I read an excerpt written by Lt. Col. (Dr.) Pramod Deogirikar, and the question why are we still tossing an 'outdated' coin till date is now stuck in my mind.
Why do humans agree with what has been told to them? Why don't we try to find the answers to the questions that have never been asked?
My wayward thoughts further encouraged my curiosity and I typed, "Why are two sides of a coin called 'head' and 'tail' on Google, and kept on looking for answers. There were many pages, links and people who had an answer to this question and here is what I could manage to understand:
Traditionally, all kids (including myself) have been taught that one side of the coin is called a 'head' while the other side is called a 'tail'.
Okay, don't yell at me or call me nuts but you have been calling 'heads' wrong all your life. It is actually called the 'obverse' side of the coin and what we call tail is the 'reverse' side. The two flat faces of the coin have an official name but we have been addressing them with their so-called nicknames all our life.
I believe, the answer to this question lies in the initial source of commerce for a man, which is animals. People exchanged animals, and so their images were engraved on the coins that were exchanged. One side of the coin had the head part of the animal and that's how people started calling it a 'head'.
Generally, one side has the imprint or embossing of the official head of state or an insignia or emblem and hence it's called the head side. The tail side's name possibly originated from the British ten pence coin, the reverse of which shows a heraldic lion with its tail raised. The raised tail hence got shortened to just 'tail'.
Some say that the terms 'heads' and 'tail' originated from Roman coins while some say that people call both the sides of the coin 'Caesar and ship' in Rome, 'cross and pile' in Old England.
Century after century, country after country and generation after generation, people have just accepted these words. But, as I began with a question, why don't we ask questions that have never been answered.
I have a point to address.
Tossing of a coin is generally done when we are confused or when we have to choose a side. So, why do we call it 'head' and 'tail' and not something else?
Humans make a lot of decisions in their lives and many times there is a fight between the head and the heart of an individual. At times we are in a dilemma and don't understand whether to listen to our heart or go with what the head says.
So, why not make a proper confrontation and address these two factors? You can always do that unless of course, the coin is also equally indecisive and stands on its edge. (Remember 'Sholay'?)
Cover image source: Hindustan Times.
The article is inspired and ideated from an excerpt written by Lt. Col. (Dr.) Pramod Deogirikar.
That's all people.
If you have something to say about this, let me know in the comment section below.
You can also write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org