Word of the Day: Tack and Tact


  tack  /  tăk   noun  
  1. (in equestrian regard) a broad name for horseback riding gear; saddles, bridles, reigns, etc.
Cowboys have traditionally used many different kinds of materials including leather, rope and more recently paracord to create all manner of tack for horses. Nicky Ellis, “Tips to Help You Make your Own Horse Tack Using Para Cord”, www.horsesandfoals.com, July 18, 2019  
  1. a short nail with a large flat head
I always attribute my success to always requiring myself to do my level best, if only in driving a tack in straight.  Russel H. Conwell, 1843 – 1925  
  1. a long loose stitch made to mark or temporarily bind
When I first started sewing, I figured tailor’s tacks were archaic and complicated and I never bothered to use them because they were hard and I could always use pins or chalk. “How to Make and Use Tailor’s Tacks”, https://tuesdaystitches.com/make-use-tailors-tacks/  
  1. a method to accomplish a goal or deal with a problem
In choosing a course of action, it’s best to take the tack of kindness. Peter Megargee Brown,  1922 – 2014  
  1. the course sailed before changing directions or position when heading into the wind
The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 – 1882  
  1. the direction a vessel is heading, in reference to the direction of the wind
Desmond was keeping the boat close on the starboard tack, heading away to the southward of west. From “The Three Admirals” by W.H.G. Kingston, 1814 – 1880  
  1. a sail or portion of a sail or the ropes attached to such to control direction and speed
Get the tack of the reef fixed and then winch up the halyard to put good tension on the luff –this keeps the sail pulled forward. “A Quick Guide to Reefing”, https://www.quantumsails.com/en/resources-and-expertise/articles/a-quick-guide-to-reefing, July 18, 2019  
  1. stickiness, as associated with drying paint, glue, etc.
Tack is the property of an adhesive that determines its ability to instantly form a bond with another surface under light contact pressure. From “Measurement Good Practice Guide No. 26 : Adhesive Tack” by Bruce Duncan, Steve Abbott and Richard Roberts, www.adhesivetoolkit.com  
  1. food that is inferior or unpleasant
You are fools to make yourselves slaves to a piece of fat bacon, some hard-tack, and a little sugar and coffee.  Sitting Bull, 1831 – 1890  
  1. a direction or course of action that differs from the previous one
Our efforts will result in nebulous confusion if we make a wrong move at any point, even if it’s only a small tack to the side.  Hideo Kojima, 1963 –   verb
  1. (in equestrian regard) to tack up; to fit a horse with riding gear
Properly tacking up a horse is important for the safety, comfort and performance of both horse and rider.  “How to Tack up your Horse for Western Riding”, https://www.tractorsupply.com/know-how_pets-livestock_horse_how-to-tack-up-your-horse-for-western-riding  
  1. to affix or attach
The function of the prosecutor under the federal Constitution is not to tack as many skins of victims as possible against the wall. William O. Douglas, 1898 – 1980  
  1. to mark or attach temporarily with a loose stitch, to baste
There’s not a shirt and a half in all my company, and the half shirt is two napkins tacked together and thrown over the shoulders like a herald’s coat without sleeves.  William Shakespeare, 1564 – 1616  
  1. to bind or connect loosely or randomly
[Political] prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house. George Orwell, 1903 – 1950  
  1. to add to as a supplement
The very technologies that were supposed to free up our time seem instead to be consuming it, tacking hours onto our already extended days. From “Thriving in 24/7; Six Strategies for Taming the New World of Work, by Sally Helgesen, 1948 –  
  1. to adjust the course of a vessel heading into the wind to allow for forward progress
Most begin to veer and tack as soon as the wind changes from aft, and as within the tropics it does not blow from all points of the compass, there are some harbors which they can never reach.  Henry David Thoreau, 1817 – 1862  
  1. to change direction or course of action
Therefore, since they cannot sail in the teeth of the wind, they must tack, and ultimately gain their object, by appearing at times to be departing from it. Charles Caleb Colton, 1780 – 1832  


  tact  /  tăkt   noun (no plural)  
  1. a sense of what is proper and appropriate; discretion
Tact is the unsaid part of what you think. Henry Van Dyke, 1852 – 1933  
  1. diplomacy; skill in dealing with people and knowing how to handle difficult situations
Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves. Abraham Lincoln, 1809  – 1865