Uncertain; possibly from the English slang term chat (“louse”). The word predates the Chadless punch, which therefore cannot be its origin, and a derivation from Scots chad (“river gravel”) stated in some dictionaries is now thought to be nothing more than guesswork.
- (uncountable) Small pieces of paper punched out from the edges of continuous stationery, or from ballot papers, paper tape, punched cards, etc.
2011 June 1, David P. Mikkelson, “Chad: Does the word ‘chad’ come from the Chadless keypunch, invented by a Mr. Chadless?”, in Snopes.com, retrieved 7 September 2016:
- The keypunch wasn't named after a Mr. Chadless; it was so named because, as expected, it punched tape while producing little or no chad.
- (countable) One of these pieces of paper.
1939 May 20, Ross A. Lake, Printing Perforating Telegraph Apparatus, US Patent 2255794:
- Prior devices of the type according to the present invention have been arranged to cut out the perforations completely at a single movement, thereby producing chads or waste material which often present difficult problems of disposal.
2000 December 12, Supreme Court of the United States, per curiam, “Bush v. Gore”, in United States Reports, volume 531, page 98 at 105:
- Much of the controversy seems to revolve around ballot cards designed to be perforated by a stylus but which, either through error or deliberate omission, have not been perforated with sufficient precision for a machine to count them. In some cases a piece of the card—a chad—is hanging, say by two corners. In other cases there is no separation at all, just an indentation.
- ^ David P. Mikkelson (1 June 2011), “Chad: Does the word ‘chad’ come from the Chadless keypunch, invented by a Mr. Chadless?”, in Snopes.com, retrieved 7 September 2016.
- ^ William Safire (2004) The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time: Wit and Wisdom from the Popular “On Language” Column in The New York Times Magazine, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, ↑ISBN, page 43.
- ^ “chad” (US) / “chad” (UK) in Macmillan Dictionary.