Film-term Friday: the C47


It’s time for another dive into the world of movie language, and it’s an interesting one. Today’s word is “C47”. For a phrase made up of just three letters, it has a surprisingly complicated origin story.

 On set, a C47 is simply another term for a clothes peg. It’s a versatile piece of equipment, used for clipping things to other things. But how it came to be called a C47 is not so clear.

 The term C47 has been used in the movies since the end of World War II. Some people think the name came from the capable and adaptable C47 transport plane, which was a game-changer during the war.

 It’s also been suggested that on a particular movie set, clothes pegs happened to be stored in a bin marked “C47”.

Perhaps closer to the truth is the idea that studio executives didn’t want to pay for items as mundane and readily available as clothes pegs. Savvy equipment managers would write “C47” on their requisition forms, making the studio execs think they were asking for much more impressive and vital movie-making equipment.

 It’s also been suggested that the IRS wouldn’t consider a clothes peg to be a work-related expense, but would be happy to accept a C47.

Next time you’re hanging out your laundry, give a thought to the rich history of your humble clothes pegs. Which answer do you think is right? Let us know in the comments!

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