Every profession can demonstrate words used in their occupation that leave you scratching your head. Architects have terms like piloti, which is a series of columns supporting a building, and fenestration, the design of openings in a building. A medical professional will use words like xerostomia, which is dry mouth, and epistaxis, a medical term for a nosebleed.

Not to be left out, engineers have many complicated words also. Often the definitions of the words can be just as difficult to understand as the words. A mechanical engineer may address ‘backlash’ in a gear by utilizing ‘anti-backlash’ gears like the one pictured below from a band-pass filter (Filter Subassembly MX-9621/A).

anti-backlash gears band-pass filter Filter Subassembly MX-9621/A

The anti-backlash gears on a band-pass filter (Filter Subassembly MX-9621/A)

The bandpass filter reduces noise over a radio and improves selectivity, reducing the chance that communication would be missed by the friendlies or intercepted by the enemy. Gears on the bandpass filter drive a plate up and down a resonant chamber, thereby varying the resonant frequency. In order for precise operation, the anti-backlash gear shown, with a small coil spring, acts to minimize the undesirable characteristic of play between the gear teeth.

Anti-backlash is one of many engineer terms. Duotech asked their mechanical, electrical, and software engineers for engineer terms that will sound strange to the layman. They submitted many but below we share 6 of those with you and a brief explanation of what they mean.

6 Engineering Words that Sound Unusual to Non-engineers

  1. Nyquist – Nyquist sampling rate requires that a continuous-time signal be sampled at least twice the sampling rate of its frequency.
  2. Wronskian – can be used to show that a set of solutions is linearly independent.
  3. Poisson – Poisson’s equation is a partial differential equation using the Laplace operator. A common application is electromagnetics.
  4. Entropy – a measure of the number of specific ways in which a thermodynamic system may be arranged, commonly understood as a measure of disorder.
  5. Lamda – used in some programming languages to denote anonymous functions or closures
  6. Permittivity – a measure of the response of a substance to an electric field, expressed as the ratio of its electric displacement to the applied field strength

A profession’s technical terms, or jargon, are often not well understood by those outside their industry. As a repair technician or engineer, understanding a specific vocabulary, like resonant frequency and anti-backlash, both associated with the repair of a bandpass filter, is essential as it enables precise and efficient communication between professionals.

Whether planning a new project, prototyping a new design, preparing for certification testing, or supporting your product throughout its life cycle, Duotech Services’ experience can work for you. Learn more about Duotech’s long-term sustainment capabilities for a wide variety of electronic and electromechanical systems.


Nyquist http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/login.jsp?reload=true&tp=&arnumber=5699377&url=http%3A%2F%2Fieeexplore.ieee.org%2Fxpls%2Fabs_all.jsp%3Farnumber%3D5699377
Wronskian https://archive.org/details/atreatiseontheo00muirgoog
Bandpass Filter Belle A. Shenoi (2006). Introduction to digital signal processing and filter design. John Wiley and Sons. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-471-46482-2.
Poisson’s Equation A. D. Polyanin, Handbook of Linear Partial Differential Equations for Engineers and Scientists, Chapman & Hall/CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2002. ISBN 1-58488-299-9
Permittivity Theory of Electric Polarization: Dielectric Polarization, C.J.F. Böttcher, ISBN 0-444-41579-3
Entropy J. Clerk-Maxwell, “Theory of Heat”, 10th ed. Longmans, Green and Co., 1891, pp. 155–158.

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