Is it an oil “galley” or a “gallery”

July 1, 2012 | By Richard Prince


Other automotive publications have misused this word and seem to have wrongly influenced countless enthusiasts and perhaps even some automotive professionals. So when I saw a reader write in to your May Mechanic on Duty column and mention his “oil galley” I was not too surprised. However, when your response also mentioned “oil galley” I felt the need to write to you.

My dictionary defines the word “galley” as either an ancient type of ship or boat, the kitchen of a ship, airliner or boat, or else a tray used in the printing industry.

The correct word in reference to an automobile engine is “gallery.” Among the many definitions for this word is “passageway” which fits perfectly in the usage as “oil gallery.” The switching of the two words is a simple mistake, but why not encourage correct usage?

Thank you for considering this line of thought and keep up the good work with your unique magazine which I enjoy very much.


Hmmm...curious indeed. I looked at the definition of both words in my vintage Random House Webster’s Dictionary and none of the various definitions for either word is really a perfect fit for the engine application. I suppose one could argue that the shape of that area of the engine resembles the hull of a ship, or that the oil gallery/oil galley acts as a vessel for

the transport of the oil from one part of the engine to another just as a ship (a galley) is a vessel for the transport of something, or like a galley it’s a narrow area that holds the relevant material.

Playing devil’s advocate aside, your point is well taken and I agree with you that gallery is probably a better choice than galley.