Why do we say 'dog whistle' but 'dog's lead'; 'horse box' but 'horse's bridle'?

  • Maybe because the lead belongs to the dog and the bridle to the horse, whereas the box is a container and the whistle belongs to you – mplungjan Nov 14 '13 at 9:00
  • So that's why we speak of a referee's whistle. But why do we say the 'team bus' or the 'team colours' or for that matter 'the school bus' or 'school colours'? – WS2 Nov 14 '13 at 9:20
  • Because the school bus may belong to the community and not the school. The bus transports the team, but they do not own it – mplungjan Nov 14 '13 at 9:27
  • @mplungian So does the dog own the lead or the horse the bridle? And who owns the team colours? Norwich City play in canary yellow as they did when founded in about 1910. All the people who had anything to do with that are now dead. So who owns the 'team colours'? – WS2 Nov 14 '13 at 10:15
  • Lead bridle:Belongs to/attached to. Colours: not sure how to express that, but we have some team's team colours - because it could also be that they were all African American – mplungjan Nov 14 '13 at 10:26

Yes, they are compound nouns. A "dog whistle" is a type of whistle, while a "horse box" is a type of transport.

As for the "team colours" these refer to a specific set of colours used by a particular sports team. Using your Norwich City F.C. example, that organization as a collective whole (and not a single person or two) has owned those colours since the 1907-1908 Southern Football League season.

  • And a great side they are too. Support the Canaries, wherever you are! – WS2 Nov 15 '13 at 10:16

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