The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Rear Window Or Rear Windshield?

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

I don’t want to alarm anybody, but the Jalopnik house is divided, on the verge of tearing itself apart. I’m worried, hurt, and confused. Within our own ranks, I find a frightening division. We’re on the verge of finding Slack plug-ins that let us punch faces over the internet. The root of this evil? What do you call the bit of glass at the rear of your car?

There are two main schools of thought here: rear window, or rear windshield. Maybe you could swap “back” for rear in either example. The point of division is the use of the word “windshield.”


Personally, I’m in the rear window camp. I think windshield is reserved for the big slab of glass at the front of the car, the one you glance through in between texts while driving. It’s the one that’s actually doing any shielding of wind, after all. The front is getting that massive onslaught of wind as you propel forwards; the rear just has to keep the surrounding air out, like windows have been doing for centuries.

Oh, if you’re part of the British Commonwealth, just swap “–screen” for “–shield” and I’m sure you’ll find a similar divide. I think? For some reason, now that I say it, “rear windscreen” sounds less weird to me than “rear windshield.”


Seeing what the official names for these are isn’t much help, because car designers tend to use the “official” term, DLO (DayLight Opening) for all car windows. Here’s how they define it:

US DOT Term: For openings on the side of the vehicle, other than a door opening, the locus of all points where a horizontal line, perpendicular to the vehicle longitudinal centerline, is tangent to the periphery of the opening.

Yeah, that’s the most absurd definition of “window” I’ve ever read. Fuck that.

I was going to check how many Google hits came up for each term, but then I realized that “rear window” results are tainted by the Hitchcock movie. People Googling “birds” know what I mean.


So, there’s no better place to turn to settle this than to you, our trusted, intelligent, and, yes, in that shirt, sexy readers.

Which is it? Rear window, or rear windshield? Hurry, before I e-kick Andrew right in his big smug ‘rear windshield.’