Electrician Jargon

From Kenny Root

My father is an electrician and over the years I've picked up on much of the jargon that electrician's use. The words in this vocabulary might baffle you, but are used daily by electricians all over the United States:

Electrician's Jargon
Phrase Meaning
11B box A 4 11/16" square junction box.
1900 box A 4" square junction box.
8B An eight-sided junction box.
armor-clad Armored cable that comes preloaded with conductors. This type of cable has a reputation for being unsafe.
anti-dog A bubble level that attaches to the end of a pipe.
back stabber A person that uses the "quick-connect" slots in the back of a duplex outlet to install wires instead of the screw terminals on the side. Such a person is said to be lazy; it saves a few seconds, but derates the outlet to only 15 amps. Bob Vila has a nice picture illustrating the difference.
ballast Electrical current regulator on fluorescent lamps. If you ever hear an annoying buzzing sound from your office lights, then it most likely has a bad ballast.
BX Armored cable. See: armor-clad
dikes Angled side-cutters. The name comes from "diagonal cutting pliers."
fish tape A spool of spring steel that is used to pull wires through inaccessible areas such as walls.
hog head A large die on a pipe threader
homerun Wire that goes directly to the service panel.
horse cock Explosion proof flexible conduit.
J-box Electrical junction box. Usually conduit is secured to the sides and wire splices are made inside.
kleins Electrician's side-cutting pliers. Klein makes the most popular model of these.
pigtail A short length of wire used to attach wires joined in a twist lock (see: scotch lock) to some device (e.g., a duplex outlet).
pony A drive motor for a pipe threader (see: hog head)
raceway Basket tray where cables are placed to ease the installation of maintenance of cabling.
romex A brand-name used as a generic term for non-metallic sheathed wire (NM-B).
scotch lock Twist wire connector. Name originally borrowed from the 3MTM ScotchlokTM brand.