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Posted by TheFallen on March 18, 2003

In Reply to: Cowl-light posted by TheFallen on March 18, 2003

: : : : Hello, I was just wondering whether any one else might have encountered the word "cowl-light", and if so, if you might know what its meaning and origin are.

: : : : Thanks in advance for any help.

: : : How was the phrase used? Googling the phrase produces references to auto parts. Merriam-Webster Online says a "cowl" is "the top portion of the front part of an automobile body forward of the two front doors to which are attached the windshield and instrument board."

: : Thanks. I don't remember the exact context, but I think it had some thing to do with a police car.

: I'm pretty sure that you can cowl a lantern, so that it only illuminates a small area of what is directly in front of it, and also so that its light may only be seen if viewed directly from the front. I have some memory of cowled lanterns being favoured by burglars of a long bygone age.

On the other hand, a cowl-light may be no more than what we'd call a dashboard light. Numerous cars with illuminated speedometers/rev counters have these recessed some way into the instrument panel, with a projecting "hood" extending a little way out over the top of them, presumably to prevent any reflection from being created on the interior of the windscreen(-shield).