If you're new to model railroading, a hobby shop is probably where you'd get your first crash course in hobby terminology. However, spending an afternoon staring at trains in display cases trying to get answers to basic questions can be frustrating. Having worked at several hobby shops, I've seen novices walk in full of enthusiasm and leave confused and grumbling about throwing everything into the trash.
Understanding the language of model railroading is essential for new hobbyists. This article provides some basic railroad and model railroad terms that will help you ask the right questions at the hobby shop and, more importantly, understand the answers.