So I had the idea of doing a kitchen-themed exploration of my language obsessions.
What gadgets or utensils or whatever were worthy of note, linguistically speaking?
Stick beater. I like that one. A beater in the form of a stick.
Teardrop grater. This is a box grater with teardrop-shaped holes. Cool.
And then… bam! Stainless steel.
In Spanish we call it ‘inox’ i.e. acero inoxidable = unrustable steel.
Who had the brilliant idea of calling it ‘stainless’?
Over to Google and the history of stainless steel, which I won’t recount here (although you could definitely jazz it up for a screenplay: accidental discovery, early experiments and setbacks – edge-of-seat will it / won’t it rust? countdown…)
Suffice it to say that the new alloy was originally called rustless steel.
And then one manufacturer, Ernest Stuart, upon testing the material in vinegar, suggested a more marketable name of ‘stainless steel’.
It “sounds better” said another link, which has disappeared since I did this research, and, given that they were trying to market knives, “the concept of ‘stains’ was more familiar to housewives rather than rust, corrosion, tarnish, etc.”
Of course it sounds better.
It alliterates, that’s why.