drill or chisel

郭巨路

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi all.

I read "The prisoners drilled a hole in the wall in an attempt to break. " in my text book and am wondering whether it is better to replace "drill" with "chisel" if the tool with

which the prisoners used to make the hole is not mentioned in the context.

[...]

Thank you.
 
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  • scrotgrot

    Senior Member
    English - English
    No, chiselled is very specific to actual chisels. Drilled is a shade more general, but it still implies a drilling motion was used. Simply made a hole in the wall might be all right, but doesn't convey much difficulty. Managed/were able to make a (small) hole would do a good job of retaining the non-specific sense but still conveying the difficulty.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I agree with the above answers.

    There is an error in the original sentence as quoted:
    "The prisoners drilled a hole in the wall in an attempt to break." :cross:
    The word 'break' is not enough on its own here. What the prisoners were trying to do was 'break out'.
    'Break out' is a phrasal verb which means 'escape by means of breaking (a wall, fence, etc.)'.

    The word 'break' on its own does not mean 'break out' or 'escape'. It means 'fall to pieces', 'fail', 'collapse', etc.

    'If you try to lever up a heavy weight with a thin stick, the stick will break'. :tick:
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    ... I read "The prisoners drilled a hole in the wall in an attempt to break. " in my text book and am wondering whether it is better to replace "drill" with "chisel" if the tool with which the prisoners used to make the hole is not mentioned in the context...
    But the tool is mentioned. In choosing the verb "to drill," the writer states that the prisoners used a drilling tool (a drill, a brace-and-bit or something similar) in their attempt to break out. If the writer did not have such a tool in mind, using this verb was an error.
     

    pwmeek

    Senior Member
    English - American
    To confuse the issue further, before modern hard materials like tungsten carbide allowed making rotary concrete drills, the usual "drill" used for making holes through stone and concrete was the "star drill" which was actually a sort of chisel.

    When the drill was struck with a hammer, the four blades of the tip would crush the stone or concrete to a powder which could easily be removed from the hole. The process is noisy, though, so it would not be a quiet way to break out of prison.

    I have used these, and they work faster than it sounds from the description. It might take 20 minutes to drill a half inch (12 mm) hole through 6 inches (15 cm) of concrete or limestone. (Granite would be much slower.)

    Edit: a star-drill would be easy to make clandestinely in a prison workshop.
     
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    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    It could have been a hammer drill as well.

    "hammer drill" ▶noun a power drill that delivers a rapid succession of blows.

    GF..

    Mind you, a normal drill and a hammer drill make a lot of noise. So we need to watch prisoner of war escape films to find out how to mask the noise. And where did they get the power from?
     
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