2000-11-18

chad

This week's word is brought to you by the State of Florida.

For your convenience, the entry from the Jargon file is quoted here in its entirety. One point of usage: I believe "chad" to be a collective term, so that the plural and singular forms are identical. This is at variance with usage I've seen in recent news reports. My position is supported in part by the use of comparative plural forms in the Jargon entry quoted below.

chad /chad/ n. 1. The perforated edge strips on printer paper, after they have been separated from the printed portion. Also called selvage and perf. 2. obs. The confetti-like paper bits punched out of cards or paper tape; this has also been called chaff, computer confetti, and keypunch droppings. This use may now by mainstream; it has been reported seen (1993) in directions for a card-based voting machine in California.

Historical note: One correspondent believes chad (sense 2) derives from the Chadless keypunch (named for its inventor), which cut little u-shaped tabs in the card to make a hole when the tab folded back, rather than punching out a circle/rectangle; it was clear that if the Chadless keypunch didn't make them, then the stuff that other keypunches made had to be 'chad'. There is a legend that the word was originally acronymic, standing for "Card Hole Aggregate Debris", but this has all the earmarks of a bogus folk etymology.

More information at The Jargon File.

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