People Are Shocked to Learn the Real Meaning Behind WD-40

source: Walmart

I know you’ve used WD-40 at least once, if not more, because let’s face it, the stuff is downright versatile. From squeaky hinges to rusted bolts, it seems like there’s nothing a good spray of WD-40 can’t make a little better. We love using it for a myriad of tasks, like loosening tight screws, cleaning stains, and even giving that old bike chain a new lease on life. But amidst all these uses, have you ever stopped to wonder, “What does ‘WD-40’ actually mean?” Sure, we throw the name around and spray it liberally on just about anything that sticks or squeaks, but why “WD”? And what’s with the number 40?

Curiosity got the best of me one lazy Sunday afternoon. You see, WD-40 has been a staple in my garage for as long as I can remember. It’s like the duct tape of lubricants—a solution in a can. My fascination with this wonder spray isn’t just about its miraculous problem-solving abilities; it’s also about the mystery of its name.

source: Walmart

So, what is WD-40? In simple terms, it’s a lubricant, a penetrant, a rust inhibitor, a water displacer, and more, all rolled into one iconic blue and yellow can. Manufactured by chemist Norm Larsen in 1953 as part of the Rocket Chemical Company, it was designed to prevent corrosion on missile parts. That’s right, its origins are as cool as its uses. The product was so successful that the company eventually renamed itself the WD-40 Company, a testament to its flagship invention. This miracle concoction has become a household name, sold in countless countries and used for everything from industrial maintenance to household repairs.

The intrigue around the name WD-40 reached a new peak when David Muir, an American journalist, took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to ask his followers what “WD-40” stands for. You’d think with such a popular product, the meaning behind its name would be common knowledge. Well, think again. The responses were a wild mix of unusual guesses and humorous stabs in the dark. Some folks were way off the mark, proposing everything from “Window Dressing” to “Weird Duck,” while others guessed it was a formula or code of some sort.

There were those who couldn’t believe that not everyone knew what WD-40 stood for, given its popularity. Amidst the sea of guesses, the truth about WD-40 is quite simple, yet fascinating. The “WD” represents ‘Water Displacement,’ and the “40” stands for the formula being perfected on the 40th attempt. Yes, it took Norm Larsen and his team 40 tries to come up with the magic formula that could repel water and prevent corrosion effectively. It’s not exactly an easy explanation, nor is it one that people would stumble upon without a bit of digging.

Thinking about all the times I’ve used WD-40, like loosening rusty nuts on my bike or removing gum from my niece’s hair (don’t ask, it’s a long story), I’m amazed by the cleverness and hard work it took to make such a useful product. Can you believe it worked out perfectly on the 40th try? It shows that the best answers often come from not giving up and trying different things until something works.

source: Walmart

The next time you reach for that can of WD-40, you’ll know exactly what you’re holding: a product of determination, a staple for fixers and tinkerers everywhere. And if someone ever asks you what WD-40 stands for, you can share the story of its name with a little more than just a shrug. Because let’s be honest, behind every can of WD-40 is a story waiting to be told, whether it’s about the 39 attempts that didn’t quite cut it, or the countless quick fixes and squeak-free hinges it’s given us over the years.