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I want to ask about the title of the famous 1996 movie Trainspotting. What is the meaning of it and how does it fit in the context of story?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

From Trainspotting (film): Legacy comes:

The cryptic film title is a reference to a scene (not included in the film) in the original book, where Begbie and Renton meet 'an auld drunkard' who turns out to be Begbie's estranged father, in the disused Leith Central railway station, which they are using as a toilet. He asks them if they are "trainspottin'."

Irvine Welsh (book author) himself has explained in a Q&A that the title is also a reference to people thinking that the hobby of trainspotting1 makes no sense to non-participants. Likewise, the same applies to heroin addiction: to non-addicts the act seems completely pointless whereas, to someone hooked on heroin, it makes absolute sense.

  1. As to the hobby of trainspotting:

    ..Those who are "trainspotters" make an effort to "spot" all of a certain type of rolling stock. This might be a particular class of locomotive, a particular type of carriage or all the rolling stock of a particular company. To this end, they collect and exchange detailed information about the movements of locomotives and other equipment on the railway network, and become very knowledgeable about its operations. ..

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While that is very informative, it still leaves the question (to a non-native speaker at least, I think), what that "hobby of trainspotting" actually is. Does this really just mean to literally look at trains? A short general definition of that word (if existing at all) might add to the already interesting information in this answer. –  Napoleon Wilson Aug 4 at 11:32
@SonnyBurnett Meh.. I made an edit in that direction, but reading it back, I'm not sure it really adds anything worth knowing. –  Andrew Thompson Aug 4 at 11:39
Well, it at least provides me with context necessary to understand what the previous paragraphs are actually talking about at all. But feel free to remove it if I'm really the only one not getting what "trainspotting" means in the first place. –  Napoleon Wilson Aug 4 at 11:41
Interesting, yet seeing your answer (and especially the statement from the author) it's hard to say if that more directly related meaning wasn't developed after the fact, especially since the Urban Dictionary seems to a large degree a community effort (for better or worse) and that entry even references the movie. –  Napoleon Wilson Aug 4 at 11:49
Urban Dictionary isn't really a definitive source of information. It also tends to define a lot of terms based on post-pop-culture references (in otherwords, odds are that definition was created AFTER the release of the movie) –  DA. Aug 4 at 16:33

I think the obvious reference I can't seem to find elsewhere here, is that Heroin users look for veins or arteries to shoot dope into and end up with "track marks". So Heroin users look at tracks and for spots to inject themselves.

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