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etaoin shrdlu

[et-ee-oin shurd-loo, -oh-in, ee-tee-] /ˈɛt iˌɔɪn ˈʃɜrd lu, -ˌoʊ ɪn, ˈi ti-/
the letters produced by running the finger down the first two vertical rows of keys at the left of the keyboard of a Linotype machine: used as a temporary marking slug or to indicate that an earlier mistake in the line necessitates resetting, but sometimes inadvertently cast and printed.
Origin of etaoin shrdlu
1955-60 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Word Origin and History for etaoin-shrdlu

etaoin shrdlu

1931, journalism slang, the sequence of characters you get if you sweep your finger down the two left-hand columns of Linotype keys, which is what typesetters did when they bungled a line and had to start it over. It was a signal to cut out the sentence, but it nonetheless sometimes slipped past harried compositors and ended up in print.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for etaoin-shrdlu



  1. A ticket or pass to a show, game, race, etc (1874+)
  2. Money; dollars: keep him in ducats for the rest of his life (1775+)

[fr the name of an originally Venetian gold coin; adoption probably influenced by its prominence in The Merchant of Venice]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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