Glossary of Wire & Cable Terminology

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z


ABRASION - The destruction of a material caused by scraping or rubbing against a rough, hard surface.

ABRASION MACHINE - A laboratory device for determining the abrasion resistance of wire and cable. The two standard types of machines are the squirrel cage, with square steel bars, and the abrasive grit type.

ABRASION RESISTANCE - The ability of a wire or cable jacket to resist surface wear.

AC - Abbreviation for alternating current. See alternating current. Also abbreviated as ac.

ACCELERATED LIFE TEST - A test in which a cable is subjected to extreme conditions to determine the life of a cable.

ACCELERATOR - Chemical additive which hastensa chemical reaction, e.g., a compound added to rubber or Neoprene® mixtures to reduce curing time. Neoprene® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

ACR - Designation for cable with corona resisting insulation.

ACRS - Aluminum conductor, steel reinforced. Aluminum wires stranded around a steel core. Usually used for high voltage cross-country transmission lines.

ADAPTER - a) Device used for joining two fiber optic connectors together. b) A device for connecting two parts (of different diameters) of an apparatus.

ADHESIESIESIVE - Usually a synthetic material which, when applied to tapes, potting operations, etc., permits materials to be bonded together.

ADMITTANCE - Symbol Y. The reciprocal of impedance.Given by the formula:

Y = G + iB

where G is the conductance, B the susceptance, and i equals Glossary of Wire Cable Terminology. Since impedance, Z, is given by:

Z = R + iX

AEC - Atomic Energy Commission. The government agency which oversees all atomic energy projects.

AERIAL CABLE - A cable suspended in the air on poles or other overhead structures.

AIEE - Formerly American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Now called the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

AIR SPACED COAX - A coaxial cable in which air is basically the dielectric material. The conductor may be centered by means of a spirally wound synthetic filament, beads, or braided filaments. This construction
is also referred to as an air dielectric.

AIRCRAFT IGNITION CABLE - A high tension cable designed for use in the ignition systems of internal combustion aircraft engines.

AIRCRAFT WIRE - An electrical wire primarily designed for the extreme conditions (temperature, altitude, solvents, fuels, etc.) of airborne equipment.

AL - Abbreviation for aluminum.

ALKALI - A soluble salt obtained from the ashes of plants and consisting largely of potassium or sodium carbonate.

ALLRUBBER CABLE - A cable in which all voids between conductors are filled with a rubber compound. This construction gives greater resistance to impact, adds strength, and reduces the tendency to kink. It also reduces flexibility.

ALLOY - A metal made by the fusion of two or more metals.

AL/MY- Abbreviation for Aluminum Mylar®. Sometimes called out as ALMY. Mylar® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

ALS- A type of cable consisting of insulated conductors enclosed in a continuous, closely fitting aluminum tube.

ALTERNATING CURRENT - An alternating current is one where the direction of current is reversed at regular intervals. The rate at which reversals occur is expressed in cycles per second (Hertz or Hz). Abbreviated as AC or ac.

ALUMEL® - An alloy used for thermocouple and thermocouple extension wire. Alumel® is a trademark of the Hoskins Mfg. Co.

ALUMINUM CONDUCTOR - A wire or group of wires of aluminum, not insulated from each other, suitable for carrying electrical current.

am - Abbreviation for amplitude modulation. Also abbreviated as AM.

AMBIENT TEMPERATURE - The temperature of a medium (gas or liquid) surrounding an object.


AMP - Abbreviation for ampere. See Ampere.

AMPACITY - See current carrying capacity.

AMPERE - The unit expressing the rate of flow of an electrical current. One ampere is the current flowing through one ohm resistance with one volt potential. Abbreviated as amp.

AMPLIFIER - A device usually employing electron tubes or transistors to obtain amplification of voltage, current, or power.

AN - Literally “aircraft number”. For example, AN-6 signifies a wire size of No. 6 AWG.

ANALOG - Being or relative to a mechanism in which data is represented by continuously varying physical quantities. Opposite - digital.

ANNEALED WIRE - Wire which has been softened by heating and gradually cooling. Also called soft drawn wire.

ANNULAR CONDUCTOR - An annular conductor consists of a number of wires stranded in three reverse concentric layers around a saturated hemp core.

ANODE - Positive pole of an electric source. Opposite - cathode.

ANSI - Abbreviation for American National Standards Institute. A federation of trade, technical, professional organizations, government agencies, and consumer groups. Coordinates standards development and publishes standards. Operates a voluntary certification program. Used to be called the American Standards Association (ASA).

ANTENNA WIRE - A wire usually of high tensile strength such as Copperweld®, bronze, etc., with or without insulation used as an antenna for radio and electronic equipment. Copperweld® is a trademark of the Copperweld Steel Company.

ANTIOXIDANT - A substance which prevents or slows down oxidation of material exposed to air.

APPROX. - Abbreviation for approximate.

ARAMID - A lightweight strong heat-resistant aromatic polyamide material used in fiber optic strength members.

ARMATURE WIRE - Stranded annealed copper wire, straight lay, soft loose white cotton braid. It is used for low voltage, high current rotor winding motors and generators. Straight lay permits forming in armature slots and compressibility.

ARMOR - An outer braid of metal or spiral steel tapes, primarily for the purpose of mechanical protection. Generally placed over the outer sheath.

AROMATIC - An organic material composed of benzene in a ring structure.

ARTOS STRIPPER - A machine that will automatically measure to a predetermined length, cut, strip, count, and tie wire in bundles.

ASA - Abbreviation for American Standards Association. Former name of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). See ANSI.

ASESA - Abbreviation for Armed Services Electro Standards Agency.

ASG - Abbreviation for Aeronautical Standards Group.

ASME - Abbreviation for American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

ASTM - Abbreviation for American Society for Testing Materials. An organization that tests materials and attempts to set standards on various materials for industry.

ATTENUATION - The loss of power or signal in a circuit, generally expressed in decibels (dB) per unit length, usually one thousand (1,000) feet. In optical fiber cables, attenuation is the ratio of input power vs. output power, measured in decibels per unit length, usually dB/km. Abbreviated as attn.

ATTN. - Abbreviation for attenuation. See attenuation.

AUDIO FREQUENCY - The range of frequencies audible to the human ear, approximately 20 to 20,000 Hz.

AUTO PRIMARY WIRE - A single or multi-conductor wire used for original equipment or replacement on automotive products. Normally low voltage, resistant to oil, acid, and weather.

AWG - Abbreviation for American Wire Gauge. The system most commonly used in the United States for describing the size of copper wire. It is based on the circular mil system. One (1) mil equals 0.001 inch. Also referred to as the Brown and Sharpe (B&S) wire gauge.

AWM - Designation for appliance wiring material.
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