First unionized in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the trade of iron worker developed at a time when the industrial revolution allowed, for the first time in history, the erection of steel structures on a widespread scale. The technology of steel construction was new; the men hired to do the actual work, the construction gangs, were for the large part uneducated immigrants willing to work a dangerous job for low pay. The combination of a new technology with a class of worker unfamiliar with architectural and engineering terminology precipitated a colorful jargon which exists, in one form or another, to this day. The vocabulary of this jargon is functional, descriptive, often amusing, and usually obscene.
"Tool-Naming by Iron Workers,"
Word Ways: Vol. 22
, Article 9.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/wordways/vol22/iss2/9