Klaxon, as you probably know, is the thundering voice of the train, the warning signal; like a car horn only much deeper and louder.
I remember learning this word years ago when I heard a Mexican man refer to a car horn in Spanish as a “claxon.” He pronounced it “CLAHK-sohn.”
It’s interesting how once you’re aware of a new word you start hearing and reading it everywhere. Most likely you had come across it many times before and it just never penetrated your consciousness. Now I see klaxon fairly often and occasionally use it in conversation. Spanish speakers use claxon even more than it’s used in English and it also exists in several other modern languages.
Where did the word come from? I thought klaxon might have been a proper noun at some point, an invention named after its creator like a Zeppelin or a Colt revolver. According to Wikitionary.org klaxon was once a trademarked name and comes not from an inventor’s surname but from the Greek word “klazo” meaning “roar, make a sharp sound.”
In any case, its sharp sound roared me right out of my skin this morning.