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Cole Parker

Just wondering

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I have a question for you guys.  I assume we're an educated group, erudite, knowledgeable especially about English language words and usage.  My question is this:  Without looking it up—and I have to trust you on this; anyone can look something up, and what I want to know isn't what great researchers you are, but what you know without doing that—is if you know what the difference is between a rostrum and a podium.  I've had problems with those words in the past, and would like to know if I'm the only one.  So, I'd hope to see you guys taking a stab at defining these two terms, WITHOUT LOOKING THEM UP!!!

C

 

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I love a challenge, even if I get it wrong. The two are for me more or less the same, a guy stands on a rostrum like the conductor before an orchestra. The podium, I guess, refers more to a stand in front of a person which holds a book open. So the rostrum is a small platform, the podium a stand which supports a book to read from. Now I'll look it up 😁

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What I know is that a podium is something to stand on (the "pod" part is from the root meaning foot).  Commonly people use this term incorrectly to refer to the thing the speaker stands behind, with an angled place for notes.  But this latter item is a lectern, not a podium.  

I think this post is the first time I've encountered the word rostrum for at least a decade.  I can't be sure without looking it up.  

R

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Had to try and remember the saw my English teacher drummed into a class of 12 years old 61 years ago. Unfortunately, after all this time I can't remember the exact wording. However, I do remember the meaning. A podium has a foot, on which it stands and you can stand in front of it. A rostrum is something you stand on with the podium in front of you.

Incidentally, some years ago I was involved in organising a series of lectures to take place at a very upmarket location. When I was viewing the location and making arrangements for the hire of the venue, I was asked by the events manager if we wanted a podium or a book stand. I asked what was the difference? After getting a look which told me how uneducated I was, I was then informed a podium only has one foot, whilst a book stand has more more than one foot.

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Finding the exact difference in dictionaries is difficult, too.  My understanding is, both rostrum and podium describe raised platforms, and a lectern is a vertical stand with a slanted top to hold lecture material.  I think 'podium' is often misused to mean a lectern.

C

 

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Good question!

Some time ago I was part of a grouping where participants were using the word Rostrum to describe the furniture behind which a speaker stands, and which carries his notes and perhaps a microphone. I looked it up and discovered this usage is wrong. the Rostrum is the raised platform on which the speaker stands. The furniture in front of him is a Lectern.

The only use of Podium that I'm aware of is in sports where the winners stand on a podium to be presented with their medals.

I rather imagine Rostrum and Podium are interchangeable.

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From Bruin:

Good question!

Some time ago I was part of a grouping where participants were using the word Rostrum to describe the furniture behind which a speaker stands, and which carries his notes and perhaps a microphone. I looked it up and discovered this usage is wrong. the Rostrum is the raised platform on which the speaker stands. The furniture in front of him is a Lectern.

The only use of Podium that I'm aware of is in sports where the winners stand on a podium to be presented with their medals.

I rather imagine Rostrum and Podium are interchangeable.

 

That's my understanding.  But I see podium used in place of rostrum much more than I see the word rostrum used at all.

C

 

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Been doing a bit of research. Podium is derived from the Latin and means little foot. It appears to have two distinct meanings. The first is for any type of stand used to display an item that only has a single foot, e.g. a lectern. The second is a raised area or platform on which only has space for one person to stand. If more than one person can stand on it is technically not a podium, though the term is often misused for structures that support more than one person. The common element between the two is that something is raised up for display on a small footprint (podium).

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