Sunday, July 28, 2013

So is it “Duck Tape” or “Duct Tape”?

Taking my love of linguistics to the sublime
The proper way to refer to this universal fix-all actually sparked an argument on Home Improvement between Tim the Tool Man and his wife Jill. Unfortunately I can’t remember the outcome.

But here’s the surprising truth: “Duck Tape” is the more historically accurate.
Olive drab, cloth-backed tape was developed by Johnson & Johnson during WWII as a way to waterproof ammo cans. GIs called it “duck tape,” as in water rolling off a duck’s back.

After the war, however, it quickly found other uses - mainly, sealing heating ducts. Johnson & Johnson obliged by turning it out in its now most recognizable silver color.  Thus it became primarily known as “duct tape.”
So while “duck tape” refers to its original purpose, “duct tape” more accurately describes its current use. But the product is still evolving. In fact, it’s gone all crazy boutique on us. So what will we eventually call this waterproof decorator tape? Designer Duck?

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