Member Monday: Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Duct Tape by Terry O’Connell

Welcome back to Member Monday.  Today wordsmith Terry O’Connell joins us with a humorous essay.  Welcome back, Terry!

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Duct Tape

by Terry O’ Connell

We all know about duct tape. It has thousands of uses and can temporarily repair almost anything. A Star Wars fan once said, “Duct tape is like The Force: it has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together.”

The only thing even remotely controversial about duct tape is the name itself.  In pronunciation, the “t” is duct is absorbed by the “t” in “tape” so it sounds like “duck tape.”  To make matters worse, a few years ago a company started marketing duct tape under the brand name “Duck Tape.”

I was appalled and offended.  I wanted those abusers of language brought to justice. And then, quite by accident, I learned, as the saying goes, “the rest of the story.”

The tape was developed for the military during World War II as a water-resistant adhesive. Because it “shed water like a duck’s back” it was originally called “duck tape.” After the war, when many military technologies found civilian applications, the tape was predominantly used to seal ducting in heating and air conditioning systems. It became know as “duct tape” and people have been playing with the name ever since.

Where word play is concerned, even corporate America can have its share of fun. I recently saw a line of colorful, decorative duct tape marketed by the industrial giant Scotch/3M. One of these tapes features a camouflage forest pattern and is called … “Duct Blind.”

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