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What are the Origins of Electrical Slang?

by Chris Lee | January 15th, 2016
The origins of electrical slang seem to be buried in the past. There was a time when parts were known by their numbers. You can imagine, "Hey, Charlie, pass me a 86, make it two, and add a C37.2-2008 with it." Like most construction slang, that probably didn't last long. The jargon evolved to this:
“I want a 50-foot slippery eel, give me a couple of snake eyes with that … I want a bucket of soap, I need a split coupling and throw in a can of smoke test … yeah, might as well get a sister hook and a sit-n-spin.
The use of electrical jargon got so bad that a website was set up to translate the terms. This was necessary because salesmen did not understand the words used for orders. Expensive errors would occur because of the lack of communication. Plus, it was embarrassing to newcomers to admit that they did not know what the terms meant and they got tired of asking.  Through the sands of time, that website disappeared, and a PDF now exists in its place. Here are a few of the terms.
  • bookie tool - staple puller
  • eels - line hose
  • ground hog - lineman's helper
  • jacobs ladder - a portable rope ladder
  • joy jelly - silicone compound for elbow terminators
  • rabbit ears - wire cutters
So the next time you hear a call for the ground hog to climb jacobs ladder and get the rabbit ears along with the ears and bookie tool, you will be able to translate to electrical terms. Since we are talking construction terms and jargon, what does "RSMeans"? Actually, it is a play-on-words term. RSMeans is synonymous with construction cost data. "RSMeans provides accurate data for construction budgeting and estimating for both new building and renovation projects." If you need accurate data, remember the term, RSMeans. It is not an electrical slang term. It is the real thing.
Chris Lee
Chris Lee has an extensive background in preconstruction management as a former specialty contractor and business owner. As the Chief Estimator at Esticom, he’s helped thousands of specialty contractors digitize their preconstruction process to increase revenue and profitability while decreasing unnecessary overhead.

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