RE: Ambiguous Measurement Terminology, slightly off topic

From: Hodder, David J (
Date: Tue Feb 02 1999 - 19:04:19 EET

Ed Grenda wrote:
> I have noticed for many years that a lot of tool makers and
machinists use
> a similar term "dead nuts".
>I have inquired almost every time someone has used that term and have
>never really given me an acceptable answer. Does anyone on the list know
>the origin or meaning of this term.

Being of Anglo-Saxon [via Celtic and Viking] extraction and ancestry [Thank
you Jan, for the excellent dissertation on the firkin!], I may be able to
contribute something here.
I was apprenticed, in the UK, to Maunufacturing, back in the good old days,
where one worked with older experienced Machinists to learn the techniques.
One also had to learn, or, at least, learn the meaning of, a variety of
colorful phrases, syntaxed through the years, and distilled into 'ShopTalk'.

This was mixed with [where I worked, anyway] a number of regional dialects,
such as Hertfordshire, Somerset, Cockney, street London, Geordie, Irish,
Welsh, Yorkshire, and Doric [the mixed English/Gaelic speech of Glasgow,
Universal to this hotch-potch of creoles was a plethora of expressions, much
used in the machining Trade, possessing a commonality in their relationships
and lexicon to acts of reproduction, and liberally peppered with expletives
mainly based on the well known 4-letter derived from Anglo-Saxon 'fechan',
meaning 'to sow [seed]'.

When something passed Inspection with flying colors, the dimension being
right on, it was ascribed the quality 'cock on' and/or 'spot bollock(s)
[English slang for testicles]'. Without exploring the imagery too far, the
reference was obviously that the guided missile [muscle] has hit the target
with infusion tanks tightly intact.

The latter expression made its way Westward, retaining the metaphoric
influence of
physical phenomenon: that in advanced arousal, the sac containing the
'bollocks' tightens and applies the necessary pressure to the glands to
enable ejection of the 'seed'. As opposed to the natural state of 'dangling
bits', these seem constrained into stillness as from rigor - hence 'dead'.
'Nuts' being US slang for bollocks completes this peudo-'Connections'
dissertation [with apologies to Prof. Burke].

That's my thesis, anyway.
'If it ain't broke, break it'
Functional Technology Leader
Boeing Philadelphia Prototyping Center

For more information about the rp-ml, see

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jun 05 2001 - 22:50:52 EEST