The etymology of 'send'


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 20 of total 59 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Will Hobbs

Trad climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 29, 2007 - 07:39pm PT
Much as I've tried to avoid being infected by too much of the local dialect in the 2 1/2 years that I've lived in the USA, in recent months I've notice the odd 'duuude' creeping into my conversation, where formerly 'mate' would have sufficed.

Fortunately, I have yet to say 'send' in anything other than a deeply ironic sense, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time. So, since I'm going to end up saying it, and since nobody in the pub last night knew the answer, where the hell does the term come from?

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jun 29, 2007 - 07:45pm PT
Deliver on the goods.

To send as in to deliver the goods.

least wise that's what I thot i done come from.

Jun 29, 2007 - 07:52pm PT
Bastardization/Contraction of ascend?

You'd sound like a drug crazed boll weevil if you were out there screaming "Yo! Bro! Ascend it, Doood!"

Only guessing.

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 29, 2007 - 07:54pm PT
Well, as you mention etymology, dude is another interesting one. It was originally an insulting term for novices, usually for city slickers visiting the west. Particularly those who pretended to be what they weren't. I believe it was popularized as an affectionate variant of "friend" in the late 1960s, and it was famously used and discussed in that way in Easy Rider.

Climbers sure love their jargon, eh? Groups that are sociologically similar are much the same. Good thing that English is such a rich and flexible language.

Jun 29, 2007 - 08:06pm PT
Hey, like waz up man, like WTF man?

Don'tcha know that's howz we schpeek here, like get it yet dude?

Proper English has fallen now, just like those people with their pants hanging down to their crotch.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jun 29, 2007 - 08:13pm PT
Hopefully they cover more than that.

Perhaps SEND means just that; to convey oneself.

Trad climber
Durango, CO
Jun 30, 2007 - 02:53am PT
It's a lazy, shortened form of 'ascend'. It came from sport climbers, the same ones who are afraid of long approaches because they will result in strong, heavy legs which compromise their redpoint attempts. Speaking extra syllables would make thier lips and jaws strong and heavy too, so it's better for thier climbing to speak in lazyified words.

Too bad they don't stick to the same principle when spraying about how great they are.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Jun 30, 2007 - 11:32am PT
So if send is some sort of backformation of ascend, why isn't it spelled scend?

Does that mean that the past tense is scended?

When spoken, this probably sounds best if pronounced 'scented,' which, while being somewhat childlike has the added benefit of being ambiguous and confusing out of context, conveys a sense of coming close, but ultimately failing: "I scented it, but could only pull through. Maybe next week end."


Happy and Healthy climber
the Gunks end of the country
Jul 1, 2007 - 11:23am PT
Roger, that is a layup.

Climbers spell "ascend" assend, acsend, essend (OK that is probably LEB only), and asend. I believe "asend" was then corrupted briefly into a noun form, "a send", by a climbing magazine article. It was later shortened by dropping the article and reverted back to a verb.

See also wrap and rap as abbreviations for rappel, or is it rapell? :-)
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 1, 2007 - 12:06pm PT
so, this is all idle speculation, people...

...the proper way to pull the etymological threads is to report usage of the word in the way we are interested in trying to understand.

So, challenge to you all (at least you all with access to the climbing literature or can report on history):

when did you first hear or read the word 'send' used in the climber sense, e.g.

"I sent the route"


report here with the citation in the literature or the date, place and idenitity of the overheard usage.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 1, 2007 - 03:51pm PT
What?! no one took up my challenge??

It seems that the intransitive verb "to send" first appeared in Climbing around the beginning of 2000. That also corresponds to an editiorial change at the magazine (going from the famous white spine to the colored spines). I don't have #191-193, but it seems that for a quick look, #194 has the first usage.

I would guess the origin of "to send" comes from bouldering, and involves the act of making an ascent of a boulder problem or difficult route after working on the moves, then sending the route in the local style.

When I was looking I found that the quickest way to find the word was to look at articles related to doing difficult routes at the limit of climbing, which includes sport routes and bouldering, and in competitions.

Climbing #258
page 28, Hot Flashes

"This spring, standards continued to rise across the board. Take 14-year-old Adam Ondra's April 7 redpoint of Erfolg ist trainierbar reclimbed (5.14d), at Austria's Adlitzgraben crags, for example. Women climbers, however, have made their marks, too - as with Josune Bereziartu ticking Powerade (5.14c), at Huesca, and Irati Anda doing White Zombie for her first 5.14b. Still, the sending didn't stop with these Basque women..."

Climbing #224
page 16, Basecamp (by Tommy Caldwell)

"Beth amazed me with her slab-climbing abilities - and sent the 5.13c crux within a few tries - while it took me a few days to suss it out."

Climbing #207
page 24 Basecamp (notes in margin)

"After four years effort, Chris Sharma sends probably 5.15 at Ceuse, France."

Climbing #199
page 30 Hot Flashes (Dave Pegg)

"The reason for all those air miles was Ghetto Boys, an unclimbed, open project left of Infectious Groove. The Frenchman came close to sending on his first trip and was back for revenge."

Climbing #195
page 14 Tami Knight illustration titled "Bouldering iz the Haiku of Climbing"

Climbing #194
page 52 Inside Game (Christian Griffith)

"Sharma cranked problem three before his fans could recover from his astounding send of problem two."

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 1, 2007 - 04:47pm PT
of course, Climbing is probably somewhat behind the times... at least in terms of climbing slang...

...looking at rec.climbing news group we find the entry 1995 entry:

>I'm curious about the origins of the phrase "send it" that
>has appeared in recent postings, such "Mr. Hotshot sends A Real
>Tough Climb." I gather that this means a successful ascent. Where
>did this phrase come from? It seems not a very appropriate term to
>describe climbing. I can imagine it might apply in football, where
>one player "sends" the ball to his teammate, or in basketball, one
>"sends" the ball through the hoop, or in baseball one could "send"
>the ball over the fence. But rock climbs seem singularly resistent ...

Actually, this annoying term is not new and has been around for four
or five years now. When I first heard the expression, it was said
to have come about by shortening the phrase "ascend it", but this is
completely unverifiable as far as I know.

and deep down in another 1997 post

'Send as in "c'mon! send it! go, go!" to climb it without falling.'
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 1, 2007 - 05:42pm PT
ok, here is another take on where the phrase came from...

once working out all the problems on a particularly difficult boulder problem or sport lead, you send news of the accomplishment to the climbing magazines...

so to send a route is actually sending info that you had done it, thus it has to be a difficult route, perhaps not done before or not often or at the defined limits of the sport.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jul 1, 2007 - 11:37pm PT
The imperative for the French "climb" is ascendez. Perhaps it derives from their usage - crying "ascendez!" could easily morph in to "send!".

Not that we need any of these noises in the field...

Trad climber
Knob Central
Jul 1, 2007 - 11:58pm PT
Really, Fish invented the term 'send' when talking to Schockley, who was out of his mind on acid at the time, and Russ was trying his best to make some point.

A long way from where I started
Jul 2, 2007 - 12:23am PT
From at least a far back as the mid/late 90s it's been used in the sense of "sent that one back where it belongs." "Sent it back to hell" "Sent it packing"



Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jul 2, 2007 - 01:12am PT
Royal Robbins didn't specifically mention 'send' in his 1970's Rockcraft books, but he did point out that "climbers seem to be inordinately fond of single syllable words" (i.e., 'pin' vs. 'piton').

'Ascend' has one too many syllables, according to his hypothesis/observation. 'Send' would be a logical proximinous term (is that even a real word???)

EDIT: I changed 'e.g.' to 'i.e', and " to ' .

Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
Jul 2, 2007 - 01:14am PT
nice Tom, you nailed it.

"just like those people with their pants hanging down to their crotch."

hahaha! Werner, you are so cool...

you mean like these guys?
Deacon and DJ Kno of the brilliant Hip Hop duo, the Cunninlynguists

Trad climber
Fruita, Colorado
Jul 2, 2007 - 02:49am PT
When you hang on all that gear and lower and rest and rehearse, or whatever, and pretend you did it free, you have sinned, i.e. send.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jul 2, 2007 - 11:01am PT
Pat brings up an interesting point, "to send" is a different quality of ascent than on-sight-betaless-flash (which doesn't have a verb yet, unless you're old school and refer to such a thing by the verb "to climb").

"To work" a route implies action in process. A route can be worked from bottom to top, etc, but the feeling is that the finale should be ground up with no hangs, etc: "the send." Working the route is implied in the use of sending it, so when I hear that a route has been "sent" I always think it has been "worked."

While this seems to be bad style for sport and gear routes, in bouldering "problems" are most often worked, with the final attempt being the send, making it through the sequence of moves from the start to the finish. No controversy here.

There has been a long running debate (at least since the 70's) regarding the legitimacy of "working" a route. However, that style has pushed up the difficulty of routes, many of which have bouldering style moves to overcome difficulties. This is certainly a better style than punching in a bunch of bolts to bypass the difficulties.

In Lito Tejada-Flores' essay Games Climbers Play the climbing "games" (e.g. bouldering, cragging, alpine, etc) where proposed to be hierarchical, and it was deemed unacceptable to use the methods of the more complex style when doing a climb of a less complex style... e.g. using cragging technique to overcome a boulder problem, or seiging an alpine route expedition style.

Here is an interesting case where the techniques of bouldering is not acceptable for a more complex style.

The times, they are a changing...
Messages 1 - 20 of total 59 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta