There is a pair of words kraftschluss and formschluss. (German Wikipedia article) These tidily express the (contrasting) ideas of passing force from one object to another by the use of friction or shape. For example, friction would be putting your finger on a piece of paper on your desktop and sliding it along. Shape would then be sticking the same finger in the handle of your tea cup to pick it up.

I found this sentence today.

Beim Ansprechen der Sicherheitsabschaltung bleibt jeweils die vorher eingeschaltete Gangstufe kraftschlüssig.

The contrast which these two words are meant to express is missing from this situation. What do you do? Use “friction locked” for kraftschlüssig? That would sound seriously weird to an Englishman. Do you assume that what the engineer meant was the previously unmentioned friction clutch remains connected. Or do you assume that the engineer just liked the word and stuck it in inappropriately?

Someone accused me of being a smart arse the other day for being so picky about the use of words. Or in this case, deciding that the engineer’s choice of words was poor and that I supposedly know better, although I have never seen the machine described? Well I am a smart arse, so this is what I did with kraftschlüssig.

If this safety cut-out trips, the previously engaged gear will remain engaged.