I'm Flemish, and I recently read that in 2005, the Dutch dictionary added the word "beurtbalkje" (literal translation: turn cuboid) as a neologism for the little plastic or wooden thing that you can put between your groceries and those of the previous or next customer. I think this is such a nice word for it, beautifully simplistic and yet rather obvious what's it's supposed to mean. The alliteration is also a nice touch.

However, I can't find a similarly appealing word in English. The literal translation sounds obscure. Groceries divider bar is a bit long to ask. I found "checkout divider" on Wikipedia, which is somewhat better, but it just doesn't sound as nice as the Dutch word "beurtbalkje".

Is there a better name in English than "checkout divider"?

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    Everyone I know just calls it a bar, since context almost always makes it screamingly obvious which [type of] bar you're talking about. – FumbleFingers Jan 21 '15 at 14:07
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    It's referred to as a "divider" or just "stick" where I shop. "May I have the divider?" is how I usually ask the shopper ahead of me in line. – Kristina Lopez Jan 21 '15 at 14:56
  • You know, not everything needs to have an official name. – Hot Licks Jan 22 '15 at 8:21
  • So it's not just here that those things are famous for being a practical linguistic gap, then. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 23 '15 at 22:55

I think you are referring to the bar that is generally called:

Next-customer bar:

  • One of the most used plastic products in supermarkets are "Next Customer" bars.

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  • The ones I see are covered in adverting. I suppose it is fairly obvious what they are. Why don't we just call them things? – WS2 Jan 21 '15 at 14:26
  • @WS2 - I avoided posting one covered with advertising, but yes, they are more and more used to advertise products. – user66974 Jan 21 '15 at 14:28
  • I was surprised to find how accepted this compound has become. You could add a couple of relevant links. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 21 '15 at 16:35

If Google can be trusted, I would suggest checkout divider as Wiktionary has it. Divider is the most commonly appearing word in all the variant names used by advertising companies and manufacturers that appear in a search: grocery divider, checkout lane divider, lane divider, and so on, but the largest number of image results, for example, come up for checkout divider.

But Google is fickle, so I checked filings with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, and here too, checkout divider was the common element. From 1984 we have a patent for the check-out counter divider (#US 4534126 A); thence to the checkout counter order divider, retail checkout divider, and simply checkout divider— plus checkout counter divider bar tracks.

For what it's worth, checkout divider is also offered in translation dictionaries as the English counterpart to séparateurs de caisse, and checkout [lane] divider or grocery divider [bar] for der Warenteiler, der Warentrenner, & der Kundentrenner.


I have just asked the staff in a very large supermarket in Manchester, Fallowfield. Sainsburys call them either till dividers or customer dividers. But on the list of equipment staff can requisition they appear simply as divdrs, or something close to that.

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