Electrical Linemen Lingo

Lineman have used slang terms for decades in the electric utility industry. Some of these terms are outdated, while many are still used to communicate quickly and effectively. There are multiple versions of the Lineman’s Slang Dictionary, but we have compiled a few of our favorites from around the nation for your information and entertainment! Enjoy!

Baker Board —  A platform board

Baloney —  Cable

Baloney Bender — A wireman who works with heavy cable

Chicken Tracks

Chicken Tracks

Banjo —  A shovel, straight blade, and long handle

Bear Grease —  ZLN electric contact aid

Becky —  A cable sling

Bible —  The electrician’s code book

Booger Wire —  A neutral wire

Bookie Tool —  A staple puller

Bookie Wheel —  A measuring device

Boomer —  A lineman who leaves one job to get to the next job.  A lineman who always works on the installation of new transmission lines.

Broomsticks —  Phase spacers, used to keep phases from coming into contact with each other at midspan

Bull Pen — Where the construction crew gathers before and after work

Bull Wheel — A reel device used to hold tension on a transmission conductor during stringing operations

Bulldog — A ‘come along’ wire grip for holding conductor or strand under tension

Candlestick — Fiberglass downlead bracket

Candy Grabbers — Channel lock pliers

Cat Head — Capstan hoist

Cattle Guard — A plastic or metal guy guard

Cheaters — Channel lock pliers

Cherry Picker — Bucket truck

Chicken Catcher — Armsling

Chicken Tracks — Epoxirod tri-unit (also ‘crows foot’)

Chicken Wing — Steel post insulator standoff for distribution construction (also ‘turkey wing’)

Chili Bowl — An oversized pin-type insulator

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Choker — A nylon sling

Christmas Tree — Pole mounted auxiliary arm used for lifting conductors

Corn Cob — Thimble adapter pin

Crosby Clip — Wire rope guy wire clip

Crow’s Foot — Epoxirod tri-unit  (also ‘chicken tracks’)

Dead Man — Wood pole, with U-bracket fitting for setting poles by hand without a truck.  Short wood pole section, buried as an anchor.  Any kind of earth anchor.

Diaper — Rubber blanket pinned on overhead construction.  Seal-A-Conn covering connector

Digger Bar — Long, round steel bar with two-in chisel on one end  (‘idiot stick’)

Dip Pole /Riser Pole — A transition pole for going from overhead to underground distribution

Dog Bone — Special EHV yoke plates, called this due to their shape.  Vibration damper

Door — The fuse tube on open type cutouts.  Actual door on enclosed type cutouts

Drifter — A lineman who wants to see the world

Eagle-Eye — Leveling cross-arms by sight with no measuring instruments

Eels — Line hose, temporary cover-up.

Egg Breaker — A guy strain insulator

Elbow — Underground cable terminator

Elephant Ears — The arc chute on certain types of cutouts for extinguishing the arc while breaking load.  A triangular bracket

Fish — A glass strain insulator

Flip-Cutout — An open link cutout

Flower Pot — Universal bushing well, padmount transformer

Goathead — An angle-iron punch

Goat Horns — Guy hooks, iron

Goat Skin — Tarp for covering unfinished work overnight

Gopher — A ‘go for this, go for that’ helper

Ground Hog / Grunt — A lineman’s helper (also “grunt’)

Gut — 5kV rubber line hose

Gut Wrench — Cant hook

Guy Jack — A chain hoist

Half-Power — A lineman working off a jag

Hand — A tie stick

Headache — Vocal warning of danger.  Anything falling from above from a pole.

High Pot — To apply high potential to electrical machine or equipment, normally done during insulation testing

Hog Liver — Flat porcelain guy strain insulator

House Bracket — A secondary rack

House Knob — A wire holder

Jiggler — A glow light, secondary voltage tester



Johnny-Ball — Guy strain insulator

Joy Jelly — Silicone compound for elbow terminators.

Jumper — A slack electrical connection between two points

Jumper Holding Stick — Wire holding stick

Kettle — An overhead transformer

Knife Switch — Hook stick disconnect

Lady Slippers — Name applied to present day climbers by old-timers

Leg Irons — Climbers’ hooks

Leroy — Generator

Line Gut — Conductor cover

Line Profile — Scaled side view drawing of actual line for engineer’s review

Liners ‑— Cloth glove liners or for hard hats in the winter

Meat Hook — Hand line hook

Mickey Mouse Key Puller — Cotter key puller

Milking Stool — A yoke used on the end of a structure for supporting hot line tension tools

Moles — Underground line crew

Music Stand — A hot line tool rack

Nitros — Street light bulbs

Nose Bag — Canvas tool pouch

Nutty Putty — Seal-A-Conn for covering connectors


  1. Jay says:

    When was a “baker board” first used as a lineman tool

    1. Kristina Harman says:

      Hi Jay! Thanks for reading! I looked into your question, and it looks like it was patent in 1928, and the patent was published in 1931. I am assuming it was sometime around then that they began using the linemen platform. I found this online: https://www.google.com/patents/US1826120

  2. Frazier says:

    Have you ever heard of something called a “California Arm” similar to/or a type of pole top extender? My supervisor mentioned it as a option, but I can’t find it referenced anywhere as slang or otherwise. Thanks!

    1. Nathan Muller says:

      Thank you for reaching out, Frazier! Unfortunately, we haven’t heard of a “California Arm.” We hope you find what you’re looking for!

  3. Jack Thompson says:

    In Maine we call guy hooks, rams heads. Transformers, cans. Secondary connectors, one bolts. Temporary anchor rod attachment for guy jack to pull guys, pinky. Winch in the bucket truck, whip line. There’s a lot more.

  4. Josie says:

    Love, love this lingo!! I looked it up after meeting some of the linemen working to restore power in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Thank you to all!!!

  5. BOB_123456789 says:

    What are the definitions of armoring, serving, and binder tapes. I’m doing it for a school project and I need the definitions.

    1. Jeremy Miller says:

      Thanks for your question! “Serving” is a term linemen use to refer to finishing the ends of strand or wire to hold the ends and protect them from catching on something or someone. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with the other terms you’re asking about. I hope this helps!

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