Prescriptive Linguists (UNCLASSIFIED)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Feb 1 18:21:19 UTC 2008

On Feb 1, 2008 12:35 PM, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC <Bill.Mullins at> wrote:
> David Singmaster has researched this device and found other names:
> TWO PRONGED TRIDENT; Devil's Fork; Three Stick Clevis; Widgit; Blivit;
> Impossible Columnade; Trichometric Indicator Support; Triple Encabulator for
> Tuned Manifold; Hole Location Gage; Poiyut; Triple-Pronged Fork with only
> Two Branches; Old Roman Pitchfork.

Mad Magazine's name for it was "poiuyt", not "poiyut". Easy enough to
remember on a QWERTY keyboard.

> It appears to have become known in 1964, although there are apocryphal
> references to earlier incarnations, including a couple back to the 1930s.

Some more history here:

 In the June 1964 issue of Analog Science Fact/Science Fiction, the
object was contributed anonymously as a "Hole Location Gauge".
"Poiuyt" was the name Mad magazine gave it in 1965, when it appeared
on the magazine's cover. Made from the last 6 letters on the top row
of a keyboard.
Roger Hayward coined the name "Blivet". Used in his article: "Blivets:
Research and Development" published in The Worm Runner's Digest,
December 1968.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list