Terminology Tuesday: Contractor Buzz Words



You want what?

Years ago, (can’t reveal how long ago, but it has been quite a while) when I was in sales, I would get some of the most interesting requests from contractors. Apparently, there is a different language one learns in the contracting business. So my goal today is to “reveal” what’s behind curtain number one, and interpret (to the best of my ability) just a few of the terms contractors use, along with what they are really asking for.

Here goes:

When a contractor asks for this: They are looking for:
M&M’s (I promised I would reveal this in last weeks post) 3M UR / UY / UG splice connectors
Biscuit Surface mount phone or data box
Banana or Sniffer Tone & Probe testers
Speed Bumps Flexiduct cord protectors
Coffins Single gang back boxes
Beenies Dolphin wire splices
Bean “B” Connectors
Dome Used to be a PTZ camera, but I’m told now it’s a mini-dome
Sleepers Firestop pillows
Mud Ring Box eliminator 
Beaver Fiber optic cleaver
Top hat Speaker mounting hardware
Icky-pic cable Gel filled cable for outdoor use
Batwings Ceiling wire attachment fitting
Fishing pole Wire & cable pulling tool
Mushroom Wire distribution spool
Bridge clip 66 block connector
Chinese fingers Cable pulling grip / strain relief
No-Niks Wire & Fiber stripper
Spudger Probe pic tool (removes wire insulation)
Figure 8 Self-supporting aerial cable
Trunk cable Factory built pre-terminated copper or fiber cable assembly

So, this is my short list. I admit, I did get some help building it from some of the CSC sales team (thanks to all who threw me some slang!) Along with it, I was told a fun story about why we call a telephone test set a “Butt Set”. Since contractors wear this tester hanging from their belt, it fell along their back hanging at their “Butt”. I always use the term, but never knew the reason.

Okay, now it is YOUR TURN!

If you know a term that I left off the list – here is your chance to SHOUT IT OUT- just write the slang term in the comments below, along with the actual product.

Keep in mind, this is a corporate blog, so if you know the term for a “firestop  putty stick” (or similar term, if you know what I mean), please refrain from placing it here :)

18 Responses to Terminology Tuesday: Contractor Buzz Words

  1. Chad Lee said on
    September 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    One of my favorites — The infamous ‘Cable Stretcher’.

    The ‘Cable Stretcher’ is a fictional installation tool many of green horn, inside sales reps have tried to track down over the years. Back in the day it took me a couple of hours to figure out that my contractor was laughing at me and not with me. So, not only do they have their own language but they also have quite the sense of humor. I would be interested in seeing the list of other fictional products sales reps have searched for over the years.

    • Stefanie Rembiszewski said on
      September 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      What a great “Challenge” you are throwing out for all our readers, Chad. I hope some contractors will chime in and let us know what we should be “aware” of. Or would that be like a magician giving up their secrets? Maybe some of our sales folks can enlighten us on some of the “tricks” that were played on them.

  2. JCPJR said on
    September 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    I understood the term “Butt Set” came from being able to connect to a phone circuit and Butt In or Listen to a private convesation.

    • Stefanie Rembiszewski said on
      September 6, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      Well, that makes sense, too. I really don’t know which is correct, I was just repeating what I was told. Anyone else know which is correct?

      • Jeff B said on
        October 17, 2011 at 10:26 am

        Hi Stefanie,

        Nice list, thanks for sharing.

        I’d agree that Butt Set comes from “Butt In”…when you clip onto/into an active pair, you could butt into a conversation.

        Here’s a term for hand digging:118 which means 1-man/1-shovel/8-hours.

        I can think of many more terms but since becoming a father I’ve given up most of that vocabulary.

    • Daniel said on
      December 7, 2011 at 11:56 pm

      45 years with NET&T,AT&T,LUCENT,AVaya,now a contractor and Avaya BP “Butt Set” AKA Buttinsky,because you may “butt in”

  3. Joe Wallis said on
    September 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Some others used in the Outside Plant world for aerial applications are:

    Pickle – Used to splice two pieces of strand together

    Weaver – Used for bonding strand to ground wire and strand to strand

    Bugnut – Clamps to strand at pole to tie lashing wire off

    Kearney – Used to bond copper to copper Split Bolt

    Acorn Clamp – Used to attach copper conductor to ground rod

    Preform- Used to deadend a run of strandat pole or at anchor head or other guy attachment.

    Strand Vise- aka…Automatic or Quicky-Purpose is the same as a preform only you push the strand into them and they hold automatically

    • Stefanie Rembiszewski said on
      September 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      Great list of additions, Joe. Thank you for adding to our “lingo list”

      • Daniel said on
        December 8, 2011 at 12:02 am

        “B” connectors were called “juju beads” in RI & MA , but “chicklets” in CT,it seems every region may have it’s own slang,and may think that’s used all over the country,but it isn’t so. these names above were all within the same company,but different states.

  4. Matthew P. said on
    October 17, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Head End comes up a lot, and architects have trouble discerning the words. I’ve seen telecom rooms labeled as “head in”, and even one time as “head on”.

  5. Ted Clemens, GMP said on
    November 30, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Bear Cage – Manhole Guard Rail
    Bull Wheel – Cable Sheave Block
    Butterfly Wheel – Collapsible Take-up Reel (CR Reel)
    Can Wrench – 216 C Tool
    Carrot – Innerduct Pulling Eye
    Cat Head – Pulling Capstan
    Chutes – Aerial Cable Guide

    • Stefanie Rembiszewski said on
      November 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      Ted – these are terrific additions, I am sure everyone will find them very useful – thank you so much for your input!

    • Tom Mooney said on
      February 11, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      I would suspect that a can wrench derives its name from the ‘can’ or cable/fiber pedestal it is used to open. Pedesatls or metal LGX boxes where service drops are usually made, have been called cans for many years. hence a ‘can” wrench (216 tool) is the tool used to open the can.

  6. Ted Clemens, GMP said on
    November 30, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Elephant Trunk – Flexible Cable Feeder

  7. Ted Clemens, GMP said on
    November 30, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Ladder Sling – E Ladder Support
    Mule Grip – Strand Puller
    Peanut – Ball Bearing Swivel
    Pittsburgh or Lip Roller – Manhole Sheave
    Shotgun – Cable Block Pusher
    Figure 8 – B Connecting Links
    Snips or Shears – Scissors
    Spinners – Cable Lashers
    Stiff Leg – Cable Pulling Frame
    Crimper – Modular Plug Presser for RJ 11 & RJ 45

  8. Cele said on
    August 21, 2012 at 10:30 am

    UHD stands for Ultra High Density. A silnge SYSTIMAX shelf can allow for 144 fibers with LC Connectors. That is well beyond the 96 fibers required, to be considered a high density solution.

  9. Steve Weldon, Laney College oakland, CA said on
    December 21, 2012 at 10:21 am

    With over 40-years in the industry and now a college teacher I often use the old and now disappearing electrician’s terms in class in an attempt to perpetuate their continued use. One of my favorites is “Dog House”. I the old days, the electrical service was often in a small cabinet cut-in down low on the side of the house with a lift-up flap-door that had to be propped with either a stick or your head to allow working access. Inside would be the “A-base” meter and a fused disconnect suppling power through a “knob& tube” feeder to a fuse panel usally located in a closet in the house. “What is a dog-house” is still a test question is my residential house wiring course. stw

    • Stefanie Rembiszewski said on
      December 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      Great addition to our list, Steve! Thanks so much. Perhaps there are a few additional terms here that you can add to your class to keep them in use!

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