A student asked whether the words ‘whiteboard’, ‘Australian Cricket Board’ and ‘board a train’ are related. After some checking, the answer is ‘yes’. Originally, a board was any largish, thinnish, flattish piece of wood. You can attach it to a wall and it becomes a blackboard, whiteboard or notice board. You can put legs on it and it becomes a table. You can put food on it and offer ‘room and board’, or just ‘board’, and a boarder can board in your boarding house (or perhaps do other things in your bawdy house, which is a totally different word!). (The food-related meaning came first, and can still be seen in the Swedish word smörgåsbord.) You can sit around it and hold a board meeting in a boardroom, and become a member (or chairman) of the board and make decisions across the board. You can saw it into boards, build a theatre and tread the boards, or build a boat, and be on board, and invite someone else to come on board, and they can board your boat (and you hope they don’t fall overboard), or (later) a bus, train or aeroplane. I hope you’re all on board about ‘board’, but if you think I’ve gone overboard about ‘board’, and are now bored, then that’s a totally different word, too.