phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: That's -30-

Posted by Masakim on October 05, 2001

In Reply to: Re: That's -30- posted by ESC on October 05, 2001

: : When receiving a news story, "30" was used to indicate the end of the text. The thread below of "86" made me wonder why? Any "newsies" out there?

: An ex-newsie.

: THIRTY -- The Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997) lists two possible origins, gIt comes either from the old telegraphy symbol indicating the end of a dayfs transmission, a kind of eGoodnight, Ifm closing up the office,f or from old printersf jargon. The maximum line on Linotype composing machines is 30 picas, about five inches, and when an operator reaches 30 picas, he can go no farther.h

The use of *thirty* for the end of a story is an old piece of journalism and telegraphy slang that first appears in the late nineteenth century. In order to signal the end of a transmission, it was necessary to have a code for the end of a transmission that was unmistakably not part of the transmission itself. This code was the sequence *XXX*, which, many decades before the rise of the pornographic film industry, was unlikely to occur as a part of the actual story.
*XXX* as an indication of completeness came to be read as *thirty* because of the interpretation of the meaningless X's as the Roman numeral for the number 30. ...
Eventually *thirty* developed its own figurative senses, so that in addition to meaning 'the end of a transmission', it could mean 'the end (of anything)', as 'the end of a workshift' or even 'the end of life; death'. These extended uses are no doubt rather rare beyond jounalism circles. @@@@@
From The Mavens' Word of the Day (March 14, 1997)