List of words “used” in the Cornish tin mines


 M words Meaning
machine Machine- General term when used underground for a rock drill.
Machine Boy – A Machine Man’s helper under 21, who does the fetching and     carrying, help collar drill steels, and gets the blame for most of the misfortunes      occurring during the shift.
Machine Man – A miner with a shotfiring ticket who uses a rock drill to make his living.   Machine Man’s Mate – A Machine Man’s helper, a miner without a shotfiring ticket. Until the 80’s he generally used to get a smaller proportion of the ‘contract’   money.
magazine A secure storage area for explosives on the surface of a mine.


A form of copper carbonate, one of the principal ores of copper identified by its     obvious bright green colour.

Man Engine

An arrangement whereby small platforms were placed at regular intervals, the stroke of the beam of an engine, on the pump rods in the shaft, and similar platforms placed on the shaft sets. A person ascended or descended the shaft by getting on and off the platforms as the rods went up and down in the shaft.
measuring 2 pieces of 2” x 1” timbers connected together so that the staff can slide, used by timer men for measuring.
measuring Term used for ascertaining the distance mined, or rock broken for the purposes     of payment.
Measuring Day – The day on which a working place is measured, generally   once a fortnight in the case of South Crofty.
Drive Measuring – The distance a heading has been advanced during the measuring period, this includes any slashing, exploratory drilling in the sides, and  pilot holes if required. 
Stope Measuring – The area of rock removed measured by means of vertical and     horizontal tapes, account being taken of the dip, and transferred to a scale plan on which a planometer is then used to ascertain the area,and then multiplied by the width at salient points.


A constituent mineral of granite, a silicate of various metals

Mill Boards

The planks at the mouth of a timber chute that are raised and lowered to control the flow of broken rock. The boards are held behind the U-irons bolted to the chute side boards. The term is a reference to mills, the name by which timber   chutes were commonly known in earlier times.


Term for any underground activity in which minerals are produced.


Strictly speaking any person involved in working in or at a mine. At SC it tended to mean a Machine Man, a rock drill operator with a shotfiring ticket.

Mineral Pitch A tar like substance found generally, rarely and haphazardly in lodes and crosscourses. It was not radioactive like pitchblende. 

Mines Rescue Team

A team of five to six people trained in using breathing equipment and rescue techniques used in case of a fire or other disaster underground.

Term for when an explosive charge fails to detonate for whatever reason


An ore of iron and arsenic, Arseno-ferro pyrites. When drilling through mispickel   the drill water, being acidic usually, would react with it to produce an  unmistakeable rather sweet, garlic type smell.


A chisel type implement with a flat blade, something like a ‘cold’ chisel, used for cutting hitches, etc. in rock.


Common term for an opening, or discharge point.
Adit mouth – The surface entrance to an adit, where water flows from a mine working.
Mouth of Chute – The point where broken rock emerges from a chute for loading    into a wagon, or into a pass.


Term for broken rock, usually before it is moved for the first time after being blasted out.
Hand Muck – To shovel and load broken rock manually
Muck Out – To clear out the broken rock in a development heading after blasting.


Two related meanings, the person involved in mucking operations and the   machine (air shovel) used to muck with.
Mucker Bucket – The scoop on the air shovel that picked up the broken rock and deposited it into the wagon behind.
Mucker Plate – A steel sheet placed over track to put a rail mounted air shovel into a drawpoint or turn it around. The machine is driven onto the plate then, by repeatedly swinging the bucket sideways against the stops, turned until it is facing in the desired direction.
Mucker Shovel – Another term for an Air Shovel
Mucker Stand – The platform attached to the side of an Air Shovel on which the operator stands (sometimes).


The activity of using a shovel, whether manually or mechanically, to clear broken rock from a development heading.
Mucking  Sheet – A steel plate placed just back from the face to be blasted, and anchored down by covering with rocks. After the blast it makes hand mucking easier by having a hard flat surface to shovel from.

muck pile a pile of broken rock,


Mud in a mining context is a thick, heavy, glutinous material, ideal for sealing temporary dams, placing over bombs. A handful thrown would adhere to most surfaces, even upside down.
Mud Blast – A secondary blast comprising a primed charge placed on an      oversize rock, then covered with a thick wad of mud to enhance the effect of the explosive charge.
Mud Bucket – A bucket of mud collected from a suitable supply beside a gutter, etc,. and kept near the workplace by a trammer for use when blasting oversize rocks.


Lode material containing pyrite minerals such as Mispickel, Iron pyrites (Fool’s Gold), Copper pyrites. These minerals create sparks hence the name (Pyrite being the Latin/Greek for fire) and also break down in acidic conditions, hence the problem of Mundic block in concrete made from some mine waste.

Peter Hughes has supplied words of this colour
D.C.Williams at Exeter University, better known as Gus. has supplied words of this colour
The remainder are supplied by Michael Davis