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I was looking for the name of the button on a telephone that you push to hang up. On older phones where the receiver sits horizontally over two buttons, I've seen them called "plungers." Are people familiar with this term? Is there another term? Is the single button also called a "plunger?"

  • I don't think I've ever heard this part of the telephone called a plunger. Perhaps its a regional or industry term. – Stuart Cook Sep 11 '11 at 12:54
  • Now you made me wonder what that part if called. See lots of pictures on the right-hadn side here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone this "hang up" control could be buttons, but also other kinds of levers and things. I agree that I have never heard "plunger" for this. – GEdgar Sep 11 '11 at 13:20
  • Interesting. Here it's referred to as a "switch hook." simple-telecom.blogspot.com/2009/05/parts-of-telephone.html – Mark Sep 11 '11 at 13:32
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The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, gives one definition of the word plunger as:

A machine part, such as a piston, that operates with a thrusting or plunging movement.

So it's possible you might be able to use plunger as it somewhat fits that definition.

Frequently used technical terms for that part are switch hook and hook switch.

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    I Googled "telephone plunger" and did, indeed, find it with this meaning. But we now see that one of your answers is: "No, people are not familiar with this term." – GEdgar Sep 11 '11 at 17:17
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It is called a Switch Hook. This is where we get the terms "on hook" or "off hook" for phone states. Example; "My phone was ringing off the hook!"

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    This page calls it a hookswitch. This source says that both switch hook and hook switch are correct; but then it implies that the physical knob that sinks down when the telephone receiver is set in place on top of it is actually called a "switch hook button." You might strengthen your answer (which has the makings of a very useful one, in my opinion) by citing descriptions of the part in question from one or more online reference works. – Sven Yargs Sep 23 '16 at 2:11

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