The electronics industry, as a subset of human society, has within it many of the same characteristics as the non-technical world. One of these is the loose use of language when it is convenient and when the speaker also desires to add to the cognitive content a splash of color to what is being said. What follows is a short list of electronics lingo and slang - perhaps the beginning of a glossary.
Computer hackers, especially those whose culture was emanating from the MIT Artificial Intelligence (AI) Lab in the 1960s and ‘70s, already had an entire book devoted to computerese. The Hacker’s Dictionary (Harper & Row, 1983) was written (or compiled) by 6 people, including at least two that I recognize as from the MIT AI Lab: Guy Steele, who worked on the “frame problem” of robotics among other AI topics, and Richard Stallman, who is famous for leading the promotion of open software, and who is a - if not the - prodigious code writer of our time. The book is a refined version of the same glossary that floated around on the ARPAnet in the form of a large file in the 1970s.
If you have been in electronics a long time, see how much of this jargon or pseudo-words you recognize. And if you are new to electronics, hopefully the list will help you to better understand what the solicitors of slang are saying!
1. Short for ampere, the unit of current.
2. Short for amplifier. To distinguish from 1, sometimes abbreviated as “ampl”.
Attenuators, with emphasis on their loss of waveform amplitude.
“The wasters need to have both ×2 and ×5 steps between decades.” (attributed to Wayne Kelsoe and-or Cal Diller in the portable ‘scopes group of Tektronix in the 1970s)
A word borrowed from MIT computer hackers as a variant of automatically to signal the skipping of detail in order to expedite a causal explanation.
“Then the ‘scope re-triggers automagically after sufficient retrace time.”
Enclosure of an electronic device, usually of plastic or metallic packaging. The one-syllable word usually says enough, though “enclosure” sounds more technically ornate.
“I put the high-frequency generator in its box and now it works!”
Capacitor. An obsolete but non-slang word is condenser.
“Which size of cap do we need to bypass low-speed CMOS logic?”
Inductor; usually used in the context of analog communications circuits instead of power electronics because radio inductors are often made as coils of wire.
dc to daylight
Wideband, emphasizing the extremity of it. The expression dc, along with ac, should be slang - or better yet, dropped entirely from use - because of their nonsensical and ambiguous literal meanings. Is a “dc voltage” or direct-current voltage a voltage or a current? And what is so “direct” about it? Furthermore, does dc mean constant or unipolar? Does ac mean varying or bipolar? And must it too be a current? Better expressions that are finally gaining widespread use are: static or unipolar for dc, and varying or bipolar for ac, and they can be applied to voltage, current, power, or other quantities without ambiguity. Additionally, “low-frequency ac”, another awkward expression about what happens at 0+ Hz, is best dropped in favor of a word the thermodynamicists have gotten right from the start: quasistatic.