Agent

Risqu

Construction terms' strange origins revealed

What do the words nipple, flashing, chase and butt have in common? That's right -- they're all parts of a building. Having gotten used to casually tossing off the many quirky terms found in building construction, I'm sometimes caught short by the sidelong glances of my clients, who aren't always sure what kind of anatomy I'm invoking. I suspect that most of these terms harken from Middle Ages-era builders who, like their modern counterparts, delighted in coining colorful or even risqué expressions for otherwise mundane parts of buildings. Contractor humor, it seems, has changed little over the centuries. Be that as it may, let me explain the above words before I move on to a couple of other favorites. A nipple, as any plumber can tell you, is a very short length of threaded pipe. Back in the days when water pipes were threaded, plumbers had to make up all the long lengths on the job, but a range of nipples -- short pieces in one-inch increments up to one foot -- were pre-t...