duck tape

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Originally (from late 19th century) from duck, from Dutch doek (a tightly woven fabric) +‎ tape, due to the make-up of the tape. The adhesive tape now commonly known as "Duck tape" (a trademark in the United States) has its origins in a product first created for the US Military during World War II,[1] and the word "duck" was later associated with the waterproof qualities of this tape, as in the idea of "water off a duck's back".[2]

The terms "duck tape" and "duct tape" overlap in modern usage. According to one theory, the modern product was originally called "duck tape". The term "duct tape" was then later applied because of mishearing and/or because the product was used to join together pieces of ducting. However, this chronology has been questioned due to lack of documented evidence that "duck tape" predates "duct tape" as a name for the modern product.[3] The Duck Brand website itself refers to "Duck Tape® Brand Duct Tape" [4], using "Duck tape" as the brand name, and "duct tape" as a generic description of the type of product.


duck tape (countable and uncountable, plural duck tapes)

  1. (historical) A kind of tape made from, or incorporating, cotton "duck" fabric.
    • 1894, The Electrical World, Volume 24 [5]
      In belting from the motor, connect to as large a pulley as possible and practical, and use a heavy duck tape, one inch wide, such as printers use on their large presses.
  2. (trademark, also used generically) A type of multi-purpose heavy-duty adhesive tape.
    If you can't fix it with duck tape, it's not worth fixing.