Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

White Out (as in “to erase”)

Posted by Elyse Bruce on June 8, 2011

White out is the first comic book written by novelist Greg Rucka that tells the story of US Marshal Carrie Stetko’s investigation of a murder in Antarctica. A sequel, “White out: Melt” tells the story of the theft of hidden nuclear weapons from an ex-Soviet base.

However, when someone talks about a white out, what they are referring to is the loss of daylight visibility in heavy fog, snow, or rain, or changing or deleting something that has been previously put forth as a statement, or something that has been published or printed.

The correction fluid used to correct mistakes was invented by a young divorcee and mother of one, Bette Nesmith Graham in 1951.  It was originally called mistake out and was renamed liquid paper by the inventor, Bette Nesmith Graham. and in 1975, it was finally renamed white out.  Now deceased, She was the mother of Michael Nesmith, member of the Monkees.

Over time, the product name has come to mean to delete information regardless of whether it was typed on paper or printed.  With the introduction of computer technology, white out also came to mean an entry in a computer file systems that makes a file appear to disappear

From the “Back 2 Basics” CD released by Sway & King Tech, in the song “The Anthem” featuring Eminum, RZA, Tech N9ne, Xzibit, Pharoahe Monch, Jayo Felony, Chino XL, KRS-One and Kool G. Rap, Eminem raps:

This place is my house, I might as well erase my face wit white out
Cuz y’all can’t see me like Mase’s eyebrows (where you at?)
Climbed out of a nice house
Through the front window and heard this guy shout,

“Hey! That’s my couch.”

Back in 1999, the September 30 issue of Metro: Silicon Valley’s Weekly Newspaper ran an article entitled “Best Public Documents Written In Longhand” journalist Michael Learmonth wrote:

Inside 60 leather-bound volumes in a locked glass cabinet at the city clerk’s office, 100 years of San Jose municipal history is written–literally. In the early volumes, starting in 1855, the minutes of city council meetings are carefully written out in pen and ink–no smudging, no cross-outs and, of course, no goopy white-out.

The earliest use of the expression white out in this context was used in 1977 according to the Entymology Dictionary.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: