Since You Asked: Yes, there used to be gloves in the glove box

OK, word experts at Since You Asked Headquarters: Why is it called a "glove box"? I've never seen gloves in my dad's box, only old crossword puzzles and broken pencils.

— Maggie F., Medford

Well, Maggie, we're guessing you were born long after the term was first coined, since you don't seem old enough to have a glove box of your own yet.

According to our Good Book (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition), the phrase was coined in 1946 and meant "glove compartment," a noun that was born in 1939 once the automobile age really got going.

In those early days of the "horseless buggy," people did weird things like wear formal gloves all the time — but not just as a fashion statement.

Most cars then didn't come with heaters, and people needed gloves to help keep their hands warm. A glove box was a handy place to keep them.

Glove boxes have since evolved, becoming home for everything from car registrations to flashlights to CDs and crossword puzzles.

Some cars even have air-cooled glove boxes so you can store things like chocolate bars, but they beg the question: What happens when you stop on a sweltering day and the car is no longer running? (Answer: Eat them.)

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering them all.

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