I “onboard” folks all the time. That’s one of my things.

Folks say things like, “Awwww, we gotta onboard this? Better get maiki!” when I’m not around.

So what does it mean?

From on board , equivalent to on- +‎ board .

Okay, let’s check out board:

From Middle English bord , from Old English bord (“board; plank; table; shield; deck; ship; boundary”), from Proto-West Germanic *bord , from Proto-Germanic *burdą (“board; plank; table”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰerdʰ- (“to cut”).

It’s so amazing to look at all the derived meanings. First, there’s the nouns:


board ( countable and uncountable , plural boards )

  1. A relatively long, wide and thin piece of any material, usually wood or similar, often for use in construction or furniture-making.

Each player starts the game with four counters on the board .

We have to wait to hear back from the board .

Room and board

to bind a book in boards

  • (video games) A level or stage having a particular layout.
  • (bridge) A container for holding pre-dealt cards that is used to allow multiple sets of players to play the same cards.

I’m always telling @susan (when I’m not eavesdropping on others to hear how they refer to be and onboarding), “nature abhors a flat surface!”

What I mean by that is, when I am homeless I have difficulty doing things that people with tables take for granted. Want to prepare a meal? Eat a meal? Write on paper? Hold a thing so it doesn’t roll away?

Thank a flat surface.

on- is easy enough to understand:


From Middle English on- , from Old English on- , an- , from Proto-Germanic *an- , *ana- (“on-”), from Proto-Indo-European *ano- , *nō- (“on”). Cognate with Dutch aan- , German an- , Swedish an- .



  1. on, at, toward, upon.

on come , on set , on fall , on lay

So, let’s look at the types of verbs we get when we are board


board ( third-person singular simple present boards , present participle boarding , simple past and past participle boarded )

  1. (transitive) To step or climb onto or otherwise enter a ship, aircraft, train or other conveyance.
  • It is time to board the aircraft.

Antonyms: alight, disembark

to board one’s horse at a livery stable

A bureau comes from:


Borrowed from French bureau , earlier “coarse cloth (as desk cover), baize”, from Old French burel (“woolen cloth”), diminutive of *bure (compare Middle French bure (“coarse woolen cloth”), French bourre (“hair, fluff”)), from Late Latin burra (“wool, fluff, shaggy cloth, coarse fabric”); akin to Ancient Greek βερβέριον (berbérion, “shabby garment”). Doublet of burel and borrel , taken from Old French.

Bureaus and boards… the human condition expressed as furniture.

Bureaus and Boards! The Exciting Role-playing Game that finally combines the fast-paced worlds of Antiquing and high-stakes NPO Fund-raising!

Dammit, I got it!

Train conductor yells out, “all a-board!”, and it shows everyone planking on the train!

Quick, someone get me a comic artist and a time machine!