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The Book of Terms

The Book of TermsThe WJI Book of Wire & Cable Terms: an interactive experience of learning and sharing
This book, written by industry volunteers and containing more than 5,000 entries, is an asset for newcomers to wire and cable.

At the same time, it also represents an opportunity for industry veterans to give back by either updating or adding to the more than 5,000 entries. This is an honor system process. Entries/updates must be non-commercial, and any deemed not to be so will be removed. Share your expertise as part of this legacy project to help those who will follow. Purchase a printed copy here.


0-9   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


An aerial telephone cable having a corrugated aluminum shield and an outer polyethylene jacket.

Alpha Brass

Any single-phase brass containing more than about 63 percent copper. Characterized by high ductility. See Brass.

Alpha Iron

The form of pure iron that is stable below 910°C (1670°F).

Alpha Numerical Coding

Wire identification by letters and/or numbers.


1.) Used as a suffix to denote a wire or cable having an aluminum sheath.
2.) Designation for a type of cable consisting of insulated conductors enclosed in a continuous, closely fitting aluminum tube.

Alternating Current

Electric current that continually reverses its direction, giving a definite plus and minus waveform at fixed intervals. It is expressed in cycles per second, which are referred to as Hertz or Hz. Also a loosely used term for standard current used in building and instrument wire.

Alternating Current Resistance

The total resistance offered by a device in an alternating current circuit due to inductive and capacitive effects, as well as the conductors’ current resistance.

Alternating Voltage

The voltage developed across a resistance or impedance through which alternating current is flowing.


A device used to produce alternating current.

Aluminizing of Steel Wire

A process where wire that has been pretreated for surface cleanliness is immersed into molten aluminum. The pretreatment is provided by dipping in a hot flux solution of titanium or zirconium fluoride or borax and ammonium chloride.


Element, chemical symbol Al. A lightweight yet strong silvery white elemental metal that is ductile and malleable, resistant to corrosion, but susceptible to attack by acids and alkalis. Produced from alumina and possessing good tensile strength, it is a good conductor of electricity. It is used to make transportation, packaging building, electrical and consumer durable products. In steel making, it is primarily used as a deoxidixer and austenitic grain refiner. In increased amounts, it combines readily with nitrogen to form aluminum nitrides, which contribute to high surface hardness and superior wear resistance.

Aluminum Alloy Stranded Conductor

Designation for Aluminum Alloy Stranded Conductor.

Aluminum Alloy Wire

Alloys of aluminum are made with different purities. Purities of 99.8 and 99.5 percent aluminum metals are typically used for general-purpose wire, welding wire and wire for metal spraying. Al-Mg alloys and Al-Mg-Mn are used for welding wire, nails and other fixings, medium strength fencing, etc. Al-Mg-Si and Al-Mg-Si-Cu alloys are moderate strength heat-treated alloys for nails and other fixings, knitting needles, etc. Al-Cu-Mg-Si alloy is a strong heat-treated alloy for general-purpose wire. Al-Si alloys are used for welding and brazing wire. The aluminum alloy commonly used for electrical wire contains 0.5 percent each of magnesium and silicon.

Aluminum Cables

Aluminum conductors are used extensively in insulated cables, most notably solid sector power cables, which have three solid sector aluminum conductors and aluminum armor. The armor, which takes the form of flattened wire with the individual wires laid edge to edge round the cores, acts as neutral and earth return and ob­viates the fourth conductor often incor­porated with the phase conductors. Aluminum cables also have extensive application in service entrance cable and overhead service drop.

Aluminum Conductor

An aluminum wire or group of wires that carry an electrical current.

Aluminum Conductor, Steel Reinforced

A composite conductor made up of a combination of aluminum and steel wire, typically with aluminum wires surrounding the steel.

Aluminum EC Grade

Metallurgical composition of aluminum with maximum percentage content as follows: Si-0.10, Fe-0.4, Cu-0.05, Mn-0.01, Cr 0.01, Zn-0.05, B-0.05, Ga-0.03; vanadium plus titanium, total, max.-0.02; other elements, each, max.-0.03; other elements, total, max.-0.10. Minimum aluminum content 99.5 percent.

Aluminum Slab

Slab is the result of either the first pass of ingot rolling or the result of a continuous casting operation. The term slab is applicable to the output of a reversing mill, which would vary the cross-section with a number of passes. See Slab.

Aluminum Steel Conductor

A composite conductor made up of a combination of aluminum and steel wires, typically with aluminum wires surrounding the steel.


A cable sheath consisting of a coated corrugated aluminum (AL) shield and an outer polyvinyl chloride (VYN) jacket.

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