I came across this word "wrot" while looking for information on plumbing fittings.

For instance, the Copper Development Association has a page that includes the words

Wrought (Wrot) copper fittings used for pressure applications shall be manufactured to meet the requirements of ANSI/ASME B16.22 Wrought Copper & Copper Alloy Solder Joint Pressure Fittings.

The word in parentheses is included without comment, as if to suggest that it's an alternative spelling.

Does "wrot" mean the same as "wrought"? If so, why is it used only in a plumbing context?

How is it supposed to be pronounced?

  • 1
    I have seen several different spellings of "wrought", in presumably well-written (though old) publications. – Hot Licks Sep 18 '17 at 0:21

The history of 'wrot' as a variant of 'wrought'

A number of nineteenth-century texts use the contraction wro't or the abbreviation wrot. for wrought in tabular lists and equations to save space.

For example, a "Schedule of Manufactures, Buildings, &c., Materials used, Manufactures, Markets, Workmen, Wages" submitted in 1832 and printed in Documents Relative to the Manufacture of the United States, volume 1 (1833), includes tabular entries for the "1,500 lbs. wro't iron," "2,500 lbs English wro't iron, at 4 cts," and "2,300 lbs English wro't iron, at 4 cts."

And a list of "Premiums for Fancy Articles at the Annual Show" in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, published in New-England Farmer, and Horticultural Register (November 19, 1845) includes tabular entries for (among other things) "wro't slippers," "wro't bag," "wro't card-box," "wro't chair cushion," "wro't collar," and "wro't cravate."

Similarly, Thomas Dixon, Treatise on the Arrangement, Application, and Use of Slide Rules, second edition (1881) presents an arithmetical equation "giving the weight of Wrot. Iron Plate."

At least as early as 1869, the spelling wrot appears without an included apostrophe or period. From Agricultural Society of New South Wales, "Metropolitan Intercolonial Exhibition, 4th, 5th, and 6th May, 1869, Catalogue" (1869):

W. G. Ainsworth's list of exhibits, Ransome and Sims' make : BFO—1-wheel pony ; BFE—1-wheel 1 horse ditto ; BFEW—1-wheel 1 horse wrot frame plow, with steel mould board ridging body for above ; BFS—1-wheel light 2 horse plough ; BESW—1-wheel light 2 horse wrot frame plough with steel mould board ; YOHW—1-wheel 2 horse wrot frame plough, with steel mould board ; ...

Altogether this page contains 25 instances of wrot, despite using such unsimplified spellings as mould and plough, suggesting that people in Sydney in 1869 considered wrot a legitimate spelling.

Likewise from a table of measurements for Dartmoor Prison from the 1876 governor's report, in Report of the Directors of Convict Prisons ... for the Year 1876 (1877), we find entries for such items as these:

1" deal wrot, ploughed, tongued and glued in seats and risers for w.c.


1" deal facia, wrot, beaded and fixed


Making 1" ledged doors, wrot


1¼" deal treads and risers, wrot, glued, blocked and 3 fir carriages


Fir, wrot, framed, and chamfered in plates and posts

And from a table of expenses for "Modification of Tower" in Louisville [Kentucky] Water Company, "Eighteenth Annual Report of the President and Directors to the Stockholders" (1876):

25 wrot floor stays, 26 inches diam., 199 lbs. at 8.7 cents

7 wrot floor stays, 20 inches diam., 47 ibs. at 8.7 cents

15 wrot floor stays, 15 inches diam., 79 lbs. at 12% cents


759 wrot washers


One wrot-iron buoy

Wrot-iron guide for same, 455 lbs. at 12 cents

It thus appears that wrot was in use as a variant spelling of wrought in Australia, Great Britain, and the United States by 1876.

The status of 'wrot' today

A Google Books search finds a couple of books published in 1987 that use the spelling wrot in labels accompanying line drawings of various plumbing fittings: James Kittle, Home Plumbing Made Easy: An Illustrated Manual and William Cooper,Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Refrigeration. Not to assume anything about TAB Books and Prentice-Hall, the fine publishers of these two books, but I know from personal experience that certain publishers sometimes use labeled public-domain (that is, free) illustrations that may be quite old and may not reflect current spelling conventions. The labels in these two books appear to be in the same font and format, suggesting that the authors cut and pasted the labeled illustrations from the same source. I haven't been able to identify that source, however

But those two books are not alone in mentioning "wrot copper." John Stephenson, Building Regulations Explained, sixth edition (2003) alludes to regulations governing materials suitable for use as rainwater gutters and pipes from a 1960 publication titled "Wrot copper and wrot zinc rainwater goods." Similarly, American Export Register 1994, volume 2 (1994) contains advertisements that mention "Wrot Copper & Cast Fittings" and "Wrot Copper Fittings"; and Plumbing Engineer, volume 22 includes the following item:

Wrot copper fittings

NIBCO's new brochure highlights the features of the latest additions to the line of wrot copper fittings. New sizes include 5- through 8- inch diameter fittings. They are made from pure copper mill products—ASTM specifications B75 Alloy C12200.

As for "wrot iron" that term continues to pop up in publications from recent decades, too. For example, from S. Smith, Builders' Detail Sheets, second edition (1991/2009):

  1. Wall plates are not really suitable where joists are supported by an external wall, and in this case a mild steel or wrot iron bar may be used. Fig 3.

  2. The joists may rest on a wall plate supported by wrot iron or MS corbels Fig 4.

And from Metal Statistics, volume 86 (1994):

Melting Steel, Railroad No. 1

Clean wrot iron or steel scrap, 1/4 inch and over in thickness, not over 18 inches in width, and not over 5 feet in length. May include pipe ends and material 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch in thickness, not over 15 inches x 15 inches. Individual pieces cut so as to lie reasonably flat in charging box.

Instances such as these (and the one that the poster asks about) suggest that even if the spelling is generally obsolete, readers may run across it in fairly recent publications. There is little evidence, however, to suggest that wrot is widely used as a variant of wrought in publications today.

  • So do you think it is still currently used? – Mitch Jul 23 '18 at 22:15
  • @Mitch: Google Books returns two matches from 1987: Home Plumbing Made Easy and Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Refrigeration, but both occur in the context of labels for line drawings that may be much older. Two examples of wrot from the 1960s in the context of railroads seem to have been written in the 1960s. – Sven Yargs Jul 23 '18 at 22:25
  • UI because they the OP seemed to be asking about current usage and you answered with historical data from the 1800s. So I thoughts you might add something to your answer about the current status of this strange version of 'wrought'. – Mitch Jul 24 '18 at 2:46
  • @Mitch: I've added a discussion of some instances of the variant in publications of the past 32 years. – Sven Yargs Jul 24 '18 at 4:05

I imagine "wrot" is trade jargon, as "lede" is in newspaper editing.

Oxford Eng. Dic. says wrot is a noun, an alteration of the adjective wrought. The definition given is from the building trade, where it is said to mean timber with one or more surfaces planed smooth; wrought or dressed timber.

The OED entry for the word relates it to wood and the building trades, but nothing concerned with any metals in either the definition or the quotations:

wrot, n.

Pronunciation: /rɒt/
Etymology: Irreg. alteration of wrought adj.


Timber of which one or more surfaces have been planed smooth; wrought or dressed timber.

  • Is this an open source reference. If so could you provide a link. – lbf Jul 23 '18 at 16:37
  • @lbf There are very few dictionaries which are open source (Wiktionary is the only one I know of); the OED is not only not open source, but also paywalled. Nevertheless, proper citation requires a link, so I’ve added one (and also removed the copy-pasted quotes: the consensus is that citing one or two of their quotations is fair use, but copy-pasting an entire entry is not). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 23 '18 at 20:26
  • thanks for the info! guess i will have to join the big boys club oneday and pay up. Another ref i would like is: A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles – lbf Jul 23 '18 at 20:51

I believe wrot (or wrought) has the same meaning for copper as wrought does for wrought iron, that is, it is worked, rather than cast, to it's final shape.

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