hash marks

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Sep 2 18:01:51 UTC 2007

>Why are hash marks on a football field called 'hash marks'?

One might like to check the on-line OED (not immediately available to
me). The usual dictionaries etc. are generally uninformative
(including my poor-man's OED).

Here is my notion; perhaps some of the savants can correct it.

"Hash mark" = "one of a series of more-or-less parallel lines". This
term is used in football, basketball, hockey, etc., I think. "Hash
marks" also refers to the little line segments ("tick marks") along
the edge of a ruler or around the periphery of a clock face. Also to
service stripes (parallel line segments) on (e.g.) a uniform sleeve.

I don't know the exact word history but I suppose maybe the original
"hash marks" = "hachure marks" (usually parallel or radiating lines)
on topographic maps and the like. "Hachure" = "hatching" is of course
from French. I find "hachure line" in appropriate sense in English
from 1856 on brief Google, "hachure mark" and "hash mark" in the same
sense more recently.

One can see examples of various hash/hachure marks by using Google
Images (e.g., <<hachure-marks>>, <<hash-marks>>).

-- Doug Wilson

No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.5.484 / Virus Database: 269.13.2/984 - Release Date: 9/2/2007 12:59 PM

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list