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Over the transom

Posted by ESC on February 19, 2002

In Reply to: Re: Architectural term? posted by R. Berg on February 18, 2002

: : Monday, February 18, 2002

: : Hi -

: : Can somebody help me with the nautical term: "beat over the transom". An individual used it in the context of delivering my resume to a third party.
: : Applying my liberal arts degree, I would imagine that the individual was assuring me that my resume will not get lost, but rather that it will be delivered to the intended person.

: : My guess on the derivation -- that when a ship is "beating" downwind, the spars or booms are noticeably over the transom as compared to a short-hauled trim tack, when the spar/booms are aligned with the length of the ship.

: : Any help would be appreciated.

: : Nicholas Moore,
: : 4L Evening,
: : Temple Law

: One kind of transom is a small, openable window above a door. In publishing houses, manuscripts that arrive unsolicited are said to come in over (or through? -- not sure) the transom. The third party may have been assuring you of speedy delivery.

I am guessing that, in the context you mentioned, he meant your resume would arrive in an unorthodox way, not the usual route.

OVER THE TRANSOM - "Kent Dirlam of Greenwich, Connecticut, wrote us: 'I wonder whether you ever encountered the expression, 'It came in 'over the transom.'' This goes way back to the early days of the Copper Kings in Montana, when the paying off of legislators and other public officials was not unknown. To avoid observation, contributions were frequently made by tossing packets of banknotes from the hotel corridor 'over the transom'' into the friendly official's hotel room. Thus the expression, 'It came in over the transom.' Thus ultimately came to mean any windfall or expected bit of luck.a transom is simply a hinged window above a door. 'Over the transom' has still another meaning in publishing circles. A manuscript that comes to a publisher's office unsolicited is said to have come 'over the transom.'." From the "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

I have an "over the transom" story. I was working on a publication where "paste up" - preparing the pages for the printer - was done off site. A guy brought the pasted-up pages by for us to proofread and, since the office was closed, he threw the envelope over the transom. I was first to work that morning. I picked up the envelope, walked over to my desk and stood there reading an attached note. It said, "These are not copies. These are the actual paste ups. So make sure the girls are careful with them." I, one of the girls, was fuming that after all my years in the business some little twerp would actually feel called upon to tell me to be careful. At that moment, all the slick pages came shooting out of the top of the envelope (that had become unsealed during its fling over the transom) and hit a cup of coffee on my desk. The rest is history.