A wire cutter by any other name?
April 1, 2008 2:36 PM   Subscribe

As part of a demo my professor brought out some wire cutters and said as an aside "we won't use the other name for them, because that's not a nice thing to be saying". What's this other name?
posted by Ogre Lawless to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Nips, I believe.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:38 PM on April 1, 2008

posted by zippy at 2:38 PM on April 1, 2008

Dikes — as in the phrase "a pair of dikes" — is jargon used especially in the electrical industry, to describe diagonal pliers. It is a portmanteau of "diagonal cutters". Dike can also be used as a verb, such as in the idiom "when in doubt, dike it out." This implies that a problem can be simplified by eliminating the unnecessary. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, they are commonly referred to as snips.

posted by cmgonzalez at 2:39 PM on April 1, 2008

Dikes. We use em and refer to em as such, in my IT shop...
posted by stenseng at 2:56 PM on April 1, 2008

Dikes it is.

As an aside, I was working on a popular morning show that took on a lesbian host, and we were specifically warned against using that name. We just referred to them by her name from then on.
posted by nevercalm at 2:57 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yep. Dikes.

Last time it came up during a table-top, it made a veteran Navy engineer blush. Probably never seemed like a problem to the guy until I was the one handing him the tools.

Great stuff....
posted by answergrape at 3:07 PM on April 1, 2008

Interesting, I do believe there is a surgical instrument which goes by the name Nips.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:32 PM on April 1, 2008

I thought you were talking about an Ozark Credit Card until i read wire cutters not 'bolt cutters.' My bad.
posted by schyler523 at 3:37 PM on April 1, 2008

I used to work in an electronics repair/engineering shop for a university. My immediate supervisor was a fairly butch Santa Cruz lesbian (best boss I've ever had, btw) and she called 'em dikes. I think she's the one who taught me the term, in fact.
posted by contraption at 3:38 PM on April 1, 2008

As an aside, here's a story from my rather queer and occasionally butchy female friend in an electrician-training course: fellow student working with wire cutters manages to finish a rather complicated maneuver and sits up triumphantly, announcing, "Dikes -- is there anything they can't do?" My extremely capable friend chuckles.
posted by Madamina at 3:48 PM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

I guess I was wrong, dikes seems a better answer. But I can still be offended about calling 'em nips, can't I?
posted by bashos_frog at 3:48 PM on April 1, 2008

posted by kenzi23 at 3:49 PM on April 1, 2008

seconding strippers - my dad's an electrician, that's what he calls them
posted by dismitree at 5:16 PM on April 1, 2008

In my line, strippers are different. Dikes only cut, while strippers can cut, strip, etcetc.



posted by nevercalm at 5:40 PM on April 1, 2008

Definitely "dikes" from "diagonal cutters". Wire strippers are different. As has been said before.

What hasn't been said before is that homonyms are not racist or slanderous. The etymology doesn't back it up.

They came for our homonyms and I said nothing.
They came for our synonyms and still, I said nothing. Nil. Zilch. Nada.
When they came for our antonyms, I was opposed.
posted by lothar at 6:41 PM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]

Diagonal cutters, which sometimes have a small notch below the blades used as a stripper. The stripper is often a homemade add-on feature.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:54 PM on April 1, 2008

nth'ing dikes.

If you're ever a naive high-school student trying to explain to a teacher that "dikes" isn't a dirty word, but instead a tool, you might wish to refrain from entering the term into Google Image Search to prove your point. Trust me.

That the janitor put a box labeled "Black Strippers" in the hall the same day, apparently referring to pads for his floor burnisher, was too much to handle.
posted by fogster at 8:17 PM on April 1, 2008

Our high school physics teacher similarly told us about -- but refused to disclose -- the dirty mnemonic for resistor color codes.
posted by mrflip at 11:42 PM on April 1, 2008

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