How Well Do You Know Construction Site Slang?


By: Robin Tyler

6 Min Quiz

Image: Paul Bradbury / OJO Images / Getty Images

About This Quiz

The world of construction is a hard place filled with men and women who know a thing or two about tools, construction machinery and, most of all, building something.

Construction is not only putting up concrete walls, making a roof and all the other things associated with building; its a lot of preparation as well. Before any of this can be done, the area needs to be prepared. This is done with specialized machinery and good old elbow grease in most cases.

Elbow grease? Yes, hard work! Now that's a great example of the kind of slang or jargon you will find on a construction site, and there are many others. For instance, did you know that a bucket is called an "Indiana Round Ladder"? Or that an electrical current is referred to as "juice"? And what do you think construction workers will call a shovel? Well, how about a "muck-stick"?

These are just some of the examples of slang terms you might hear on a construction site if you were to spend the day eavesdropping. But how many do you think you might already know or be able to guess? Well, let's see by taking this construction worker slang quiz! Good luck!

"Balls" is a term used when measuring up a construction site. But what does it mean?

Instead of saying something measures at 7.00 meters, construction workers will use the term "balls." So, for instance, if a piece of wood measures 7.00 meters, they will say "seven balls."


If someone on a construction site is described as an "I.B.E.W.," what do they do?

"I.B.E.W." stands for "I Block Every Walkway" and is the name given to construction workers who do just that, often unintentionally. They are always in the wrong place at the wrong time getting in the way.


When told to "get jiggy with it" on a construction site, what should you do?

The term "get jiggy with it" simply means to speed up a little more on the task you are currently busy with. Construction sites are all about hitting deadlines to make sure the job is done on time and even slowing down on the smallest job can hold people back.


From the list below, what type of tool do you think a "beater" is?

Although construction workers might have some strange names for tools used on a construction site, there is certainly no mistaking what a "beater" would do! Sledgehammers are mainly used to break down things, for instance, a patch of hard ground filled with rocks or an old wall that needs to be destroyed.


Workers installing "Canadian plywood" are doing what?

When separating two areas within a building, construction workers generally will use drywall, especially if the building is to be an office space in the future. To do this, they use drywall, or "Canadian plywood."


Builders who have said there is a "cheese eater" on site have seen which of these?

Construction sites aren't the cleanest places around, and depending on where it is, the chances of rats scurrying around between equipment and building materials are pretty good, especially in metropolitan areas.


If a fellow worker needed to "drop a deuce" where would you point him?

Listen, sometimes bodily functions take preference over what happens on a construction site. So if a fellow worker wants to "drop a deuce" he wants to make a number two in the closest toilet! Let him go!


When asking for a new "skid lid," what would a construction worker want?

Protective gear is paramount on any construction site. And the head is probably the most important part of your body to protect. To do so, you would need a "skid lid" or helmet.


When asked for a "manual backhoe," what tool should you give your fellow worker?

A backhoe is a mechanical excavator that digs holes on a construction site. So a "manual backhoe" is simply a shovel!


Who is a "bucket dumper"?

A frontend loader is an important vehicle found on most construction sites. It is generally used in the preparation stage before building takes place where it can dig into the ground and move earth from one place to another. The drivers of these beasts are known as a "bucket dumper."


As a new worker, if you are told to report to the office to get your "dress," what is it you will receive?

Construction sites are dangerous places; there is no doubt. You really need to wear a reflective safety vest at all times, yes even during the day. Workers generally call this a dress.


Can you tell us what protective gear "hand shoes" would be?

Protective gear on a construction site is mandatory. And just to be a little funny, construction workers call glove "hand shoes."


Who would a "nail bender" be in construction slang?

Construction workers take all forms. After the initial work is done on a building, for instance laying foundations, building walls or putting on the roof, other workers then apply the finishing touches like electricians or "nail benders," or carpenters.


What is a "fire wrench" in construction slang?

Pass the "fire wrench!" Yes, that's the construction worker slang term for an oxy-acetylene torch. These are used in a number of ways on a construction site, especially if there is welding to be done.


A "sparky" is which profession found on a construction site?

It's not only on construction sites that an electrician is known as a "sparky," but in many other lines of work where they may be found. They are also sometimes called a " spanky."


A worker described as a "kid" is ______?

On every construction site, you will find a range of workers, from grizzled veterans to newbies. A "kid" is simply an apprentice starting out in the construction game.


Who would a "sand hog" be?

Some construction sites might need tunnels built underground. To achieve this, a tunnel worker, or "sand hog," will be brought in to complete the job.


Do you know what a "cowboy" is?

C-clamps are used throughout construction sites and for many different situations. There are generally referred to as "cowboys."


If your fellow workers tell you there is a "hog in the corn," what does that mean?

"Hog in the corn" simply means a foreman or site boss is nearby to where you are working. That means you better make sure what you are doing is close to perfect!


The construction slang word "bullets" refers to which of these?

Many things need fastening on a construction site, most notably by carpenters. To do so, they will use screws, or "bullets" as they are known.


Which construction worker profession would a "Rembrandt" be?

Construction humor, hey! Yes, any painters on site are referred to as "Rembrandts" by their fellow construction workers after the famous Dutch painter.


A trip to the "blue room" is which of these?

There are no proper toilets on a construction site; there are only portapotties! And these are generally blue in color, hence their slang name the "Blue Room."


Which of these would be a "gear jammer"?

Construction sites are filled with a variety of equipment. Some of them are brought there on the back of trucks, for example, while rubble would also need to be removed from the site by truck. And the drivers of any trucks on a construction site are generally called "gear jammers."


Fasteners are useful on a construction site. Which of these is called a "chicken band"?

Zip ties are unsung heroes in everyday life and even on construction sites. These little fasteners, called "chicken bands" in construction slang, can be used in many different ways.


A fellow worker who has been "promoted to customer" has been _____?

It's never a nice thing to be fired, but true to form, construction workers have a slang term for it which makes complete sense and has a little bit of humor as well: "promoted to customer."


Of these tools, which do you think would be a "cats paw"?

When you need to pull out nails on a construction site, and there is no claw hammer nearby, you would use a "cats paw" or small nail puller as regular folk would call it!


When something is described as "fubar" on a construct site, it is ______?

Although not strictly a construction site slang word — it actually comes from troops during World War II — if something is "fubar" it's pretty messed up and not easily fixed!


If someone calls for the "skipper" on a construction site, who are they looking for?

Ever site has site foreman in charge. Certainly not an easy job, they control all the workers and make sure that plans are being followed to the letter! Site foremen are often called the "Skipper."


What day is known as the "eagle has landed"?

No one works for free, not even construction workers. And they even have a slang term for payday. They say the "eagle has landed" when money is coming their way.


What is a "fiber jockey" in construction slang?

As construction on a site progresses, all kinds of outside people are going to visit the site to complete their specific jobs not related to construction itself. For instance, laying of fiber lines for communications and internet access in a building. These will be installed by "fiber jockeys."


Any idea what you would likely find in a "worm bag"?

Of course, tools are important to construction workers. Some might even have their own set of tools. They carry these in their toolbox, which is called a "worm bag" in construction slang.


Can you tell us which of these you think would be a "personal drainer"?

Although it may seem simple, plumbing is an essential part of planning for a construction site. Plumbers will work from the get-go, laying down pipes initially but later, installing all the fixtures in completed buildings. They are often called "personal drainer" in construction slang.


Can you tell us what a construction worker looking for "weasel piss" wants?

Good old WD 40. Of course you are going to find cans of the stuff on a construction site. And here, it is called "weasel piss."


What do you think "drag out drops" would be when mentioned in construction slang?

Construction work is hard going, and when it takes place on a hot summers day, everybody is going to be pushing out a few "drag out drops." What are they, well it's simply sweat!


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