transport/transfer tubes

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Mon Aug 22 21:26:28 UTC 2005

Tom Tomorrow's "This Modern World" comic strip today mentions "transport
tubes", a supposed Pentagon euphemism for "body bags":

A little digging finds that the euphemism is actually "transfer tubes", as
reported by the Toronto Star in Nov. 2003:

The error apparently first appeared in a post by George Paine on (Paine actually got it right once and wrong once):

Sergeant Velazquez died because these men and women put him in harms way
by convincing the American people that an invasion of Iraq was both
necessary and just. Sergeant Velazuez is even now lying in what the
Pentagon now calls a "transport tube," as the Toronto Star reports.
What's a "transport tube," you ask? It is, in fact, a body bag by a
different name. Apparently the Pentagon doesn't want anyone hearing this
term as more and more soldiers die — and so they've changed the name for
these devices from "human remains pouches" (which they changed the name to
from "body bag" in 1991) to "transfer tubes".

Not that it makes much difference what euphemism they use...

--Ben Zimmer

More information about the Ads-l mailing list