Claim: The word ‘chad’ comes from the “Chadless keypunch,” so named after its inventor, a
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2000]
We use the word “CHAD” to refer to the little square bits of paper that do not completely separate from punch card ballots when voters poke a hole in the ballot to mark their choice. Where did the word “CHAD” come from? According to one theory, back in the days when people used key punches, those little bits of paper decorated office carpets every where until an inventor named
Origins: With all the interest in chads generated by the 2000 presidential election, it was inevitable this apocryphal etymology for the word ‘chad’ would resurface with a vengeance. The claim it advances is
that chad (those little pieces of paper produced by punching a card or paper tape) had no specific name
until after a
This is an entertaining “cart before the horse” story, but it isn’t true. In this case the horse really did precede the cart: The word “chad” has been around since the 1940s (most dictionaries cite 1947 as its first appearance), and it antedates the “Chadless keypunch.” The keypunch wasn’t named after a
What is the real origin of the word “chad”? Most dictionaries simply list it as “origin unknown,” but a current theory has it that chad comes from the Scottish word for gravel.
Last updated: 1 June 2011
Tawa, Renee. “In a Word, Chad Is All That’s Hot.” Los Angeles Times. 20 November 2000.
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.