The Typographic Hub

Printers lexicon

3rd October 2010

Prints Past / Printers have a host of technical terms with which to bewilder the layman

Printers have at their command a host of technical terms with which to bewilder the layman.

Monks and friars are two such expressions both dating from Joseph Moxon’s ‘Mechnanick Exercises’ (1683) and refer respectively to the dark and light patches on the printed page. Bottle-arsed, dates from the 1880s and is applied to type which is wider at the bottom that at the top.

Bitched, type that is spoilt or ruined; Clicker, the sub-foreman in a printing office, probably from claqueur as most of prints’ obscure words came from the French; Cock, That’s a, a term signifying ‘no throw’, used by printers when throwing up pieces of type to decide who shall, for example, pay for drinks, but if two pieces of type caught together and didn’t fall flat, that was referred to as a cock; Cut the line, to quit work at morning’s or day’s end; O, an emphatic abbreviation of overseer; Paint a proof, heavily corrected proof adorned with marks in both margins; whilst What’s your poll? means how much have you earned?