hash marks

Sam Clements SClements at NEO.RR.COM
Sun Sep 2 19:07:57 UTC 2007

Unless I've screwed up, the on-line OED only has "hash marks" from 1909, and
it referred to military markings--[1909 Man-o' Warsman Dec. 24/1 First
Sergeant John J. Maloney earned another *hash-mark.]

M-W/HDAS  have that military useage back to 1907.

HDAS has the football use from 1949, where it was referred to as "hash

Sam Clements

----- Original Message -----
From: "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
Sent: Sunday, September 02, 2007 2:01 PM
Subject: Re: hash marks

> >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
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