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


c - Abbreviation for centimeter. Also abbreviated cm.

C - Abbreviation for Centigrade. A scale for measuring temperature, water freezes at 0° C and boils at 100° C. See Celsius temperature scale.

CABLE - a) A cable may be a small number of large conductors or a large number of small conductors, cabled together, usually color coded and with a protective jacket overall. b) A single conductor larger than 9 AWG.

CABLE ASSEMBLY - A cable assembly is a cable with plugs or connectors on each end for a specific pur- pose. It may be formed in various configurations.

CABLE CORE - The portion of an insulated cable lying under the protective covering or jacket.

CABLE FILLER - The material used in multi-conductor cables to occupy the spaces formed by the assembly of components thus forming a core of the desired shape (normally cylindrical).

CABLE PULLERS - A cable puller is a tool for pulling cables through a conduit made of metal, plastic, rubber, or Neoprene®. Neoprene® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

CABLE SHEATH - A cable sheath is a covering of rubber, Neoprene®, resin, or lead over a wire or cable core. Neoprene® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

CABLING FACTOR - Symbol K. A constant used in determining the approximate finished O.D. of an unshielded, unjacketed cable. D = Kd, where D is the diameter, K is the factor, and d is the diameter of one insulated conductor. A separate constant is used based on the number of conductors used (see Cable Design Formulas page 200).

CAD BR - Abbreviation for cadmium bronze.

CADMIUM - A bluish - white malleable ductile toxic bivalent metallic element used in protective platings and in bearing metals.

CAGED ARMOR - The armor wires within a polyethylene jacket to increase mechanical protection and tensile strength. Often used in submarine cables.

CAL - TRANS - Abbreviation for California Department of Transportation.

CAP - Abbreviation for capacitance. See capacitance.

CAPACITANCE - Capacitance is that property of a system of conductors and dielectrics which permits the storage of electricity when potential differences exist between the conductors. The value depends largely on the surface area of the plates, distance between them, and the composition of the medium between the plates. Abbreviation CAP. The unit of measure is farad (f).

CAPACITANCE, DIRECT - The capacitance measured directly from conductor to conductor through a single insulating layer.

CAPACITANCE, MUTUAL - The capacitance between two conductors with all other conductors, including shield, short-circuited to ground.

CAPACITANCE, UNBALANCED - An inequality of capacitance between the wires of two or more pairs which results in a transfer of unwanted signal from one pair to others.

CAPACITANCE, UNBALANCED to GROUND - An inequality of capacitance between the ground ca- pacitance of the conductors of a pair which results in a pick up of external source energy, usually from power transmission lines.

CAPACITIVE COUPLING - Electrical interaction between two conductors caused by the capacitance between them.

CATEGORY 1 - A UL designation for inside telephone cable for voice. Also referred to as Level 1.

CATEGORY 2 - A UL designation for inside telephone cable for voice. Also referred to as Level 2.

CATEGORY 3 - A UL designation for inside telephone cable that is the lowest performance level recom- mended for voice. Also referred to as Level 3.

CATEGORY 4 - A UL designation for inside cable for Data Grade UTP. Also referred to as Level 4.

CATEGORY 5E - A UL designation for inside data cable that is the lowest performance level recom- mended for enhanced 350 MHz data cable. Also referred to as Level 5.

CATEGORY 6 - A UL designation for inside datacable that is the highest performance data cable.

CATHODE - Negative pole of an electric source. Opposite - anode.

CATV - Abbreviation for Community Antenna Television.

CBO - Brewerycord,Neoprene®insulated.Neoprene® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

CCA - Abbreviation for copper-clad aluminum.

CCS - Abbreviation for copper-clad steel. See copper-clad.

CCTV - Abbreviation for Closed Circuit Television.

CDDI - Abbreviation for cable distributed data interface.

CEC - Abbreviation for Canadian Electrical Code.

CELLULA RPOLYETHYLENE - Expanded or “foam” polyethylene consisting of individual closed cells suspended in a polyethylene medium.

CELSIUSTEMPERATURESCALE - Formerly called Centigrade Temperature Scale. A temperature scale based upon the freezing point of water defined as 0° C and the boiling point defined as 100° C.

CENTI - A prefix to a unit, denoting a sub­multiple of one-hundredth (10 -2) of that unit.

CENTIGRADETEMPERATURE SCALE -The older name for the Celsius Temperature Scale in English speaking countries. Officially abandoned by international agreements and the U.S. Bureau of Standards in 1948, but still in common usage.

CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE (CONFOR- MANCE) - A certificate which is normally generated by a quality control department which shows that the product being shipped meets the customer’s specifications. Abbreviation C of C, sometimes referred to as CERTS.

CERTIFIED TEST REPORTS - A report providing actual test data on a cable. Tests are normally run by a quality control department which show that the product being shipped conforms to test specifications. Abbreviation CTR or TR.

CERTS - Abbreviation for certificate of compliance. See certificate of compliance.

CF - The designation for cotton fixture wire. It is a cotton insulated, impregnated with moisture resisting, flame-retarding compound. It is used in lighting fixtures up to 90° C.

CF GLASS - Means continuous filament glass yarn which is used in braiding, in making glass fabric, and glass thread.

CFT - The abbreviation for 100 feet.

CHARACTERISTIC IMPEDANCE - a) The impedance that when connected to the output terminals of a transmission line of any length, makes the line appear infinitely long. b) The ratio of voltage to current at every point along a transmission line on which there are no standing waves.

CHEMICALLY CURED COMPOUND - Those com- pounds which are cured by chemical process rather than by heat and pressure.

CHLORO - Abbreviation for chloroprene. See chloroprene.

CHLOROPRENE - A colorless liquid C4H5Cl. Abbreviated as chloro.

CHLOROSULFONATED POLYETHYLE NE - A synthetic rubber, made by DuPont de Nemours Co. Resistant to oxidation by ozone, sun, weather, heat, and chemicals, rated 90° C. Abbreviated CP or CSPE. Trade name is Hypalon® which is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

CHROMATIC DISPERSION - Different wavelengths travel along an optical medium at different speeds. Wavelengths reach the end of the medium at different times, causing the light pulse to spread. This chromatic dispersion is expressed in picoseconds (of dispersion) per kilometer (of length) per nanometer (of source bandwidth). It is the sum of material and waveguide dispersion.

CHROMEL®-ALUMEL® - The alloy used in making Chromel-Alumel® thermocouple wires. Chromel® is an alloy of nickel and chrome plus nine other elements. Alumel® is an alloy containing nickel, manganese, aluminum, silicon, and nine other elements. Chromel® is nonmagnetic; Alumel® is highly magnetic. Chro­mel® and Alumel® are trademarks of the Hoskins Mfg. Co.

CHROMIUM - A blue-white metallic element found naturally only in combination and used in alloys and in electroplating.

CIRCUIT (ELECTRIC) - The complete path of an electrical current. When the continuity of the circuit is broken, it is called an open circuit; when continuity is maintained, it is called a closed circuit.

CIRCUIT SIZES - A popular term for building wires sizes 14 through 10 AWG.

CIRCULAR MIL - A term universally used to define cross sectional areas of conductors. It is an area (7.854 x 10 sq. in.) equal to the area of a circle one-thousandth (10-3) of an inch in diameter. As the number of circular mils increases, the size of a wire increases. Abbreviation CM.

CL2 - Abbreviation for Class 2 cable.

CL2P - Abbreviation for Class 2 plenum cable.

CL2R - Abbreviation for Class 2 riser cable.

CL2X - Abbreviation for Class 2 cable, limited use.

CL3 - Abbreviation for Class 3 cable.

CL3P - Abbreviation for Class 3 plenum cable.

CL3R - Abbreviation for Class 3 riser cable.

CL3X - Abbreviation for Class 3 cable, limited use.

CLADDING - a) In fiber optics the layer of material, usually glass, that immediately surrounds the fiber core of optical fiber cable. The cladding is usually coated with another material to provide protection when handling. b) A method of applying a layer of metal over another metal whereby the junction of the two metals is continuously welded.

CLEAVING - The process of separating an optical fiber by a controlled fracture of the glass, for the purpose of obtaining a fiber end, which is flat, smooth, and perpendicular to the fiber axis.

cm - Abbreviation for centimeter. Also abbreviated c.

CM - a) Abbreviation for communication general purpose cable. b) Abbreviation for circular mil. See circular mil.

CMP - Abbreviation for communication plenum cable.

CMR - Abbreviation for communication riser cable.

CMX - Abbreviation for communication cable, limited use.

COATING - A material applied to the surface of a conductor to prevent environmental deterioration, facilitate soldering, or improve electrical performance.

COAX - See coaxial cable.

COAXIAL CABLE - A cable in which one conductor completely surrounds the other, the two being coaxial and separated by a continuous solid dielectric or by dielectric spacers. When the outside conductor is grounded, the inside conductor is not susceptible to external fields from outside sources. Commonly called coax.

COIL - A coiled conductor, wound on a form or core which uses electromagnetic induction to cause changes in a current.

COLD BEND - Generally refers to a test to determine cable or wire characteristics at low temperatures.The test specimen and a specified mandrel are cooled in a low temperature box to the specified temperature. The wire specimen is then wound around the mandrel after which it is examined for cracks or other defects caused by bending at low temperatures.

COLD FLOW - Permanent deformation of the insulation due to mechanical force or pressure (not due to heat softening).

COLD TEST - Tests performed on cables to check their performance at a specified low temperature as outlined in various specifications.

COLOR CODE - Color code is the use of different colored insulated wires for purposes of identification in a multi-conductor cable.

COMMON AXIS CABLING - In multiple cable constructions, a twisting of all conductors around a “common axis” with two conductor groups then selected as pairs. This method yields smaller diameter constructions than does a separate axis construction, but tends to yield greater susceptible to EMI and ESI.

COMMUNITY TV CABLE - Community TV cables are coaxial cables that are used to transmit television signals from a master antenna to a group of receivers in a community. RG 17/U is used as the primary lead-in, RG 11/U as the secondary lead-in, and RG 59/U as the tap-off lead-in.

COMPACT CONDUCTOR - Refers to a stranded conductor which is rolled to deform the round wires to fill the normal interstices between the wires in a strand.

COMPOSITE CABLE - A cable consisting of two or more different types or sizes of wire and/or cable.

COMPOUND - An insulating or jacketing material made by the chemical union of two or more ingredients.

CONCENTRICLAYCONDUCTOR - A single conductor composed of a central core surrounded by one or more helically laid wires. Each of these succeeding layers is applied with an opposite direction twist. The number of wires laid up the center wire is six, and each succeeding layer consists of six additional wires so that the number of wires in the strands are 7, 19, 37,61, etc.

CONCENTRIC STRANDING - A central wire or core surrounded by one or more layers of helically wound strands in a fixed round geometric arrangement. Generally each layer, after the first, has six more strands than the preceding layer and is applied in a direction opposite to that of the layer under it.

CONCENTRICITY - In a wire or cable, the measurement of the location of the center of the conductor with respect to the geometric center of the surrounding insulation.

COND. - Abbreviation for conductor. See conductor.

CONDUCTANCE - Symbol G. The measure of the ability of a substance to conduct electricity. The ratio of the current flow to the potential difference causing the flow. The real part of the admittance, Y, which is given by:

Y = G + i B  Glossary of Wire Cable Terminology
where B is the susceptance and i equals.

For a direct current circuit, the conductance is the reciprocal of resistance and is measured in ohms. For a circuit containing both resistance,R, and reactance, X, the conductance is given by:

G = R / (R2 + X2)

CONDUCTIVITY - The capability of a material to carry electrical current, usually expressed as a percentage of copper conductivity (copper being 100%). The reciprocal of resistivity.

CONDUCTOR - A material that offers a low resistance to the passage of electric current (see re­sistivity). When a potential difference is applied across it, a relatively large current flows. A conductor usually consists of copper, aluminum, steel, silver, or other materials. Abbreviated as cond.

CONDUIT - A tube or trough for protecting electrical wires or cables.

CONNECTOR - A mechanism used to unite two pieces of cable, both physically and electrically.

CONSERVATION OF ENERGY PRINCIPLE - A principle in physics; the total energy of an isolated system remains constant irrespective of whatever internal change may take place with energy disappearing in one form and reappearing in another.

CONST. - Abbreviation for construction.

CONSTANTAN - An alloy of 55% copper and 45% nickel used in thermocouple with copper in the temperature range of 169° C to 386° C. Temperature coefficient of electrical resistivity, 0.0002 / ° C.

CONT. - Abbreviation for continued.

CONTACT - The part of a conductor which actually carries the electrical current and is touched together or separated to control flow.

CONTINUITY CHECK - A test performed on a length of finished wire or cable to determine if the electrical current flows continuously through out the length. Each conductor may also be checked against each other to ascertain that no shorts exist between conductors.

CONTINUOUS DUTY - In some portable cords there are two standard number of strands of a given wire size. The one with the greater number (most flexible) is called continuous duty and the other is called stationary duty.

CONTINUOUS VULCANIZATION - The process of extruding on a wire, under high pressure, a uniform seamless, close-fitting tube of a rubber or rubberlike compound. The covered wire then continues into a vulcanizing chamber, where, under high pressure and temperature, the insulation or jacket is vulcanized continuously rather than in sections. Abbreviated as cv.

CONTROL CABLE - A cable used for remote control operation of any type of electrical power equipment.

COPO - Abbreviation for copolene. See copolene.

COPOLENE - Copolene is a dielectric material used in manufacturing coaxial cable. Developed as a substitute for polystyrene, it is composed of polystyrene and polyisobutlyene. Since it has undesirable characteristics, it has been replaced by polyethylene. Abbreviated as copo.

COPOLYMER - A compound resulting from the polymerization of two different monomers.

COPPER-CLAD - Steel wire with a coating of copper welded to it, as distinguished from copper-plated. Abbreviated CCS. Same as Copperweld®. Copperweld® is a trademark of the Copperweld Steel Company.

COPPER CONSTANTAN - Copper and constantan are two materials used in making the rmocouple wires. The copper is the positive wire and the constantan is the negative wire.

COPPERWELD® - Copperweld® is the trade name for copper covered steel wire manufactured by Copperweld Steel Company. It is made by an exclusive molten welding process whereby a thick copper covering is inseparably welded to a steel core. Copperweld® thus performs as one metal. Hot rolling, cold drawing, pounding, or temperature changes cannot adversely affect it. Abbreviated as cw.

CORD - A small, flexible insulated conductor or conductors, usual 10 AWG or smaller and not more than four conductors, jacketed to protect the conductors, and most often used for portable applications.

CORD SETS - Portable cords fitted with any type of wiring device at one or both ends.

CORE - a). In cables, a component or assembly of components over which additional components (shield, sheath, etc.) are applied. b). In fiber optic cable, the central part of the glass construction through which light is transmitted.

CORONA - Ionization of air surrounding a conductor caused by the influence of high voltage.

CORPS OF ENGINEERS - The branch of the United States Army in charge of construction on all military installations.

COVERAGE - The percent of completeness with which a metal braid covers the underlying surface.

COVERINGS - Coverings may consist of textile braids or may be jackets of rubber, plastics, or other materi- als applied over wires and cables. Such coverings provide mechanical protection and, in some cases, circuit identification.

CP - Abbreviation for chlorosulfonated polyethylene. Also abbreviated as CSPE. See Hypalon®. Hypalon® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

CPC - Abbreviation for copper polyester copper laminate.

C PE - Abbreviation for chlorinated polyethylene, a conductive polyethylene.

CPVC - Abbreviation for chlorinated polyvinylchloride.

CR - Abbreviation for chloroprene rubber. See Neoprene®. Neoprene® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

CRAZING - The minute cracks on the surface of plastic materials.

CRCS - Abbreviation for continuous rigid cable sup- port, synonymous with tray.

CREEPAGE - Electric leakage on a solid dielectric surface.

CROSS-LINKED - Intermolecular bonds between long chain thermoplastic polymers by means of chemical or electron bombardment. The properties of the resulting thermosetting material are usually improved. Abbreviation XL.

Cross sectional area of a conductor is the sum of cross sectional areas of all the individual wires com- prising the strand.

CROSS TALK - Signal interference due to cross coupling between nearby conductors producing an unwanted signal in one circuit when a signal is present in the other. A phenomenon usually due to induction.

CSA - Abbreviation for Canadian Standards As- sociation. This is the Canadian counterpart of the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) in the U.S.

CSPE - Abbreviation for chlorosulfonated polyethylene. Also abbreviated as CP. See Hypalon®. Hypalon® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

CURE DATE - a) The date at which the curing cycle is completed on Neoprene® or rubber. b) The date of manufacture. Neoprene® is a trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Co.

CURRENT - The rate of flow of electricity. Usually measured in amperes. Symbol I.

CURRENT CARRYING CAPACITY - The maximum current an insulated conductor can continuously carry without exceeding its insulation and jacket temperature limitations. Also called ampacity.

CUTOFF WAVELENGTH - In fiber optics cable, the wavelength at which a single-mode fiber transmits a single-mode of light.

CV - The abbreviation for continuous vulcanization. See continuous vulcanization.

CW - Abbreviation for Copperweld® conductor. See Copperweld®. Copperweld® is a trademark of the Copperweld Steel Company.

CYCLE - The complete sequence of alteration or reversal of the flow of an alternating electric current.

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