Posted by: episystechpubs | February 25, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Bad, Badly, and Botox

Good morning, everyone! Today I’m giving you a double whammy: a small lesson and one of those quick quizzes many of you enjoy taking because you love to learn. (Or I work with a bunch of masochists, but that’s too much information for your editor to know.)

The topic for today is from Grammarbook.com and it is about words we sometimes find tricky. Are you feeling well today, or are you feeling good? Did he smell bad, or did he smell badly? What is the difference and how do you know which word to use when? First, the article; then, the quiz. [KC – I might’ve changed some of the examples
a bit.]

The word bad is an adjective used to modify nouns and pronouns.
Example: She was in a bad accident.

Adverbs often end in ly. The word badly is an adverb that answers how about the verb.
Example: She was hurt badly in the accident.

The confusion comes with four of the sense verbs: taste, look, smell, and feel.

When we use these verbs actively, we should follow them with adverbs. (Hear is always used actively.)

When we use these verbs descriptively, we should follow them with adjectives.

Examples:
I feel bad about telling Zuza that she is a poor twerker.
I am not feeling with fingers in the above example; I am describing my state of mind, so the adjective is used (no ly).

He feels badly since he burnt his fingers in acid.
He feels with his fingers here so the adverb (ly form) is used.

You can use this same rule about sense verbs with adjectives and adverbs other than bad and badly.

Examples:
The balaclava over his face, and his handknit body suit made him look suspicious to the police.
He did not look with eyes. Look describes his appearance, so the adjective is needed.

She looked suspiciously at the $3 bill.
She looked with her eyes so the adverb is needed.

He looked good for someone who dieted on Twinkies® and never exercised.
He didn’t look with eyes. Good is describing his appearance so the adjective is needed.

She smelled well for someone with a cold.
She is actively smelling with her nose, so the adverb is needed.

Rule: Well, although more often an adverb, functions as an adjective when referring to health.
Example: He doesn’t feel well enough today to come to work.

Pop Quiz

Based on the information you just read, choose the best answer from each pair or trio.

1. Please don’t feel bad/badly about shaving off your eyebrows.

2. Her face looked bad/badly bruised after going to a Botox® party.

3. She looked cautious/cautiously at the purple Chihuahua ahead of her.

4. He feels cautious/cautiously when walking alone at night with a pocket full of hundreds and uncashed casino chips.

5. He smelled good/well/like the devil after rubbing aftershave on his neck.

6. If you feel good/well enough on Saturday, we hope you’ll join us at the circus.

(Answers below.)

Pop Quiz Answers

1. Please don’t feel bad about shaving off your eyebrows.

2. Her face looked badly bruised after going to a Botox® party.

3. She looked cautiously at the purple Chihuahua ahead of her.

4. He feels cautious when walking alone at night with a pocket full of hundreds and uncashed casino chips.

5. He smelled good after rubbing aftershave on his neck. [KC –
Like the devil is acceptable if you have strong allergies or don’t like aftershave.]

6. If you feel well enough on Saturday, we hope you’ll join us at the circus.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended
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Posted by: episystechpubs | February 20, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Misused Words and Phrases

Good morning! A while back I came across a list of frequently misused words and phrases, and I thought it would be helpful to share them because some of them are pretty common. I did not compile the list myself; it comes from GrammarBook.com.

I know we’ve covered a couple of these before, but most of them are new, and I found the explanations useful (although a little too snarky).

If you want to read the entire article, click here. Read on and write on!

Irregardless

I’ve heard a lot of bright people say this nonsense word, which results from confusing and combining regardless and irrespective. If people would just think about it, what’s that dopey ir- doing tacked on? In technical terms, ir- is an “initial negative particle.” So, if irregardless means anything, it means not regardless when its hapless speaker is trying to say the exact opposite.

Center around

“The whole play centers around the consequences of ill-gotten gains.”This common, misbegotten expression results from the unhappy union of two similar terms: center on and revolve around. Because the phrases are roughly synonymous, if you use them both enough, they merge in the mind. What’s annoying about center around is that it’s imprecise, and disheartens readers who take writing seriously. The center is the point in the middle. How, exactly, would something center around? You get dizzy trying to picture it.

Hone in

This is another mongrel, like the two that preceded it. It’s the brain-dead combo of hone and home in. We simply can’t allow confusion to be the basis of acceptable changes in the language. In recent years, hone in has achieved an undeserved legitimacy for the worst of reasons: the similarity, in sound and appearance, of n and m. Honing is a technique used for sharpening cutting tools and the like. To home in, like zero in, is to get something firmly in your sights: get to the crux of a problem.

Reticent

This trendy word properly means uncommunicative, reserved, silent. But sophisticates who like to fancy up their mundane blather are now using it when they mean reluctant. “I was reticent to spend so much on a football game.” When I hear something like that, I wish the speaker would just reticent the heck up.

Allude

Allude to means mention indirectly. In one of its most unspeakable moves, Webster’s lists refer as a synonym. Horrors! When you refer to something, it’s a direct transaction: “I refer to Section II, paragraph one, Your Honor.” When you allude to something or someone, you don’t come out and say it; you’re being subtle, sly or sneaky: “Someone I know better wise up.”

Off (of)

“Hey! You! Get off of my cloud,” sang the Rolling Stones, unnecessarily. The of is extraneous, and off of is what’s known as a pleonasm. That means: starting now, avoid it.

Couple (of)

“Hey, gimme a couple bucks, wouldja?” When I was a kid, this is how neighborhood tough guys talked, while cracking their chewing gum. Don’t drop the of; one more little syllable won’t kill you. [dbb – So, we’re supposed to omit “of” from the phrase “off of” but keep it in the phrase “couple of.” Why? Well, first off, many sources say it’s OK to just say “a couple”
(without “of”), but they say this choice is more informal. The explanation given is that you would say “I’d like a pair of earrings” not “I’d like a pair earrings,” and “couple,” like “pair,” means “two of something considered together.” The experts advise
that we use “couple of” in professional writing but that omitting “of” is not a serious usage error in everyday speech and writing.]

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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Posted by: episystechpubs | February 18, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Row or Road?

Hi Kara,

I often hear the phase “road to hoe” and always thought that was strange. I saw it in print for the first time and thought it even stranger. With many famers in my family, “row to hoe” makes much more sense as a person would hoe weeds along a row of crops. It is back-breaking work, which makes it hard and seemingly endless if a full field is expected to be weeded.

So, are some people just using it wrong? And did it come from farming?

Thanks,

Deborah

Dear Deborah,

I come from families in the steel and stone trades, so I’ve never used the terms “road or row to hoe,” but your logic behind “row” makes a lot of sense. First, for those not familiar with this phrase, “a tough (or hard) row to hoe” means someone is facing a difficult situation and has a lot of problems to deal with.

And indeed, you are correct with both of your assumptions: the correct version is “row to hoe,” and it is from farming. From our friends at the Grammarist:

In farming and gardening, to hoe a row is to turn a line of soil for the planting of seeds or bulbs. This is the origin of the idiom tough row to hoe, which describes a large, challenging task. A literal tough row to hoe might be one that is long or that involves hoeing dirt with lots of rocks or roots.

A figurative tough row to hoe is any large undertaking that is especially difficult.

Road to hoe is a misspelling. For some reason, it’s especially common in sports writing—for example:

§ They have a significantly tougher road to hoe as their schedule sees them go to Baltimore next week. [Daily
Norseman
]

§ They’ve got a long way to go, a tough road to hoe. [Bleacher
Report
]

§ With Carolina poised to make another run at Atlanta next season, a weakened Florida may have a tough road to hoe in Columbia next fall. [Garnet and Black Attack]

The misspelling creates some funny imagery (imagine a team of football players, in uniform, hoeing a road), but careful readers will recognize the spelling as wrong.

So there you are, right on all accounts! Excellent job!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 18, 2020

Recall: Editor’s Corner: Row or Road?

Kara Church would like to recall the message, “Editor’s Corner: Row or Road?”.
NOTICE: This electronic mail message and any files transmitted with it are intended exclusively for the individual or entity to which it is addressed. The message,
together with any attachment, may contain confidential and/or privileged information.
Any unauthorized review, use, printing, saving, copying, disclosure or distribution is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please immediately advise the sender by reply email and delete all copies.

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 18, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Row or Road?

Hi Kara,

I often hear the phase “road to hoe” and always thought that was strange. I saw it in print for the first time and thought it even stranger. With many famers in my family, “row to hoe” makes much more sense as a person would hoe weeds along a row of crops. It is back-breaking work, which makes it hard and seemingly endless if a full field is expected to be weeded.

So, are some people just using it wrong? And did it come from farming?

Thanks,

Deborah

Dear Deborah,

I come from families in the steal and stone trades, so I’ve never used the terms “road or row to hoe,” but your logic behind “row” makes a lot of sense. First, for those not familiar with this phrase, “a tough (or hard) row to hoe” means someone is facing a difficult situation and has a lot of problems to deal with.

And indeed, you are correct with both of your assumptions: the correct version is “row to hoe,” and it is from farming. From our friends at the Grammarist:

In farming and gardening, to hoe a row is to turn a line of soil for the planting of seeds or bulbs. This is the origin of the idiom tough row to hoe, which describes a large, challenging task. A literal tough row to hoe might be one that is long or that involves hoeing dirt with lots of rocks or roots.

A figurative tough row to hoe is any large undertaking that is especially difficult.

Road to hoe is a misspelling. For some reason, it’s especially common in sports writing—for example:

§ They have a significantly tougher road to hoe as their schedule sees them go to Baltimore next week. [Daily
Norseman
]

§ They’ve got a long way to go, a tough road to hoe. [Bleacher
Report
]

§ With Carolina poised to make another run at Atlanta next season, a weakened Florida may have a tough road to hoe in Columbia next fall. [Garnet and Black Attack]

The misspelling creates some funny imagery (imagine a team of football players, in uniform, hoeing a road), but careful readers will recognize the spelling as wrong.

So there you are, right on all accounts! Excellent job!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 13, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Sides

Dear Editrix,

An article I read today used “lower right-hand side of the tablet” instead of “lower right side of the tablet.” I wondered whether the addition of the word “hand” is to clarify the intended meaning of the word “right.” It can mean the opposite of “left,” or it can mean “correct.” I have seen this ambiguity used countless times to (attempted) comic effect in political discussions.

I can see this question coming up in documentation instructing users where to look for a certain button or a menu to click. What’s the official word on this?

Mark in Allen

Dear Mark,

I did some digging, but I didn’t have much luck finding anything “official.” My first thought was that “right side” and “left side” are enough information to give people to figure out where to look for something, and the minimalist in me would say the same. But then I read a few things that reflected your logic: that because “right” can also mean “correct,” sometimes people say “right-hand side” to clarify that they are talking about the side of the paper or tablet or book that your right hand is on—not that there might be a correct side and that’s the side you should be on.

I also saw an argument stating that “left-hand side” is less ambiguous than just saying “left side.” In this case, the gentleman said that because the word “left” is the past participle of “leave,” you might think that someone saying “the left side” is talking about “the abandoned side.” That seems a little far-fetched to me, especially if you are talking about directions. I don’t know how many people would misinterpret the instructions to “sign at the bottom left side of the paper,” and start looking for the bottom abandoned side of the paper. If that were the case, you may just want to set that paper-signer free to go chase butterflies.

So, to answer your question, in our documentation I would recommend that people stick with “right-side” and “left-side,” since the topic is usually clear, and people have a screen or receipt or document in front of them to look at. In conversation, however, or if you are writing a novel, I think “right-hand side” and “left-hand side” are perfectly good ways to communicate and avoid ambiguity.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 11, 2020

OK or Okay?

Dear Editrix,

I’ve always wondered: is it OK or okay?

Sincerely,

HM

Dear HM,

What a good question! I know that we editors have discussed it amongst ourselves, but I’m not sure if we’ve ever covered it with the Editor’s Corner group, so let’s dive in! My heroine, Grammar Girl, wrote up an article about this topic that covers most of the bases:

The Origin of OK

"OK" was born in America in the 1830s. Much like the text messaging abbreviations of today, "OK" was an abbreviation for a funny misspelling of "all correct": "oll korrekt." According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the "okay" spelling didn’t appear until 1895.

There were other odd abbreviations with similar origins in the same era ("OW" for "oll wright," for example), but Martin Van Buren, whose nickname was Old Kinderhooks because he was born in Kinderhook, NY, adopted the motto "Vote for OK" and called his supporters the "OK Club" in his presidential campaign, and the campaign publicity established "OK" in the American lexicon.

"OK" and "Okay" Are Both OK

The two spellings peacefully coexist today: the Associate Press recommends "OK" and the Chicago Manual of Style recommends "okay." My publisher follows Chicago style for my books, but to honor the word’s origins, I insist on "OK" instead of "okay." So far, they have been kind enough to indulge me.

"Okay" Dominates in Fiction, but "OK" Wins Overall

Because "okay" is the form recommended by Chicago, and Chicago is the dominant style guide in the publishing industry, "okay" is the dominant form in fiction, as you can see from the following Google Ngram search that is limited to English fiction:

However, when the search is more broad, covering all English in Google Books, "OK" overtook "okay" in 1990.

I checked our JHA Style Guide to see if we discuss the term, but we don’t. We usually follow the Chicago Manual of Style, in our writing, but I have seen OK buttons and Okay prompts in our software. We would document each of those as they appear.

It looks like you are safe with either option! I like the Grammar Girl use of OK because it has been around longer, even though at some point I was trained to spell it out as “okay.” I think I’m going to go for the shorter, quicker option from now on. J

1881 Shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | February 6, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Thursday Quiz

Good morning! It’s been a while since we had a grammar quiz, and to my surprise, I always get a good response when I share them with you. I guess we are all that nerdy student who reminded the teacher that they forgot to assign the homework (or give us the Thursday quiz). Nerds unite!

This was a long quiz from GrammarBook.com, so I’ve shortened it for the sake of expediency. If you’re interested in taking the whole 25-question quiz, click this link.

It is a comprehensive quiz that covers a lot of different grammar rules, but the nice thing is that they provide links to articles so that you can research any of the ones you get wrong. So, whenever you’re ready, off you go. I wish you luck. Scroll down to see the answers and the links to the articles that explain the rule.

1. Why does Amanda look so [slow/slowly] today?

2. Think [quick/quickly]—we must get there soon.

3. Choose the better sentence from the following pair:

a. The boss said not to be late.

b. The boss said to be on time.

4. Choose the better sentence from the following pair:

a. I can’t barely tell if that’s a house or a barn.

b. I can barely tell if that’s a house or a barn.

5. Choose the better sentence from the following pair:

a. Anita rarely watches that show.

b. Anita doesn’t hardly ever watch that show.

6. Choose the better sentence from the following pair:

a. Jermaine talks to Cynthia more than Brian.

b. Jermaine talks to Cynthia more than Brian does.

7. Choose the better sentence from the following pair:

a. Mount Everest is taller than any other mountain.

b. Mount Everest is taller than any mountain.

8. Identify the sentence that uses proper parallelism:

a. Lijuan prefers eating lunch at noon and to dine at seven p.m.

b. Lijuan prefers eating lunch at noon and dining at seven p.m.

9. Identify the sentence that uses proper parallelism:

a. The nursery rhyme has lasted and made many children happy.

b. The nursery rhyme lasts and has made many children happy.

10. There’s been much talk of [who/whom] they think will be the first reporter to break the story.

11. The committee selected [her/she] to accompany [he/him] on the diplomatic mission.

12. The author of the letter is [I/me].

13. Identify whether the following comparison is fine as written or better expressed with the alternative sentence: Patricia speaks to Felicia as much as Alicia.

a. Patricia speaks to Felicia as much as Alicia does.

b. Fine as written

Quiz Answers

1. Why does Amanda look so slow today?
Adjectives and Adverbs: Another Look at –ly

2. Think quickly—we must get there soon.
Adjectives and Adverbs: Another Look at –ly

3. Choose the better sentence from the following pair:
b. The boss said to be on time. Navigating Negative Constructions

4. Choose the better sentence from the following pair:
b. I can barely tell if that’s a house or a barn. Navigating Negative Constructions

5. Choose the better sentence from the following pair:
a. Anita rarely watches that show. Detaining the Double Negative

6. Choose the better sentence from the following pair:
b. Jermaine talks to Cynthia more than Brian does. Overseeing Omissions in Writing

7. Choose the better sentence from the following pair:
a. Mount Everest is taller than any other mountain.Overseeing Omissions in Writing

8. Identify the sentence that uses proper parallelism:
b. Lijuan prefers eating lunch at noon and dining at seven p.m. Practicing Parallelism

9. Identify the sentence that uses proper parallelism:
a. The nursery rhyme has lasted and made many children happy. Practicing Parallelism

10. There’s been much talk of who they think will be the first reporter to breakthe story.
Picking Proper Pronouns: Part I

11. The committee selected her to accompany him on the diplomatic mission.
Picking Proper Pronouns: Part II

12. The author of the letter is I.
Picking Proper Pronouns: Part II

13. Identify whether the following comparison is fine as written or better expressed with the alternative sentence: Patricia speaks to Felicia as much as Alicia.
a. Patricia speaks to Felicia as much as Alicia does. Composing Comparisons

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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Don’t want to get Editor’s Corner anymore? Click here to unsubscribe.

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Posted by: episystechpubs | February 4, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Plum or Plumb?

One of you wrote to ask me about a phrase similar to “It’s plum in the middle.” In answering that question, I mentioned that regarding measurements and placement, the word is actually spelled “plumb.” This led to some interesting research, so let’s have a look, shall we? Today’s information is brought to you by Google™ definitions.

plum (noun)

1. an oval fleshy fruit that is purple, reddish, or yellow when ripe and contains a flattish pointed pit.

2. the deciduous tree that bears the plum.

plum (adjective)

  1. a reddish-purple color.
  2. a highly desirable attainment, accomplishment, or acquisition, typically a job.

"he landed a plum assistant producer’s job"

And here is the etymology of plum, which should look a little familiar, since we call the dried version of this fruit by something closer to the original Latin (prunum).

Now for the word plumb:

plumb (verb)

  1. measure (the depth of a body of water).
  • (of water) be of a specified depth.

"at its deepest the lake scarcely plumbed seven feet"

  • explore or experience fully or to extremes.

"she had plumbed the depths of depravity"

  1. test (an upright surface) to determine the vertical.
  2. install and connect water and drainage pipes in (a building or room).

plumb (noun)

1. a plumb bob.
[KC – A little additional information from Wikipedia follows.] A plumb bob, or plummet, is a weight, usually with a pointed tip on the bottom, suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line, or plumb-line. It is a precursor to the spirit level and used to establish a vertical or horizontal datum.

plumb (adverb)

1. exactly. (Informal)
"a bassoonist who sits plumb in the middle of the wind section"

2. to a very high degree; extremely.
"they must both be plumb crazy"

3. vertically. (archaic)
"drapery fell from their human forms plumb down"

plumb (adjective)

  1. vertical.
    "ensure that the baseboard is straight and plumb"

And the etymology of plumb, which, as you can see, is related to the periodic element for lead (Pb). This might remind you of the word for the person that works with pipes (lead or otherwise), the plumber.

Plumb etymology:

Plumber etymology:

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

Posted by: episystechpubs | January 28, 2020

Editor’s Corner: 86

Dear Editrix,

I had a friend who, when ordering food, would use the term “86” to mean “omit that ingredient.” Someone might say, “I’ll have the cheeseburger, but 86 the onions.” Where exactly did that phrase come from?

Mr. L

Dear Mr. L,

I was thinking this might be an easy question, but my goodness, there are so many different theories about the origin of this phrase. I really couldn’t pick or choose the best…I’ll let you be the judge.

From St. Louis Magazine:

…the standard height of a door frame was 8 feet 6 inches, and when an obnoxious guest was shown the door, he was “86’d.” That pacified me until I later heard that it took 86 ladles to empty a pot of soup on an Army mess line. After that number of ladles, the soup was 86’d.

Then I did some research and realized the genesis of the term isn’t clear at all…

First, another soup pot reference. The term originated in the soup kitchens of the Great Depression, where the standard pot held 85 cups of soup, so the 86th person was out of luck.

Many say the term has military roots. The term originated during the Korean war, a reference to the F-86 fighter jet; when an F-86 shot down an enemy plane, it was 86’d.

The United States also has a Uniform Code of Military Justice that has an Article 86: Absence Without Leave, a.k.a AWOL.

The term was derived from military shorthand. Rotary phones had T on the 8 key and O on the 6 key, so to throw out (TO) something was to 86 it.

Or it may have originally been a bartender’s term. Alcohol in the Old West was 100 proof. When a patron would get too drunk, the barkeep would serve him a less potent, 86 proof liquor, thereby 86’ing him. The term may have come from Old Eighty-Six, a popular shaving powder in the old days. A pinch of that in a rowdy cowboy’s drink apparently would have him heading for the door.

Perhaps its origin lies in New York. Many stories back this up. There was a speakeasy bar at 86 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village called Chumley’s, with no address on the door and several hidden exits. When the heat showed up, guests were known to 86 it, or remove themselves from the premises immediately.

In the days before a safety fence was installed on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, people would commit suicide by jumping from it. The deck was on the 86th floor.

Apparently, there was a local code in New York, Code 86, that made it a crime for bartenders to serve drunken patrons. The bartenders would tell such patrons that sorry, they’d been 86’d.

One of the elevated trains in New York terminated at 86th Street, at which point the conductor would toss any drunks who had passed out on board. The conductors began calling them 86’s.

Some say it started in the 86th precinct of the NYC police dept. Supposedly, when officers in other precincts made repeated mistakes, the threat of being sent out to the mean and shorthanded 86th was enough to make them straighten up.

Others say it originated at Delmonico’s Restaurant in NYC. Number 86 on their menu was a steak, the most popular item on the menu and one that often sold out. The term morphed into shorthand for being out of any item.

Or was it a filmmaker’s term? Light filters are categorized by number, the darkest filter being a #85. The mythical 86 filter would therefore be totally dark, and completely negate the image being photographed, 86 it.

There are those who claim the term refers to 86 inches, the standard depth of a grave in the U.S. So to 86 something is to bury it.

Perhaps it was a holdover from the days when news was delivered via teletype. To expedite this process, coded numbers were used for common actions. A “30” indicated a completed story, for example. Apparently, when a story/item was sent in error or should be discarded, the number 86 was used.

Explanations even stretch as far as the electrical industry, where devices had numbers—a 27 was an undervoltage relay, 43 was a selector switch, and an 86 was a trip and lockout device, so an 86 operation means the affected piece of equipment was out of service.

Another theory says that the term originated with the number codes used by soda jerks: 86 was the code indicating they were out of an item.

And the list goes on.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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