Quantcast
  • We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Duck tape or duct tape?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

Phil Pascoe

occasional purveyor of blunt tools.
UKW Supporter
Joined
29 Jan 2012
Messages
19,552
Reaction score
502
Location
Shaft City, Mid Cornish Desert
Lifted from today's Times -

Ducking the debate
How do you pronounce that sticky tape for mending leaks — is it “duck tape” or “duct tape”? I can’t say I’d ever given it much thought but I’m better informed on the rights and wrongs now, after a correspondence with Alan Halbert of Winchester.

“Your story about the air leak on the International Space Station,” he wrote, “recounts how the astronauts made a temporary repair, and then repeats a (relatively new) canard by saying that they used ‘duct tape’. This should be spelt ‘duck tape’: it was originally made of duck.”

I liked the “canard”, but I wasn’t convinced. Cursory research revealed that “Duck tape” was a brand name from the 1950s, but that most recent usage favoured “duct”. Not so simple, says Mr Halbert.

The story is that the original tape was indeed made of a heavy-duty cotton fabric called duck, which was treated with some petroleum derivative to make it waterproof for the use of the US army in WW2 in sealing ammunition boxes. After the war, surplus supplies were marketed to plumbers as “duct tape” suitable for mending leaks in water pipes — or ducts. A US company registered the trade name “Duck brand duct tape”, and an intractable and lasting confusion was born.

The style guide ordains “duct tape, two words”, so we’ll carry on as we were, Mr Halbert’s canard notwithstanding, but I’m delighted with the history lesson.

Rose Wild.
 

Duncan A

Established Member
Joined
8 Nov 2007
Messages
553
Reaction score
9
Location
Northants
Something new every day! I knew that a specific brand of duct tape was called Duck but didn't know where the name originated. The modern stuff is commonly used on air ducts; not sure I'd try to contain water with it. Very good on tents as well!
How about Denso tape - wonderful stuff, still available and possibly quite similar to the original Duck tape. High-clag muck on a fabric backing!
Duncan
 

TheUnicorn

Established Member
Joined
21 Feb 2020
Messages
227
Reaction score
70
Location
Bristol
I always assumed that it was duct tape for sealing ducts, and that duck was a mispronunciation of that (either by mistake or on purpose), capitalised on by Duck brand. Never realised duck was a fabric.

'Duck Tape' is also an album by the group 'Duck Sauce', strangely missing from the Times article.
 

Sideways

Established Member
Joined
26 Dec 2017
Messages
1,015
Reaction score
41
Location
United Kingdom
Very good history lesson.
I was aware of "cotton duck" fabric from odd mentions in books dating back around the war years but never made the link to the tape.
Every day's a school day :)
 

mynamehere

not in my shed
Joined
23 May 2018
Messages
105
Reaction score
39
Location
Preston
Something new every day! I knew that a specific brand of duct tape was called Duck but didn't know where the name originated. The modern stuff is commonly used on air ducts; not sure I'd try to contain water with it. Very good on tents as well!
How about Denso tape - wonderful stuff, still available and possibly quite similar to the original Duck tape. High-clag muck on a fabric backing!
Duncan
we use Denso tape for preservation on blank machine parts and valves, the messiest stickiest stuff known to man.
After handling just a bit of it the gloves go straight in the bin!
 

Argus

Established Member
Joined
21 Oct 2002
Messages
1,128
Reaction score
41
Location
-
Denso? ......
Used to use it slapped on as a vapour barrier on varous valves on chilled water systems..........
He'd been eating peanuts, no doubt!
 

DBT85

Established Member
Joined
19 Dec 2015
Messages
1,329
Reaction score
262
Location
Pershore, Worcester
It'll always be duct tape just as GIF will always be GIF even though it is apparently supposed to be JIF
 
Last edited:

Trainee neophyte

[Insert witty and amusing title here]
Joined
12 Apr 2019
Messages
2,272
Reaction score
135
Location
Greece
In Holland it used it be known as MacGuyver tape, but that may no longer be the case, given how old the TV show is these days.

In our house we call it hostage tape.

 

t8hants

Established Member
Joined
17 Apr 2010
Messages
656
Reaction score
7
Location
Isle of Wight
Used to make our own water proof tape in the boatyard, by tearing unbleached calico into strips and the 'buttering' it on both sides with Evomastic chromastic paste, which was a snot green in colour. This was an apprentice job as the tradesmen would not dirty their hands with the stuff. We on the other hand would get plastered with the stuff as we tried to control 8' long strips which we would have to carry from the buttering board to the seam to be sealed.
 

Lard

Established Member
Joined
2 Feb 2014
Messages
26
Reaction score
10
Location
Abergavenny
Well well...... I do remember my late father, who worked at ROF Glascoed in Usk (munitions factory) bringing the odd roll home. In the factory it was ALWAYS known as ’jungle tape’. It was often a source of argument with my mates, as we grew up, who would insist on calling it duct tape......I was having none of that! 😀
 

Phil Pascoe

occasional purveyor of blunt tools.
UKW Supporter
Joined
29 Jan 2012
Messages
19,552
Reaction score
502
Location
Shaft City, Mid Cornish Desert
Wilhite's name comes up frequently in debate over the pronunciation of the GIF acronym. "The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both pronunciations," Wilhite said. "They are wrong. It is a soft 'G,' pronounced 'jif.' End of story." The intended pronunciation deliberately echoes the American peanut butter brand Jif. - Wiki
 

BRYAN

Established Member
Joined
2 Mar 2011
Messages
155
Reaction score
0
This is all very interesting but I am really annoyed that I can't recall the other snot green tape.
It was a heavy course mesh covered with very sticky gunk.
I had an old morris minor van with a leaky roof----------- hold on a minnute, was it Sil tape or something?
 

J-G

Established Member
Joined
20 Jan 2014
Messages
550
Reaction score
53
Location
ATHERSTONE
The issue I was taking was not to do with the how GIF should be pronounced - and I did know of the ongoing argument - but DBT85 seemed to be saying that the acronym itself should be J I F which is what I said was wrong.
 

AndyT

Established Member
Joined
24 Jul 2007
Messages
12,029
Reaction score
473
Location
Bristol
This is all very interesting but I am really annoyed that I can't recall the other snot green tape.
It was a heavy course mesh covered with very sticky gunk.
I had an old morris minor van with a leaky roof----------- hold on a minnute, was it Sil tape or something?
Could you be thinking of Sylglas tape?

 

Bm101

Lean into the curve.
Joined
19 Aug 2015
Messages
3,951
Reaction score
282
Location
Herts.
Brilliant thread. Thanks Phil.
What came first? I love stuff like this. Bit like 'oranges or the word orange?' And what did we call orange stuff before we imported oranges if it's true that oranges and not the word orange came first. I mean. What word did people use to describe the colour of marmalade say, before we imported oranges and no one knew the word orange.
Genuine mystery. Like the the Mary Celeste. Or the Mary Queen of Scots. Or even more mysteriously the Mary Rose. Or choosing to get married at all with hindsight.
 

DBT85

Established Member
Joined
19 Dec 2015
Messages
1,329
Reaction score
262
Location
Pershore, Worcester
The issue I was taking was not to do with the how GIF should be pronounced - and I did know of the ongoing argument - but DBT85 seemed to be saying that the acronym itself should be J I F which is what I said was wrong.
Oh apologies, I meant the pronunciation. It's clearly spelt GIF as you pointed out. It's also pronounced GIF and I'll fight people that say otherwise.

Brilliant thread. Thanks Phil.
What came first? I love stuff like this. Bit like 'oranges or the word orange?' And what did we call orange stuff before we imported oranges if it's true that oranges and not the word orange came first. I mean. What word did people use to describe the colour of marmalade say, before we imported oranges and no one knew the word orange.
Genuine mystery. Like the the Mary Celeste. Or the Mary Queen of Scots. Or even more mysteriously the Mary Rose. Or choosing to get married at all with hindsight.
It would appear that before we english were introduced to the fruit as "an orange" we were calling things that were coloured orange yellowred or redyellow.
 

Latest posts

Top