In the below context:

Finally had the time over the weekend to patch everything down and sort out the sockets.


I managed to get my trusty router patched in with the phone line coming from the hallway to the cab via the CAT6 cable.

What does the term patched mean, and what is its origin? It's clearly AmEng, but as a Brit I can't be sure whether it simply means patching in the normal IT sense of connecting two systems together, or whether it has a more nuanced definition that has temporary connotations.

  • I do not believe there is any nuance or ambiguity involved here. "Patch" here means to join or connect. – J. Taylor Jan 22 at 0:00
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    It's an incorrect use of the word: to patch means to connect temporarily. – michael.hor257k Jan 22 at 0:07

As an IT professional, I've been using patch cables (cords) to patch between routers, switches, phone equipment, and the like for decades. This use of patch is found in the definition 4a, below. I've also applied patches to misbehaving software, and patched people in on conference calls. When I worked on Buchla synthesisers, I used patch cables to connect hardware modules together. The term has lasted into the digital age.

patch - verb

patched; patching; patches

transitive verb

1 : to mend, cover, or fill up a hole or weak spot in

2 : to provide with a patch

3a : to make of patches or fragments

b: to mend or put together especially in hasty or shabby fashion —usually used with up

c : to apply a patch to (a computer program)

4a : to connect (things, such as circuits) by a patch cord

b : to connect (a person, a message, etc.) to a communication system especially temporarily

they patched him into the conference call

From: Merriam-Webster

  • So it has the specific meaning of connecting patch cables? I've heard the term patch cables but never knew exactly what it meant, I'm guessing that's mostly an AmEng thing that usually means RJ-45/ethernet. – Hashim Jan 22 at 1:04
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    Ethernet and more! I was patching cables long before RJ45 cabling existed. Nowadays, patching usually refers to ethernet cabling. – IconDaemon Jan 22 at 1:07
  • "Patch cable" is any sort of relatively short cable that might be used to connect pieces of equipment together. – Hot Licks Jan 22 at 2:28
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    The term comes from old telephone equipment, but apparently not back to its inception. Here's an early snippet from Telephony, 1932. books.google.com/… – Phil Sweet Jan 22 at 3:16
  • @Hashim Have you never seen an old film where the telephone operator says to a caller "Just a moment, I'll patch you through"? photovault.com/344887 – michael.hor257k Jan 23 at 17:55

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