Mark 1

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Mark 1

Post by Archived Topic » Fri Oct 15, 2004 1:27 am

Who started using 'Mark' to indicate a series of machines, cars etc? Mark 1, Mark 2 etc.
David, Norwich, England
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Mark 1

Post by Archived Reply » Fri Oct 15, 2004 1:41 am

David, A ‘mark’ was long considered a trace, impression, imprint that was made on a weight or coin. It became the custom of the military in the early part of the 20th century to designate the original model of a weapon as MARK I, I suppose to ‘mark’ it as model #1. Succeeding Models would be called ‘Mark II,’ ‘Mark III,’ etc. We also have the similar military gun/rifle series (M-1, M-2, . . . . ., M-16), tank series (M1, M2, . . Bradley Fighting Vehicle), etc. The ‘Mark’ was often followed by the abbreviation ‘Mod’ for ‘modification’ and thus a weapon, or piece of equipment might be designated ‘Mark II, Mod 3.’ IN, addition, ‘The Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang’ claims that in the 1920s ‘MARK ONE was being used as an adjective meaning ‘first-rate, the best.’

Following World War II the nomenclature ‘MARK I MOD ZERO came to be used as the earliest most basic version or model of something (usually, a weapon). An infantryman with no special skills was a Mark I, Mod Zero soldier. In ‘Rogue Warrior’ (1992) by Marcinko, the author refers to himself as a ‘Mark I, Mod Zero sailor.’ So, in this sense, it is not necessarily the most complimentary of terms!

‘The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang’ defines Mark I: Military – basic, unmodified, or unsurpassable; old-fashioned; in phrase MARK I [, Mods Zero] EYEBALL direct human vision as distinct from radar or a computer display. [[came into play during the 1969 moon landings, which were said to be aided by the ‘Mark I eyeball.’—War Slang by Dickson]]

<1926 ‘Chevrons’ by Nason, pg. 120, [reference to 1918]: “NO, said the captain, slowly, ‘this is going to be a real, old issue, Mark I scrap.”> <1967 ‘Gresham’s War’ by W. Crawford, pg. 188 [reference to Korean War]: “He had...given that lash-up a Mark-one Eyeball Inspection.>

(Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, War Slang by Dickson)

Ken G – November 28, 2003

Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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