Thursday 1 July 2010

How To Name A Secret Weapon

So you're designing a terribly secret weapon and you have to think of a name for it. If you give it a name that actually describes the weapon that would be something of a mistake. A dastardly foreign spy would hardly need to investigate a weapon called "Laser for shooting down carrier pigeons".

Yet you have to call it something, otherwise the workers in the factory will become curious. So you give it a misleading name: let's say "Water Carriers for Russia". You take the plan to Winston Churchill, who happens to be Lord of the Admiralty at the time (1915)* and you explain how very clever you've been with the name. Winston laughs in your face and points out that this would get shortened to "WCs for Russia" and suggest a Muscovite latrine.

'Um,' you say, scratching your head and knitting your furrowed brow. 'What about.... What about Water Tanks for Russia?'

The name is agreed on, but, being cumbersome, is soon shortened to tank.

The Inky Fool can and will defend himself

*You, by the way, are Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Swinton

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