phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

The white glove test

Posted by Word Camel on March 16, 2002

In Reply to: The white glove test posted by Marian on March 15, 2002

: : : As I understand this phrase, it refers to an inspection of a room for cleanliness. The idea is that, if the room is sufficiently clean, the inspector would be unable to find a speck of dust, even if he/she were to don white cotton gloves and run a gloved finger along every surface. I seem to remember this phrase from the late 50s/early 60s. I wonder if it's got a military origin or if it's just a relic from a TV commercial.

: : It's military. For many years, vicious NCO's have used a white glove to test to see if the squaddies have got their barracks to ridiculously clean standards. They would claim that it's character-forming, I suppose.

: Assuming that the main purpose is to establish the authority of the NCO and pose the potential for spirit-breaking humiliation for any squaddie foolish enough to not measure up during inspection, I wonder, does the method work? I guess anyone who didn't toe the line at this phase of their military career would find that career soon ended.

Well, I was an brat and I can say this: They may not always be smart, they may not always be interesting, but they know how to polish brass, make a bed and clean a bathroom - which is more than can be said for many men - oe women for that matter. :)