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Surveyors’ Slang

Surveying, like most professions, has its own special slang. Although some of our slang may sound a little funny, these terms all help us do our job. So the next time you see (or hear) a Cardinal surveyor, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

Balls: Slang for numeric .00, as in 4-balls (4.00)

Beep: Verb. To use a magnetic detector to look for iron pipe, etc.

Blue Topping: In road or grading work the surveyor sets stakes and paints their tops blue to represent the required elevation. Graders then work to just cover the blue tops of the stakes.

Blood: To slowly raise the levels rod in order that the instrument man can read the foot markings.

Boot: To raise the levels rod some number of inches so it is visible to the instrument man, e.g., “Boot 6!” means "raise it 6 inches."

Box: Data collector.

Bug: To use a magnetic locator to search for an iron pipe.

Bullseye: Zero degrees of inclination.

Burn: See Shoot.

Burn one: Measure from the 1-foot mark on the tape rather than from the end of the tape in order to increase the accuracy of the measurement.

Bust: Closure error, i.e., the amount by which the survey fails to close perfectly.

Cap: A metal or plastic cover on the end of a rebar or pipe, typically stamped or printed with the surveyor's license number or other identifier.

Cut line: To clear vegetation for a line of sight between two survey control points.

Double nickel: Slang for .55, as in 6-double nickel (6.55).

Dummy or dummy-end: The base or zero end of a tape or chain, as in, “hold dummy at the face of the curb.”

Dump: Download data from the data collector.

EDM: Electromagnetic Distance Measurement device, the instrument modern surveyors use that replaces the use of measurement chains. It determines distance by measuring the time it takes for laser light to reflect off a prism on top of a rod at the target location.

Ginney: A wooden dowel 6–9 inches in length with a sharpened end, that is set in the ground to mark survey points.

Glass: The EDM prism.

Gun: Originally, a transit, but potentially any measurement instrument in use, e.g., theodolite, EDM, or Total Station.

Hours: Degrees.

Hub and Tack: A 2" by 2" stake that is set in the ground and that contains a nail “tack” that precisely marks the point being set.

Legs: Tripod.

Pogo: Prism pole.

Pole: Approximate unit of measure (about 0.1 foot) used for stake out, e.g. “Move a pole to the left and drive that hub in”

Punk: See Railroad.

Railroad: Slang for 11, as in 42-railroad (42.11).

Rodman: The person holding the rod with the EDM prism. This person is the modern version of a chain carrier or chain man.

Shoot: Measure distance with an EDM.

Spike: Usually a 60 penny nail used to mark survey points in hard ground.

Stob: In the southeast—U.S., a wooden stake or post, but in modern surveying, a piece of rebar used to mark a property boundary.

Tie: To locate something with the transit or other measuring device.

Top: Slang for 11. See Railroad.

Trip: Slang for triple digits, as in trip5 means 555, and 43trip7 means 43.777

Turn: The rodman is told to stay in place while the gun or level is moved to a new location.

Wave: To slowly move the levels rod back and forth to confirm that a measurement was made when the rod was truly vertical.

Zero: Zero degrees, minutes, and seconds; a perfect zero.

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