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"Beat the jolt, check the volt" is an electrical safe slogan.

For example: https://sloganshub.org/electrical-safety-slogans/#google_vignette

I know "volt" is the unit of electric potential and electromotive force, and I can understand "check the volt".

What's the meaning of "beat the jolt"? I recognize the three words respectively individually, but fail to comprehend the three-word sentence.

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    This "slogan" is neither idiomatic nor syntactically valid. "Beat the jolt" has no currency outside of this slogan, and the suggested way to avoid being electrocuted should be check the voltage, not ...volt. Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 12:44
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    @FumbleFingers: But "check the voltage" doesn't rhyme :) Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 15:21
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    @MatthieuM. Beat the joltage.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 17:41

1 Answer 1

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A "jolt" is sudden movement, as you might get from an electric shock. To "beat" something means to defeat it.

You can "beat" an electric shock by checking if a wire is live, so you don't get a jolt from touching it.

In this slogan, the use of a "natural" or clear expression like "avoid the electric shock" is replaced by something shorter that rhymes "beat the jolt". Slogans (like song lyrics or poetry) are not meant to be natural English.

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    When I was studying electronics, we learned 'It's volts that jolt, but mils that kill'. Mils (milliamperes or milliamps, thousandths of one amp) are units of current. A high voltage (over 50 V) combined with a current of 10 to 20 mA may make you jump, but a current of at least 100 mA is necessary to kill you. Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 8:18
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    @MichaelHarvey Speaking as an electrical engineer, that's a dangerous misconception. Depending on what parts of you the current goes through, it can take much less than 100 mA to kill; if it goes through your heart, for instance, it's possible for less than 10 mA to stop your heart.
    – Hearth
    Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 14:14
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    @Hearth - Yes, indeed. I was thinking of something like across the body, say hand to hand or foot. 7mA directly across the heart can kill, but I suspect you'd be talking about via a catheter? As little as 30 mA across the chest at 50/60 Hz can induce ventricular fibrillation. Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 14:44
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    @MichaelHarvey The same current flows through an entire circuit. The current that goes from one hand to another largely passes through the heart without any other intervention. That's the reason for the old electricians' rule of keeping one hand in your pocket when making measurements. Hand-to-foot currents will still pass through the torso, and the heart can still be affected (but marginally less lethal than hand-to-hand). Commented Nov 14, 2023 at 16:18
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    I wasn’t familiar with this slogan, but intuitively, I don’t think ‘defeat’ is the right sense of beat. Defeating the jolt would be what you did if you just ‘took it on the chin’ and powered through until you didn’t feel it anymore. I think the more relevant sense of beat here is ‘take action to avoid (difficulty or inconvenience)’, what you do when you leave early to beat traffic. Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 12:36

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