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punch list

punch list n. a to-do list (of items requiring immediate attention); any list of significance. Editorial Note: This term is strongly associated with building construction. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)

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11 comments
  • It seems to me to be a fairly natural construction. Punch has various meanings that stress emphasis or force, and there’s a informal use of punch in “punch something up” meaning “to fix, perfect, or improve (something).” However, this is just speculation. Like most words, the origins of this term can never be fixed with certainty, nor if we did know them would they be likely to be interesting or useful.

  • There is an interesting story that suggests each subcontractor used hand held hole punch tools that made specific shaped holes.  The subcontractors would use this tool to “punch” the list of items that had been completed by their company.

  • I work at a construction company and some of our employees had the same question.  So an experienced assistant interviewed the senior superintendents and this was the definition they gave.

  • The term comes from the telephone industry. where a installer was given a wiring list of wire pair terminations to be “punched down” on a terminal block using a punch tool.

  • Ken, I doubt that. I’ve used a punch down tool and I understand what you’re saying, but there’s zero evidence to back that up. Any other explanation is just as likely.

  • Can any body tell me when to issue punch list, . i mean can the contrcator request the employer to issue punch list if the projec i snot complete
    regards
    Q Awad

  • The phrase takes its name from the historical process of punching a hole in the margin of the document, next to one of the items on the list. This indicated that the work was completed for that particular construction task. Two copies of the list were punched at the same time to provide an identical record for the architect and contractor.

    From wikipedia.com (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punch_list)

  • I agree that the origin relating to the construction list being ‘punched’ by the various contractors – is the most plausible

  • Can an Architect add work to the Punch List that is additional work or can he only list items on the Punch List for which there are change orders issued for?

Further reading

Conductor, Punch in the Presence of the Passenjare!

In an article in The Atlantic magazine, humorist Mark Twain quoted a sing-songy bit of doggerel about conductors punching railroad fares that illustrates how colored paper has long been used to encode information. This is part of a complete episode...

Your Feet Don’t Fit a Limb

A listener reports that when his Kentucky-born grandmother heard anyone say Who, me? she’d respond Your feet don’t fit a limb. It’s a pun on the sound an owl makes. This is part of a complete episode.

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