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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
First recorded in 1955-60 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for etaoin shrdlu
Historical Examples
  • That's a double two-em-dashed lie, you etaoin shrdlu so-and-so!

    Four-Day Planet Henry Beam Piper
Word Origin and History for 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

etaoin shrdlu

noun phrase

Confusion; mistakes: 98 percent accurate and 2 percent etaoin shrdlu

[1931+; fr the phrase typeset by sweeping one's finger down the two left-hand columns of Linotype keys, in a gesture made by compositors when they have erred and must begin again]

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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