mostly by women and made of silk.

Influenced by this memory, I decided to use muffler instead of scarf when I uploaded the picture of it on my twitter and facebook. Not long after I put the picture along with the caption, “My mother-in-law made me a beautiful muffler. I love it,” on my twitter, Jake replied, asking whether I mean a muffler on a car. Jake meant to ask whether my mother-in-law made a part of a motor vehicle’s exhaust system, serving to muffle the sound of the vehicle, for me. Well, that would be so great if she could really make a new muffler in that sense. I will definitely put it on my car.

About 5 seconds later, John also replied to me on twitter, saying “A muffler belongs on a car. That looks like a scarf to me.” So, my conclusion from these replies is that people in the U.S. do not use muffler to mean scarf at all.

The thing that makes me still confused is that one of the definitions of muffler is a synonym of scarf. If you cannot believe it, google it.

So, what is happening? Do you guys think Jake and John are correct? Or, do you still say a muffler to mean a scarf? If not, come on….. I will make a complaint to all of the dictionaries to remove the definition. It is so confusing. Don’t you think, my non-native English friends? No fair!

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2 Comments

  1. Posted January 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    It’s also a muffler.

    Some parts of the US do not use the word “muffler” but it is used in some places (New England, for example, uses muffler too).

    Re: scarf vs. muffler. That’s more of a UK English distinction – A scarf is a woman’s scarf or a silk scarf as was worn by early pilots. A winter scarf is a muffler in the UK (to the best of my knowledge).

    Ciao!

  2. Mark
    Posted January 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Terry, don’t worry. You’re not wrong. It’s just not common to hear muffler used that way.

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