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From dead + man. In the sense referring to a safety switch, the notion of an operator who is dead is the figurative archetype representing any incapacitation, absence, or inattention. See also Dead Hand in that regard.
deadman (plural deadmen)
- (obsolete) A corpse
- There is no deadman to be found at Deadman's Curve.
- (construction) A long object, often a timber or log, buried to serve as an anchor for a wall or for stays.
- The building code requires deadmen for retaining walls.
- (rail transport, manufacturing, agriculture, safety equipment) A cutout device that operates in the event that an operator releases the control handles, leaves the operator's seat, or otherwise seems to be no longer present and alert.
- 1962 April, “Beyond the Channel: Western Germany: The Henschel 4,000 h.p. V320 diesel”, in Modern Railways, page 274:
- [...] a Brown-Boveri deadman's control; [...].
a long object, often a timber or log, buried to serve as an anchor for a wall or for stays
A cutout device that operates in the event of driver incapacity.