For the last few years, I have been searching for an adjective that describes all connectors that fit inside a shrouded connector. I have not found a satisfactory one. I am about to go to press with a publication, which, until now, has a dummy placeholder for that adjective. I am desperate to replace that placeholder with an industry term.

I am not looking for opinions. I am looking for factual replies, please.

[Shrouded vs. ??

{Source: Made with SolidWorks / My pictures}

To be clear, I am not asking about the gender of the contacts:

  • male
  • female
  • hermaphrodite
  • genderless

I am asking about the gender of the housing:

  • with walls
  • fits inside a walled connector <-- this one
  • no walls
  • self-mating

To show how difficult this has been for me, here are some attempts and suggestions I received over the years:

Shrouded mate The other mate Notes
Pocket Boss Mechanical terms
Mortise Tenon Carpentry terms
Shrouded Fitting Suggested by my girlfriend
Shrouded Harbored My latest attempt
Shrouded Enshrouded The placeholder
Shrouded Gazinta As in "goes into", coined by poet Ogden Nash in 1941
Shrouding Shrouded Logical, but against present norms
Wrap Jut My first attempt
Female housing Male housing A German manufacturer
Cap Receptacle Molex, in a few cases
Receptacle Plug Also Molex, in other cases (*)
Socket Plug AC power connectors in some countries (*)

(*) Goes against IEEE definition of "plug".

  • \$\begingroup\$ The ones you picture are Panel/Bulkhead Mount connectors, but I guess that's not what your asking \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30 at 14:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Of course, shrouded isn't a term reserved only for the type of connectors you show - e.g. pin headers commonly used with ribbon cables (i.e. these) are called shrouded headers, and "IDC receptables" mate with them. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could argue that the right hand image you show as also being shrouded connectors as the pins are inside a protective plastic surround. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30 at 14:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the shroud is threaded, you can perhaps use "external thread" and "internal thread". \$\endgroup\$
    – Hearth
    Sep 30 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hearth That's an added wrinkle, really, because the shroud/shell typically does not rotate around the pins, but a separate nut/collar does. Should that be double-shrouded? I think OP is just asking about the inner receptacle/boss and corresponding shroud, so we should not worry about what kind of nut, collar, boot or grommet goes around it. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30 at 15:08

3 Answers 3


The term "shrouded connector" is not well defined. This is probably where your issue stems from. So let's try to define them, with sources.

Wikipedia references the "Electronic Engineering Dictionary" to provided a definition of "Shrouded Header":

A male connector having exposed pins surrounded by side walls which are molded onto a plastic base.

Granted this is a "header" rather than the more general "connector", but it gives us an idea of the general usage for the term "shrouded". Essentially referring to having the connector pins surrounded by a protective shell (e.g. by the plastic housing of the connector).

This usage of "shrouded" could be extended to any connector by essentially following the same definition: having the connector contacts surrounded by a protective shell.

Under this definition, all of the connectors you show could be considered shrouded.

There is a patent, US4721475A, for shrouded electrical connectors. From this document we have:

female socket and a male plug that is insertable into the socket to make electrical contact therewith, and each of which is surrounded by a shroud


  • first annular shroud means surrounding said plug and extending past said plug toward said socket;

  • second annular shroud means surrounding said socket and extending past said socket toward said plug

So by that definition, both female/male and or plug/sockets would both be called "shrouded". For example, "shrouded plug"/"shrouded socket".

Again, under this definition, all of your pictures are shrouded.

We therefore would use other characteristics to define them.

  • Plug and Socket would be commonly used for the first and second rows in your post. Prefix shrouded if you so please.
    • For the first row left hand side, "Locking" would be a common descriptor for the additional locking mechanism.
  • Header and Receptacle are commonly used terms for the third row in your image. The header would be called shrouded. The receptacle could be too, but that is sort of implied for such female receptacles, so we go by other identifying features such as them using IDC contacts on the other side.
  • Mezzanine is the common name for the fourth row. Again with plug and receptacle describing the two halves.
  • \$\begingroup\$ "The term "shrouded connector" is not well defined". Agreed. But it is used more than any other adjective to indicate the mate with the outermost shroud. As you see from my list, I am open to using a pair of adjectives that do not include the term "shrouded". \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30 at 16:10

In English

That’s the problem. Just as there’s no single spoken English - just lots of dialects, there’s no single technical English jargon. Many of those terms have local use - not even limited to a geographic area, but to a particular industry. Same concepts may have different terms used to describe them, or even none if they are of no concern in a particular segment of the industry.

While it would be very nice to have a single official source for, say, American English technical jargon, it’s IMHO a lost cause.

Any term you come up with should be good as long as it works for you, you’re consistent in its use, and provide a glossary with project documentation. The latter is - to me - a basic tenet of literacy in engineering documentation. Someone reading the project package may come from a culture with a very different technical English jargon.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "Any term you come up with" ... going in a book and is going to be read by 10's of 1000's of engineers who may choose to adopt it. That's why I want to be very careful and write the best term. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30 at 16:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavideAndrea As long as there is a glossary in the book, you’re good. There will be plenty of engineers who read it who have never used many terms that you may find commonplace in your environment/workplace/industry/corner of the world. People have preferences with silly stuff like capacitor vs condenser, so for less widely used terms there’s a ZOO out there. Google’s “vs” feature may be of some use (ask it someword vs someotherword) to see the relative prevalence and get links to co text where it’s used. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I thank you for your words. They have helped me focus on the big picture. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1 at 2:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I find this answer to be generally useless because it applies to every word, yet some words do actually have clear meanings. \$\endgroup\$
    – user253751
    Oct 1 at 11:13

Since female conductors are always assumed shrouded by default, the defining term is "unshrouded female connector", and that is what they are sold as.

A "female connector" is shrouded: an "unshrouded female connector" is not.

Conversely, a "male connector" is not shrouded, a "shrouded male connector" is.

If your application requires you to use non-standard terms, you'll have to make up your own, or ask for opinions.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You're talking about "shrouded contacts" (connectors whose housing wraps around each individual contact). I am asking about "shrouded connectors" (connectors whose housing wraps around the entire mate.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1 at 12:28

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